Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is a masterpiece, and since I love it, I want everybody else to love it. Suppose I want to share it with you, and to do so I hand you a copy of the printed score. Would you get anything out of it? I certainly wouldn’t.
Now suppose I give you a download link to a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh played by a great orchestra under a brilliant conductor, and you listened to it. You still might not like it, but at least you would have the opportunity to appreciate it. The music exists only potentially in the score. It takes talented musicians to realize it – to make it come to life.
Why am I talking about this, apart from the fact that I have a nerdy love of Beethoven? Because the same relationship exists between a prescription and a pair of glasses. The prescription may be brilliantly done, but the piece of paper itself doesn’t help a patient see better. It has to be brought to life in the form of eyewear.
A prescription, like the Beethoven symphony that I just can’t shut up about, can be realized well or badly. Draggy tempos and poor playing correspond to narrow viewing zones and excessive peripheral swim. The wearer can come away with a bad impression of the prescription, and the doctor who wrote it, just like a listener can come away from a bad performance wondering why Beethoven is such a big deal. Is there any other type of prescription subject to such wide variations in quality?
Some doctors like to write prescriptions and leave the selection of lenses to somebody else. But in doing so, they allow the possibility that the patient will get a poor realization of the Rx. That doesn’t just make the patient unhappy – it reflects badly on the practice and the doctor.
This is an argument not just for understanding what’s going on in the optical, but for recommending specific lenses in the exam room, and making a firm hand-off to a dispenser. A recommendation from the doctor will be stronger than one from anyone else in the practice. Only the doctor can make the recommendation in the medical context of the exam room. And that’s entirely appropriate, because it’s the best way to ensure that the patient gets the most out of the recommendation.
Doctors, if you’re not involved, get involved. Talk to patients about their lens options, and why you think one is better than the other. A recommendation from you may keep them in your optical and away from the budget retailers. It’s good for your practice’s bottom line, and it’s good for your reputation.
(By the way, the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Beethoven’s 7th with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Carlos Kleiber is really, really good.)