First, let it be said. There is absolutely nothing wrong with serving the primary eyecare needs of patients, offering a fundamental scope of diagnostic and therapeutic services to reach a wide range of patients with eyecare and eyewear fitting expertise. Optometry has fought long and hard for those privileges.

Second, let it be said that there are very compelling reasons today for eye doctors to set their practices apart. Specialty services, unique treatments, specific testing, specialty products, rehabilitative care and disease management can differentiate one practice from another.

A specialty can open up and deepen relationships with patients and families in your local practice area. And, specialties are one way to draw patients in from distant areas. Patients suffering from PTSD or concussions will drive hours to seek relief and help with their vision. A parent whose child is compromising learning due to vision issues will travel miles for regular vision therapy sessions. As the latest research about myopia widens, new initiatives for increasing awareness about the incidence of myopia among children and its correlation to serious vision issues later in life is already gaining more traction.

The digital media revolution seems an idea far afield from this. But it’s not. It’s actually a facilitator. The internet and social media drive and create communities. Some 60 percent of patients today consult “Dr. Google” about health conditions first, before they are sitting in front of a healthcare professional. They are armed with questions and information, they want answers and want to locate and find those eye doctors with answers, too.

Social media posts can build connections and reinforce a doctor’s expertise in a specialty.

Social and digital media amplify messages about eyecare niches. It creates bonds among people who search for similar solutions. Do they overlap? Sometimes. Where does pediatric ‘end’ and ‘myopia’ begin? Where does dry eye stop and aesthetics start?

It’s all good, isn’t it, if patients are asking questions, responding to treatments and solutions and if they are more engaged.

VM calls specialization a ‘Megatrend’ because its a concept that spans many aspects of eyecare practice today—and sets the groundwork for even better healthcare outcomes tomorrow.