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Meet Dr. John Elman, Optometrist in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Elman.

John, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up, I had an interest in music and science. My family discouraged me from going into music and pushed me to go into a field where I would be more assured of making a living. I chose optometry. After graduating from optometry school, I could see there were a couple directions I could go–working for some group, or starting my own business. As most new graduates, I worked in various practices large and small, but after a couple years I wanted to start my own business, which I did in the 1970’s. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, and growing up I always liked to come over the hill to Santa Monica, especially in the summer. So when the opportunity arose I opened my office in Santa Monica. I had an office on Pico Boulevard for over 25 years, then moved to the downtown area in 2001. Santa Monica is world destination, and in the downtown area you can walk everywhere, it is very unusual in Los Angeles to get to things by walking, but Santa Monica is the exception, and I enjoy being here.

Has it been a smooth road?
Anyone who opens a business and sustains it for decades is going to have some struggles doing it. Hopefully you have a realistic vision of what your business can be. When you find a location you like you have to deal with financing, landlords, building designers, government agencies, utility companies, employees, and the people you are serving. Hopefully you know your business well and make your customers, or patients in the case of a medical office, happy. But in the end, it is very satisfying because whether you fail or succeed you have no one to blame but yourself. When you succeed you can be proud you did it.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Dr John W Elman Optometrist story. Tell us more about the business.
I have a general optometry office. I examine eyes and determine and treat people’s eye and vision problems. The treatment may involve eye drops, eyeglasses or contact lenses. Or it might involve referring them to another health care provider. The first priority in an exam is to treat the main complaint of a patient. An exam, even if it is only to refit contact lenses, involves checking the health of the eyes. It is surprising how many patients come in just to renew a prescription on their contact lenses, and who have no complaint, actually are wearing lenses that are inappropriate. I try to always have the latest lenses available and trying them is part of the fitting process. I have a small office and treat each individual with the care I would expect from those professionals I go to. I have used computers for medical record keeping since the 1980’s, but I use tools that I think appropriate for each individual and probably what sets me apart is the experience I have had.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
There are always new products and procedures in medical care that help the outcome of people with various conditions, including eye conditions. New imaging instruments allow for more definition and detail. People are working on various retinal implants that may help blind people see, and annually there are new intra ocular lens implant designs to restore vision to people after cataract surgery.

Unfortunately, there are trends occurring in the healthcare industry in general and for optometry specifically that are not necessarily good. Because health insurance companies are paying providers less, patients are getting short changed. Primary care physicians are expected to know everything and insurance companies tend to penalize them for referring to specialists or having them do diagnostic tests which might give the patient a better outcome. In optometry, contact lenses are treated more like commodities rather than health care devices. Certain companies are advocating online eye exams. There is no way an online exam is going to be the same as an in person visit to the doctor’s office. The internet will continue to be a great resource for all kinds of information, but it is just a tool to help direct you to what healthcare choices are available. There will probably be more online websites that will claim that for a cheap fee, they will give an exam and provide you a prescription for glasses or contact lenses. They will provide a prescription but is it what you should have? What else are they missing in the online exam? When it comes to vision care so much of it is subjective, and needs to be evaluated by a trained, experienced professional.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
My dog Gizmo is usually in the office, When Howie Mandel walked in to the office one day I introduced him to Gizmo and Howie told me he was the voice of Gizmo in the Gremlin movies.

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