Susan Ly wearing Glass_Jim McGrann_SOLN 2014_

The Future of Optometry is Looking Good

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This is a guest post from VSP Vision Care President Jim McGrann.

We’ve come a long way from Ben Franklin’s early invention of bifocal glasses. From wearable technology like Google Glass to the ubiquity of laser vision correction procedures – the field of optometry is innovating at a rapid pace. And beyond technological advancements, optometrists themselves are changing, too. The 2013-2014 Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry Annual Student Data Report found there are some major changes happening in the optometry student population:

  • Interest in the Field on the Rise: The number of full-time first-year optometry students has increased by 22.3% over the past five years.
  • Female Students are the Majority: In 2013, there were more female graduates than male graduates at optometry schools.
  • More Ethnic Diversity: The percentage of full-time Asian students is 28.8%; five years ago the percentage was 26.2%. The percentage of White students is 55.9% and decreasing; five years ago the percentage was 59.2%.
  • Global Representation: In 2013-2014, full-time and part-time students in the United States came from every state in the U.S. and the District of Columbia, from Puerto Rico and Canada, and from 11+ foreign countries.

With this changing landscape, we are pleased to support the Student Optometric Leadership Network (SOLN), which has a mission of cultivating leaders in private practice optometry at the colleges and schools of optometry across the United States. I attended SOLN’s 4th Annual leadership conference in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this month. It was amazing to see such diversity, enthusiasm, passion and commitment to the industry.

These future leaders of optometry and healthcare understand the change going on around them, and they will help independent optometry continue to evolve and thrive. It is clear that this next-generation of independent optometrists will usher in a new era of eye care and eye wear.

What have you noticed is new and different at your eye doctor’s office?

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  1. VSP’s Dot Beineix leads resilience sessions
  2. 2014 Preston Cup Awarded to Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry. l-r: Dana Beards, VSP and Executive Director of SOLN; William To, President of Western University Private Practice Business Club; Devin Duval, OD and SOLN Board member; Kristin O’Brien, OD and SOLN Board member.
  3. Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD and Dean of The Ohio State University, College of Optometry discussing optometry with the students.
  4. Technology and Innovation panel discussion. l-r: Jay Sales, Innovation Strategist, VSP Shop; Justin Bazan, OD; Justin Coleman, OD; Dana Beards, VSP and Executive Director of SOLN.
  5. Tour of VSPOne Columbus, one of 12 VSP Optical Technology Centers in the United States.
  6. Gathering outside the VSP Mobile Clinic.
  7. Google Glass – Susan Ly, University of Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry and Jim McGrann, President, VSP Vision Care.

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