Making a Difference Every Day
By the time Ryan Corte, OD, graduated from optometry school, he had a clear picture in his mind of how he wanted to practice. He planned to provide full-scope care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to diagnosing and managing eye diseases and the ocular complications of systemic conditions. “During my rotations at Ohio State, I realized how much I appreciate being able to treat ocular disease,” he says. “After graduation, I completed a residency in ocular disease and primary care at the Illinois Eye Institute. In my mind, if I wasn’t going to be offering my patients everything I could, whether it relates to low vision, binocular vision conditions, specialty contact lenses, disease management, etc., I wouldn’t be serving them properly.”
Now, less than a year after finishing his residency, Dr. Corte’s plan is in full swing. He works at two practices in North Carolina (Premier Family Eye Care and Modern Eye Care) and his approach allows him to impact patients in a positive way every day. In many cases, the care he provides is life-changing. Take for example the gentleman who recently made an appointment with Dr. Corte because he wanted to find out if multifocal contact lenses would help him to see better. His pupils weren’t dilated at that first visit because dilation prevents an accurate assessment of accommodation, which interferes with the multifocal contact lens fitting. However, when he was dilated during his follow-up visit, Dr. Corte observed arteriovenous nicking in his retina, which is an indication of hypertension. Dr. Corte recommended the patient, who hadn’t had a physical or eye exam in several years, see his primary care doctor. Sure enough, the next time the patient came to see Dr. Corte, the first thing he did was thank him. His primary care doctor found that his blood pressure was “through the roof” and started him on medication to address the problem right away. He had also been counseled about exercise and a proper diet, which he realized could add years to his life.
“The patient was so thankful that I picked up on this,” Dr. Corte says. “And this type of scenario plays out on a daily basis in our offices. This is where the rubber meets the road for me and what motivates me in practice. It’s very gratifying to impact someone’s life not only in the way I go about their eye care but also going the extra mile to pay attention to their overall health. It’s what I truly enjoy, and I wouldn’t practice any other way.”
When it comes to glasses and contact lenses, patients can experience instant benefits, Dr. Corte notes. “It’s an amazing feeling to get someone into a pair of contacts or glasses, especially someone whose vision has been uncorrected for a while, and see his or her face light up because the vision is so clear,” he says. “You can really see the confidence it creates in middle school students and teens, too.”
Extending Optometry’s Reach
Dr. Corte has also taken advantage of opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people more than a thousand miles away from where he practices. Last spring, he and another optometrist traveled with a group of Ohio State optometry students to the Gamertsfelder Medical Center in Jamaica, where they screened for cataracts in patients who without the Center would have very little if any access to eyecare services. Their team, working on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, encountered not only cataracts but also other serious problems, including a retinal detachment, diabetic retinopathy and neovascular glaucoma.
“It was an incredible experience,” Dr. Corte explains. “The people were so gracious. There are many opportunities through a variety of groups, such as VOSH and SVOSH, to do this type of outreach. Whether it’s on a mission trip or at home, optometrists have the ability to provide the gift of sight. You just don’t get that in every profession.”
Read More True Stories
Have you downloaded True Stories, the free booklet brought to you by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry? This must-read resource provides lots of valuable nuts-and-bolts information about how to pursue an optometric career. Beyond that, it inspires with engaging narratives that illustrate how optometrists help their patients live life to the fullest.