Insights From Our Editors

How to Explain to Patients Why they Need More than Auto-Refraction

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Jan. 15, 2020

An article was recently published in The Atlantic noting that in the U.S. it is harder to get a prescription for contact lenses and glasses than it is in other countries. If your patients were to question you as to why they should have to visit your office to be prescribed glasses or contact lenses, what would you tell them?

Ever since autorefractors hit the market, there has been a concern that they would be approved to be placed in malls. A patient would swipe/insert their credit card, place their head into the instrument, follow the instructions and, voila, a refractive prescription would be printed for them to use anywhere they want. This concern has grown with web sites or an app on a cellphone that give a refraction result.

We know already that patients confuse eye screenings with eye exams. A common answer from a parent when asked “When did your child have their last eye exam” is “Last year in school.”

So, what do you lose when you do not have a comprehensive eye exam? VSP created a helpful video that you should use in your patient marketing. You can view the video HERE.

Click HERE, or the image above, to view a video in which a patient explains how a visit to her OD for a comprehensive exam saved her life.

The video tells the story of a real patient, Sharon Karriem. She does not go to the doctor very often. When she finally went for an eye exam, her eye doctor, Jarret Johnson, OD, discovered retinal vascular changes that were diagnosed as a consequence of diabetes. After going to her primary-care provider (with some prodding from Dr. Johnson) she was told the diabetes had existed so long without being treated, that she also had stage 3 kidney disease.

Information from the American Diabetes Association says that more than 30 million Americans have diabetes and 7 million of them are undiagnosed.

Click HERE, or the image above, to view a video in which Brad McDougall, OD, details why it’s especially important for contact-lens wearers to visit the eye doctor annually for a comprehensive exam.

Karriem says that Dr. Johnson saved her life. She calls Dr. Johnson her “shero.”

The positive ending to this story would not have happened if Karriem had only had an autorefraction, gone to a web site or used an app on her smartphone to get a prescription for new glasses.

BC Doctors of Optometry created a helpful video about contact lenses that you can view HERE.

Brad McDougall, OD, discusses the problems that can occur with contact-lens wear. Most of these problems would not be detected without a thorough contact-lens examination. An autorefraction, internet refraction exam or a smartphone app would not pick up these problems.

Since you only have two eyes that you want to last a lifetime – and, one should not be considered as a spare – it only makes sense to take excellent care of both of them. We get our furnace checked at least once a year and our teeth checked at least twice a year, we should pay the same attention to our eyes to keep them in the best working order.

 

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