By ROB Editors
The threats to eye health from myopia have been well established, and are motivation on their own to take action to control its progression.
However, that’s not the whole story. Alongside those threats to future eye health is the impact on a child’s quality of life from worsening myopia. That impact includes reliance on glasses, which can present difficulties when participating in certain sports and activities. Like adults who wear glasses, young people, particularly teens, do not always want to wear glasses for reasons related to personal style and preference.
Thanks to myopia management, children have more choice than traditional contact lenses, which correct vision, but allow myopia to progress unchecked, and the wearing of glasses. Myopia management allows children to have their myopia controlled while freeing some from wearing glasses during the process.
In recent years, many contributing authors to Review of Optometric Business have shared with us their tips for launching myopia management services. Here are some of their insights.
Educate Parents of the Risk to Children’s Eye Health
Moshe Mendelson, OD, FIAO, shared the importance of putting myopia, and its dangers to eye health, in easy-to-understand terms for parents. He offered this script as an example:
Doctor: “Jane, Suzie’s myopia will likely progress as she gets older. It is minor now, however that is likely to change, so that eventually Suzie may even become what we call a ‘high myope.’”
Parent: “So? Can’t we just get her a new pair of glasses whenever she needs it, and then, when she’s old enough, contact lenses?”
Doctor: “Yes, we can, but the problem is myopia comes with more than just the inability to see things far away without glasses or contacts on. It comes with the added risk of developing sight-threatening conditions like retina tears/detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. And of any of those conditions can eventually make a patient functionally impaired.”
Parent [becoming alarmed]: “That’s scary. What do we do?”
Doctor: “Fortunately, we have a treatment now that we call ‘myopia management.’ We have a few different ways to approach this. Let me give you the options, and what I think will work best for Suzie.”
Provide a Bridge to Myopia Management
With so much to be gained with myopia management, making it accessible to patients is well worth it. Here is a sample for having the patient financing conversation with patients.
Parent: “Treatment sounds good, but will my insurance cover it?”
OD: “Unfortunately, insurance does not typically cover myopia management. However, we offer patient financing via the CareCredit credit card, which some of our families find helps make myopia management possible for their children.”
Parent: “That will make it possible for me to space out payments for the treatments?”
OD: “Yes. Our staff can talk to you more about the opportunity to pay for Ben’s myopia management services using a CareCredit credit card.”
When patients have a way to more easily manage the expense of myopia management, and they understand what is at stake for their child, many will say yes. That yes will help you build your practice and will do a tremendous lifelong service to that child.
Find Families in Need of Myopia Management
Before you can have those impactful conversations with parents and children, you must bring the patients to your office. Susan Resnick, OD, FAAO, FSLS, says professional outreach has been pivotal in helping her do this.
“Referrals from other eyecare providers and pediatricians comprise roughly 20 percent of my new Ortho-K patient acquisition. Annually, our associate doctors pay a personal visit to a targeted list of potential referrers in our geographic area. If call-ahead appointments are not granted, we ‘drop in.’ If the doctor is unable or unwilling to greet us, we meet briefly with a managing administrator. We provide pre-printed referral pads to each practice and follow-up with a letter of appreciation for their time, concisely recapping the purpose of our visit,” Dr. Resnick writes.
Train Staff to Support Your Growth of Myopia Management Services
A launch of myopia management services, or a push to grow this part of your practice won’t be a success without your support staff. “Adding myopia management processes requires full staff buy-in. Take the time to train staff so that there is a united front, with everyone saying the same things and teaching patients in the same way. Patients put their trust in the doctor, but equally as important is the staff. Spend some time listening to your staff and how they talk to patients, how they answer questions, and what they say,” Paul Levine, OD, FIAOMC, FAAO, writes.
Bottom Line: Myopia Management Are Much-Needed Services
Patient quality of life and long-term eye health are at stake when there is unchecked myopia progression. That means that services that help control that progression are life-changing for patients. Those services can also be profitable for practices if enough patients are able to access those services.