Staying Connected When It Matters Most

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Like many of you these days, who have yet to reopen for routine care, I miss seeing patients and being able to help them. It’s tough when patients call or text me that their vision has changed a bit and they need an eye exam, and I have to turn them down. I’m so excited to get back to that level of care.

In the meantime, staying productive and connected is as important for my own sanity as it is for my patients and our community. First and foremost, our ability as Doctors of Optometry to provide emergency vision care to our patients keeps them out of overloaded emergency rooms. This frees up the ER staff to focus on COVID-19/Coronavirus patients and limits our patients’ exposure to those who might have the virus. It is far less risky for a patient to meet with me in a private exam room than to be in a crowded urgent care facility or emergency room.

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen a variety of patients with emergency conditions. I recently saw a patient who called to report a dark spot in his vision. Sensing something serious, I had him come into the office and I discovered a retinal detachment. I was able to refer him immediately to a private retinal specialist, and surgery was scheduled for the same day.

As more people stay home, you see emergencies like foreign bodies in the eye from doing home projects or abrasions to the eye from little kids—conditions that need to be taken care of sooner rather than later before something else develops. By treating these conditions early, we can often help prevent vision loss or related health changes.

Another significant way we’re able to safely connect with our patients during this pandemic is by offering telemedicine for medical eye services. Like with many practices, telemedicine was new to us, but we’re finding it to be an effective way to meet with our patients remotely from the comfort of our respective homes. Using telemedicine, we are able to see and help patients experiencing a variety of conditions, such as conjunctivitis, without requiring an in-office visit. 

As I see it, our profession consistently evolves to meet the changing needs of our patients—and this pandemic is no exception. Whether it’s checking in on patients whose prescriptions expired or who may be running out of contact lenses, or helping a patient avoid the emergency room by seeing them in your office or via telemedicine, finding new ways to connect will help us all get through this together.

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