By Jody Johnson-Pettit
The future of the eyecare industry is evolving.
An optometry practice in Etobicoke, Ont., is looking beyond basic vision care to a full-scope family practice.
“We try to support the whole family, not just patients with visual issues,” says Dr. Stelios Nikolakakis, a neuro-visual optometrist at Mind’s Eye Neuro-Visual Optometry. “We are all about preventative care and discussions around nutrition, UV protection, stress reduction and proper sleep is part of our education.
“It seems that the eye industry is changing dramatically and providing a niche in the practice is almost necessary. The practices that focus on neuro-visual optometry and dry eye clinics tend to be thriving.”
Mind’s Eye Neuro-Visual Optometry is a full-scope practice, with ocular wellness exams and neuro-visual care. The practice dispenses spectacles and contact lenses and refers patients for laser refractive surgery, but most of their prescribing is done with a neuro-visual perspective.
With the expanded practice in neuro-visual optometry, Mind’s Eye is able to impact the lives of many more patients and uncover underlying visual system issues between the eyes and the brain that can have physical, mental and emotional effects.
“When we do a full neuro-visual evaluation of a patient, we provide a 21-point checklist of their visual system, sort of like a mechanic does a checklist when evaluating a car,” says Dr. Nikolakakis. “This allows us to look at the visual system as a whole and helps determine the type of prescription we use, that is customized to that individual. This information then gets utilized by our neuro-visual opticians to customize the lens design to the prescription.”
He says Mind’s Eye matches the visual demands of the patient with customized lenses.
“We can measure how much support the patient has from a focussing perspective at near, coupled with how much need there is for close viewing, i.e. computer, phone, digital device. We help support the visual system to allow for ease of use of these devices,” he says.
“Should someone need further support with dry eye or nutritional therapies that are beyond our ability to provide, a referral is made to a colleague.”
Mind’s Eye’s main referrals are for low-vision assessments, dry eye evaluations and scleral or specialty contact lens fittings.
“There are colleagues that also refer to us for vision training. This has built incredible relationships amongst us, as optometrists, which is necessary to navigate the many changes that are happening in our profession. Plus, it connects us as human beings. These relationships with these clinics further provide care at such a deep level that the growth of the practice is massive and the value to the patients is incredible.”
His recipe for success is multifaceted.
“I can’t do anything without my incredible team. We invest a lot from the hiring process to the training process to the educational process. The Mind’s Eye philosophy is to empower through education and to always keep sight of the important things in life.”
Dr. Nikolakakis is also a business coach and practice consultant for optometry and other professions.
“I find that the most successful practices have a sound mission, vision and values, and most of them have a huge giving back mission.”
Currently, Mind’s Eye Neuro-Vision Optometry offers a scholarship program to support families who cannot afford vision training.
“I feel that optometry is going back to its roots with the amazing, I’ll call it wisdom, of the profession throughout the years,” he says. “One hundred years ago, vision therapy and prescribing were the forefront of optometry. Over the years, diagnosing disease and eye health have been a major change.
“I learned at a young professional age the importance of focusing on a specialty.”
Dr. Nikolakakis got his start in a low-vision clinic.
“It provided me with specialized knowledge back then to understand the depth of my capacity to impact lives through vision.”
Dr. Nikolakakis is looking to advance the frontiers of optometry and bring about change for a healthier future.
“Statistics show that 25 percent of every classroom has a vision-related learning. There are also more dry eye issues due to more screen time, less sleep and more stress. I feel as an industry, there needs to be an end game. We need to work with each other, to look beyond the silos, and know that the change of the future in the eye care industry will only happen if we work together and we all work with a purpose.”
He adds the dynamics of optometry has also changed with the younger generation and the information age. He says a missing piece for a healthier future in eyecare is the lack of jobs available for graduates due to the older demographic retiring later in life.
“There is opportunity to have specialties within practices, run by the younger generation as they understand the demands and are living it,” says Dr. Nikolakakis.
“They can suggest the solutions to support themselves and their patients. It will provide great mentorship opportunities, to provide knowledge to the younger generation by the wisdom of the older demographic and learning opportunities from the younger generation on the technology and needs they require.”
To learn more about the services offered at Mind’s Eye visit www.mindseyeoptometry.com