When Glenda Aleman Moheeputh, OD, of Hialeah, Florida, was attending a meeting of orthokeratology practitioners, her colleagues seemed skeptical that she could provide ortho-k services in an independent practice inside a Walmart store. At first, she was, too. But the more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea.
Then she began to see that it was a matter of necessity. “There’s no reason why anyone should be deprived of at least knowing about such a great treatment option. Just because these patients shop in Walmart, should they not have that option? That’s just not fair,” she says.
Dr. Moheeputh’s loyalty to Walmart and Vision Center customers and patients runs deep. When she was attending optometry school at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry, she knew that she wanted to operate an independent practice located inside a Walmart. She began working for the company in 1999 as a sales associate, and then found her way into the Vision Center, where she became a manager and a licensed optician. She kept that job all through optometry school. She went to work in a New York practice that specialized in orthokeratology after her 2017 graduation because she had her New York license immediately.
When her Florida license came through, she moved back to Florida. “This is a primary care, family practice, but myopia control is one of my priorities and passions. Anytime that I see a patient who has progressive myopia, I’m going to talk about the range of treatment options: soft contact lenses, eyeglasses and orthokeratology. I’ll emphasize that orthokeratology is the only one of those options
that can slow the advancement of myopia,” she says.
The effort is working. Within months, she had her first patients, and others were setting up appointments. “Even parents with lower incomes are very interested in this option because they don’t want to see their child’s myopia progress the way that theirs did,” she says. “Even if they choose not to pursue the option this year, I’m introducing it and they may change their mind next year. Almost all of them say that they had never heard that this was an option for their child—and that’s not right.”
For now, Dr. Moheeputh, a member of the American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control, and her office manager are working on spreading the news that the practice enjoys seeing children and that vision and learning are distinctly related. “So many children are misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities or behavioral problems, when the issues might be solved through corrective eyewear or vision therapy,” she says.
While she does not offer vision therapy, she will explain the benefits to patients and provide a referral to eye care providers who offer those services. She is also planning to visit pediatricians’ offices, school nurses and parent and teacher organizations in the region. “One of my new patients brought her three children in after I had seen her, and she was so pleased with the quality of the exam that she invited us to host an event at the school where she works,” Dr. Moheeputh says.
She’s adamant that young patients and their parents are aware of the important connection between learning and seeing clearly. Instead of wondering whether orthokeratology can be offered in an independent doctor’s office inside Walmart, she wonders why a practitioner would not offer young patients every option to control myopia.