OD News Articles

2nd October 2007

Lifestyle Eyecare

by Cindy Murrill, OD, MPH Tacoma, Washington

Over the next 10 years, the impact baby boomers have on eyecare will be dramatic. This aging sector of our population is big into lifestyle. They (and I’m one of them) are unwilling to accept the aging process as a limiting factor in their active lives. For this reason, baby boomers are huge consumers of fitness, health and medical services that promise to turn back the effects of time.

As comanaging ODs and MDs have learned to cooperate and maximize each other’s skills, we face a new opportunity to expand the level of our care. I call it Lifestyle Eyecare—where we work together to tailor fit solutions that satisfy patients’ visual demands. Lifestyle eyecare will become increasingly important as the fast rising tide of boomers begin to develop cataracts. Like my husband, many of these patients will want to explore options to reduce dependency on glasses.

For cataract patients, lifestyle options include:

  • Toric IOLs to correct astigmatism
  • Multifocal IOLs to help reverse the effects of presbyopia
  • Corneal surface treatment to correct astigmatism or fine-tune vision with IOLs
Number of Americans turning 60 each year
  
Golden Age of Eyecare

A large bubble of active, healthy, lifestyle-motivated people will soon be turning 60. I believe we are going to experience a golden age of eyecare where an increasing number of patients will present with a lot of eyecare needs. Family optometric physicians are perfectly suited to provide most of this care. And comanaging ODs and MDs are well positioned to work together to serve and delight those patients requiring additional attention.

Optometrists by nature tend to listen, build relationships with patients, and customize their care accordingly. With the burgeoning baby-boomer population, family ODs need to retain primary management of aging patients by:

  • Continuing to listen to patients’ needs and desires
  • Offering the full range of optometric services
  • Beginning to provide lifestyle eyecare options
  • Opening the door to subspecialty surgical services
Comanagement at its Finest

Vision exams with eyeglasses Rx will not satisfy the needs of many baby boomers. Although this is the foundation on which optometry is based, primary care ODs must also offer:

  • Medical eyecare—for which Medicare should be billed with appropriate E&M codes
  • Advanced technology and testing—or the ability to order it from a comanagement center
  • Direct referrals to the best sub specialists—accompanied with detailed pre-op information
  • Post-op care—expecting excellent communication and detailed information from the surgeon

This is comanagement at its finest!

Further Reading

Click here to read an interesting article from Optometry Management—Comanaging Cataract Patients: The New Role of the Primary Care Optometrist.