Excerpted from page 30 of the April/May 2019 edition of AOA Focus.
Dry eye disease doesn't discriminate—its ubiquity but relative lack of public understanding about the disease's complexity means these patients are presenting routinely and searching for answers. Do you know how to respond?
"Dry eye disease is everywhere," says Whitney Hauser, O.D. "Doctors don't have to search for dry eye patients; they are already in their chairs looking for solutions."
At Optometry's Meeting® 2019, June 19-23, in St. Louis, doctors can learn specifically what it takes to provide this level of care. Presented by Dr. Hauser, Mark Schaeffer, O.D., and Josh Johnston, O.D., the "Setting Up a Dry Eye Clinic Workshop" outlines how to appropriately choose testing, assess results and use the data obtained to most accurately treat these patients. Where the didactic portion offers foundational information about the disease process and equipment used, the workshop gives attendees hands-on experience with advanced diagnostic and treatment tools.
"We want attendees to walk away with the 'blueprints' needed to start and run a successful dry-eye clinic," Dr. Johnston says. "Rather than just listening to content about dry eye, this will be an interactive and immersive experience on the actionable steps needed to incorporate a dry-eye clinic into your practice."
Adds Dr. Schaeffer: "Each optometrist doesn't need to open a full center dedicated to dry eye, but there are easy and achievable steps to create a better way to take care of these patients."
Want to set up a dry-eye clinic? Here are three considerations before hanging that shingle:
Dry-eye patients are out there, so where are they getting their care? Dr. Schaeffer says the first step to setting up a dry-eye clinic is taking ownership of that care. "They are walking into exams all across the country with a variety of complaints and issues that we as practitioners can address," Dr. Schaeffer says.
"Each one of us has a unique perspective on how to start and where to begin, but ultimately, the individual doctor needs to have the desire to be proactive for these patients."
Dry-eye disease could be the most common condition that doctors of optometry see day to day, Dr. Johnston says, but are they catching it?
"You need to start looking for the signs and symptoms of dry eye in your current patients," he says. "Once you identify the disease, start an advanced treatment plan that works, rather than the traditional OTC methods we usually reach for."
Like anything new, well-laid plans lead to efficiency—and ultimately—success, Dr. Hauser says. Once you're committed to doing more for your dry-eye patients, it's time to develop a plan for moving forward. Do your research about the technology necessary to help diagnose dry eye with greater precision, learn the latest management therapies and protocols, and most importantly, seek continuing education (CE) that improves your knowledgebase.
In only the past decade, dry-eye knowledge has grown by leaps and bounds with understanding of Meibomian gland dysfunction, osmolarity and tear film, and new or advanced treatments.
"However, plans aren't set in stone and as the practice takes off in dry eye, doctors may need to adapt and change that plan to accommodate their needs and the needs of their patients," Dr. Hauser says.
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It is said that a message must be repeated multiple times before it sinks in with an audience. During a satellite media tour, AOA President Ronald L. Benner, O.D., used that strategy to extol the essentialness of annual back-to-school eye examinations and link them to student performance in the classroom.