As August is National Children’s Vision and Learning month and back-to-school preparations are in full-swing, O.D.s with successful pediatric practices provide tips on how to garner back-to-school exams to ensure optimized ocular health for learning.
• Be kid-friendly. “Show current caregiver patients that you see kids by creating a small pediatric reception area (e.g. toys, a small table and chair set, etc.),” suggests Dan Press, O.D., F.C.O.V.D., and current president of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (C.O.V.D.). He adds that O.D.s should dedicate an optical area to children’s frames and consider moving them to a more prominent area in July and August to get caregivers thinking about kid eye exams.
Barry Tannen, O.D., F.C.O.V.D., F.A.A.O., recommends “ditching” the white coat — kids think shots — having candy and performing the exam using patient-controlled games, such as “blow out the transilluminator.”
• Educate adult patients. “If there is a young woman in my chair, wearing a sparkling new engagement ring or who tells me she’s about to get married, I’ll say something like, ‘I’m not trying to rush things, or anything, but I just wanted to let you know that if and when you ever decide to have children, I would love the opportunity to give them their first comprehensive eye health exam between six to 12 months of age through the American Optometric Association’s InfantSEE program to ensure their eye sight and ocular health are the best they can be” explains AOA past President Andrea P. Thau, O.D., F.A.A.O., F.C.O.V.D., F.N.A.P.
Dr. Tannen recommends having a visual that lets caregivers experience a specific vision problem, such as saccadic dysfunction (see image) because many equate “normal” VA with normal vision.
• Tap resources for marketing. Use the information from the InfantSEE (www.infantsee.org), Think About Your Eyes (www.thinkaboutyoureyes.com ) and C.O.V.D. (www.COVD.org ) websites to create internal and external marketing materials, say those interviewed.
• Celebrate exams. Dr. Press suggests having child patients hold up an “I just had my first eye exam” sign, so they feel special and the parent can post a photo on her social media channels, which, he says, they do, and this process has created additional new patients. OM