Independent ODs are leaving a more favorable impression with patients than corporate-owned optometry chains, according to Jobson Optical Research’s 2012 Adult Consumer Eye Exam Experience. Fewer consumers who had an exam at a chain in the last six months strongly agreed with the statement that overall they were satisfied with the eye exam experience compared to those who had an exam at an independent in the last six months (45.3% and 58.1% respectfully). Indeed, just under half of those consumers who had an eye exam at a chain in the last six months (46%) said the exam was thorough, compared to 58.9% of those consumers who had an eye exam at an independent in the last six months.
Among consumers who had their eye exam at a chain in the last six months, 53.4% said they were extremely likely to return to the same place for their next eye exam. By comparison, 70.7% of those who had their eye exam at an independent in the last six months said they were extremely likely to return to the same place for their next exam.
Of the respondents who had their exam at an independent in the last six months, 63.5% reported that they are currently covered by a type of managed vision care or vision insurance plan. This is greater than the 53.9% who have a vision plan and chose to have their eye exam at a chain in the last six months.
Among the 1,532 parents responding to the Vision Council’s VisionWatch Parent for Child Report who have not taken their children to receive an eye exam within the past two years, 63% claim they have not taken their children for an exam because their children do not need an exam. Parents with children over the age of 10 living at home and parents with more than one child living at home were more likely than other parents to avoid eye exams for their children because of the belief that their children don’t need one.
A significantly large portion of parents who have not taken their children for an eye exam recently (35.6%) believe that their children are too young to experience vision problems and therefore do not need an exam. Parents with only one child living at home, and parents with a child under the age of 10 were more likely than other parents to avoid taking their child for an eye exam due to the belief that their child is too young for a vision problem. 14% of parents said they have not taken their child for an eye exam recently because their vision problems are only minor. This was especially true for parents of older children (age 10 and older) and parents with more than one child living at home. For almost 8% of parents whose children have not received an eye exam recently the perceived high cost of an exam has prevented them from taking their child for an exam. The notion that the exam will cost too much was a particular strong deterrent for parents with no vision insurance and for parents with an average household income of under $40,000 annually.
7% of parents with children who have not received an exam in the past two years said they were too busy to take their children for an eye exam. This was especially true for parents with more than two children living at home and for parents with children between the ages of 10 and 13. Another 7% of parents said their children had not received an exam recently because they did not have an eye doctor. This was especially the case for parents with an annual household income under $40,000, those with no vision insurance coverage and for parents with children over the age of 13 living at home.
What are the numbers? 1 in 4 school-aged children have vision problems.
What is the risk? Undiagnosed visual conditions cause unresolved life problems. What is the solution? Education.
How good of a job are we doing? Based on the Vision Council’s report, not good. We have to start somewhere, so let’s start in our practices. We can do this by signage in the office.
Here are three signs that should be in every doctor’s office:
“Did you know that 1 in 4 school-aged children have vision problems? A child who has never seen the world clearly has no reference point to tell you that something is wrong. Don’t let your child live with a problem that can be easily addressed. Get your child’s eyes examined yearly by an optometrist.”
“Did you know that the eyesight test done by the school nurse or by the pediatrician does a poor job of identifying visual problems? It identifies correctly about half of the children screened. In other words, when children are given the test, about half are told they do not have a problem when they do or told they do have a problem when they do not. Don’t let your child live with a problem that can be easily addressed. Get your child’s eyes examined yearly by an optometrist.”
“A child’s body changes every year. The eyes are part of the body and they change just like the rest of the body. Just because your child had an eye exam one or two years ago does not mean they are still the same today. Don’t let your child live with a problem that can be easily addressed. Get your child’s eyes examined yearly by an optometrist.”
When asked about what is most important in the eye doctor’s office, 89.2% said that it is very or somewhat important that the doctor’s office utilize the latest technology and instrumentation, according to Jobson Optical Research’s The Waiting Game report. Hours of operation came in next with 61% of respondents saying that weekday hours (before 9 am or after 5 pm) are very or somewhat important and 56.1% saying that weekend hours are very or somewhat important.
The leading edge of the Baby Boomers just hit age 66. This large group of people are going to have a major impact on our practices. They will change our practices over the next 20 years as they move from age 66 to 86. Cataracts, diabetes, hypertension, macular degeneration … chronic disease management is what we need to be preparing for in our practices.
As we think about the Baby Boomers, the most important question is: What is it that the Baby Boomers are looking for in an eye examination? They want two things: personalized attention and high-tech exams. The Jobson research is telling us that almost 90% of our patients want a high-tech exam. So, our action plan is to look at what you are currently doing. Are you offering a high-tech exam? Are patients reporting to you that they are impressed with your high-tech exam? If not, put in place today a plan to make that happen.
Getting a comprehensive eye exam is an important part of staying healthy. But do you know what the exam should cover?
A comprehensive eye exam is a painless procedure that should check on the following:
• Your medical history — assessed through questions about your vision and family history.
• Your visual acuity — tested by reading a standardized eye chart.
• Your pupils, evaluated to determine how well they respond to light.
• Your eye movement, which is tested to ensure proper eye alignment and ocular muscle function.
• Your prescription for corrective lenses — evaluated to ensure proper vision correction.
• Your side vision, tested for possible vision loss and glaucoma risk.
• Your eye pressure, tested as a possible glaucoma symptom.
• The front part of your eye, examined to reveal any cataracts, scars or scratches on your cornea.
• Your retina and optic nerve — assessed through a dilated eye exam using special eyedrops, which allows your Eye M.D. to thoroughly examine the back of the eye for signs of damage from disease.
Each part of the comprehensive eye exam provides important information about the health of your eyes. Make sure that you are getting a complete examination as part of your commitment to your overall health.