COA Vision Blog


March 26, 2020 Uncategorized

Did you know that it’s World Optometry Week? And, at Columbus Ophthalmology Associates, we’re celebrating optometrists for all their incredible work! Today, we’re paying tribute to COA’s Director of Optometry, Dr. Dawn Hartman. A leader and educator for the next generation of optometry students, she is a wonderful doctor who we are proud to have on our COA team.

Ever since she was 12 years old, Dr. Hartman knew she wanted to be an optometrist. “Science and math were my favorite subjects in school. I felt that helping people see better and caring for the health of their eyes would be a great way to spend my days.”

Today, Dr. Hartman is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Practice for The Ohio State University College of Optometry. She is a clinical instructor for the fourth-year optometry students during their externship and is passionate about preparing her students for an optometric career.

“I really enjoy being able to teach them some of the things I had to learn on my own over the twenty years I have been practicing. COA has amazing doctors and staff (and patients!), and it is an environment that enables them to leave a much more confident clinician than when they arrived.  They also keep me up to date with the latest training and studies at the College of Optometry, so I feel very lucky to work with them, too.”

During their externships, students gain invaluable experiences. One of Dr. Hartman’s recent senior students is Karina Miller. During Karina’s time at our office, she gained experience in all areas of the practice to enhance her ability to diagnose and manage eye disease. She observed our surgeons performing procedures, took patient history, performed diagnostic tests, and reviewed her findings with Dr. Hartman.

Dr. Hartman and one of her senior optometry students, Karina Miller, pose for a picture.

Passionate about education, Dr. Hartman also enjoys lecturing and presenting at various events. She has presented at COA’s annual Hot Topics in Eyecare Continuing Education Event, has spoken at the Optometric Educators, Inc. program, and lectures annually at the East West Destinations Conference. “My favorite topics and cases to discuss are those that require the specialties of both optometrists and ophthalmologists.”

Outside of her clinical duties, Dr. Hartman is a very talented vocalist. “I come from a very musical family and have been singing since age 5 when my mom and brother decided it was time I learn to harmonize. Family time always meant music and those memories are so precious.” 

Dr. Hartman, her husband, Jason, and kids, Nick, Andrew, and Caroline, enjoy the big game!

When she was 16, her a cappella group, the Ypsilanti High School Chamber Singers, won the top honor at The International Youth and Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. “The beauty of so much a cappella harmony echoing in so many cathedrals in Europe is hard to match. I still enjoy performing once in a while, but do not pursue it for myself. I enjoy encouraging my kids in music, and we partner every year for the Hartman Thanksgiving Talent Show!”

This World Optometry Week, we thank Dr. Hartman and all optometrists for their hard work and dedication. We are grateful to have such a talented Director of Optometry at our practice.


March 22, 2020 Uncategorized

With everything going on around us, it’s more important than ever to celebrate the unsung heroes who help make our world a better place. Today, we’re paying tribute to Denise Allen, our longest serving employee who is celebrating more than 30 years at COA! We recently sat down with Denise to find out more about her experiences at our practice.

When Denise first joined our team, COA was considerably smaller—made up of just Dr. Orlando and five other staff members. Over the past three decades, Denise has grown with our practice and is so proud to have “been here through good and bad.” While she began her journey at COA on the operations side, working the front desk, the phones, and helping prepare charts, from there, she trained as an ophthalmic technician so she could continue to serve our patients in the exam rooms. To Denise, “patients come first.” And, in addition to spending time with patients and her work family, “learning how to work new machines in order to service patients better” is one of the best parts of her job.

Denise has been a wonderful constant to our many patients—known for her pleasant smile, demeanor, assistance, and her fluency in ASL. Loyal and flexible, she is always willing to step in to work at any of our offices and has helped train the next generation of COA staff members.

Denise is proud to align herself with COA’s values: “Being kind and considerate, always greeting people with a smile, and bringing patience and listening to patients and each other.” Whether she’s winning Employee of the Year at COA or singing in her local church choir,  we appreciate all that she does at our practice and in the community. We are so grateful to have her on our team!


March 19, 2020 Uncategorized

Dear Patients,

Since the day Dr. Orlando opened our office in 1983, our mission has been to preserve, protect, and restore vision in a caring atmosphere that always puts our patients and staff first. With that in mind, we must make some significant but short-term changes to allow us to continue this important calling. All elective surgery in the United States is being put on hold so we can protect patients, staff, surgeons, and the greater community—while also making sure vital equipment and medical supplies are available for those on the front lines of this crisis. Beginning Monday, March 23rd we will be making the changes outlined below. We have no firm date as to when we will be back at full operational levels, but we hope that by May 1st we will have a clear idea. Of course, we will update you on a regular basis and also try and provide some useful information to make the most of the downtime.  

1. We will have limited hours at our Dublin office: 8 am – 12 pm, Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, weekends, afternoons, and evenings, there will be a doctor on call for emergencies.

2. We are temporarily closing our East Office. 

3. We will be calling patients shortly to reschedule appointments and surgeries. To help us expedite this process, we ask that you please wait for our call rather than calling to reschedule yourself as we have limited phone operators available. 

4. We will not be seeing annual eye exam patients but will continue to care for all post-operative patients, glaucoma patients, and emergencies. All routine exams will be rescheduled by our operators. 

5. No cataract surgeries will be scheduled and those already scheduled will be moved to dates in May. Again, we will call you to handle all the rescheduling logistics.

6. For any acute problems, such as uncontrollable glaucoma that could cause further vision loss, we will still be performing surgery as those are sight-treating issues that cannot be delayed.

7. Our Optical Shoppes will remain closed. Any orders for glasses already taken will be unboxed after delivery by one of our opticians once a week and sent via FedEx to all patients who have paid in full. Once we re-open, our opticians will be available to adjust your frames. 

8. As always, we will be continuing the safe hygiene practices that were already in place to ensure the safety of our patients, staff, and doctors. 

We shall continue to monitor this situation closely and update you with information from the Ohio Department of Health, the CDC, and other governmental authorities—through email and the COA social media sites on Facebook and Instagram. We welcome you to join our Columbus Ophthalmology Associates community on both locations. 

During this difficult time, there is a wonderful quote by the British author, Simon Sinek, that is so appropriate… “The value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves. The value of our lives is determined by what we do for others.” We look around right now at how our world has changed so quickly, and what stands out are the brave people who are risking their lives to help us get through this crisis. Emergency room physicians trying to triage patients that could potentially carry this deadly virus, nurses in the Intensive Care Unit spending their 10-hour shifts making sure these same folks get through the night safely, and the members of the housekeeping staff that disinfect and sterilize those workplaces… Those are our true heroes. 

As we walk through a grocery store to grab those essentials for our family, there are dozens of people re-stocking the shelves, unloading trucks almost constantly, and cleaning the surfaces with gloves to protect us. We should all make a point to thank them for showing up during this time… of course, making sure that we maintain an acceptable 6 to 8 foot distance! The human spirit is remarkable and the world is filled with good people. Perhaps now we will have a different perspective on how many unsung heroes have always been there—the ones who keep us safe and make our lives easier. 

Together, we will get through this stressful time. We wish you good health and hope to see you soon.


The Team at COA


March 10, 2020 UncategorizedWorld

Having access to modern medicine is something that many of us take for granted. However, for millions of people around the world, living with treatable vision loss is often the reality. 

At Columbus Ophthalmology Associates (COA), our doctors are passionate about making a difference—donating their time and specialized skills to help those most in need. Dr. Robert Derick, the director of glaucoma at COA, is especially passionate about giving back in this way. In Jamaica, where the rates of vision loss from glaucoma are staggering, Dr. Derick’s surgical skills and specialities transform lives. During his 2019 medical mission trip, he had the privilege of working with two other Ohio surgeons to help patients experience the clear, healthy vision they deserve.

Dr. Derick examines a glaucoma patient during his 2019 medical mission trip to Jamaica.

Through medical mission trips, Dr. Derick has provided advanced eye surgery to hundreds of patients over the years who would otherwise not have access to modern medicine. Assembling an expert team for each trip, Dr. Derick has traveled to countries throughout the world, offering hope, expertise, and compassionate care.

From India, to Jamaica, and even Nicaragua, Dr. Derick and his team have provided life-changing and vision-restoring surgeries to people suffering from eye problems, like cataracts or glaucoma. Upon arriving at these locations, Dr. Derick and his team get to work. After carrying surgical equipment and supplies to the hospital (often weighing thousands of pounds), they then set up their operating rooms and begin performing surgery for as many patients as possible. 

Patients in Jamaica lined up for follow-ups after receiving their cataract and glaucoma surgeries.

During these trips, cases range from typical to complex. However, the joy of watching someone see for the first time in years makes every challenge worthwhile. Dr. Derick and his team are so grateful to provide these life-altering surgeries and look forward to helping even more people in the future.

COA Research Fund: 

The COA Research Fund was developed to help make a difference in the lives of others. While a portion of these funds is allocated toward education and training for students, residents, and eye care professionals, we also proudly support our staff members and their charitable endeavors.

Dr. Derick and two other Ohio surgeons pose with a happy patient in the operating room.

Though medical mission trips are self-funded by participants, costs associated with surgical supplies and equipment can quickly add up. Last month, the COA Research Fund was proud to help support Dr. Derick and his team, donating over $3,500 worth of medical supplies to their latest trip to Central America. It is a privilege to know that these supplies help patients get the clear, healthy vision they deserve.

To learn more about Dr. Derick’s work with medical mission trips, click here.


March 4, 2020 Uncategorized

Stephanie Bass is a Certified Ophthalmologist Assistant and surgical scheduler at Columbus Ophthalmology Associates. And, last month, we celebrated her 8th anniversary at this practice!

When Stephanie first joined our COA team, she had no eye care experience. Later, when one of our long-time surgical schedulers retired, Stephanie applied for the job and became a Certified Ophthalmologist Assistant. Her duties today involve scheduling surgeries, coordinating with patients’ insurance providers or Medicare, as well as helping patients understand their pre- and post-operative instructions. To celebrate her 8th anniversary at COA, we asked Stephanie some questions:

What do you like about working at COA?

I love working at COA. I feel like I am contributing to every patient whether I interact with them individually or not. I feel that is one thing we all strive to do on a daily basis.

What are some of the values you think COA has that you can align yourself with?

Patient care is always the most important to consider.

What is your most memorable moment at COA?

There are so many—I can’t list them all. However, any time that any of us are all together, it is special and memorable. It is like having a get together with your family. My work family is my family.

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career at COA so far?

When I was hired, I absolutely knew nothing about eye care. With the help of my trainers, coworkers, and doctors, I was able to become a Certified Ophthalmologist Assistant—which gave me an opportunity to provide the best care to all the patients I come into contact with.




February 21, 2020 Uncategorized

Nicole is a member of our “behind the scenes” billing team at COA. And, this March marks her 6th year at Columbus Ophthalmology. We asked her some questions about what her experience has been like so far.

What do you like about working at COA?

I enjoy working in the billing department and helping the patients.  Many people don’t understand how insurance works, and I like being able to explain to patients how their benefits and policies work. Also, I enjoy the people that I work with; they are people in my life that are like family.

What are some of the values you think COA has that you can align yourself with?

 I feel like everyone at COA has integrity.  We are all here for the same reason and that is to help people.  There are several different job functions at COA, and all are equally important.  Our doctors are phenomenal and always go the extra mile for the patients.

What is your most memorable moment at COA?

Our Christmas parties always stand out in my mind.  The doctors really go all out to make sure the staff has a good time.  It is nice to be able to have an afternoon to kick back and enjoy each other outside the office.  Since we have two offices, we don’t always get to see our co-workers in the other office.




February 19, 2020 Uncategorized

2020 is all about celebrating our employees. We would like to introduce Cindy Mark. Cindy has been greeting patients at the front desk now for over 20 years at COA! We asked Cindy some questions about her time here and what makes working at COA so special.

What do you like about working at COA?

I like being able to visit with the patients. In my years here, many have become my friends; we even discuss our families. I also enjoy my coworkers and still keep in touch with those who worked here years ago.


What are some of the values you think COA has that you can align yourself with?

I think to put patient care above everything. I like helping people and it has taught me to be patient with the people outside of our practice too.


What is your most memorable moment at COA?

The most exciting time was when we moved into our new building; now with the remodel, it is another great time to be working for COA


What is your proudest accomplishment in your career at COA so far?

I like to think that my time at the front desk has contributed to the fact it is run so smoothly. I think we really have a good team.


Dr. Hoepf joined Columbus Ophthalmology Associates in 2014, where she practiced alongside our glaucoma specialist, Dr. Derick, for the first two years. She provides primary eye care to patients of all ages and continues to treat a wide range of ocular diseases. Dr. Hoepf also has a particular interest in the pediatric population. She has experience working with children of all ages in the treatment of common refractive and binocular disorders. She attended Ohio State University for her undergrad and lived in Boston for seven years, where she completed her optometric training as well as her residency.

In her life, she was no stranger to eye doctors, “I had to see an eye specialist from the time I was two years old, so eye doctors were a part of my life. I always wanted to help other people see better.” In her career, she continues to give back, “I have a passion for giving back to the profession by training students and residents, lecturing for continuing education.  I love to be in an environment where I can collaborate with other doctors in the multi-specialty practice. COA provides an opportunity to care for a diverse population and allows me to utilize my experience in ocular disease.”

Her dedication to her career and charity does not fall short in her list of achievements. Dr. Heopf was involved in research during optometry school, where she performed laboratory studies with and utilized imaging equipment at Harvard. She has published papers in academic journals and lectured at local and national meetings. She has also volunteered for a mission trip in Nicaragua and hopes to be involved with more organizations in the future to continue similar work. This past summer Hoepf was inducted into the American Optometric Association and continues to be an active member of the American Academy of Optometry.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running, camping, hiking, and skiing. She actively involves her family in her charity work, “I have three beautiful children, and we enjoy volunteering for an organization in Columbus. We deliver Meals On Wheels, collect and donate clothes for homeless, make lunches and compassion kits for homeless and underserved populations as well as many other service and community building activities.”

We are thrilled to have Dr. Hoepf as a part of the COA family. In the coming month, she will begin seeing patients as part of the glaucoma team. We know she is going to deliver the outstanding care that patients expect to see from Columbus Ophthalmology.


January 10, 2020 Eye care

We have all either heard someone or ourselves brag that we have “20/20 vision”. But what does that exactly mean? And is it an accurate indicator of “perfect” vision?

That 20/20 number is a term used to represent normal or ‘perfect’ vision. This number measures visual acuity, which is the clarity or sharpness of your vision measured at a distance of 20ft. So if you have 20/20 vision, you can see at 20ft what someone with perfect vision can see at that distance. If someone has less than average vison, say 20/70, what they see at 20ft is what a person with perfect vision can see at 70ft. While visual acuity is a good measure of the sharpness and clarity of your vision, it does not take into consideration other fundamental aspects of vision. Visual acuity is also not the determining factor in your overall eye health.

If you’ve seen an eye doctor, your visual acuity was tested using the “big letter poster” or Snellen chart. A Dutch ophthalmologist developed the chart in the 1800s. The sizes of the letters are precisely calculated to adhere to the standard of the 20/20 scale. The letters are also carefully chosen. You may have noticed that the only letters used are C, D, E, F, L, N, O, P, T, and Z. The reason behind these letter choices is that some letters can be distinguished even with blurry vision. For example, the letter Q’s tail can be recognized because there are no other letters like it. While the standard for this chart is 20/20 A.K.A “perfect” vision, some people can see better than 20/20 and are born with 20/15 or even 20/12 vision. These people have what is called “supernormal vision.” People who had LASIK surgery can usually see 20/20 or better, and people can be prescribed glasses or contact lenses that can help them see 20/20 (or better).

The Snellen chart is an excellent indicator for your eye doctor to determine if you need glasses or contacts. However, this is not the only test you should be given during a comprehensive eye exam. While vision and focus are critical, overall eye health is also essential. Good focus and good eye health do not always go hand in hand. Vision traits that contribute to your overall visual ability include your peripheral vision or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability, and color appreciation. Even if you have excellent vision, you should go for an eye exam once every year or two years. Eye doctors are also looking for your risk of eye diseases such as cataracts or glaucoma. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, this could also impact your vision as well.  Besides, focus is not static through a lifetime, and changes are bound to happen to everyone.

So the next time you hear friends or family say they have 20/20 vision and don’t need their eyes checked, be sure to inform them there is a lot more to vision than they think.

November 15, 2019 Uncategorized

How Columbus Ophthalmology Associates came to be. Enjoy Dr. Orlando’s story of how Columbus Ophthalmology Associates got started!

Dr. Bob Murphy ( far right), head team physician at OSU for over 30 years. This is from 1978 and we are checking an assistant coaches ankle.
Dr. Bob Murphy ( far right), head team physician at OSU for over 30 years. This is from 1978 and we are checking an assistant coaches ankle.

“The first time I ever visited Dublin, Ohio was when I was in medical school back in the winter of 1977. After years of playing basketball, I wanted to continue to stay in the game and began to referee middle school and high school games. One of my first assignments was a game in Dublin at the 1909 Building on Bridge Street. I recall driving there from campus and thinking “wow, this is way out in the country” and as I crossed the bridge past the Historic area and pulled into the parking lot, it reminded me of Mayberry. Two lane roads, no street lights, one traffic signal and a school that had a basketball court that doubled as the stage!!! I recall making sure I would not fall off into the audience and prayed no one would get hurt doing the same. That spring one of my classmates told me they were looking for weekend caddies at Muirfield Village Golf Club so again I made the long drive up Riverside Drive, across that same bridge and up a two lane road to the course. There were some new houses being built along the fairways there but for the most part there was not much around. Someone told me the zoo was nearby but all I wanted to do was meet Jack Nicklaus, my golf hero. I caddied there off and on the rest of medical school and did get to see Jack every now and then when he was in town to fix something on the course and prepare for the Memorial Tournament. My hope was that someday I would get to play there. I never imagined that within five years I would establish a medical practice there, build a home and become a member at Muirfield Village and be part of the medical staff for the tournament!!

The Original Dublin, OH building
The Original Dublin, OH building

The road to Dublin was paved by a chance meeting the very first weekend I was on call as an intern at Riverside Methodist Hospital. It was July 4th weekend and a time with minimal hospital staffing. Since I was just out of medical school, I was pretty green at managing critically ill patients. Around 10 pm that night I got a call from the Emergency Department to come and admit a patient in acute kidney failure. After doing all the appropriate blood tests and starting IV’s, I was called to the phone to talk to the patients primary care physician, Dr. Ken Carpenter. We had never met but he explained the situation and that this patient was a farmer that had been a long time patient of his from Dublin. He wanted me to do some special tests and get the patient into the ICU where he would meet me around midnight. I thought, ‘what doctor is coming in at that time when there are plenty of physicians here to help stabilize his patients?’ Well, around 12:30 am, the curtain around the patient’s bed was pulled away and in steps a man that looks like he had just come from the disco. Braided pony tail, funky glasses, full beard, polyester flowered shirt unbuttoned with a gold chain adorned with a dollar gold piece, bell bottoms and leather boots. I recall thinking ‘who is this guy?’  He introduced himself as Dr. Carpenter and he talked to the patient for a long time telling him I was a great young doctor and would take excellent care of him. Then we went into the consultation room where he told me to make sure I stayed with him all night and call him in the morning. I did all he asked and we got the patient through his illness and from that point on Ken Carpenter would call me to go see his patients and he often would come in and meet them and explain their illness, how they were to be treated and what his expectations were of me. After a few months, he asked me what specialty I was going into and when I said ophthalmology he told me that he would check in on me from time to time and wanted me to come out to Dublin because he was going to open a multi-specialty clinic where he needed an eye surgeon. Over the next few years, he would have me come up to his office which was in an old house in the Historic District and we would talk about his plans. One spring day, we drove over to Frantz Road, which at the time was two lanes of country fields. He showed me the plot of land he had purchased where he was going to open The Dublin Medical Mall and it would have a pharmacy, lab, urgent care center, his family practice as well as specialists, including myself. He was also recruiting an OB GYN practice, allergists, dermatology, ENT and urology so that his patients would not have to drive miles to see their sub-specialist. His vision was remarkable as I had no idea how such a facility would work in the middle of nowhere.

Dr. Carpenter (L) at the Columbus Ophthalmology Associates 20 Year Anniversary Party
Dr. Carpenter (L) at the Columbus Ophthalmology Associates 20 Year Anniversary Party

In 1983, I completed my training and worked part-time in a downtown practice while Dr. Carpenter completed my office space and opened the Dublin Medical Mall. Our original office had two exam rooms, a waiting room with about ten chairs and a single staff member that answered the phones, checked patients in and out, filed insurance claims and got all the charts ready. On our first day, we saw two patients and that first week we were happy to have a total of twelve new patients. Dr. Carpenter reminded me that I should always be available as he had a large practice and the urgent care center would help grow my patient base over time. There were days I would sit for hours between exams. Slowly but surely he would bring over and introduce me to one of his long time patients that needed an exam or had an eye infection or that wanted cataract surgery. I was open the two Saturday mornings he was and those became very busy days for me. My wife would often work those days to cover the front office and on days we could not find a babysitter, patients had the added benefit of our infant daughter Kristen being behind the desk!! Dr. Carpenter always reminded me that Dublin was going to be a very large suburb and, indeed, his instincts were correct. We now have a full-service hospital and a medical school in our city but I am happy to have been a part of the very first full-service medical center in our great community. He passed away five years ago but his former patients, staff, and long-time Dublin residents still fondly recall his unique and caring relationship with them as well as his importance to the growth of our city. In 1999, we had outgrown our original office and moved to the Bradenton Building but if not for that chance meeting in the ER 20 years prior, Columbus Ophthalmology Associates may have never been founded.  Now, I hardly ever leave the city as we have wonderful parks, restaurants, medical care, shopping districts and the club where I caddied nearly 40 years ago. It has been quite a road to where we are now and I am so appreciative of the support of this wonderful community!”

Bradenton Avenue Building being built in 1999
Bradenton Avenue Building being built in 1999


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