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Matthew Jones, O.D.: Personalized care that goes the extra mile—literally.
“Optometry is just so unique. It’s not about seeing 20/20, it’s about so much more. It’s personable.” -Mathew Jones, O.D.
“The number of times that I’ve caught a pituitary tumor or found out that one of my patients probably had a stroke before they knew they had a stroke—it just happens all the time. And an online eye exam misses that,” says Dr. Jones about the very real—and potentially lifesaving—benefits of regularly seeing an optometrist in person.
For his patients, many of whom are close friends and neighbors, Dr. Jones’ dedication to personalized care has been critical to diagnosing and treating serious eye—and general—health issues that would have otherwise gone untreated.
“A lot of times we are the only doctor that some of our patients have seen in a long time. If they have high blood pressure or diabetes, they might not have symptoms. They might not go to see their primary care provider, so optometrists see that and help triage that to the right medical doctor all the time,” Dr. Jones continues.
|Hope’s optic nerve in the upper left. The dark spot next to it is the macula. Everything inferior and to the right is detached. Completely asymptotic...and 20/20 vision.|
This was especially true for Hope, a family friend who brought her daughter in for a routine, comprehensive eye exam. Because she was already there, Dr. Jones suggested Hope have her eyes examined as well. Though Hope initially thought it was unnecessary because she already had 20/20 vision, she decided to humor her friend. It was during this impromptu exam that Dr. Jones found a very large asymptomatic retinal detachment that was on the verge of entering her macula—in which case she would have lost her vision altogether.
According to Hope, “I really wasn’t concerned about getting an eye exam, but now I tell people all the time, ‘Be sure you go to your appointments. Because you just truly never know. You could have underlying issues that could cause damage for the rest of your life.’”
As Dr. Jones puts it, “Optometry is just so unique. It’s not about seeing 20/20, it’s about so much more. It’s personable. You have time to sit and get to know your patient and listen to all of their other health problems or life problems because they certainly put a lot of trust in us.”
And that trust is well-founded. For Don Harris, another long-time patient and neighbor, the personalized care that Dr. Jones practices helped save his sight with a laser trabeculoplasty procedure (SLT)—one of the very first performed by an optometrist in the state of Arkansas. Developed to lower eye pressure in glaucoma patients, the SLT procedure is especially critical for patients who would normally rely on eye drops to manage their eye pressure, but for a variety of reasons are unable to keep up with their ongoing regimen. This was the case for Mr. Harris, who had recently suffered a debilitating stroke, which left him unable to walk to Dr. Jones’ office, let alone to the pharmacy for regular eye drop prescriptions.
“We picked him up over the past two years for every appointment he’s ever come to […] but we’re in such a rural kind of close-knit area that it’s not a far stretch for us to take our patients home or pick them up.” -Mathew Jones, O.D.
“He’s walked to every single appointment in my office the last 10 years,” says Dr. Jones. “When we noticed we hadn’t seen him for a while, we reached out and learned about the stroke. He was in assisted living, and we just kept track of him until he got back home. Then we called him and went and picked him up and brought him to the office just to chitchat and see how he was doing with his eyes.”
Learning that Mr. Harris didn’t have reliable access to his medicine, which was also a financial burden, Dr. Jones explained the SLT procedure would only take a few minutes, could permanently relieve the pressure on his eyes, and would be covered by insurance so Mr. Harris wouldn’t pay anything out of pocket. And of course, Dr. Jones would pick him up for the procedure.
“We picked him up over the past two years for every appointment he’s ever come to. And that’s not completely uncommon. I guess that’s kind of shocking to a lot of folks, but we’re in such a rural kind of close-knit area that it’s not a far stretch for us to take our patients home or pick them up.” As Dr. Jones summarizes, “That’s just what optometrists do. I’m certainly not alone in that.”
His patients, however, tend to see things a little differently. As Hope puts it, “I’ve had two kids. I’ve seen multiple doctors throughout my life. But Dr. Jones has truly gone above and beyond any physician I’ve ever delt with.”
Matthew Jones, O.D.
Recognized as the American Optometric Association’s “Young Optometrist of the Year” in 2018, Dr. Jones is a passionate advocate for increased patient access to care. He is active on several committees of the Arkansas Optometric Association, working to effect change through state and national legislation. In addition to practicing in both Blytheville and Osceola, Arkansas, Dr. Jones is the secretary/treasurer of the Great River Charitable Clinic Board of Directors where he provides free eye care services and materials for the underserved. Find an AOA doctor of optometry near you.
ARUUU is a Muslim American content creator and Twitch streamer. For her, eye health is a necessity to stay at the top of her game. Prolonged screen time from streaming can put a strain on the eyes so an annual appointment with her doctor of optometry is vital for her to stay healthy.
A thorough eye exam and a series of probing questions by Michael Wallerich, O.D., M.B.A., likely saved his patient Casey Nichols’ life.
Dylan Shockey is one of millions of Americans who devotes more than 10 hours a day to screen time. The former athlete, avid gamer and mechanical engineer says he’s “on the computer 99% of the time” during the workday. “8 hours, 9 hours, 10 hours. However long I'm working, I'm usually staring at a computer.”