How to improve the efficiency + effectiveness of the low vision exam
A low vision exam can be both complicated and time-consuming.
So how can it be streamlined and made more successful?
That’s exactly what we asked several eyecare professionals. Here they explain what they’ve done in their practice, and what they suggest other ECPs can do to make their low vision exams both efficient and effective.
#1 TRIAGE FIRST.
Triage the patient before they ever get to the office. “I developed a script to help prequalify patients,” explains Tom Porter, O.D., director of Low Vision Services at the St. Louis University School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. “I want them to understand what we do, how we do it, how long they’ll be here, what to bring (old glasses and magnifiers) and, most important, specific visual goals.”
#2 BE REALISTIC.
“Low vision patients want reassurance, but make it realistic, too,” says Janelle Brown, O.D., of Pontiac Family Eye Care in Pontiac, IL. Be reassuring, “by telling them, ‘Yes, it’s normal to take longer to read when you’re learning a new device.’” And also be realistic, by adding something like, “‘We can make the font bigger, but we can’t get rid of the blind spot in your central vision.’”
#3 TIE TO GOALS.
“I request that each patient bring a list of three to five things they want to do that they are unable to currently do,” explains Dr. Porter. After discussing this with them, adds Dr. Brown, “use the exact wording from your conversation with them as you advise the patient how devices can be used to meet their goals during daily activities.”
#4 TRAIN + DELEGATE.
“Educate everyone on staff,” stresses Laura Miller, O.D., at Northwest Hills Eye Care in Austin, TX. “It’s important, particularly with low vision, to have everyone understand a disease.” Another reason to train? “So you can delegate time-consuming tasks,” says Dr. Porter.
#5 LOOK AHEAD.
“Briefly demonstrate the next level of devices should vision worsen,” suggests Dr. Brown. “Encouraging your patients that their future needs can be addressed will provide motivation and increase confidence.”
Making your low vision exam more efficient will save time and money. But that’s not all, says Dr. Brown. “The smiles and joy of patients who can see to read again are well worth the effort and tough conversations.”
How can you make devices accessible without stretching out appointment times?
SHOW IT. “Create a low vision section or display products in your waiting room,” suggests Lynne Noon, O.D., owner of ViewFinder in Phoenix, AZ. “People don’t want what you have if they can’t see it.”
SET GOALS. “Break down goals by working distance, duration, and specific patient limitations,” says Dr. Porter.
BE SELECTIVE. “I usually only evaluate a couple [devices] per task with a patient. When you achieve a goal, put the other devices away to avoid patient confusion,” he adds.