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Keeping the Community in Mind All Year

OD’s December initiative has a special focus for visually impaired and blind children

The season of giving lasts all year round at Caruso Eye Care. Britney Caruso, OD, who leases space for her practice in the Target Optical in Lake Worth, Florida, has been building up her patient base here for the past three years and making the practice her own.

Through monthly giving-back initiatives, Dr. Caruso shares her love of helping others with her patients and staff. “We try to give back every month to a different charity,” she says. During October, the practice donated a portion of every eye exam to the Susan G. Komen Foundation of South Florida. Through OneSight, Dr. Caruso sees a number of indigent patients each month in the office, and she always offers a discounted eye exam to veterans who have served our country. Dr. Caruso also filmed brief video clips to post on her practice Facebook page alerting patients to a World Sight Day event, offering 20 percent off eye exams and a donation of proceeds to Optometry Giving Sight.

Dr. Caruso, second from right, provides free eye exams at the Community Health Center of West Palm Beach.

Dr. Caruso spends some time each month donating free eye exams at the Community Health Center of West Palm Beach. “When you see the look on your patients’ faces, it is often of pure joy,” she says. “One patient there last week said that she was more excited to see me for her complimentary eye exam than she was for Christmas, and that really touched my heart.”

This December, she chose to support Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Caruso said she spent several weeks researching the right charity for her December toy drive. “I wanted to find an organization that I felt comfortable working with and that we were providing the toys for children who were underprivileged,” she says. The children who will receive these gifts are also visually impaired or blind. “We made sure that all of the toys were appropriate for children who may not have vision.” For example, patients, Target customers and staff donated sensory items, such as a plush, soft stuffed animals and Playdough, which the children can touch and feel. A guitar engages their sense of hearing and touch, by playing a variety of tones of music by touching different buttons.

The Lighthouse Children’s Program distributed the toys to children at its holiday party for participants in the Learning Independence Through Experience Club and Transition teens and their families. They enjoyed a buffet lunch planned and cooked by the Transition teens and played a variety of tactile and auditory games and decorated arts and crafts. “It makes me feel really good to think that I’m helping to change a blind child’s life at Christmas,” Dr. Caruso says.

      Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches was the recipient of the donated toys.

In the future, Dr. Caruso says that she would like to collect used eyewear in her office to donate to those who need them, and if her schedule allows, she would love to participate in a mission trip through OneSight.

Helping the visually impaired has a more personal meaning for Dr. Caruso after she experienced some peripheral retina damage about one and a half years ago due to inflammation that stemmed from an unknown cause. Instead of taking the recommended prescription medication for inflammation, which had many drastic side effects, Dr. Caruso decided to change her diet and started taking nutraceuticals. “I was praying that this natural regimen would work, and I fixed the problem,” she says. Since then, she earned her Diplomate in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine and is one of only three ODs in the nation with this qualification. She’s also working toward her Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry and has received a Fellowship with the American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners. She’s found that conversation on nutrition and its relation to the eyes can be particularly beneficial for her dry eye sufferers.

Giving Back to a Loyal Patient BaseOver the past three years, Dr. Britney Caruso has been fulfilling her goal to make her own mark on her practice. In addition to giving back to the community and charities that have a special meaning to her, she has been working with her marketing consultant Brad Lieberman to develop customer appreciation programs as she builds her patient base. Current patients who recommend the practice to others receive gift cards and other prizes, as well as a thank you on social media.
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