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Viewpoint from the Editor

Advances and challenges

As another year comes to a close, we must reflect on the changes to our field, what these changes mean to us and what may lie ahead. In summary, this was a year of increased advancements and challenges.

We saw additional diagnostics and therapeutic treatments for many common ocular conditions, as well as the FDA approval of gene therapy for inherited retinal disease and, more recently, approval of the first trifocal IOL. In addition, a flood of new assistive devices and apps can help our low vision patients in their quest to remain independent.

Facing today’s challenges

The challenges that accompany these advancements are multifold. The doctors and the staff need to be educated on new offerings and how they may apply to patients. Practices must decide how to incorporate advancements, where appropriate, into their clinical flows. And everyone on the staff must be taught to convey the same message when communicating these advances to patients. In this month’s issue, contributors tackle these issues as it relates to dry eye disease, an area of practice that continues to grow.

In fact, the number of patients suffering from DED is greater than we thought a year ago, and it is reported to be the number-one reason why patients seek eye care. “Prioritizing dry eye patients” (p. 12) addresses how Jackson Eye of Lake Villa, IL, manages this growing patient base.

The challenges of integrating new advances becomes more difficult with the changing workforce. In 2019, many senior staff at all levels retired after long, satisfying careers, and we experienced difficulties in recruiting their replacements, especially those who have experience in ophthalmology. Once hired, we face the challenge of retaining new staff. In “The subtle art of staff retention” (p. 38), Andrea Ghooray provides some suggestions on how to keep them.

The year of the ophthalmic professional

The coming year, 2020, is our year. To the layperson it means “perfect” vision. For ophthalmic professionals and their practices, it’s a time for team building all year long. There will continue to be new challenges and developments that will both excite and frustrate us. Knowing that each practice is different and everyone within that office has something to offer, we can open our minds to face the new year together.

We cannot predict the opportunities or challenges that lay ahead, but we can strive to make 2020 the year of the ophthalmic professional. OP