Optometry Podcast: Partnerships with Dr. Millicent Knight

This podcast was produced in partnership with Essilor

“Essilor has a lot of responsibilities, but they are all geared around helping the private practitioner grow their practice and growing this industry,” shares Dr. Millicent Knight, the Senior Vice President of Customer Development at Essilor. “I love this profession; it’s exciting and it’s full of passionate, committed people that I love working with.” Dr. Knight’s career began working in a hospital-based OD/MD practice where she actually worked to establish optometry’s role within the clinic. Private practice was always her passion though, and when the opportunity arose, she purchased a practice from a retiring optometrist in Evanston, Illinois, where she practiced for 20 years. During that time she learned the importance of the collaboration between industry providing great technology with optometrists providing great patient care to give patients the very best experience, and her move to work in industry with Essilor was inspired by her many years in the hospital. 

Essilor has partnered with many organizations and groups to help grow the eyecare profession and optometric education. Dr. Knight shares many of the projects she’s working on during this podcast, including:

Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC)

“Industry has a responsibility to work together,” explains Dr. Knight about the mission of GMAC. This organization is a group of 13 companies in the industry that have teamed up to directly reach the public about the prevalence and risks of myopia. GMAC partners have pooled their resources together to build awareness amongst patients and provide resources to doctors to modernize their approach to myopia. 

Partnering with Optometrists Directly

“There’s so much disruption, and the dynamics of our industry will continue to change, and as eye care providers we have to continue to look for ways to differentiate ourselves.  We have to meet patients where they are,” Dr. Knight shares about the importance of industry working closely with the American Optometric Association and the American Optometric Student Association. 

Essilor is also partnering with groups like ASCO (Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry) to support the future pipeline of great optometrists who really understand the value of this profession. They are supporting the “Optometry Gives Me Life Campaign” to help connect high school and college students with the profession of optometry and continue to drive the best applicants to choosing this career. 

“We wait too late to expose children to the career of optometry,” Dr. Knight believes, and that’s one of the missions behind Essilor’s work with KidZania. The program allows young children between the ages of 6-14 to “try on” optometric healthcare in an immersive learning environment. 

In addition to supporting these missions, Essilor also has an internship program open to students in the summer between their first and second year of optometry school, and again in the summer right after their graduation from school.  The internship program is focused on giving young practitioners insight into what industry can do to grow the profession, and helping them learn the ins and outs of how collaboration between practitioners and industry provides the very best patient care.  

Essilor Vision Foundation

Essilor’s mission is improving lives through improving sight, and the Essilor Vision Foundation has a myriad of programs to support doctors aid their communities and achieve the goal of eliminating treatable blindness within a generation. The program has been a huge success. “By the end of 2019 we have already contributed one million pairs of glasses to those in need,” Dr. Knight shares. 

Essilor Difference Makers

Last year, both optometrists and Essilor employees were able to nominate leaders in their profession who were changing lives by giving back to their community. Four practitioners and four Essilor employees were recognized for their work, and participated in a trip to Thailand to provide free eyecare to nearly 1,000 school children. You can learn more about the experience by listening to our podcast with 2019 #DifferenceMaker honoree, Dr. Sergul Erzurum. 

Drs. Darryl Glover (Podcast Host) & Millicent Knight (Senior Vice President of Customer Development at Essilor)

Want to Get Involved?

You can reach out to Dr. Knight to learn more about opportunities to partner with Essilor by emailing her at millicent.knight@essilorusa.com.