Optics used to be easy. Or, if not easy per se, at least an area of uncontested expertise for optometrists. Assessing the ocular media, determining a patient’s manifest refraction and manipulating the results with corrective lenses was a critically important segment of the broad, sprawling world of eye care where ODs really stood out. 

Lately, though, some may feel that the optics of vision correction have gotten away from them. 

Multifocal and extended depth-of-focus lenses rely on more sophisticated (some might say esoteric) optical principles than plain vanilla spherical lenses do. With patients increasingly interested in reducing their reliance on spectacle wear, you now need to have at your fingertips an understanding of several new corrective lens design concepts, product offerings and indications for use.

If you’re planning to expand your practice or upgrade old equipment, you might be enticed by one of the new digital phoropters that can fine-tune a refraction down to 0.05D increments. Are you excited—or intimidated—by that prospect? No, it doesn’t mean you’ll be endlessly flipping dials as you cycle through options parsed in twentieths of a diopter (“Which is better, 17 or 18?”). But it’s a new way to think and talk about the most traditional experience in optometry: refraction and glasses.

Even the time-honored tenets of myopia have been challenged of late by the surge of interest in controlling, rather than merely correcting, the condition. You may be left scratching your head as you ponder the vagaries of induced peripheral defocus creating a change in the anatomy of the eye. How, exactly, are you supposed to harness this ill-defined effect with nothing more than an Rx pad and a pen? 

In short, optics got hard in a hurry.

Unfortunately, the momentum in optometry long ago shifted to medical eye care. That’s where most of the education and excitement seems to be nowadays. This publication has been one of the chief advocates of medical optometry for decades, going back even to the 1930s—in a sense, we’re as guilty as anyone. We’re proud of our tradition of advocacy, but maybe we could do a little more to connect with our roots, and yours.

That’s why I’m pleased to call out an article in this issue that seeks to update and explain some of those tricky topics. On page 70, Southern College of Optometry’s Dan Fuller, OD, discusses the principles of extended depth-of-focus lenses in an array of products that can be worn on or implanted in the eye. And our bimonthly Focus on Refraction department, launched in 2015, has been steadily reintroducing important optical concepts into Review.

Medical eye care is indeed the future of optometry. But it doesn’t have to push vision care out of the spotlight along the way. Try to carve out a little mental space to catch up with the surprisingly fast-moving world of optics. We’ll do the same. Tell us what you want to learn more about! We’ll be glad to help.