Where is the future of eyecare going? That’s a question all of us are asking, and the answers seem more volatile and uncertain than ever in the changing climate of telemedicine and legislative battles. Instead of waiting to let the future happen to him, Dr. Walt Whitley has always focused on innovating and creating opportunities in his optometric career. Working as the Director of Optometric Services at Virginia Eye Consultants, an MD/OD practice, Dr. Whitley has made a name for himself researching and publishing articles about ocular surface disease and the opportunities for relationship building between optometry and ophthalmology.
As a co-editor for Optometry Times and Review of Optometry, Dr. Whitley is a preeminent speaker and author within the profession. His passions have lately turned to dry eye and the influence aesthetic products and procedures have on the ocular surface. In a field that’s often relegated to females, Dr. Whitley’s perspective on ocular aesthetics has raised awareness to the fact that men more than ever are using cosmetic products and procedures that could have lasting and permanent effect on their eyes. Consider the ubiquitous use of Visine in your own practices. “Red eye” drops are innately an ocular aesthetic concern, since their use is triggered by cosmetic reasons, and equally used and abused by both genders. He routinely prescribes, educates, and performs cosmetic ocular treatments, including IPL and Lipiflow for chronic redness and irritation caused by dry eye disease. He talks dry eye disease treatment paradigms and getting started in ocular aesthetics in this week’s podcast!
In addition to a focus on modern patient care, Dr. Whitley is a strong proponent that building the OD/MD relationship is an important building block for optometry’s future. His latest project is involvement with the newly created Collaborative Eye, the first-ever industry publication to specifically focus on ODs and MDs as a collaborative team. His focus is on growing the comanagement relationship and dialogue between eyecare providers to ensure patients are getting the best care and outcomes. He may not know what the future holds for optometry, but he is striving to build a stronger profession today, with a focus on what patients both need and want.