I am very excited to bring you this interview with Nick Despotidis, O.D. (Dr. D). He is one of my mentors in the orthokeratology/corneal reshaping field. He has written, researched, lectured on the subject for many years. I have attended several of his lectures and have always been impressed with his insight and enthusiasm. I was even more impressed when I read his book “My Children are Nearsighted, Too.” Dr. D practices in Hamilton Square, New Jersey.
Dr. B. Writing a book takes a lot of effort. What prompted you to write a book and not just a large pamphlet?
Dr. D. : As health professionals, we often get asked similar questions from patients. However, nothing seems to elicit as much emotion as when parents are discussing their children’s vision. Seeing the concern or sheer disappointment on a parent’s face when I tell them their child needs glasses still moves me, even after twenty years in practice.
Parents often ask: “Why so young? Do they have to wear glasses all the time? Is this inherited? Is it going to get worse? What can be done?” My explanation and subsequent recommendations take time, time we often don’t have while in the examination room, yet parents deserve.
So now I actually give my patients a copy of our book and highlight specific sections I want them to read. Then, after they develop a good background and learn the answers to many of their questions, we discuss how to help their son or daughter. It’s worked amazingly well. I’m very proud after parents tell me how much the book has helped them understand vision and given them an arsenal of recommendations.<
As a parent myself I appreciate the frustration of being told my child requires some type of treatment without fully understanding my options. The book was written to empower parents when it comes to their children’s eyesight.
How long did it take for beginning to end?
As an early adopter of corneal reshaping, did you initially suspect that myopia control was going to be as successful as it has recently been shown to be?
No. In 1992 when it was first introduced into our office it was just viewed as a substitute for daytime contact lenses or glasses. That’s it. We reserved recommending corneal reshaping for patients who could not wear contacts during the day or required freedom from contact lenses or eyeglasses during their waking hours. So we had a lot of athletes, teachers and executives wearing the lens, but it was a select few.
However, clinically we observed that teenage athletes wearing the lenses did not need changes to their prescription every year like many of our eyeglass or contact lens wearing patients. In 1998 when my own two sons began wearing eyeglasses, that’s when the light turned out. You see, even though I prescribe eyeglasses daily, when my young children needed eyeglasses, I was upset, even distraught. Seeing the success they’ve had with corneal reshaping inspired me to become an “early adopter” or advocate of this technology.
If corneal reshaping is such a positive and exciting technology, one that may help thousands of young children from having their eyesight worsen, why don’t all doctors provide this service?
That’s a great question, one I get asked daily! Most eye doctors are not familiar with corneal reshaping even though Paragon Vision Sciences, the maker of the CRT design, received FDA approval over 9 years ago! Some doctors may base their opinion on outdated information or personal experience.
As a “seasoned” health provider I understand how long new procedures take to enter mainstream medical offices. But that does not make it fair or right. For example, it took over 30 years for data to arise that a child’s eye coordination skills may affect their ability to read and consequently learn. Even though I understood this in my early training days it took decades to become “accepted.” And even today some practitioners are not on board. Corneal reshaping faces the same challenge. In addition to understanding the technology, doctors need to enjoy seeing patients more often than their contact lens and eyeglass wearing patients. This is often not the case.
Lastly, there is a higher level of technology and training required to perform corneal reshaping properly. Doctors may not be interested enough to upgrade their offices to provide this service.
I personally overcame these apprehensions when I saw how well corneal reshaping helped my own sons. Now, literally 10 years after they started wearing these lenses, their eyesight has not gotten worse. Nothing more needs to be said.
What is your next project?
I’m writing a personal development book extolling the life lessons I’ve acquired as a husband, parent, doctor and philanthropist.
Thanks, Dr. Despotidis, for taking the time. I wish yoy, your family, and your patients the best.
You can read more about Dr. Despotidis and orthokeratology at: http://www.gentlevisionshaping.com/. If you have questions about whether or not corneal reshaping is right for your or child, feel free to contact Bright Eyes at the contact info below or call 813-792-0637.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.