I guess it must be obvious that the Greek philosopher Plato and I have a lot in common. Those of you with a liberal arts undergrad education may recall that “Plato” was actually a nickname that referred to his physical form, which was considered kind of broad. FYI, it is a little known fact that Plato’s given name was Steve. He was just built, well, broad. My own broadness is a product of fast-food America. 

So, Plato and I are certain that an optometrist’s greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness… two sides of the same coin, you might say. There are many examples of this in our profession. Here are a few:

Dr. Montgomery Vickers

1. We are almost always nice. This is why we give lots of stuff and our precious time away like crazy. We want to be liked. The problem is that people don’t actually like us for this… they just innocently take advantage of us. I think 10 office visits in, they should pay us. That’s as nice as I can be. I agree. That’s too nice, too. 

2. We continually want to learn new things. The problem is that it is impossible to constantly learn everything new without forgetting that the patient just wants to see their computer a little better. Maybe we should spend more time on that instead of memorizing the chemical composition of every eye drop ever produced. 

3. We are obsessive about cleanliness. This is how superbugs were invented, you know. The worst place in the world to be sick is in a hospital thanks to the massive colonies of killer germs. No wonder all the kids these days are weird… too much bleach inhalation. Want them healthy? Let them get dirty sometimes. 

4. We love CE meetings. We hate CE meetings. I’ll let you decide which is a strength and which is a weakness. 

5. We want to hire great employees, but we don’t actually want to pay them. 

6. We think we are always right except when we think we are always wrong. Where’s that happy medium, y’all? Think you can always be perfect? You are the exact wrong species. Please refer to Ted Lasso’s goldfish speech in season one. 

7. We think we completely understand all the ins and outs of each and every vision insurance plan. Okay, if you completely understand that these programs are designed to, first and foremost, benefit the vision plan and then, maybe somehow, a patient can benefit a little bit, then maybe you are wise indeed. How do they feel about you, the doctor? You are their greatest strength and their greatest weakness. 

8. We think it’s always good to make patients see as well as you can. This is not only a strength but also a weakness because we simultaneously assume a single pair of glasses or contact lenses can be just as good, if not better, staring at a screen as they are when the patient is driving back from the pool hall at two in the morning. Does a carpenter only have a Phillips screwdriver in his hand all day? Just sayin’…

What is your greatest strength?  I truly believe it’s good to figure that out if you can. Could it also be your greatest weakness? Well, yes, Plato and I have already agreed on that. Even so, spend your time on your greatest strength. That’s the best way to succeed. Your greatest weakness will not need your time and effort. It will show up as soon as you fit the next patient into multifocal gas permeable lenses.

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.