wise to the world
New Rules for Networking
In years past, establishing a relationship with a general ophthalmologist was considered sufficient for optometrists, but new O.D.s now need a much wider referral network. Minimally, you should seek to establish relationships with an internist, a cornea specialist, a retina specialist and a neurologist.
Here are some tips that can help you open the lines of communication.
1. Don't let the latest unfortunate news about strained M.D./O.D. relationships prevent you from reaching out to ophthalmologists and other physicians. O.D.s need M.D.s to refer to, just as M.D.s need optometric referrals. The press likes to publicize our "turf wars," but on a local level, we all know we need each other.
2. Arrange a personal visit or a lunch with these physicians. You may even get referrals from them, especially the internist for diabetic exams and the cornea specialist for complicated contact lens fittings.
3. Once you've established these personal relationships, keep them strong with a policy of open communication. If you have a problem, pick up the phone to discuss it. You'll find that networking is most beneficial when you and your colleagues can operate in an environment of mutual trust.
Milton M. Hom, O.D., F.A.A.O. (Dip CL) Azusa, Calif.
Probing Patient Problems
When patients enter your exam lane, do you have all the information you need to perform a comprehensive exam? Thanks to a user-friendly checklist,
Millicent Knight, O.D., of the North Shore Eye Center in Evanston, Ill., is prepared to help her patients address common vision problems -- especially the ones they don't even realize they have!
"I felt like patients weren't volunteering all the information I needed to help them," says Dr. Knight. "Giving patients a list of specific complaints prompts them to tell me about problems they may otherwise forget to mention."
Besides routine contact lens questions, Dr. Knight's questionnaire asks about common computer- and allergy-related problems, such as:
- Do you currently use a computer?
- Do you feel eye strain when you use a computer?
- Do you use special glasses for the computer?
- Do you experience neck pain?
- Does glare bother your eyes?
- Do your eyes itch?
- Do your lids swell?
- Are you a gardener?
"Our questionnaire helps patients make the connection between computer work, allergies, certain crafts and hobbies and eye discomfort. More importantly, they realize there's a solution," says Dr. Knight. "In the end, I'm addressing all my patient's eyecare issues."
Silicone Hydrogel Positives
Even if my patients aren't interested in sleeping in their contact lenses, I take the time to tell them about the advantages of new silicone hydrogel materials. I use everyday examples to explain how they can benefit from silicone hydrogel lenses. For instance:
- Silicone hydrogel lenses are less likely to dry out than traditional hydrogel
lenses when you're sitting in your car with the heat or air conditioning running.
- Athletes don't have to worry about wind causing intermittent blurring when they're wearing silicone hydrogel lenses.
- You're less likely to develop dry, irritated eyes associated with computer vision syndrome.
Explaining the differences between traditional hydrogel and silicone hydrogel lenses not only piques my patients' interest in trying something new, but introduces them to the option of wearing their lenses overnight.
Michael Feldman, O.D., F.I.O.S., Lynbrook, N.Y.
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2004