Post-LASIK Education: Let Patients Know They Still Need You

Providing ongoing care for post-LASIK patients keeps them in your practice and ensures that they receive the services and products they need.

LASIK has become a common procedure improving the lives of many of those who undergo it, but many of those same patients don’t realize that they still need to visit their eye doctor annually. In addition to co-managing pre- and post-operative care for LASIK patients, ODs need to educate these patients about why they still need to visit for a comprehensive exam each year. Education also is needed about which products, such as sunwear, are still beneficial, and why a successful LASIK procedure doesn’t mean a patient won’t need to address presbyopia.

Vision and Eye Health Could Change

Although patients can now see well, they need to be examined on an annual basis. For those getting close to presbyopia, they may need reading glasses in the near future and need to continue monitoring their eye health for such issues as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. Other LASIK patients are very non-compliant and literally disappear after their surgeries, either showing up rarely or never again.

Monitor and Treat LASIK-Related Dry Eye

Many LASIK patients are people who have had dryness issues that affected their ability to wear contact lenses and require treatment methods for anyone who has dryness including lubricants, Omega 3 supplements and punctal plugs when necessary.

Educate On Added Need for Sunwear and Driving Eyewear

LASIK patients are more prone to glare problems after surgery, especially at night. Many patients have LASIK with a monovision modality, so their eyes are unbalanced for distance vision and these patients can often benefit from night driving eyeglasses, as well, that balance both eyes to distance.

Monitor Eye Health Long-Term

Continue to monitor post-LASIK patients for the same medical eyecare problems that can affect anyone such as glaucoma and cataracts. Also monitor the cornea for any signs of a condition called ectasia, which is an abnormal thinning and bulging of the cornea. Since the surgery leaves the cornea thinner, this can happen, although it is uncommon.

Anticipate the Rare Poor LASIK Outcome

In most of these cases, the problems were not medical, but a result of a patient with unrealistic expectations. Some patients who had the oldest refractive surgery, radial keratotomy (RK) have had massive shifts in their refraction over the years, ending up extremely hyperopic. In addition, their best corrected visual acuity is often not correctable easily to 20/20 vision.

Generate Post-LASIK Patient Referral

Ask for referrals of the patient’s friends, family and co-workers who may be interested in LASIK surgery. Often, the patient’s happiness and enthusiasm is highest right after the surgery, so this is a good time to ask for referrals. The referred patients will not necessarily be excellent candidates for surgery, but will then continue coming to our office for their eyeglasses and contact lens needs.

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New Revenue Stream: Lubricating Eye Drops

Offer lubricating eye drops as part of a treatment plan for dry eye and LASIK co-management patients. Patients enjoy convenience and avoid brand confusion at retail outlets, while your practice adds a new revenue stream.

Instead of giving patients a prescription to hunt on their own for the eye drops, you could offer exactly what they needed right in our office. In the process, you also could build revenues. 

Sell Branded Eye Drops for Slightly More than Pharmacy

On average, the lubricating drops you can sell cost $10 to $15 in a pharmacy. In exchange for the patient’s convenience and the added sense of security that comes from getting the drops directly from you, you can sell the product for slightly more than that.

Keep Inventory Simple

You should only invest in selling one brand of eye drops in three different versions–preserve, non-preserve and gel.

Doctor Prescribed and Sold

Like eyeglasses, contact lenses or any other product you would prescribe for a patient, it is best when selling eye drops to write down your prescription, and hand it to the patient or to the person who will conduct the transaction. Since most of our patients opt for LASIK procedures, you can make the eye drops a standard part of the preoperative and postoperative regimen for every patient. This is an approach that any OD who has a LASIK co-management specialty can emulate. It also works if you are able to make the eye drops you sell a standard part of a treatment plan for patients with dry eye.

Enable Patients to Use Flex-Spending Dollars on Drops

Be sure to write out a prescription for the eye drops so patients can use their flex-spending account dollars to pay for them. When you hand the patient off to the front desk for check out and purchase of the drops, remind them that they can use their FSA dollars.

Display at Front Desk

Make sure all of your patients know they can purchase eye drops from you-and can use their FSA dollars to do so–with a product display at your front desk and a sign that explains the product and the ability to use FSA.

Do Post-LASIK Patients Buy Plano Sunglasses or OTC Readers?

In addition to being more likely to wear plano sunglasses and OTC reading glasses, refractive surgery/LASIK patients were also more likely to have purchased plano sunglasses and/or OTC readers during the 12-month period ending March 2011, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch Eyewear Habits of Refractive Surgery/LASIK Patients report. During this period of time, surgery patients bought 5.17 million pairs of plano sunglasses and 1.71 million pairs of OTC readers.