Sustainability may not be top of mind for most of the patients that walk through the door of Northwest Tennessee Eye Clinic in Martin and Greenfield, Tenn., a provider of vision care products and services in the area. But that hasn’t prevented owner Frances Bynum, OD, from letting them know that her practice takes the topic of sustainability seriously.

Frances Bynum, OD

“I do believe that there is more awareness about sustainability, and I think patients expect companies to be mindful of our world and its resources,” Dr. Bynum said. “But patients rarely ask about sustainability. However, I like to take time to tell patients that we like to do business with companies that are forward thinking about sustainability. We like to think of it as a partnership.”

According to Dr. Bynum, she is choosing to partner with companies that have sustainability plans. “As an eyecare provider, I am responsible for my patients, staff and my family. If I can choose to partner with companies that find value in helping our environment and develop processes that use renewable resources, recycle, use resources more efficiently or create less pollution, then we can preserve the environment for future generations.”

Climate change is among the factors that drive Dr. Bynum and her staff in it’s sustainability efforts, but it isn’t the chief motivation.

“I would not say climate change is my motivation. My motivation is to be responsible for what I can control,” she said. “That is doing little things like recycling all the cardboard, paper and plastic. Unfortunately, we do not have ‘recycling pickup’ where I live, therefore, I have to take recycling to the local recycling center. Also, be mindful of water, electricity and other resources that we must use in our practice.”

She continued, “There are many ways that climate changes affect eye health. Increased UV rays (from loss of ozone) can increase conditions like cataracts, pterygium and possible retinal issues. Extreme weather events such as wildfires can put harmful irritants in the atmosphere. Decreasing rain forests and increased deserts, which have arid conditions, increase dry eyes (ocular surface disease). We do not know the long-term effects of climate change on the eye and overall health factors associated with long-term changes, but we should be mindful of these conditions that are affected by short-time events and be prepared to diagnose, treat and monitor.”