A huge population of patients are in need of presbyopia solutions
There is an eye condition that will affect 100% of people at some point, yet the majority of patients don’t know what it’s called and aren’t satisfied with the main solution for it. A survey found that 92% of optometrists polled said that most patients have no idea what the word “presbyopia” means, even if they have the symptoms of it.
The survey also found that 97% of people experiencing age-related near-vision struggles were familiar with the leading correction for the condition: reading glasses. They’re not happy about it, however; 65% of these patients were disappointed to consider wearing reading glasses.
With the oldest of the 72 million-strong Millennial generation entering their 40s, it’s prime time for eye doctors to step up their patient education on aging eyes.
Educate patients on changes to the eye over time
A lot of patients who develop presbyopia know the workarounds: enlarging the font size on their cell phones, using magnifying apps to read menus, and buying drugstore reading glasses. But many of them may not realize these are not their best or only options for better vision.
Another survey of patients ages 40-55 revealed that nearly half find the impact of presbyopia in their daily activities to be “extreme,” reported Millennial EYE. Rex Hamilton, M.D., told the publication, “I have a multifocal contact in one eye, and I am unable to function without it. It is such a pain to be presbyopic!” Dr. Hamilton uses Rendia videos like this one to show patients how their eye is changing and explain the solutions available for the different stages of the aging eye.
Educating patients about how the eye changes with age clears up the misconception that LASIK wears off or that reading glasses are the only solution.
Educating patients on the eye’s anatomy and natural changes to the lens also clears up confusion from patients who had LASIK and are disappointed that it “wore off” in their 40’s. “I tell patients that we typically utilize LASIK to fix focus problems we are born with, and we perform lens procedures for problems that are age-related,” said George O. Waring IV, M.D.
There’s a wide range of treatment options
Get patients to think beyond OTC readers by reminding them that only a trained eye care professional can perform a comprehensive eye exam, diagnose eye conditions, and offer the treatment option(s) that will best meet their individual needs. Presbyopia is a condition with many solutions, including progressive glasses, multifocal contact lenses, refractive surgery, premium IOLs, and as of last November, the first eye drop for the correction of presbyopia.
Depending on their lifestyle and preferences, different patients may want different solutions – progressive lenses, eye drops, or surgical interventions.
Let patients know that there are different solutions depending on their symptoms and needs. For example, if a patient gets reading glasses, but comes back in and complains they can’t watch TV, discuss the option of glasses with progressive lenses. Or, maybe a patient complains about their glasses sliding off their nose. Contacts or pharmaceutical options like eye drops may be a better solution. Even if a patient is satisfied with reading glasses, they may want to know about anti-fatigue and anti-glare spectacles as well as blue light protection.
Be prepared to ask patients questions to help them make the right treatment decision that fits their lifestyle best. Some patients may feel that reading glasses make them feel old, so they might be motivated to consider other solutions.
Presbyopia can bring new patients into your practice
This age-related condition that affects the majority of people aged 40 years or older is so common and so underserved that every eye care practitioner in the U.S. would have to add over 600 patients to see them all, according to the American Optometric Association’s Workforce Study.
Callout: Offering solutions for presbyopia can bring hundreds more patients to your practice with other age-related eye conditions.
This population has a higher incidence of conditions like ocular surface disease, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. “Based on this data and previous studies, that can translate to up to 400 new dry eye patients, 16 new glaucoma patients (not including those with risk factors or suspects), and 16 new macular degeneration patients for each optometrist in America, all without having to do any marketing or outreach,” wrote Mark Schaeffer, O.D., in the Review of Optometric Business.
Help patients understand that you can help them with their vision over the long haul, rather than just offering a quick fix like reading glasses. What you can offer that OTC readers can’t is a relationship with a trusted provider who is dedicated to their overall health and vision.