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Optometry Mentioned in the Blogosphere

on December 17th, 2006 | Filed under Optoblog

I’ve been monitoring the mentions of optometrists and eye exams in the blogosphere for a while. I think we suffer from a public relations problem.
One blogger reports about a bad optometrist office encounter. A commenter says, “And why do eye doctors always have bad breath? It’s awful…”

It’s also scary to think that whatever one says to a patient in an exam room could be shared with the entire world on their blog.

But don’t worry. We could always go to ODwire…shielded from prying eyes by an exclusive forum…and complain about “difficult” patients. But would that solve the problem?

I think there is an obvious gap between what we eye doctors take for granted and what the general public knows. I’ve actually had a patient who had know idea that it was normal to loose his near focusing ability after age forty. No idea!

But who has the time, or even interest, to learn more trivia about eyecare stuff? “I can’t see. Fix me up, doc, and don’t try anything funny like an air-puff or getting your face uncomfortably close to my face.”

I think the industry needs better, quicker ways to evaluate eye exams. Yes, there is the “30 second refraction” out there, but who has that kind of cash? Yes, there is the Optomap to reduce the amount of dilated eye exams in low risk patients, but again, how many of us can afford the lease and do we really trust it to not miss something and what about observing the vitreous?

New technology in the consumer world is expensive at first, but then the price rapidly goes down. The eyecare equipment prices always stay steady, if not increase. I just assume it’s because there are only so many people in the world that can buy a digital refractor or a laser scanning ophthalmoscope.

I think we could partly solve our image problem if more optometrists used better technology in their exam suites. For that to happen, prices must come down.

“What’s good for the practice is good for the patient. What’s good for the patient is good for the practice,” say the practice consultants.

Delivering state-of-the-art eyecare costs more than what you pay for an exam at the vision barn. Some people (especially large families where everyone needs an eye exam, glasses, and contacts every year) don’t want to spend the money on quality eyecare. Vision plans sure as heck don’t want to reimburse what it takes, and people over forty get sticker shock when you price their designer brand frames, progressive addition lenses, and quality anti-reflective/scratch lens treatments.

But some people get it. Yes, my glasses help me see, but really they are like jewelry or a fashion accessory that complements my wardrobe. It’s an extension of my personality, or even a personality unto itself. Those people are willing to spend what it takes on eyewear. But I’ll still get a few who wig out on the eye drops.

Can we get a program running in the elementary schools explaining all the parts of an eye exam? That way every single American will know what to expect during an eye exam, so they won’t freak out about its little inconveniences a la air puff, eye drops, and bright lights. And honestly, would one expect to get a prostate exam without “the finger.” A little air-puff and bright light once a year won’t kill you. Suck it up, you pansy. Or go invent something that gives me the same information while being less invasive. And sell it cheap so I can actually get it for my office.

Just had to vent secondary to bad press in the blogosphere. I rambled, but I’m good now.

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