Have Your Cheese and Eat it Too
By Amanda K. Lee, OD
5 Ways to Embrace Change in Your Life and Practice
This six-letter word has a way of inducing uncertainty and even fear in us. However, if there is one thing we can depend on, it’s that change will happen whether we’re ready for it or not, so we might as well be prepared on how to deal with it. This is perfectly summarized in Dr. Spencer Johnson’s motivational business book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” The text describes changes in one’s work and life, using the parable of two mice, two “little people,” and their cheese. The moral of the story is that by embracing change, we can enjoy less stress and more success. This central message had a strong impact on me and got me thinking about how I and fellow eye care professionals react when our cheese is moved…
1. Change Happens – They keep moving the cheese
Back when I graduated from optometry school in the late 90s, we were diagnosing AMD using structural evaluations based on dilated fundus exams and imaging. I can remember having to tell many patients that they had AMD and that there was nothing we could do to treat it. It was such a difficult thing to say to a patient, to allow them to believe that there was no help, no hope. For an eye care provider, this was our version of telling a patient that they have cancer. Fast-forward to today and suddenly new research comes out demonstrating a positive correlation between the degree of dark adaptation impairment and the presence of AMD.
This is a huge change in the eye care industry, and a link like this had never been demonstrated before. We had not been using functional testing to detect AMD until we became aware of new technology. Suddenly, what we had learned previously about the earliest possible detection of AMD via structural changes had evolved to at least three years of advanced knowledge of the disease by identifying functional loss. This required that the eye care industry progress with the technology. Just as is with life, change happens and there is a constant evolution. Acknowledging that is the first step to embracing it.
2. Anticipate Change – Get ready for the cheese to move
Once we started looking into the science behind dark adaptation, we discovered, that the studies were truly compelling. We recognized immediately that the AdaptDx® dark adaptometer was going to help us take much better care of our patients. The AdaptDx provides a clear, objective measurement of dark adaptation, a retinal function that can be used to identify AMD with 90% sensitivity and 90% specificity. In fact, the groundbreaking, multi-center ALSTAR study at the University of Alabama – Birmingham revealed that impairment in dark adaptation, the first biomarker of AMD, may help detect the disease at least three years before drusen are clinically evident.
A photo of me posing in front of my old eye care practice, Seaside Eye Associates in Myrtle Beach, SC.
This was ground-breaking for us and suddenly our perception of AMD detection, diagnosis and management had shifted. Now we had a reason to be even more alert to the advancements in knowledge on this particular eye disease and anticipate changes as AMD information expanded. Anticipation is such an important component when it comes to tackling fluctuations in life and work because they’re unavoidable. In fact, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.”
“The only constant in life is change.”– Heraclitus
Change is actually, in most cases of our lives, a good thing. Think about the day you were married, or the day your child was born, or the day you left for vacation, or were invited to prom; these are all positive changes. Yet we mark our lives with hurtful changes, and they seem to leave a deeper mark on our memories. I challenge you to look inside, evaluate and understand that the positive changes in your life far outweigh the negative ones. That can be equally true in our practices. If you take better care of your AMD patients then you will find that they are so grateful to you, that they return to you, and bring family and friends as referrals to your care. The only thing you need to do is embrace and prepare for these changes. This will require you to think about your AMD care model in your practice and adjust your protocol. This happens with every disease state that we care for in optometry when there are advances in science and technology. The difference with AMD is that we can make impactful changes today. We can care for our AMD patients on a much higher level today. Unlike with glaucoma in the 90s, we don’t have to wait 25-30 years for optometric laws to change, or for diagnosis and treatment plans to evolve, they are already here, ready for us to use.
3. Adapt to Change Quickly – The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy the new one
You may have to get over the initial hump of adapting to a new workflow or adding a new technician, but you can react proactively to the new opportunity before you. Remember to always make the implementation of new things as a positive experience. Instead of thinking about the challenges ahead as a negative, instead, think of them optimistically. For instance, when change comes a-knocking, shift your mindset to, “This is an exciting chance to learn something new” or “I can really make a difference with this change that’s happening.” These good vibes and can-do attitude will be all you need to begin adapting to change quickly and productively.
It is also important to emphasize that a willingness to change means taking risks for the better. About one year ago, I stepped out of private practice to become Senior Director of Professional Relations with MacuLogix. I ended up taking on the role because I am truly passionate about preventing senseless blindness caused by AMD. I believe that when it comes to AMD, we have a real, tangible, opportunity as eye care professionals to make a huge alteration with this disease. WE can end blindness caused by AMD. WE can change the outcomes that have been so abysmal for so long. WE can lead optometry in a proactive direction, and we can have some fun along the way, while we change the world.
Keep in mind, that any time we shake up our typical rhythm, we are exposing ourselves to uncertainty. However, we are also opening ourselves up to new and exciting opportunities which are worth exploring, and often open even further doors to us.
Joining MacuLogix was the most worth-while risk I took in my professional career and it really translated over into the chances I take in my personal life as well.
4. Enjoy and Facilitate Change – Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!
Sometimes it’s important to take the lead on things in life because, if you are someone who has embraced change in your past, then you have the power to influence change amongst your colleagues. Even when it seems challenging or overwhelming. For me, I decided to take that lead on early AMD detection by joining MacuLogix in their fight against this progressive eye disease. Alone, I knew that if I could take care of my patients in my own practice that I could certainly leave a positive impact on their lives. Yet, I understood that there were limits to the number of people I could impact. Through “a calling,” that I choose to answer, I discovered that if I could influence my optometric colleagues to take great care of their AMD patients as well, then together we could change the world.
Through my positions at MacuLogix, I am now empowered to change doctor behavior nationwide to help hundreds of thousands of patients! By doing so I can facilitate new ways of thinking (and doing) on a scale unattainable before in my life. That has truly been the most rewarding part of embracing change.
Change Begins with You
While change is inevitable, and constant, embracing it encourages us to grow – both in our personal lives and in our eye care practices. It allows us to experience new things, embrace new opportunities, and make a lasting impact on the world around us. That’s why, with the right mindset, you can always have your cheese and eat it too, even if someone moves it. Slice of Gruyere’ anyone??
Yours in optometry,
Ready to embrace a big change in your eye care practice? Learn more about how the AdaptDx can benefit your patients and practice.
About the Author
Optometrist by trade and MacuLogix advocate by vocation, Dr. Amanda Lee has been a practicing clinician for over 20 years and a Vision Source Administrator for over 10 years. She is passionate about advancing the standard of care for age-related macular degeneration to improve patient outcomes. As MacuLogix Director of Professional Relations, Dr. Lee serves as a clinical partner to our customers, eye care professionals and industry partners.