Dr. Burt Dubow has always subscribed to the theory that employing the latest technology has huge benefits for a private eye care practice.
Dr. Dubow, who has been a practicing optometrist for 43 years, started Insight Eye Care in Waite Park, Minnesota. He’s had his own practice in the St. Cloud (Minnesota) area since 1977.
His father, who was also an optometrist, never believed in investing in technology for his practice. However, the younger Dubow always differed from his dad on that subject.
“It’s critical to have the latest equipment,” he said. “If you look at the way eye care has evolved since I’ve been around – it’s amazing. Whatever type of practice you have now, everybody can buy the same equipment and basically present the same images for exams, frames, lenses and contact lenses.
“But not everybody has all the latest diagnostic and treatment equipment that is necessary. That’s one of the distinguishing features between a high-end practice and being able to be a leader in your field. I think you have to stay on top of that.”
Dr. Dubow believes that having the best technology and equipment available can help diagnose degenerative eye conditions early and give a window into what’s going on in a patient’s body.
Patients who have yearly check-ups with their eye care specialist can be diagnosed for conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration all the way to diseases like diabetes and cancer.
“When we look at our patients’ eyes, we are looking at blood vessels and nerves. We can spot things early with the right equipment,” Dr. Dubow said. “It’s really an effective way of peaking inside to see what’s going on. You can see things in eyes early. That’s why we think it’s important to be seen every year. Preventive care is more and more important.”
Each Practice Is Different
Dr. Dubow is the co-administrator for Vision Source Minnesota, a network of private practice doctors of optometry committed to enhancing the optometric profession through communication and education.
In the past, he has conducted many optometry lectures and written many pieces of important work for his profession. He was the founding editor-in-chief of EyeQuest Magazine and serves on the advisory board of All About Vision, a website providing information on eye care and vision correction topics.
During his time lecturing and writing he has learned that every optometrist can’t attract every single patient they want. Their job is to choose who they want to be and what they want to focus on. Sometimes that may mean choosing convenience over the right equipment.
“I always wanted to be that Cadillac practice that had the latest and greatest equipment,” Dr. Dubow said. “And I also understand if you want to be open on Sundays in a mall instead of having that day off. Everybody has their place – I don’t judge that.
“But with our practice, we have to have the right technology to succeed. We offer personal care – we don’t run our patients through an assembly line. I’m caring for my fourth generation of patients. It’s pretty rewarding to see how my patients come back year after year.”
Other Challenges Facing Practices
There are still many challenges facing private practices, including online eye exams and online sales. Dr. Dubow knows that most of these companies are offering inexpensive goods or products that don’t add up to being seen by a professional optometrist or ophthalmologist.
“Online eye exams and sales is a challenge we’ve stepped up to meet, but it won’t go away,” he said. “I think most people want personal care and realize they’re not getting the best product in the world. Optometry is in a perfect place to meet challenges like this. We are economical, we’re highly-trained and we offer primary care.
“At Vision Source, we feel there is a great value to this country to keep private practice optometry alive. We’ve always met challenges head on and we’ll continue to overcome them.”
Another big issue eye care professionals face is the increase in myopia cases. Myopia, or nearsightedness, means you can’t see objects farther away from you. It’s the most common refractive error in eyesight and has become more and more prevalent with people glued to their electronic devices for hours on end.
Dr. Dubow knows all that eye care professionals can do is lecture about the topic and preach to their patients to stay off their smart phones, laptops and tablets as much as possible.
“Studies have shown that it’s part hereditary and part environmentally-induced,” he said. “Digital devices are a contributing factor. Everybody is getting more screen time and that’s not a good thing. We can’t tell people not to use these devices. All we can do is counsel our patients on good eye hygiene and ergonomics. But ultimately, optometry is going to be the leader toward methods of slowing it down.”
Luckily, myopia isn’t a fatal disease and it’s something that can be corrected.
“We’re never going to eliminate it, but there are alternatives to lessen it. But there are other eye conditions and health issues that can arise later in life because of myopia,” Dr. Dubow said. “There is usually a higher instance of retinal issues because of having it.”