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- Get to Know Daniel J. Press, OD, FCOVD
Please share with us your background.
I am an honors graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. Prior to my present position at North Suburban Vision Consultants (NSVC) in Park Ridge and Deerfield, Illinois, I practiced for more than 5 years at Family Eyecare Associates in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. I am board certified by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) in vision therapy and rehabilitation. I have been an elected member of the board of directors of COVD since 2012 and am currently president-elect of the organization. I am also a member of the American Optometric Association, Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, Optometric Extension Program Foundation, and The American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control. Additionally, I am adjunct faculty of the Indiana University School of Optometry, Illinois College of Optometry, and Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University.
What drew you to optometry and, specifically, to your field of interest?
I have always had an interest in child development and have a natural knack for effectively communicating with children. When considering a career in the medical profession, I knew that I wanted to work with the pediatric population.
I went into optometry because my father, Leonard J. Press, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, is an optometrist. I did not understand the full scope of what that meant until a Rutgers’ classmate encouraged me to shadow my father during a winter break. Watching him in practice piqued my interest in optometry and vision therapy, in particular. When he was elected president of COVD while I was still an undergraduate student, we attended his inauguration. Being at that meeting with people who shared his interest and passion for what they were doing further fueled my interest in optometry. It was life changing because I had never experienced comradery at that level.
After I graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, I went to work with and learn from both him and my mother, who was his practice manager. I worked there for 5 years before moving to Illinois to join my now-partner S. Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO, at NSVC.
Please describe your current position.
I am the director of Pediatric Eye Care, Binocular Vision, and Vision Therapy Services at NSVC. I provide comprehensive eye and vision care for infants, children, and adults and oversee everything related to vision development and rehabilitation. By providing functional and developmental testing, I am able to identify visual dysfunctions in children and adults and to determine the appropriate therapy, if any. I also specialize in the management of progressive myopia and have extensive experience using research-proven methods to help slow the progression of childhood myopia. I enjoy lecturing on all topics of visual development, which includes myopia. I feel fortunate to practice at NSVC because Dr. Eiden has brought together multiple specialties in optometry and ophthalmology in one private practice. We all work together and learn from each other in order to provide high level, comprehensive vision care to our patients.
Who are/were your mentors?
My number one mentor is my older brother, Elliot. When I was an undergraduate, he motivated and inspired me to buckle down and focus on the future; to do what needs to be done and not make any excuses. He set an example by getting accepted into and graduating from West Point after first serving several years in active duty military, which is a very rare accomplishment.
In optometry, my father has been an incredible mentor on how to conduct yourself as a professional and as a person inside and outside of the office. His work ethic, his thirst for learning, and his passion for sharing his knowledge with others never ceases to amaze me.
Dr. Eiden, my current partner, has taught me how to make the most out of my abilities in a private practice setting and how to practice optometry at its highest level. He sets a great example of being involved in organized optometry in order to give back and gives a wonderful perspective on balancing professional and home life.
What are some new technological advances that you have found particularly exciting? Which advances in the pipeline are you most enthusiastic or curious about?
I am very excited about research being conducted in virtual reality and augmented reality, and I am interested in seeing how the technology of both can be used to assist in developing visual skills in the vision therapy room, especially helping to rehabilitate patients with brain injury. I think the application of the technology is going to continue to expand and eventually make its way into the examination room. I can see it changing practice by allowing us to simulate real-life situations in the examination room so that we can better diagnose and treat patients.
What advice do you have for your colleagues about incorporating vision development into their practice?
It is very difficult to “dabble” in this area, so if you are going to commit to bringing on a specialty practice within vision development (ie, vision therapy, myopia control) you have to go all in. If you are serious about it, do not expect to build a practice in a short amount of time. You have to put the time in, attend meetings, talk to colleagues, and be a sponge when it comes to reading journals related to vision development. Two great resources are Vision Development and Rehabilitation, the journal of COVD, and Optometry & Visual Performance.
If you are not personally willing to do it or do not have the time to do it because you are involved in other areas, then find a young OD who can be can be responsible for developing that area of your practice. A good place to start is to look for an OD who has residency training in pediatric vision therapy and vision development.
What guidance can you offer to individuals who are just now choosing their career paths after finishing OD school?
I strongly encourage new ODs to try to identify a specialty area within optometry that they are passionate about. It does not mean that it is all you have to do, but consider working to develop your niche to be identified as someone having special expertise within that area. Technology is changing rapidly and the way your grandfather practiced optometry (and mine did) is going by the wayside.
I also advise all optometrists, not just young ODs, to make sure you realize your own value. Do not be afraid to ask to be compensated fairly for your time. We have unique knowledge and expertise that has the potential to change lives. If we do not value ourselves appropriately, then how can we expect others to?
What would you like your colleagues to know about vision therapy?
The field of vision therapy has come a long way in the last decade, and there is an incredible amount of research supporting the work we are doing in this area. I would like to see every optometrist develop a comfort level in identifying patients who have visual dysfunctions and offer the help that we are uniquely positioned to provide. Many times a comprehensive history is all you need to identify these patients. A good start is to give patients the COVD Quality of Life Survey that you can find at covd.org/page/QOLSurvey. If an OD is not comfortable in this area, then I would love to see them referring to someone in their community with advanced expertise in the areas of vision development and vision rehabilitation, such as an FCOVD. You can locate a doctor with this expertise at the COVD website: covd.org.
Daniel J. Press, OD, FCOVD
• director of Pediatric Eye Care, Binocular Vision, and Vision Therapy Services at North Suburban Vision Consultants in Park Ridge and Deerfield, Illinois
• adjunct faculty of the Indiana University School of Optometry, Illinois College of Optometry, and Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
• financial interest: none acknowledged