I believe the year was 2008, and I had just opened an office two years prior. I got
an email for a call to action asking me to write to a state representative. Now I had
received some emails like this before and honestly had ignored every single one of them.
Up until that point, I was content with being a COA/AOA member and just paying my
monthly fee. But something about this email was different. It read “Do you want to treat
Glaucoma.” That had been the one field where I really felt knowledgeable but could do
nothing about. Needless to say I responded and had no idea of how my life would
change. Next thing I knew I was meeting with Assembly member Jose Solorio, nervously
sitting in his office; intimidated. Shortly afterwards I was making flight plans to visit
Sacramento for Keyperson Day.
This year marks the first full year SB 1406 will be in effect and statewide
thousands of optometrists are treating Glaucoma and providing eye care to patients who
would otherwise not have access to care. This marks a hallmark sign of how optometry in
California works: a grassroots bottom up legislative battle. In some ways this is why I
love being an optometrist. You really have to fight for your meals. And there is a huge
sense of accomplishment once you succeed. My many thanks go out those mentors I had
and to all the members of COA who put in long hours and time away from there families.
This is where you come in. Regular optometrists like you and me whose lives are
too busy with work and kids. We need each and every one of your voices in Sacramento
today as we move forward. Let me tell you, you can make a difference and it will change
your life when you get involved. You develop a sense of community, of purpose, and of
accomplishment. A good friend of mine said to me that being part of COA is like job
insurance. There is no other entity out there that is fighting to keep optometry in the
hands of optometrists and expanding the scope of what an optometrist can do. Much of
what I am able to perform nowadays in the exam room today comes from the great
lengths of work doctors went through and for that I am thankful. I hope as you read this,
you too will become not only inspired to contribute to your own future but also see that a
regular doctor with a busy life can make a difference.