Tips4EyeDocs has the honor of spotlighting Deegan Lew, OD FAAO. Dr. Lew has a wide breadth of experience in eye care. His undergraduate degree is in Animal Physiology from the University of California, San Diego and his Doctor of Optometry from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry. Dr. Lew completed a post-graduate residency in Hospital Based Optometry at the AlbuquerqueVA Medical Center.
Prior to joining the Faculty at the University of Colorado, he performed peri-surgical care for LasikPlus Centers in Colorado, California, New Mexico, and Utah, and TLC Laser Eye Center of La Jolla, California. He lectures to other optometrist, nationally, in the areas of refractive surgery and diseases of the eye. He owned a practice in Poway, California, was voted as California’s Young Optometrist of the Year and was formerly a Faculty Member of the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry. Especially noteworthy also are his multiple licenses, some several years after graduation.
Dr. Lew enjoys biking and skiing in his time outside of the clinic.
What is differnt about practicing in your setting as opposed to private practice?
The most noticeable difference between the two is that I don’t worry
nearly as much about running a business as when I was in private
practice. Although I’m concerned with patient volume, metrics goals,
and patient satisfaction, I have no responsibilities in watching over
labor costs and cost of goods, or managing staff members. Being a
part of a hospital faculty has enabled me to concentrate on what I was
trained to do in optometry school and residency–being a good
optometrist. On a daily basis, I have relatively complex cases which
require my full clinical attention. For the well being of the
patient, I cannot afford to be distracted by practice management
How can an optometrist prepare themselves for such a position?
My advice for students in training is to find their passion in
optometry. Although there are no formal specialties in the
profession, find out what part of optometry excites you. Once you
find that one thing, focus on being the best that you can in that
area. For me, I found that ocular disease was my passion in my third
year of optometry school. If there is an opportunity to attain
residency training, do it. There is no better place to do
concentrated training in your specialty than in residency. Other than
training, a residency offers an opportunity to build bridges with
affiliate hospitals, university faculty, and the ophthalmic industry.
My advice to current practitioners is to study, join specialty
societies, and network with your local physicians. A largely
overlooked resource are industry sales representatives.
If you could give 3 tips to any optometrist about managing pathology, what would you say?
The first tip to managing pathology is to understand the “why” of apathological presentation, rather than “what.” In optometry school,we are well-trained to identify many eye diseases–that is the “what,”as in, “what is it?” However, eye disease, sometimes does not presentin a “text book” fashion. There are variants and co-morbidities that affect the way a disease is seen. The “why,” means “why does the disease present this way?” Understanding the “why” helps us analytically diagnose at treat with more accuracy and effectiveness.
The second tip is to understand the drug formularies of your patients’
insurances. The medications you prescribe are only as effective as
your patients’ willingness to take them. I know it is common practice
to prescribe that latest medications, but often new medications are
non-formulary or Tier 3. Some patients will delay or decline the
purchase of a medication because of it’s costliness.
Lastly, read, read, and read again. The understanding of disease and
treatment paradigms constantly change. Keeping current with clinical
studies benefits the patient as well as the doctor.