Dr. Matthew Martin Shares How He Grew and Established a Successful Myopia Management Practice

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March 1, 2024

In this video, Review of Myopia Management’s Chief Medical Editor Dwight Akerman, OD, MBA, FAAO, FBCLA, FIACLE, interviewed Matthew Martin, OD, FIAOMC, from Auburn Optical of Auburn, Michigan. In this discussion, Dr. Martin talks all things myopia management, including how he grew and established a successful myopia management clinic, how he navigates conversations with parents, advice for adopting myopia management as a specialty, and more.

Watch or read the full interview here:

Dwight Akerman, OD, MBA, FAAO, FBCLA, FIACLE: Hello, and welcome to the Review of Myopia Management educational video series. I’m Dr. Dwight Ackerman, the Chief Medical Editor for Review of Myopia Management, and we’re here today with Dr. Matthew Martin, owner of Auburn Optical in Auburn, Michigan. Dr. Martin specializes in myopia management, and tonight he’ll be discussing many different tips and techniques about establishing and growing a myopia management practice. We want to thank CooperVision for sponsoring this video, and we also want to thank Dr. Martin for sharing his extensive expertise. So, Dr. Martin, first question, what’s established? What are the most effective ways to grow a myopia management practice?

Matthew Martin, OD, FIAOMC: I have a lot of thoughts on this, and I think there are some totally amazing paths to really developing a myopia management practice and to develop that aspect of it in even a practice that’s already established. I think the first thing is to start looking for those myopia management patients, and that means looking for parents who are nearsighted, especially highlighting parents who are very nearsighted, and also when you’re working with patients, start delivering the message that myopia can be slowed down and that we should be taking the effort and the time to really work to slow down the progression of these children’s myopia. As you know, myopia has been growing both in amounts and the amount of people who show myopia, and this is a good opportunity for all doctors who have practices to be involved in trying to slow down the myopia epidemic. And I think it really starts with talking to parents, talking to children, being approachable, and staying on theme. What I mean by staying on theme is if you’re going to talk about myopia management, we want to talk about it sometimes year after year.  We’ll see a kid, maybe they’re not as hyperopic as we would like to be, so we talk to the parents and we say, ‘Next year when we see them, we want to know where their prescription is, where their axial length is, how they’re doing,’ so that the parents aren’t surprised if we start introducing it over the course of time. So, I think for an established practice, the key is just being open and then having those conversations on a daily basis with consistency.

Dr. Akerman: So, along those lines, what tips would you share that have helped you successfully navigate conversations with parents of myopic children?

Dr. Martin: Yeah, I think the big key for this is to let parents know that there are things that the children should be doing. They should be getting more outdoor time. They should be eating as healthy as possible. We want to reduce the amount of time they spend on their cell phones and the amount of time they spend on their tablets. One of my big themes for the summer of 2023 was that there is nothing worse for your child than lying in bed looking at TikTok videos at one in the morning, and I really wanted to get that on the parents’ radar. Parents love when you have that conversation with children because they already believe those themes, and they want their kids to be a little less cell phone dependent. So, I think that’s one of the really easy things that we can get to decreasing the amount of tech time, especially cell phones, and increasing the amount of outdoor time that we can get kids to do. It’s going to help slow down the myopia progression that their kids are seeing.

Dr. Akerman: So, you’ve given us some tips about growing a practice that’s already doing myopia management. How would you advise optometrists who are interested in starting myopia management as a subspecialty in their primary care practice?

Dr. Martin: I am so glad you asked this. I think it starts in a number of ways. The first thing that needs to happen is doctors need to embrace the opportunities that are out there. Let’s take OrthoK for an example. It would be a great idea to go and get a CRT fit set and just start fitting some patients. There is no greater magic within the bounds of eye care than orthokeratology. When you can take a patient, fit them into an OrthoK retainer at night, and then they come in the next day, and they can see without glasses. It is the best thing that you have ever done in your career. It just makes your whole day; it makes your whole week. It’s magic. And so many doctors are afraid to just try it. Get yourself a fit set, start fitting some lenses, call up the company, order empirically, let’s go. Let’s do it. Once you do it, you’re going to be addicted to it, and it’s going to be the most fun part of your whole day and the most fun part of your whole practice.

Dr. Akerman: Well, I fully agree. I oftentimes use that phrase, ‘let’s get proactive.’ So, I fully support everything you’ve said. I want you to think back. What advice would you give your younger self about overcoming real or perceived barriers in myopia management? I know you’ve been practicing myopia management for many, many years, but think back, what advice would you give your younger self?

Dr. Martin: I think the biggest thing that I would tell my younger self is to be brave to have the conversation. Sometimes doctors find it awkward to discuss a child’s potential myopia or a child’s quickly growing myopia. And sometimes you just need to be brave enough to sit down with parents and say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on. We have the opportunity to do something about it. Let’s talk about options. Let’s talk about what things that we can do to help slow down your child and prevent them from being the -7.00D, -8.00D, or -9.00D myope that maybe the parents are.’ Those are conversations that sometimes people are just afraid to have. And we need to be brave and we need to be honest, and we need to be forthcoming, and we need to have those conversations that we can improve the lives of those children. We can improve the lives of those people when they’re adults.

Dr. Akerman: And Dr. Martin, how many years have you been practicing myopia management?

Dr. Martin: Thank you so much for asking. I started with OrthoK in 2002, so I have been doing OrthoK for about 22 years now. And honestly, as I said earlier, it is the best thing that we can do in eye care, and it is incredibly rewarding, and it is such a joy to work with children and such a joy to work with parents who want the best for their children.

Dr. Akerman: Dr. Martin, you practice in Auburn, Michigan, which is a relatively small Midwestern town. I oftentimes hear from practitioners that there’s just not enough demand for myopia management in small towns. How would you answer that?

Dr. Martin: I’m so glad you asked that question. The metropolis that I live in actually has only 2,000 people. So, that tells you exactly the size of the town we’re in. Now, we are surrounded by a couple of larger size cities, or larger size towns, in our area, and the truth of it is when you offer specialty care and when you are as enthusiastic about specialty care as you should be, and especially for myopia management, people will drive. I have people that drive two and a half, three hours, to come see us. People will drive past 27 other doctors to come to our office, and it’s because we offer orthokeratology. It’s because we offer MiSight 1 day lenses. It’s because we’re doing myopia management. We’re working with patients. We want them to be successful, and we’re good at communicating our enthusiasm. So, my answer to that is there is no practice or location that is too small that can’t generate good myopia management success if the doctor and the staff are willing to put in some time and effort – and not even that much time and effort – to offer specialty care with enthusiasm and with encouragement for patients to be successful.

Dr. Akerman: Great advice. Dr. Martin, thank you very much for sharing your wealth of knowledge and expertise. It’s truly amazing what you’ve done in your practice, and we appreciate your time today. And thank you, CooperVision, for sponsoring this video.

Dr. Martin: Dwight, it’s an absolute pleasure to have been with you today, and I can’t tell you how excited I still am. I have been practicing OrthoK for 22 years and myopia management in its different forms for quite a while now, and every day is exciting, and everybody in eye care should be absolutely doing this because honestly, it’s wonderful stuff.

Dr. Akerman: Well, once again, thank you Dr. Martin for your in-depth description of how to build a myopia management specialty. It’s been an amazing journey for you, and we really appreciate you sharing your knowledge.

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