Meet the Growing Challenge: Treating Macular Degeneration

Our aging population is providing more cases of macular degeneration. Serve this growing need by discussing UV protection and lifestyle changes, and by providing early detection and early treatment. Technology is advancing; educate yourself on improved detection and treatment options.

With the Baby Boomer generation (those between 1946-1964) aging into senior citizens, macular degeneration is increasingly being diagnosed.  Taking steps to prevent and treat macular degeneration is the right thing to do, but it also is a great practice builder as you are providing services vital to the health of your community.

Institute Screening for all Patients

Patients who have a family history of macular degeneration are the most susceptible to this disease, but with the occurrence of it so common today, you should screen all patients. Take a baseline digital retinal photo and then review the image with patients letting them know if and where you see potential for disease inside their eyes. Point out details such as their optic nerve, the blood vessels and macula. Create a policy to photograph the retina at each annual exam (similar to a dentist requiring an x-ray annually), and, more frequently if they have diabetic or hypertensive retinopathy, AMD or a retinal hole, tear or degeneration that should be monitored more frequently. That way, everyone is screened and that creates an ideal opportunity to discuss prevention of potentially blinding eye diseases, like AMD and glaucoma with annual eye examinations, good nutrition and protecting the retina from UV damage. You can charge for the photo taken and advise the patient there will be a charge. You can participate with Medicare and Horizon BCBS for medically based eyecare. The billing code is 92250 and the diagnosis would be 362.57 (drusen) or 362.51 (dry AMD).

You shoulde explain the effect that ultra violet radiation has on this part of the eye and why it is important for patients to protect their eyes from the sun with quality sunwear.

Educate Nutrition and Personal Habits

In addition to explaining the importance of sun protection, you can point out how smoking triples the risk of developing AMD.  Explain the importance diet plays in prevention. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, eating kale, spinach, broccoli, peas and other vegetables, which have high levels of antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, may also reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

Talk Supplements

In addition to protecting eyes through the use of quality sunwear, a better diet and avoiding smoking, you should recommend that all patients, and especially those who are 50 and over, or those with a family history of macular degeneration, take MacuHealth, a macular degeneration-focused nutraceutical. The script has a toll-free number patients can call; it is $75 for a 90-day supply. Macuhealth is only available through a Doctor of Optometry or Ophthalmology or by dialing the toll-free number on the Rx pad. It is NOT available in drugstores or on other web sites.

Educate that in an Era of Electronic Screens, All Are At Risk

More research needs to be conducted in this area, but evidence is beginning to emerge that the blue light emitted from electronic devices like laptops and mobile devices, along with the light emitted from compact fluorescent (CFL) lightbulbs, increases macular degeneration risk. This is one more reason to take precautions regardless of your age or family history. Explaining the possible role these modern forms of light play in increasing macular degeneration risk, you can also emphasize the importance of annual comprehensive examinations in protecting eye health.

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How Do You Price Free Form Progressive Lenses?

Freeform progressives are commanding top dollar at many optometric practices, according to The Vision Council November 2012 Eye Care Professional Report. The most expensive progressive lenses being dispensed were free form progressives which sold on average for $413.14. Free form progressives were less expensive at smaller practices. Practices with only one location sold free form progressives for an average of $402.93, while practices with more than five locations sold free forms for $436.82 on average–over $30 more per pair. Free forms were also more expensive in the Midwest region of the US than other regions ($431.60 in the Midwest vs. $382.39 in the Mountain-Pacific region.

 

How freeform progressive lenses are doing in your practice?

If you have an average practice, you are seeing 2,200 patients for exams with refractions per year per doctor. Approximately 60 percent are getting eyeglasses–that would be 1,320 people (eg: .6 x 2,200 = 1,320). Of the 1,320 people who get glasses, approximately 50 percent are single vision and 50 percent are multifocals. That means 660 potential pairs of freeform progressive lenses per year could be sold in your practice.

Vision Impact Institute

Essilor, an international producer of ophthalmic optics, launched an organization dedicated to socio-economic-related vision issues: the Vision Impact Institute. Today’s most widespread disability, impaired vision, affects 4.2 billion people throughout the world, of whom 2.5 billion have no access to corrective measures.

In its quest to achieve better vision for all, the Vision Impact Institute will act as a global connector of knowledge, data and solutions. The Institute’s mission is to raise awareness about the socio-economic impact of poor vision and to foster research where needed, encouraging measures in the field of corrective vision. It will work to ensure that poor vision and the economic implications emerge as a global challenge.
This public health issue has substantial economic consequences at both an individual and collective level: $269 billion in productivity is reportedly lost every year because of impaired vision, even though all the required solutions (eye exams, corrections) are available.

The underestimated economic impact of impaired vision

While one of the most widespread disabilities in the world, impaired vision and its cost are still underestimated in developed and emerging countries: 30 percent of young people in the world under the age of 18 reportedly suffer from uncorrected refractive error, which is often not diagnosed due to lack of awareness or access to care. This proportion rises to 33 percent in the labor force, 37 percent among elderly people and 23 percent among motorists.

The economic impact is significant globally: around $269 billion in productivity is reportedly lost every year, including $50 billion in Europe, $7 billion in Japan, and $22 billion in the United States–even though there are solutions to correct most of these impaired vision cases.
The annual global cost of productivity loss corresponds to providing an eye exam for half of the current world population. Thus, simple measures might drastically reduce the economic consequences of impaired vision and also the social ones, even though the cost, level o f access to care, and awareness differs by country.

Transitions Optical Releases Multicultural Initiative Report

A new report–Cultural Connections: The 2012 Multicultural Initiative Report–overviews Transitions Optical’s multicultural efforts to date, including research conducted; resources available to both eyecare professionals and culturally diverse consumers; and programs executed through partnerships with industry and cultural organizations. The initiative report also includes profiles of Transitions Optical’s Diversity Advisory Board members, who oversee all efforts and ensure they are culturally appropriate and relevant.

Transitions Optical’s multicultural initiative report is available free-of-charge through Transitions Optical Customer Service at CService@Transitions.com or (800) 848-1506. A printable PDF version is also available online within the “My Industry” section of MyMulticulturalToolkit.com and includes links to useful tools and resources for eyecare professionals.

Do Your Patients Know About their Sports Eye Injury Risk?

Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats someone for a sports-related eye injury. According to the National Eye Institute, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in America, and most injuries occurring in school-aged children are sports-related. The results of an eye injury can range from temporary to permanent vision loss.

The NEI notes that baseball is the sport responsible for the greatest number of eye injuries in children aged 14 and younger. While basketball is the sport that records the highest number of eye injuries for those ages 15-24.

Polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Each sport has a specific ASTM code. Polycarbonate eyewear is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics.

Eye injuries can include painful corneal abrasions, blunt trauma and penetrating injuries, inflamed iris, fracture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas, traumatic cataract and blood spilling into the eye’s anterior chamber. All athletes who have poor vision or blindness in one eye should take particular care to protect their remaining vision.

Are Eyeglasses More Fashionable Now than 5 Years Ago?

Most eyeglasses wearers (66.9%) recognize that eyeglasses are more fashionable now than they were 5 years ago. Only 1/7 of those who currently wear eyeglasses believe that eyeglasses are not more fashionable now than they were 5 years ago, according to The Vision Council VisionWatch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report.

When compared to other eyeglasses wearers, women, younger Americans, eyeglasses wearers from higher income homes and eyeglasses wearers who also use contact lenses were all relatively more likely to believe that eyeglasses are more fashionable now than they were 5 years ago. Also, it is interesting to note that the same demographics that view eyeglasses as more fashionable now are also the same consumer demographics that did not slow their purchases of Rx eyeglasses during the recession and weak economic recovery; their sustained purchasing activity has helped minimize the overall industry losses from 2008 through 2010.

In the average practice, the optical shop represents 60%-70% of the dollars coming through the front door. We need to pay attention to this area of the practice. Generally, our first thought about the optical side of care is to promote function over fashion. Our typical focus is to make sure the patient is able to function maximally at work, home, school and play.  But, the Vision Council Vision Watch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report reminds us to not forget fashion.

This Vision Council Vision Watch Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report gives us valuable information. Fashion is important to our patients. It needs to be important to us as well. Based on this we need to question how well we manage fashion marketing in our opticals.

Fashion marketing goes beyond just merchandising. Fashion marketing involves positioning, branding, marketing mix, and, yes, merchandising. From the perspective of fashion marketing, go back and look at your optical and answer these four questions:

    1. Where have you positioned your optical?
         -High dollar
         –Medium dollar
         -Low dollar

     2. Have you branded your optical?
          -Do you have recognizable brands in your optical?
          -From just visuals, can a patient successfully navigate your optical?
          -Is there a theme in your optical?

    3. Do you manage your marketing mix?
          -Do you show the same frames as other opticals in town?
          -Do you have a minimum of 25 frames in each brand on the frame board?
          -What do you do with your non-performing frame lines?

    4. How well does your optical manage frame merchandising?
          -Do you highlight brands?
          -Are your displays focused (i.e.: not too many products on one display)
          -Are your best sellers at eye level?

Don’t just think about this, instead walk into your optical and ask yourself if you’ve achieved the fashion marketing objectives described above. Do you have room for improvement? Create a fashion marketing plan today to make your optical the best it can be.

What You Can Do About Cataracts

Cataracts are one of the most common causes  of vision loss. In fact, by age 75, about 70  percent of people have cataracts. However,  cataracts typically develop slowly, so symptoms may not be immediately  apparent. Over time, cataracts can cause vision to become blurry, cloudy dim,  or dull and can interfere with daily activities.  The good news is that cataracts are treatable  with cataract surgery.

August is Cataract Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to get EyeSmart about  cataract risks, symptoms, prevention tips, and when it might be time for  surgery. If you think you may have cataracts, be sure to talk to your  ophthalmologist about your options.

It’s also important to make sure you get regular eye exams to monitor the  development of cataracts or other eye conditions. Seniors age 65 and older may  qualify for an eye exam and up to 1 year of care at no out of pocket cost  through EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the  American Academy of Ophthalmology. See if you or a loved one qualifies by  visiting the online referral center at www.eyecareamerica.org.