The annual IOA / Silmo International Optician of the Year Award recognises the importance of the optician in the optical business and their role in the choice of the optimum products for their clientele. Read on to find out more about one of the opticians who have been shortlisted for this prestigious award.
Optician Charlie Saccarelli ABOM is president of Chadwick Optical in the USA. He says, “While doctors examine the eye from the outside in, opticians have the unique opportunity to work with the patient on how they process the world from the inside out. I truly believe that vision is the most important and most used of our five senses — with information relating to vision occupying well over half of our brain’s processing power. As an optician, I create the filter through which most of the patient’s world is processed.”
Charlie first started working with lenses at just eight years old. “I was fascinated that these funny pieces of plastic could bend light in such a way that it would allow people to see clearly. I had the unique opportunity to learn the various complexities of what patients need from a very early age. That hands-on experience helped the young entrepreneur in me to build my vision for Chadwick Optical. I wanted to serve the anomalies. I wanted to serve a very unique group of patients that have heard ‘no’ too many times elsewhere.”
Charlie took over Chadwick Optical in 2013 with the mission to create eyeglasses that change people’s lives. “Often times, it takes some innovation and design. My team and I have to dig a little deeper to figure out what is best for a particular patient. I have to look at the patient differently. I can’t just look at the prescription and the diagnosis and the charts. I have to ask what is it like to be the patient? What obstacles are they facing? How can I make their life better? What can I do to radically improve their quality of life?
“If obsessively seeking answers to these questions is a disease, then innovation, creativity, communication skills, engagement, specialization and advocacy is the cure. If something doesn’t exist, my team and I figure out how to make it. I don’t stop searching because it’s never been made before or it’s not commercially available; it is my responsibility to create until I find the right solution.”
Charlie and his team are adept at problem solving. He says, “Where my team and I don’t possess the technical ability, we find out who to ask and where to find it. We’ve gotten creative by utilizing the services of machine shops, welders and jewelers— we even have a small in-house machine shop and 3D printing operation. We’ve used all of these tools to prototype and create solutions for our patients. Our passion for helping others keeps driving us to create products that are both accessible and practical.”
While creating these solutions is of the utmost importance to Charlie, so is educating others in the eyecare industry on when using them is appropriate., “In the States, opticians can be viewed as frame salespersons. We all know that it goes beyond that. I’ve recently started advocating, communicating and promoting the value of what opticians do to opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists and other partners eyecare at an international level.”
Overall, Charlie says, “I seek to provide resources that take valuable information from the scientific journals and share them in a digestible format with those who can really use it. Speaking to people and enlightening them about our unique profession has become a passion of mine. I have spoken in Australia, Turkey, and all over the US and Canada on peripheral prisms, visual field loss, visual acuity, and the value of opticianry and will continue to do so. I believe that this full-circle approach to harnessing the power of lenses is crucial to changing patient’s lives.”
You can discover who has won the IOA / Silmo International Optician of the Year Award at the Silmo D’Or awards ceremony on Saturday 28th September. Find out more about Silmo and the awards here.