When the economy started to tank, most of the people I talked to didnt think it would get this bad. In fact, it took quite a while for the reality of it to set in. Time and again, when I asked O.D.s how they were planning to cope, the response was, Im just going to keep doing what Im doing, and eventually, things will look up.

Today, fewer and fewer private practitioners are just doing what they were doing. The bottom line is that its not 1999 anymore, and were no longer living in the land of if you build it, they will come. On the contrary, if you sit on your laurels, you very well could lose everything youve worked so hard to build.

Nowadays, you need to work a little harder and think outside the box. And, what better time to start rethinking the way we do things than at the beginning of a fresh, new year? This months issue of Review is jam-packed with information you can use to get through these tough times and look ahead to the fascinating new prospects in store for the future.

In a special financial report, Credit Relief in a Sick Economy, financial expert Jerry Hayes, O.D., offers advice on how to avoid getting burned by the credit crunch. Dr. Hayes strongly recommends sitting down with your lender, taking inventory of any loans that are up for renewal and, in some cases, borrowing on credit or opting for longer-term loans so you can hang onto your cash.

The New Year also brought with it a new Medicare incentive program, which could potentially enable you to now get two separate incentive paymentsone for participating in PQRI and one for being a successful e-prescriber. In Get Ready, Get Set, Get E-Prescribing, Associate Editor Leah Addis explains the policies as well as the benefits and challenges inherent in adopting this new model.

But, money and practice management concerns are not the only big changes that youll be reading about in 2009. Innovations in patient care are on the fast track too. As Andrew T.E. Hartwick, O.D., Ph.D., explains, there is the potential for paradigm-shifting breakthroughs in laboratory-based research. In Future Advances in Glaucoma Therapy, he offers an overview of four promising areas of research (gene therapy, stem cell transplants, neuroprotective drugs and real-time pressure monitoring) that have the potential to dramatically change how glaucoma is treated in the future.

Likewise, in this months Optometric Study Center, Dominick M. Maino, O.D., M.Ed., turns traditional thinking on its head when he presents compelling research on neuroplasticity, indicating that the adult brain can grow and change, and with that change, the eye and its functional status can be cortically altered (Neuroplasticity: Teaching an Old Brain New Tricks"). Among the visual system disorders that involve neuroplasticity are refractive error, amblyopia and strabismus, to name a few.

Its apropos that our new President ran on a platform of change, because there are big opportunities in 2009 to re-think your approach to just about everything from finances to clinical research. No matter whom you voted for, I hope youll embrace the spirit thats gripping our nation and use that energy to propel optometry into the future. Its not just a chance to fix whats broken; its an occasion to make it better than you ever imagined.

Vol. No: 146:01Issue: 1/15/2009