President's Calling - O Say Can You See

Published September 5, 2019

O Say Can You See

Dear Academy Membership,
Summer months in Canada are precious, and many city dwellers take time to vacation in the country at cottages and inns. Northern Ontario is one of those places. It sits on the pink granite of the Canadian shield. Lakes like Boshkung, Wigamog, and Couchiching speak to the heritage of the land. The word “Ontario” comes from a Mohawk name meaning "beautiful lake." If you are lucky enough to spend some real time there, with 3 and 4 year old children, you will soon learn to see all over again. The grey concrete veil of the city lifts, colors become saturated, details alert the cortex. I am reminded of my patients' comments after cataract surgery... "Oh, the colors!"
When a child squats to observe the activity of an ant colony or identifies the markings of a goldeneye, 100 yards out, you may find yourself peering through your bifocals at that ant trail and getting out the birds-of-the-area book to further distinguish the wildlife.
Then there are the trees. I am limited to evergreens and the others, but not the children. As we walk through the forest, we identify birch and elm, oak and maple. We speak of the green leaves and the oxygen that gives us breath, the photosynthesis that allowed those ancient sea creatures to come to shore, to swing through trees, to walk, to fly.
Suddenly, I am aware of the preciousness of sight. Suddenly, I am awed by the responsibility that we have of preserving that sight. I am shocked into knowing how often these vital mandates fade into the background of our every day working lives. How office politics, hiring staff, ordering paper, worrying about scheduling, takes over our clinic lives and robs us of this most important raison d'etre.
And what of those who begin to lose their sight? Those who cannot see the trees, who can no longer interpret the affect on the faces of their grandchildren. Those who cannot read and find themselves sleeping through the audiobooks that their children believe will make everything alright? What about the independence that is lost when a driver's license is no longer granted, when chopping carrots becomes a health hazard, when the stove looks off when it is on? We encounter them daily, sitting in that exam chair, asking for the stronger glasses that will make things better.
Here, the Academy enters in. By taking the time to attend our annual meeting, you can recharge your batteries and awaken your vision. You can chat with colleagues who struggle to manage the diabetic macular edema and AMD patients, just as you do. You can learn ways to prevent vision loss even earlier than in the past. You can learn ways to attend to those with vision loss, both in your practice and through the Diplomate specialist listing for low vision.
As your Academy becomes so much more than a meeting, you will soon be able to enter our website to listen, on your own schedule, to podcasts on clinical and philosophical concepts, to interact with colleagues around the world on cases or topics of interest and to attain CE in areas of practice that concern you. This personal recharging, whether in person or online, is essential to clinicians who give of themselves every day. 
Maximizing sight and preventing vision loss is our mandate. The Academy can help you do it with better knowledge and a higher calling.
Foundation update: In my President's Calling last month, I highlighted how our Foundation is the foundation of the Academy, and of all that we do in clinical practice. This month, I want to continue to urge you to action. As you go to register for the upcoming annual meeting, please consider making a donation to the Foundation. Or, if you have already registered, please take a minute to go to the website and donate. Every dollar helps advance your future.
Barbara Caffery, OD, PhD, FAAO