It’s becoming spring as I write this, and I cannot help but ponder Valentine’s Day 2023. Doesn’t this mean that the world should be full of, oh, I don’t know… LOVE? It helps to hope that it will not be full of, well, something else, at least for the purposes of this column, I guess.

When I think of our profession, I often like to quote the great philosophers who have made me the doctor I am. For example, when Gomer Pyle (see the TV series, “Gomer Pyle, USMC”) was confronted with the statement, “You love Sergeant Carter, don’t you?” his deeply considered answer was, “I like him, but I don’t love him.”

I mean, I do love what I do, but it’s not Valentinian; it’s more an appreciation of the many blessings optometry has given me. It’s kind of a like-love.

Think of your family. Can you love them without liking them? Oh, I hear you… you think I mean I totally love them all but sometimes just dislike something they have done. Same goes for patients.

With apologies to The Beatles, one of my favorite optometry songs goes like this: “A love like ours could never die. As long as I accept your vision plan.”

Dr. Montgomery Vickers

That’s all it takes to get a divorce in this business… some faceless bureaucrat sending out a list you are not on.

I like seeing and helping patients, but I love learning about them, their interests, their kids, their journeys through life, etc. This reminds me of my own journey and that we are all connected. Could it be love?

In West Virginia, I was with a new 70-year-old patient in the exam room when I felt the earth move… literally. A small tremor. It passed, and I said to her, “We either just had a little earthquake or I just fell in love with you.” She laughed and said, “I felt it, too.” Could it have really been love? The earth did move, after all.

The old proverb says, “Love is blind.” That may explain why Renee married me. Perhaps she should have had her eyes checked before she said, “Yes.”

“Love is blind.” This may be a good way to market your practice. Not only could you make driving a car easier for the patients who come to you, but you could also solve their love life concerns so they can make better decisions on the front end. Too late for many, but there is still hope for some to be saved.

“Love is all you need.” Yes, in all of life this is a very wonderful platitude, even though it seems to exclude other necessities such as pizza, for example. I think in optometry, this may need to be amended to something like:

“Love is all you need, plus an OCT. Love is all you need assuming your assistants aren’t all having babies this year. Love is all you need if you get all your required CE done on time. Love is all you need when your EHRs aren’t corrupted. Love is all you need as long as the office bathroom is fully operational. Love is all you need if the contact lenses are not on back order.”

Optometry is full of contradictions. After all, much of our day is spent with #1 vs. #2.  And whether we like optometry or love optometry, we treat our optometric days the same by showing love (or at least tolerance) toward our patients and colleagues. What’s that song? “Optometry is a Battlefield” or something along those lines? Close enough.

I say we tell everyone who will listen that we may not love optometry, but we definitely should love each day in or out of the office. It beats the alternative every time.

Dr. Vickers received his optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1979 and was clinical director at Vision Associates in St. Albans, WV, for 36 years. He is now in private practice in Dallas, where he continues to practice full-scope optometry. He has no financial interests to disclose.