Becoming a Champion for Vision in Your Town

In our June issue, we talk to several ECPs who have become go-to resources for families in their communities for information on the importance on the importance of comprehensive eye care.
Ready for more? Here, Ryan Powell, O.D., of Vision Source Eyecare in Kansas City, MO, adds to the discussion.
EB: How concerned are parents about their young children’s vision? Are you seeing them take an active role in their kids’ vision issues?
I do feel that parents today are more receptive to the importance of blue light protection and the overall eye health conversation. They see their kids on devices all the time and they are looking for advice and direction on how to manage the vision and eye health impacts.
Our sales of multiple pairs of eyeglasses to kids has increased in the last few years as more and more parents want to get their children sports specific eyeglasses. Parents want their children to have the best tools to perform in sports that they can. We used to simply say to a child, “Pick a pair of glasses you like and let’s make sure they are durable.” Today there are so many great options in children’s frames that we can offer styles that are really cool.
EB: How does your practice get involved in the community to encourage proper eye care for families, and what is your advice for other practices that want to do the same?
We actively participate in our local schools through back-to-school fairs, school-nurse training programs, and sponsorships of student activities. We say to our local schools, “you tell us how we can help you and our answer will be yes.” It’s simple and very effective.
InfantSEE program is the easiest way to start a discussion with local pediatricians. They are thrilled about this program.
The key here for us to spread the word that we are here to help our kids, regardless of their resources. I do eye exams twice a month at a clinic for homeless teenagers.  You can contact the local schools and ask the school nurses what you can do to support them.  Their most common concern is that they will have kiddos who have failed their screening but the child has never been taken for an eye exam. You can offer to go to the school and see those kids. Or offer to do it at no-cost in your office. They may need you to come to a health fair at the school. Be open to their needs and make your answer, “Yes, we are happy to help.”  
There are so many sports team sponsorships, band sponsorships, etc.  I like to sponsor some of the local school events and I like to mix it up. If you did a couple sports sponsorships last year, maybe do the theater sponsorship this year. You don’t have to do them all every year and it’s great when you can mix it up.
EB: What are your exam-room discussions with young patients and their parents like?
Blue light is something we are now talking actively with parents about. The cumulative effect of screen time is something we don’t fully understand yet, but we want parents to know that there are options for eye protection.
We prescribe Transitions lenses for our pediatric patients. The blue light protection when they are in their clear state is fantastic, and the kids love the darkening effect outdoors. They don’t even have to know that they are getting great UV protection!