As we shared in our 2012 annual report, the global number of visually impaired people is expected to double by 2020. This is in large part due to an increasing number of cataracts, glaucoma, and AMD cases among the aging population.
A study conducted by the American Optometric Association revealed that a large portion of people are unaware of the systemic diseases that can be detected through an eye exam. For example, 62 percent didn’t know diabetes can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. This is an especially unsettling statistic when you consider the fact that vision problems related to diabetes are the leading causes of blindness.
While a proactive approach to eye health is necessary at any age, it’s especially important for your aging patients. Recently, The Wall Street Journal discussed the issue and agreed that what you can’t see is the biggest concern. Dry eyes and presbyopia were listed as two of the issues that many patients start to notice by the age of 40.
Dr. Rachel Bishop of the National Eye Institute confirmed that it is when patients reach their 50s that eye diseases often start to show up.
Every optometrist or ophthalmologist has those patients who rarely miss an exam and are quick to reschedule if they do. Most also have patients that seem to fall off the grid and are hard to get in touch with in order to maintain a healthy regime of eye care exams.
As a recent article in Optometric Management shares, many practices use a “one-size-fits-all” strategy for reaching out to the patients that seem to have lost their way. Once a patient becomes unresponsive, they usually send a postcard and/or call. This, however, is not always the most effective method for getting these patients back into the office. Evan Kestenbaum, co-founder and chief information officer of GPN and co-owner of Optix Eyecare Center in New York, shares several great strategies for encouraging patients to respond and reschedule appointments.
Follow each comprehensive exam with housekeeping – After the exam, place a recall date in your practice management system. Then, use various forms of communication to reach patients to remind them of upcoming appointments to increase the chances that they will return.
Optos firmly believes in detecting and treating vision problems and eye diseases as early as possible. That’s why we develop retinal imaging and diagnostic tools that are comfortable for patients of all ages. It’s also why we feel so strongly about calling attention to events that raise awareness for protecting the vision of our youth like Prevent Blindness America’s Most Beautiful Eyes Contest.
The Most Beautiful Eyes Contest was designed to present “a unique opportunity to remind parents about the importance of making sure our children’s eyes are healthy,” as Prevent Blindness America’s president and CEO Hugh R. Parry says. With the support of sponsors and judges, the contest is working to guide children down the path toward a lifetime of healthy vision.
The contest is currently accepting submission and will continue to do so through July 31, 2013. Parents of children ages zero to 17 are invited to submit a photo of their child’s beautiful eyes on the Prevent Blindness America Facebook page for the chance to win an educational scholarship worth $10,000. The public will be allowed to vote during the month of August, and winners will be selected for each of the fifty states. State …
Examining the periphery with UWF autofluorescence (UWFAF) reveals patterns that suggest a new classification system for AMD and provide evidence of disease progression. A recent paper in Ophthalmology describes UWFAF imaging evaluations of patients with AMD (n=200) and no disease (n=19). The authors report that overall, 69% of eyes had peripheral AF abnormalities (86% with neovascular AMD, 73% with non-neovascular AMD, and 18% in eyes without AMD) and identify a strong correlation between observed AF patterns and the clinical features of the disease. They propose a classification system for AMD based on distinct AF patterns in the periphery and suggest that these patterns may be predictive of disease progression. The Optos 200Tx utilized in the study is the only imaging system available with the capability for UWFAF.
Tan CS, Heussen F, Sadda SR. Peripheral autofluorescence and clinical findings in neovascular and non-neovascularagre-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmology. 2013. [Epub ahead of print]
Have you ever noticed that patients sometimes apply a “shopping” strategy to the process of choosing an eyecare practitioner? As odd as it sounds, a survey performed for the Vistakon Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. revealed that “Patients choose your practice or reject it, based on how well the value proposition you offer aligns with their own shopping philosophies,” (Optometric Management).
The survey queried 7,500 visioncare consumers who ranged in age from 18 to 60. Participants were asked to answer 624 questions related to the factors that play into decisions regarding the purchase of glasses or contacts. As the results were tallied, five specific visioncare shopper segments were identified, which are:
Discriminating Health Investors: 19 percent of participants were identified as “discriminating health investors,” or shoppers who want only the very best and are able to pay for it. High-quality products and advanced technology, as well as building a trusted relationship with their practitioner, are of extreme importance.
Skilled Shoppers: Skilled shoppers accounted for another 19 percent of the population of survey participants. These visioncare shoppers seek quality products, care, and service, but also “want to feel like they are getting a good deal.”
Good digital communication with patients is key to growing an eyecare practice, according to a recent piece featured on the website of the Review of Optometric Business.
Tommy Lim, OD, of Berryessa Optometry in San Jose, California, asserted that professionals must connect with patients on a new level, using the technology patients already use to stay connected with the world. This “is critical to the survival and growth of a practice,” Lim said. It’s all about embracing today’s digital technology and using it to communicate in a manner that is most consumer-friendly.
In addition to using digital technology to communicate with patients, Dr. Lim shared the importance of establishing a strong, positive presence on the internet to reach potential patients. Vibrant websites can immediately grasp one’s attention, and positive reviews on sites like Yelp and other feedback-driven sites allow potential patients to research your practice.
And the technology you use within your practice can also enhance digital communication with patients, as well as attract new patients. Take Optos’ optomap technology, for example. One of the many benefits practitioners find with our technology is the ability to send patients an email containing their retinal images captured during an exam. …
Visualizing areas of retinal non-perfusion in patients with recalcitrant diabetic macular edema (DME) can provide important insights about the disease process and management. Results published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology suggest that utilizing ultra-widefield fluorescein angiography (UWFFA) to evaluate retinal vascular non-perfusion using the established ischemic index can identify DME that will be most unresponsive to therapy. This link between the extent of untreated retinal ischemia and the degree of recalcitrance provides further evidence that areas of non-perfusion produce biochemical mediators of disease progression, such as VEGF. The authors suggest that UWFFA could be useful in selecting patients for targeted retinal photocoagulation of untreated areas of non-perfusion and that employing the ischemic index could also help determine frequency of anti-VEGF therapy.
Patel RD, Messner LV, Teitelbaum B, Michele MA, Hariprasad SM. Characterization of ischemic index using ultra-widefield fluorescein angiograpy in patients with focal and diffuse recalcitrant diabetic macular edema. Am J Ophthalmol. 2013 [Epub ahead of print]
The American Diabetes Association recently revealed the results of The Diabetes Eye Health Study, and they were quite interesting. Of those surveyed, 96 percent acknowledge that diabetes could lead to blindness, and 83 percent believe in the importance of annual eye exams. However, 20 percent admitted that they have not had an eye exam in the past year. As Health Canal puts it, the study unfortunately demonstrated that “awareness does not always drive action when it comes to eye health.”
The World Health Organization estimates that 347 million people around the world have diabetes, with about 25.8 million of those patients residing in the United States (Centers for Disease Control). John E. Anderson, MD, told Health Canal that it is absolutely necessary for these patients to have annual eye exams so they can avoid complications and decrease their risk of eye problems associated with diabetes such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic macular edema, emphasizing that “diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults.”
There are several risks associated with too much exposure to sunlight, the most common being sunburn and premature aging of the skin. However, there are also some positive benefits that come with a “sensible” amount of sun exposure, including an improvement in sleep, a happier outlook, and protection from certain autoimmune diseases (U.S. News Health). And now, the results of two recent studies have revealed that spending time in the sun can be helpful in minimizing or preventing nearsightedness in children.
As Medical News Today shared in a recent article, one of the studies observed children in two elementary schools in Taiwan over the 2009-2010 school year. The children had previously spent their recess time indoors. But for the study, one school had its children spend a total of 80 minutes playing outdoors each day. The results of the eye exams that were conducted at the beginning and end of the study showed that significantly fewer children encountered nearsightedness in the school that required outdoor recess.
Optos is a leading provider of innovative devices that aid practitioners in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases in the retina. While much of our attention in previous blog posts has been focused on our ultra-widefield imaging devices and technology, we would now like to share more about our other retinal imaging products.
Optos’ OCT imaging products have shown to be an effective tool for both disease diagnosis and management. The OptosOCT SLO is an “all-in-one” system that combines a Spectral Domain OCT, a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope along with Retinal Tracking Microperimetry, in one highly advanced device – the only device of its kind to evaluate both Structure and Function together. This instrument is especially useful for clinicians who treat patients with more complex retinal diseases, as the device provides a reliable method for quality patient care.
The OptosOCT SLO offers practitioners the following benefits:
Instantaneous localization of the OCT on the SLO/retinal image, that simplifies scanning Ultra-high resolution images Enhanced details via multi-frame averaging for better clarification Comprehensive diagnostic capabilities, including an SLO image captured in real time for every OCT scan; a topographical map that can be placed directly over the SLO retinal image with …