Happy life after Part one boards, OD3s! Our class spent a challenging two days at the Hynes Convention Center answering 500 questions over a total of 14 hours of testing. It was a monumental endeavor with a glorious relief once we were done. The National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) will not release our scores until May, but I think everyone is thankful to have this lull of peace before we have to face our scores. The part one board exam focuses on didactic knowledge from our three years of optometry school thus far. I must say that our professors did a great job at covering all the topics that the board exam expected us to know, and I hope that we all remembered what we had learned so long ago!
Now, our remaining didactic education is including more broad public health topics and refining our clinic decision-making process. For instance, our lecture in pediatrics this week was on the prevalence of amblyopia worldwide, holding a steady 3% in all countries including the U.S., with the exception of the Scandinavian countries. We learned that the unique success of the Scandinavian population in lowering their amblyopia prevalence to only 0.2% is due to their public health education for parents, pediatricians, and teachers.
Amblyopia is an integral part of an optometrist’s diagnostic responsibilities, especially in the pediatric population. In cases of high refractive error, different refractive errors between the eyes, strabismus (an eye turn), or for any other reason that perfect visual input to an eye is blocked, a permanent reduction in the best vision that eye can have occurs if not fixed in early childhood. This permanent, poor vision is called amblyopia. The great importance of detecting amblyopia when a child is young (before 8 years old) is due to the treatments available. Amblyopia is both preventable and curable in this critical time period and most of the time the treatment is simply a pair of glasses.
It is common knowledge that when reading articles or listening to news segments, you can only trust the information as much as you trust the source. Nowadays, clinicians stray away from “clinical knowledge” that is passed around by word of mouth. Instead, they rely on peer-reviewed information, which they can trust to have passed rigorous scrutiny. In lecture, we discussed the importance of remaining skeptical yourself even when reading these peer-reviewed “evidence-based” articles. There will always be bad experiments, bad data, and dishonest investigators that somehow make it through to publication. An important aspect of practicing as a clinician is the lifelong learning process you will undertake. You must rely on your own foundation of knowledge and critical analysis skills to determine what new information is trustworthy. The field of optometry is continuously growing in information that provides exciting new opportunities, but you must remain true to your own mental compass.
I hope everyone enjoys the weather this weekend, it is starting to look like spring!