How to Safely Have Fun in the Sun this 4th of July Weekend

happy 4thIn spite of the tense political scene, Americans will eagerly celebrate our nation’s birthday.  Picnics and fireworks rank high on the agenda. In the midst of all the fun, don’t forget to take the following safety precautions to ensure your holiday weekend stays safe and accident-free.

Sunscreen Essentials

Consistently using sunscreen will protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation, which proves especially important during the summer months. Faced with so many options, however, just picking a bottle off the shelf can feel impossible.  When you compare types of sunscreen, try taking a look at the ingredients.  Sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to be gentler on those who have sensitive skin—specifically children.  If you have dry skin, try a sunscreen that includes a moisturizer such as lanolin or a type of oil.  When it comes to choosing the right SPF, keep in mind that SPF 15 blocks approximately 94% of UV rays, SPF 30 blocks a few percent more, and SPF 45 can block up to 98%.  Unfortunately, nothing blocks 100% of the sun’s rays, so anything beyond SPF 45 may not add any additional protection.

Staying Hydrated                                                                 

While exposed to extra heat and the sun, our whole body takes a hit in the hydration department.  Most of the time, drinking water before, during, and after spending time in the sun will do the trick.  But any time you exercise in extreme heat for an hour or more, try supplementing water with a sports drink that contains electrolytes.  Keep in mind that a variety of fluids other than water help as well.  Soup, juice, and tea can all contribute to your overall level of hydration—and while alcohol might be part of your fun, it produces the opposite effect.

Mastering the Grill

Nothing signifies the 4th of July like outdoor picnics or barbecues, surrounded by family, friends, and fun.  If you do plan use an outdoor grill, these safety tips may come in handy.  First of all, make sure the grill stays at least 10 feet away from any part of the house, and farther is even better.   While the grill is lit, don’t ever leave it unattended, and keep a spray bottle of water available at all times.  If you’re using charcoal, make sure you have completely extinguished the coals before packing up and heading home.

As you celebrate the holiday weekend, join imatters in remembering what makes America great and celebrate our “land of the free.”  Have your kind of fun and be safe.



A moment in time with the Dry Eye Queen- Patti Barkey, COE

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I personally owe much to Patti Barkey, as we have been friends for 20 years, she recommended that I become a recruiter, and was my very first client. These last 14 years, I worked on my recruiting business, and Patti on so many aspects of eye care. Patti took a moment to chat with me about her career, which is such an inspiration to us all.

How did you get started in this industry?

Patti Barkey: [PB] My love of eyes started as a medical assistant over 30 years ago. From that opportunity I immersed myself in each aspect of the practice, billing, scrubbing, optical then into administration. I have had the fortune of working with experts in the field and studied each area of the practice to become more than knowledgeable.  At this point in my career I can visit each department, listen, learn and provide solutions to each member of our team.

While 38 years is a long time, it’s not about tenure. For me it’s about what you do with that time… I have grown through being curious, finding the best solutions, and being willing to learn through the resources offered – we offer that to our staff and to the Dry Eye University.

What inspires you at work?

[PB]The growth of the practice is what inspires me. To see the successes and to work with the best Ophthalmologists in the Nation, the relationships within the eye care community, setting new goals and seeing the outcomes.

Even today, I marvel at the progress we have made as a practice. Having support of the Medical Director makes being the CEO easy, we can create a plan and implement it within a week.

What keeps you motivated?

[PB] A large part of what keeps me motivated is seeing the outcomes, the successes for the patients and for the team. Having a solid infrastructure in place is essential.  As we achieve those successes, we all ask, “what more can we do?” and raise the bar.

In my lifetime, there will not be another disease in eye care that can have such a profound impact on a patient and a practice. Here was a need and no real direction for implementing Dry Eye Disease management into the practice. Being curious, I researched the present solutions working closely with vendors and utilizing my own patient flow knowledge. I laid the foundation and many practices have followed from there.

How was Dry Eye University started?  

[PB] As Bowden Eye became known for the level of excellence in dry eye, many colleagues visited our clinic to see how we implemented our team and the resources.  Asking the same questions to each I found that the level of education was different with Physician and Administrator, indicating a need for more education than a morning visit. We asked – how can we create a program that makes sense for others to learn? I made a conscious decision that we needed to start from the bottom and move up, making Dry Eye University a comprehensive program which could be templated into a practice.

That is an excellent Segway ! The moniker, Dry Eye Queen. – In my research I spoke with Dr Bowden, Dr Robben, Dr Bardandi, vendor representatives as well to understand where the title came from. It was impressive to hear the accounting from each perspective. From the vendor level, Bruny Ocasio spoke that you were approached at a stage when dry eye was not funded, and you embraced the technology, and began to implement the technology into your practice within 1 week. Dr Bowden raved about your knowledge, from diagnostics, to treatment protocol as well as creating the infrastructure to make all the knowledge work in every practice. Dr Darbandi - “she made it possible for us to get where we needed to be in dry eye care, by upholding the standards”, and Dr Robben; (whom I could talk to all day) said “all the vendors had a program, and each have a specific outcome that works, what Patti did is combine all of them into a process that makes sense and doesn’t overwhelm the Physicians, patients or the support staff. Patti sees patient care as coming first and patient education second. Excellence is in her blood.”

[PB]“I am honored daily to work with the Bowden Eye staff and providers. Everyone has a role, mine gets to be the leader of excellence”.

 What do you see as dry eye challenges eye care practices face today? 

[PB] All practices are different and it’s hard to bring in something new since uniformity is difficult. Everyone has to agree to a standard of care. If there is no standard of care, no program will be successful. That makes it most important to have the Physician and administrators on the same page and is a large reason we have put together Dry Eye University.

As to Dry Eye management; who do you learn from? Read the journals, talk with sales representatives, and vendors whom have their own opinions but ultimately don’t see the full function in a practice? We have developed what works, what does not and found solutions to streamline the process.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a practice?

[PB] Ask why haven’t you added dry eye? You haven’t done your patients any favors.The dry eye patient has more value than the cataract patient. If you are doing it for money it’s the wrong reason. A successful practice will view dry eye as part of the developing culture that is really coming to light through patient education and outcomes.

To learn more about Dry Eye University, please visit

Many thanks for their time and help: Frank Bowden, MD, Bruny Ocasio, Sarah Darbandi, MDJerry Robben, OD and Patti Barkey for her time, talent and energy to make the eye care world better one eye at a time..

Building Team Morale on a Budget

budget - licensedWe’ve all worked for those guys: the employer that provides the minimum required benefits or maybe no benefits at all! Maybe you are that guy. These benefits are pretty consistent across the board and are no longer as attractive as they have been in the past.  Your team is the lifeblood of your practice. So how can you boost your employee morale by adding to the allure of your employee benefit package all without breaking the bank? I’m so glad you asked.

Offer ancillary health benefits:

While primary health insurance benefits are provided in nearly every practice, there are a number of additional health benefits you can provide

  • Varied policies- Healthcare policies are incredibly important to your team. Some policies may be too costly or lack proper coverage for a particular employee. Offering multiple levels of insurance or allowing the employee to upgrade can be the difference between accepting and declining an offer.
  • Supplemental Vision, Dental, life insurance and other similar policies can be offered. You can choose to cover all or part of the premiums.
  • Gym Memberships- Some gyms offer company packages with a number of memberships. You can provide these memberships to your team and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
  • 15 minute massage chair sessions – Massage chairs can be quite inexpensive.
    Allowing your team to sit and take 15 minutes to reset during break times can work wonders for relieving their stress. You might even need to make a wait list!

In Office Comfort:

Maintaining a comfortable work environment is alarmingly easy and quite a cheap way to build morale and reduce stress in your team. Small perks here and there add up and your team will really appreciate the small things.

  • Allow your team to personalize their work area, if applicable. Photos, plants, gadgets and other personal items help make your team feel like the area is theirs.
  • Keep plants around. Where appropriate, plants contribute to a natural, calming environment. Around the entrance, in offices, break rooms and on desks are all great locations for plants.
  • Keep the break room stocked. Healthy snacks, drinks and other consumables are all small additions that come with huge impacts. Things like juices, teas, coffee, peanuts, chips and even lunch items such as sandwiches or frozen foods will help your team feel cared for and appreciated.

Outings and Team Building:

Work is just that: work. Your team might not have the time to bond and create relationships while on the job. Fun days, nights and team building exercises are consistently proven to increase morale. Give your team a chance to go out with each other and play.

  • Hosting night outings at a piano bar or lounge with live music.
  • Engaging in team building exercises like ropes courses or other fun activities
  • Cater lunch one day out of the month. Choosing the food is a great incentive for top performers!
  • Simple fun days based around employee interests like snowboarding, boating, hiking, bowling, amusement parks, community events, etc.

Some more ideas:

  • Relaxed dress code days
  • Commuter/transit passes
  • Online education resources
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Small rewards for meeting goals (movie tickets, bottle of wine, restaurant voucher, etc.)

Implementing just one or a number of these perks can drastically improve the morale of your team. Of course, you can always communicate with your team and ask them what they would like to see. They may come up with some great ideas you and I never even thought of. The simple act of asking for their input may even boost their morale!



CEs to differentiate you from your competition!

IN-OFFICE: Differentiation

While there has been a proliferation of products and valuable segmentation in optical, it creates the dilemma of how to differentiate or separate you from the competition. Competition could be down the street, across town or online. What can make a difference?

—Mark Mattison-Shupnick

Proactive and Personalized in Optical

When patients leave your exam room and are handed off to the optical shop, does an optician not only greet them but also provide them with one-on-one attention? At my practice, which I run with my optician and office manager husband, Jason, one-on-one attention is the standard, even for those purchasing a value eyeglass package.

Offering a proactive and personalized approach to service in the optical also means being direct with patients about price. Some optometric practices take the view that you should hide the price until the patient is close to the checkout counter. We take a different view. We feel that patients appreciate having the price conversation up front. For that reason, Jason usually will ask the patient the price range he wishes to stay within. He also will calculate how much the patient’s vision benefit will cut the cost on a pair of eyeglasses, enabling the patient to stay within his price range while having as wide a selection as possible.

— Sherin George, OD

See Plus »


Designing Eyewear Based on Frame Styling

Johnna Dukes, ABOC

By taking charge of the frame selection process, you ensure your patient doesn’t choose a frame that isn’t a good partner to their prescription, virtually ensuring your patient makes a great decision. You’re helping make sure the frame fits properly, can be adjusted to their particular needs, and better still, you’re checking decentration to ensure the finished product will look great after their Rx is filled in that frame.

By sharing the information you know about how frames work with your patient, you are displaying your value. You are ensuring they are making a good spend of their money by making sure the frame they choose fits, looks great, is adjustable and is comfortable. For those of you who dislike frame styling, remember how important the frame is to how the finished eyewear works; the frame holds the prescription in place and is the delivery driver for ensuring the Rx works as prescribed. It’s a factor in the equation that is great vision.

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Kids and Contacts

Linda Conlin, ABOC, NCLEC

Pediatric contact lens fitting is another area in which ECPs can offer unique products and services. A 2006 survey by Johnson & Johnson found that only 2 percent of practitioners fit contact lenses for children ages 10 and younger, and only 38 percent had prescribed lenses for children between 10 and 12 years old. Among the most common reasons they gave for reluctance to fit younger children were increased risk of noncompliance, lack of communication of problems and increased chair time. But how much of that is perception and not reality?

Consider the following: By age 2, children’s eyes are the same size as adults’ eyes, reducing the need for pediatric specialty lenses. Children tend to be healthier than adults and therefore have fewer systemic considerations for contact lens wear. Younger children tend to “follow the rules” and have closer adult supervision. According to a 2007 study of 84 children ages 8 to 12 and 85 children ages 13 to 17 newly fit with contact lenses, the younger group required only 15 minutes more chair time over three months.

The realities of fitting younger children with contact lenses made an impact because a subsequent study of optometrists found that 71 percent were currently prescribing lenses to children 10 to 12 years old, and 21 percent were more likely to fit that age group than they were the year before. Why the turnaround? The ODs cited children’s increased participation in athletics, increased interest in contact lenses at a younger age and increases in children’s confidence with contact lenses over spectacles.

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An Introduction to Low Vision

Kara Pasner, OD

They say growing old is a privilege but growing up is optional. Regardless of how young we feel or act, age does take its toll on our bodies—our eyes notwithstanding. With age, there are ocular changes, which are considered “normal” and then there are changes, which aren’t. There are quantitative changes, such as a slight reduction in visual acuity, which are measurable in an eye exam. The other changes are qualitative changes, which are difficult to assess since they rely on a patient’s complaints. Usually they are complaints about a slight reduction in brightness, decreased contrast sensitivity, colors seeming duller and increased glare. These normal changes are relatively mild and can be perceived as an overall reduction in visual function—leaving some patients to say things like the familiar phrase, “I just don’t see as well as I used to.”

See Plus »


Promoting Sunglass Sales Through Social Media

Tim Slapnicher, ABOC

You’re familiar with Facebook by now. It’s a part of our culture for sure. People are staring down at their phones at the mall, the restaurant, the concert and definitely at your private practice. Even if you’re not on Facebook yet, you know about it and know how people get sucked in it for hours.

Use this to your advantage. If they’re staring at everything in their “feed,” have them stare at your optical and especially your sunwear. They won’t be interested in eye diseases, and they already know how trustworthy your optical is. So focus on sunwear. In fact, I believe for every five posts that private practices post on Facebook, three of the posts should showcase sunglasses. And it should all be client-driven.

Make sure to use at least one iPad (you’ll need tablets to do this effectively) in your optical shop dedicated to taking photos of your clients. Take photos of clients trying on sunglasses. Take photos of clients picking up their sunglasses. Have them take selfies—they love this. Take a video of their excitement, capturing that “ah-ha” moment of putting on polarized sunwear for the first time. You know how cool you are, but when your clients are doing the bragging for you, your credibility goes much further.

See Plus »


Benefits of In-Office Edging

Alex Bennett, ABOC

Edging ophthalmic lenses has come a long way from hand-edging glass lenses on ceramic cutting wheels; the newest revolution in edging systems is the development of automated multi-axis, computer-controlled routers that can accurately match the bevel of the lens to the frame groove. Some models can drill, edge groove, polish, pin bevel and even engrave lenses. While the up-front cost of these systems may be expensive, they can save your office money in the long run while increasing revenue.

The major benefits of offering an in-office edging system are to lower your lab bills and decrease your turnaround time to your patients.

See Plus »


The Store is the Stage

Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM

“The store is the stage, with scenery, lighting and music…”

Imagine as you walk into your store, that all of a sudden your store is a theatre. Where everything counts, the setup of the store is the scenery in which you communicate with the eyewear consumer.

Imagine your role, and how important your role is in that specific theatre and whatever you say, whatever you do can set the tone for the conversation. You can bring a frame to life, you can make a huge impact in somebody’s appearance, and you can be part of the compliments customers receive tomorrow as they go to church or a movie theatre, and they will think of you.

So you as an actor, bringing this frame to life, are going to be a very important part of the consumer experience in the context of the Art of Retailing.

How to choose a new practice and should you use a recruiter?

optiproRecruiters are like air traffic controllers, we are working with clients that are hiring, and candidates that have become available,  a good recruiter takes into consideration both the client (practice) as well as the candidate ( employee)

it all starts with you, at the helm making a decision on your best future,  a good recruiter has been trained to evaluate you – and your goals, and what your new career holds in growth, development, and success. we learn about your strengths, weaknesses, and thoughts. so be really frank with us.. as we will direct you based on your information.

whether you use a recruiter or not – my tips for your best success.

tips for choosing your new practice include, location, life balance and longevity

- coming out of school or being a long term physician, the location will be essential to your success.

-location,  its nice to make 1 million dollars but live in the worst place ever, and hate the patients that you care for.  (best places to practice)

so lets take a moment and create a list for everything for your best placement.

- lifestyle, what do you like to do before and after work?  are there reasonable accommodations to recharge yourself?

- have family, friends, and loved ones been considered in the relocation.

- longevity is essential: while there are big boxes, big corporations and little practices.  determine what environment you would prefer to practice in  - long term.

look for strategic advantages to joining a practice or corporation, from the engagement with other physicians to learning new ways to perform at your best.

long term placements in our industry mean you are always learning, and adapting.

- look for progressive development within the practice.  

my  personal formula for assessing a new client -imatters represents the top 20% in the eyecare industry ( your future employer) :

old equipment = no progression and/or Paper charts = no progression

that usually means financial issues or lack of motivation.  ( sorry to be harsh!)

growth, what does the practice offer in growth and support.

what is the culture of the practice like? do that provide assistance in growing your future, offer incentives like bonuses, or do they pay a higher wage to avoid any “soft selling”

benefits, the hidden gem- make no decisions without a full understanding of the benefits to you and your costs. it can make a $10- 50k difference in your income.

if the practice is working with a recruiter- what to look for:

how is that firm being hired – there are 3 types of choices:

- retained by the employer - this gives the recruiting firm a “head start” on finding candidates, and making more information available right from the start, such as the employer name, location, almost transparent in information. but the recruiter again is not paid in full until placement.

service provided by the employer- the best ever! this means the client       ( employer) has hired the firm to review the candidates available, make recommendations on the best choices, and assist in long term placement               ( imatters services provided by employer, aka 100% paid) 

- contingency - means the recruiter is not paid until a placement is made – that can be dicey, given the recruiter tends to sell a job not a career.  they may not have your best interest in mind.

now we have not addressed those firms that cost you the hire (candidate)  a fee. 

there are many firms that will take your information and circulate it to prospective employers, this is dicey too. as you may have to pay a fee for finding the career, or even worse, not be able to get a job because the firm did this.          ( this will be addressed in my next post)

 imatters works with top notch practices throughout the US, we provide confidentiality to yourself in your search, as well as the most amount of  information for you to make the best decision on your career!  contact imatters at 866.412.4115 or visit our website blog for more tips!

Meet us at vision expo!

imatters will be walking the floor and is on call to schedule meetings throughout the show.

Give us a call- 866.412.4115 or email to schedule your meeting!

why culture matters

It’s time to interview !

imatters understands exactly where you are and what is happening.  To make it as easy as possible to make the right decision, We’ve outlined the five key characteristics to look for in a company culture.

Finding the right culture fit takes time, but it’s the greatest investment you’ll make.

  1. Low Turnover:

When it comes to your interview, don’t be afraid to ask how long the previous person worked in that role. Ideally, you want to learn and grow in a position for at least two years. Joining a company with happy co-workers who are passionate about what they do will make you want to work harder.

  1. Great Training:

It’s also important to ask what kind of training programs the company offers. Learning a new skill not only raises your worth in the eyes of your boss,  and can give you a personal boost of self-confidence. If your company doesn’t offer the training that you are interested in don’t be discouraged, a quick Google search will lead you to online classes that you can take on your own. Learn from the best, go to your National Associations in the eyecare industry. We have found they are more than willing to assist in your development

  1. No Egos:

Remember, you’re interviewing a company as much as they’re interviewing you. Come to that meeting with a plan of action on how you could grow the position by working with others. You want to be in a culture where employees get praised and rewarded on a job well done. Steer clear of environments where workers are pitted against each other. You’ll find the best work you do will come from the help of others.

  1. Feedback’s a must! 

Ask: does this company stage reviews regularly? Or, possibly even more importantly, do these reviews allow the employee to give their advice on the pros and cons of the process? Always make sure when you’re giving feedback to your boss, to start with what’s working first. As for what’s not working, come with a thoughtful solution for making things better. Never finger point or cast blame on co-workers.

  1. Work-Life Balance:

One of the key components to work-life balance is management. Great managers know how to delegate, train and hire the best talent. Work-life balance means 8-9 hour days with a lunch break, two weeks plus paid vacation and PTO days. The occasional late night or weekend work is okay, and should be expected. Come to work focused and stay on task. If you find yourself in the office late every night, never be afraid to ask for help, especially if it’s known you’re taking on a lot!

imatters knows staffing. for 13 years in staffing and 50+ years knowledge in  the eyecare field – we wanted better for ourselves and our community. imatters offers top talent, skilled recruiters and proven techniques to assist our clients and candidates to develop those paths of education and growth.

we are in it for the long haul, learn more about us at or give us a call at 866.412.4115

How to Approach Each Interview for Maximum Efficiency

Somebody came more prepared than others...Quality interviews are crucial for the success of your company during the hiring process.

As you continue to hire new people, asking the right questions in an interview will help ensure you get a clear snapshot of who your candidates are right from the start. So, how do you know if you are asking the right questions to best identify if a candidate is a proper fit?

Taking the time to ask hard-hitting questions in each interview will increase the likelihood you’ll uncover any potential issues with a candidate early.

For example, how the candidate chooses to respond to questions that require an in-depth response will provide a better understanding of who they are, and therefore, make it easier to make the best decision in choosing your next employee.

Furthermore, this will also help save time and money by possibly uncovering any problems that would arise down the line.

A good strategy I like to use to help uncover information about candidates is what I like to call the “linking approach”.  The linking approach refers to the way the questions are posed to the candidate by having questions build off each other to form a grander story about the candidate’s previous experiences.

For example, to best use this method, the interviewer begins with a generalized and open question, such as identifying a specific item on the candidate’s resume and asking them to talk about it.

Depending on how the candidate chooses to respond to the initial open-ended question, this opens up a wonderful opportunity to ask more detail-oriented questions related to the one initially asked, such as:

How did you get into eye care?

What do you love about your career?

Would you recommend a friend or family member consider a career in eyes?

What goals do you have in making a career move to our practice?

Managers and Leaders-

Tell me about your best experience in eyes

  • What did you contribute to make that a success?
  • Were you happy with the result?
  • Were you solely responsible, or did you work with a team?
  • What were some challenges you ran into, and what did you do to overcome them?
  • How do you see yourself here in our practice?

Although each interview process ranges based on position, and level of experience, using the aforementioned method during an interview offers a conversational approach and challenges each candidate to be as specific as possible.

Furthermore, inviting a candidate to elaborate on examples of successful and difficult situations in their professional life will provide you, the employer, with valuable insight to their previous experience and illustrate how well they may perform in your current job opening.

While it can be tough to identify weaknesses in potential candidates, it is extremely important to differentiate a qualified candidate from just an average candidate.

The trick is asking the right questions and then reflecting on both the content and delivery of their answers.”

it is just as important for interviewers to listen for how each candidate approaches their response.

To do this, pay close attention to how the candidate responds to each question.

While someone may be appealing on paper, how they articulate themselves will truly differentiate them from the pack and confirm their qualification for the job. Using the linking approach to ask follow-up questions also forces the candidates to think of a response on the spot, which is another great quality to assess.

Incorporating the linking approach provides the interviewer creative liberty to take the conversation in any direction necessary while uncovering crucial points about a candidate. Interviews are the gateway to making quality hires, and hopefully by using this approach in your next interview, you will be better prepared to hire the best talent.

At imatters this is our strategic advantage in using our recruiting services. We ask those and more questions to understand the motivation, development goals and situational concerns for both the client and potential employee.

Contact us today to see the best potential candidates in your market.


Author: Cecilia Rae – Content Writer at iCIMS, Inc