You cannot practice optometry without the proper tools of the trade. It is that simple. When I was starting out in the late 70s, I could not afford an ophthalmoscope and retinoscope. At that time, my understanding was that these tools were actually needed if you were going to do an eye examination. Of course, this has since been shown to be totally false.

Anyway, several West Virginia optometrists heard of my plight and kindly donated the instruments. No matter how you paint it, that was really nice. And, it shows that you need your own tools in optometry.

I have learned through painful experience what you really need. Heres the list of the most essential tools a modern optometrist must have:

Screwdrivers. No, not the little bitty ones. You need the real ones, at least 7no, 800 of them. Lets put it this way: No matter how many sizes and configurations you buy, you will never remember where you left the one you need. So, just buy a complete set every time you go in the hardware store. Buy two sets. One will disappear on the way home.

Band-Aids. This has to do with the little bitty screwdrivers. After a while, youll toughen up. But, for now, just have a bunch of Band-Aids around.

Cocktail umbrellas. Not only good for sprucing up that little conical cup of water that every patient will ask for on your busiest day, but theres nothing like a hint of the Caribbean to spruce up your foreign body removal. Use the sharp end.

Level. You WILL have to hang something on a wall. You WILL hang it crooked. Your wife WILL make you redo it 50 times. You WILL want a level. Get one of those laser levels. They meet the cool gizmo criterion, and pretty soon, everything in the whole office will be at the same leveleven your staff members. Its a very organized look.

Bungee cords. This is, by far, the finest invention in the history of the world. What could be better than a giant rubber band? You can keep your chair and stand functional for 10 years past their life expectancy with 10 or 12 appropriately placed bungees. Oh, try not to let it spring back and slap your glasses off your face. Trust me on that one.

Flashlights. One year, for Christmas, I bought 24 headlamp-style flashlights and gave one to every person I knew. They thought I had lost my mindand then they used them. Love at first light. This also makes a great way to keep a kids attention when you are using the retinoscope that you never use anymore anyway so, never mind about that. Just buy flashlights. Three years ago, I found a box of twenty penlights somewhere in the office attic, and I give them to kids who are cooperative during the examination. I still have 17 left. 

Fake rock key holder. Ever gone outside on a day your office is closed, say, to take out the trash, and you hear that heavy steel door slam shut behind you, and you just know you left the key inside on your desk? And, before you went outside you took your shirt off while cleaning up the lab sink? Me neither. But, get one. Oh, and put the right key in it.

Wet vac. You got sinks? You got toilets? You got patients on oxybutynin chloride? Get the best darn wet vac money can buy! Waittheyre how much? OK, work your way down, but get one. I am using one this evening due to a slow leak from our hot water heater. Id fix the thing, but I have no clue where my screwdrivers are. Gotta go!

Vol. No: 144:08Issue: 8/15/2007