4 Reasons Why Patient Appreciation Week Matters

Without Our Patients, We Wouldn't Be Here

As I write, LaFollette Eye Clinic is in the middle of our annual Patient Appreciation Week.  Everyone is enjoying snacks, drinks, and meals on us – not to mention some of the best eyewear deals all year.  But what are we appreciating, exactly?


A Dizzy Gift Shop

When I was a teenager, I had the opportunity to work at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I worked the gift shop at the exit of the Big Bad Wolf, a suspended roller coaster.

It was a blast to see people come staggering off the ride, laughing and excited.  Many wanted a souvenir, and I was happy to help.

It was then that I got a taste of what it was like to step into other peoples’ lives for just a few minutes.  I wanted to leave them better than when we first met.

Fast Forward

This year I celebrated 25 years as a member of the American Optometric Association.  A lot has changed since those days at the amusement park.  But some things are the same.

There’s no way to go back and count the thousands of people I have introduced to the visual lifestyle.  And, there’s no way to measure the impact all of those people have had on me.

I often learn as much or more from my patients as they do from me.  I think the entire team at LaFollette Eye Clinic would agree.

So while every week is a great week for us, this week is a little different.  We get to reflect on the blessing it really is for us to serve our community.  After all, our patients are our family, friends, and neighbors.

Here are four reasons Patient Appreciation Week is special to us:

  • Seeing patients is our passion.  That’s not just a cliché.  Years ago I thought I had to convince workers that that patients were special.  Not so.  We all love what we do and want to do our best.  For example, we keep a large dry-erase board to highlight our team’s great customer service.  Every month we erase it, and every month it fills up again.
  • Our patients support us.  Our community has trusted us for eye care for over thirty years.  We understand it’s a choice, and we don’t take it lightly.  In the past few years we have moved to an award winning location, added to our team, and been named one of America’s Finest Optical Retailers.  None of that would be possible without the support of our patients.
  • Our patients tell others.  Nearly fifteen years ago, a worker exclaimed, “Where are all these new patients coming from?”  Even today, about one third of our patients are new to us.  That speaks volumes about how our loyal patients are telling others about us.  And for that, we’re grateful.
  • Our patients care about us.  Whether one of us has a baby or an illness, our patients are right there laughing or crying with us.  I’ll never forget the day we had to tell our patients we lost our beloved pet iguana, Bubba.  Many of our patients cried that day, simply because they knew we were heartbroken.

When we were planning our new location, my wife Liz said one thing that laid the foundation for the entire project: “It needs to be a happy place.”  So I expected the design, colors, and our team to contribute to that concept.  But many times, our patients are the reason it’s such a happy place.

And that by itself is a great reason to celebrate Patient Appreciation Week.

Question: Whom do you appreciate?  Please tell me about them in the comments below.

4 Reasons You Need to See Yesterday’s Google Doodle

Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek Is More Than Just the Father of Microbiology

You may know that yesterday’s Google Doodle celebrated Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s 384th birthday.  What you may not know is how important he is to your visual lifestyle.


Source: Google (see the animated Google Doodle here)

Now That’s Just Gross

I still remember the first time I used a microscope in grade school.  The teacher had us look at samples of our own saliva.  I think it was just for the shock value.

If you have ever done this, you know the bacteria in our mouths are easily seen through microscopes.  They wriggle and squirm through the slide.  I was both fascinated and disgusted by what I saw.

I got my own microscope that Christmas, and I had a lot of fun with it.  It came with slides of plant cells and insects, and I made other slides from mud puddle water.  It opened up a whole new world.

How Do You Spell That, Again?

According to Wikipedia, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was born in the Dutch Republic in 1632.  He’s known as the father of microbiology, and made over 500 different lenses for 200 or so microscopes.  At first, he made lenses to see small fabric threads in his previous business.

He then used his lenses to see things no one had ever seen before, including muscle fibers, microscopic details of bees, and blood flow through capillaries.  He recorded his findings in more than 560 scientific letters.  He became a well known scientist.

That changed when he discovered single-celled bacteria in pond water.  He called them “animalcules.”  Other scientists were skeptical, ridiculing him and even questioning his sanity.  The Royal Society of London sent several scientists to van Leeuwenhoek’s home to investigate.  He was proven right, and was offered membership in the Royal Society.

So why celebrate a man who was born nearly 400 years ago?  Here are 4 great reasons:

  • His contributions to science: Every time I see a patient, I use many lenses.  Your eye doctor uses a microscope to check your eyes too.  I regularly examine blood flow in eyes.  Much of this would not be possible without van Leeuwenhoek’s curiosity and exploration.
  • His contributions to medicine: Think about the last time you were sick.  It’s not a big deal to head to your doctor for medicine.  In van Leeuwenhoek’s day, no one knew bacteria existed.  And without that knowledge, who would discover the host of antibiotics that keep us healthy today?
  • His contributions to optics:  van Leeuwenhoek made his own microscope lenses by melting and reshaping glass.  His lenses were far superior to the standard lenses of his day.  This understanding of lenses has advanced microscopes, telescopes, cameras, and yes, even your glasses!
  • His persistence: Before him, no one had ever seen bacteria.  The world was so skeptical he may as well have announced a Martian invasion.  But he knew what he saw, and he persisted in reporting his findings until he was heard and taken seriously.  In short, he never gave up.

Unfortunately, van Leeuwenhoek didn’t trust people.  He never shared his lens making techniques (it took until well into the 20th Century to duplicate them).  And, he never showed his best lenses to visitors.  That’s one thing I hope you don’t copy.  If you’re living the visual lifestyle, you know that people are beautiful and helping one another is important.

Although Antoni van Leeuwenhoek didn’t share, we’re still reaping the visual benefits of his work centuries later.

Question: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen in a microscope (or telescope)?  Please tell me about it in the comments below.


Author’s Note: Historical information about Antoni van Leeuwenhoek sourced from the following Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonie_van_Leeuwenhoek

Netflix Is Changing How You Watch Movies – Again

A New Deal Surprises - and Irritates - the Movie Industry

If you’re living the visual lifestyle, watching movies might be high on your list of activities.  If so, you’re going to like what Netflix is doing next.


Movies By Mail

Years ago, a friend introduced me to Netflix.  “It’s great,” he said, “For one monthly fee, I list movies I like and they mail a few at a time.  I watch them when I want and mail them back when I want more.”

I admitted this was a good fit for his movie habits (obscure Bollywood musicals).  But I was skeptical.  I didn’t want to be in the mood for suspense yet only have comedies in the mailer.

So I didn’t jump in right away.  I signed on after Netflix began streaming movies in 2007.  Any movie I wanted whenever I wanted it, instantly?  Now that’s more like it.

Netflix Comes Full Circle

Netflix has changed the movie industry again and again.  Although it started with movie distribution, they began making their own productions, beginning with House of Cards.  Since then, they’ve earned critical acclaim for several shows.

It hasn’t always worked.  Netflix has apologized for premature price hikes and the Qwikster debacle that alienated millions of subscribers.  Still, bumps are expected when you’re overturning an entrenched industry that has been ruled by the old guard for decades.

So what’s new for Netflix?  A recent announcement has movie lovers tingling – and the theater industry crying foul.  Netflix has inked a deal with iPic Theaters.  Original Netflix movies will show in the luxury theaters the same day they’re available for streaming.

Here’s the lowdown:

  • In case your living room isn’t exactly luxurious: If you’re a Netflix fan (or movie fan in general) this could be great news.  Although Netflix has won critical acclaim for its productions, individual movie experiences vary depending on a number of factors at home.  Poor internet, outdated TV and sound equipment, and even a lumpy couch can distract people from enjoying their favorite flicks.
  • It’s all about choices: Bringing original movie content to luxury theaters is a natural move for Netflix.  They’ve released movies in theaters before, but this is a new step.  The simultaneous release of films on Netflix and in theaters gives movie lovers a choice about where – and how – they enjoy new movies.
  • Not everyone is happy: The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) says the Netflix-iPic deal is bad for business.  They prefer the “theatrical window,” which keeps movies in theaters for a while before they’re released for personal use.  But this is different.  Netflix is moving in the opposite direction, allowing movie lovers to choose home viewing or experience the same movie in a luxury environment.

In an era when online companies are turning to physical stores (think Warby Parker and yes, even Amazon) this move makes sense for Netflix.  A luxurious physical location offers an experience you can’t get at home.

People have different likes.  Some want to cuddle with family and watch movies on the sofa.  Others crave the night scene luxury theaters will offer.  More options for movie lovers means you win no matter which you prefer.

Although the deal was set at 10 releases, I expect Netflix will find success and partner with iPic and other theaters again.

Question: Would you prefer to watch Netflix movies in your own home or in a luxury movie theater?  Please let me know in the comments below.


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