Your 2022 Guide to Comprehensive Eye Care
Although many people associate getting their eyes checked as reading out a string of random letters from a distance, comprehensive eye care is so much more than that. It is absolutely essential to ensure eye problems aren’t starting to develop, because so many eye diseases have no symptoms in their early (and most treatable) stages. So what exactly is comprehensive eye care, what does it entail, and why is it important to integrate into your practice?
What is Comprehensive Eye Care?
Comprehensive eye care is more than just vision screening. Comprehensive eye care involves checking a patient’s health history, including any genetic eye diseases, eye dilation, and screening for eye diseases or disorders, and therefore usually involves a trip to an eye care specialist like an ophthalmologist. And for those who live with diabetes, a diabetic eye care plan is vital to prevent the onset of blindness later in life.
What is Involved in a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
This first aspect of comprehensive eye care involves everything from a patient’s family history with eye diseases and health conditions, to any problems they are currently experiencing with their eyes. Your practice could ask about a patient’s work or living conditions, or medications you are currently taking.
This is the part of comprehensive eye care that is the most familiar and caricaturized. Reading charts with letters on them are placed in front of patients close-up and far away, and are written like a fraction. Of course, 20/20 vision is what everyone wants, and for those who do not naturally have it, a prescription for glasses or contact lenses is in order.
Eye Focusing, Teaming, Movement Testing
In order for one to see properly, the eyes must move in tandem and change focus quickly. Assessing accommodation, ocular motility, and binocular vision help determine how well a patient’s eyes work together.
Eye Health Evaluation
This is one of the most important parts of an eye exam. Besides looking into a patient’s retina (which can sometimes involve dilation), microscopes, lenses, and digital technology is used to detect eye and systemic diseases that would otherwise remain latent to the patient and their doctor.
Depending on a patient’s history and/or diseases, a doctor may order supplemental testing. For example, patients with diabetes will need an annual diabetic retinopathy exam, as diabetic retinopathy is a common disease to develop asymptomatically in individuals with diabetes.
Comprehensive Eye Care vs Vision Screening
Although the importance of having 20/20 vision seems to be the most prominent issue to solve in eye care, a mere vision screening is a scratch on the surface of the tests that need to be performed in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of patients, especially diabetics who need yearly diabetic retinopathy exams.
The Problem with Comprehensive Eye Care
As important as comprehensive eye care exams are, not nearly enough at-risk individuals actually get yearly exams. At-risk individuals include those with a history of ocular disease, belong to a certain racial or ethnic group, have diabetes, wear contact lenses, have had eye surgery or a previous eye injury, etc.
Unfortunately, many eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, do not show symptoms in their earliest stages, meaning that patients often put off getting comprehensive eye exams until they start experiencing symptoms. But, eye diseases are at their most treatable when patients are asymptomatic, begging the question: how can doctors get patients to get comprehensive eye care that is custom to their needs before it’s too late?
Effective Comprehensive Eye Care in 2022
This is where technology steps in, giving primary providers the capability to perform life-altering tests that are usually only available from particular comprehensive eye care providers.
IRIS, or intelligent retinal imaging systems, is one of these technologies that is changing the availability of comprehensive eye care solutions in 2022 and beyond. IRIS is giving primary care providers, HRA’s, pharmacies, FQHCs, and health plans across the nation the ability to easily perform diabetic retinopathy exams and catch diseases in individuals in order to prevent them from causing blindness.
With IRIS, the entire process is very simple. An IRIS-trained camera operator takes fundus images as part of a routine appointment with a diabetic patient and sends the images to be diagnosed via a cloud-based platform. IRIS software automatically applies a proprietary image-enhancing algorithm to brighten these fundus images.
With this model, IRIS helps its customers maintain HEDIS compliance and reduces the risk of sight loss in diabetic patients dramatically, as 90% of vision lost due to diabetic retinopathy can be prevented by early detection. Patient care providers have seen a 4x increase in testing for at-risk patients becuase of the ease of getting checked while already at their primary care provider.
Try IRIS and Provide More Comprehensive Eye Care to Your Patients
By adding a retinal camera equipped with IRIS software to your services, healthcare providers can (and have) given their diabetic patients a better chance at keeping their eyesight with preventative diabetic retinopathy exams. In fact, the company’s efforts have contributed to over 110,000 “IRIS saves”, further supporting IRIS’s cause for putting an end to preventable blindness.
“Before [IRIS] at least 50% of our patients were unexamined. Since implementation that number has been cut in half, and at least 26% of patients who have undergone the examination have been diagnosed with some sort of ocular pathology that they would not have known about otherwise.”
– WILLIAM LEWIS, M.D., Harpers Ferry Family Medicine
Together, we can prevent preventable blindness through more accessible diabetic retinopathy exams and comprehensive eye care.
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