Article

CLINICAL: Dry Eye

Embrace DED Diagnosis

Don’t miss out on this fulfilling opportunity

My colleagues tell me they hear about dry eye disease (DED) everywhere. It dominates journal articles, research, emerging pharmaceuticals and diagnostic equipment. DED is omnipresent. Many of my colleagues say, with a little disdain, “Another lecture about dry eye?!” However, when I think about what diagnosing and managing DED has done for my patients (symptomatic relief) and my career (personal and professional fulfillment), I reply, “Yes, indeed another lecture about dry eye!”

BEGINNINGS

My career has taken me in many directions over the last 20 years: I’ve been in private practice optometry, an ophthalmology referral center, academia and, most recently, I’ve taken a dual role of managing optometrists and seeing patients in an ophthalmology setting.

Diagnosing and managing DED has been a part of my career journey in varying degrees. In some cases, the chronic disease wasn’t much more than an incidental finding. And yet in others, it was the patient’s chief complaint and a top priority for the practice.

TODAY

In recognizing the profound effect focusing on DED can have on patients and practitioners, today, the condition is a top priority for the profession.

To start, as a presenter, I’ve seen the audiences for DED courses, such as “Dry Eye Boot Camp,” grow incrementally over the last year.

Also, attendees are not just occupying seats; they’re enthusiastic participants, asking questions, sharing insights and engaging industry. And, they take that newfound knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence back to their practices, breathing new life into their patient care.

I’ve also seen this fervor for DED as director of clinical affairs, a position I recently accepted at an optometric private equity firm.

Specifically, the firm prioritizes DED in the medical management of patients, and it wants to spread that message to all its members in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. Part of my role with the group is to deliver a well-crafted and actionable DED protocol to over 80 practices. I’m thrilled to say that, to date, all the doctors I’ve visited have “leaned in,” eager to incorporate more DED diagnosis and management in their practices.

MISSING OUT?

If you haven’t embraced the diagnosis of DED as part of your practice, I think, nay, I know, you’re missing out on a fulfilling part of practicing optometry.

Why not focus on it in 2020? (See “2020 Prepper Plan.”) If you do, I’m pretty sure you’ll find yourself saying at the next industry event: “Another lecture about dry eye?! Sign me up!” OM

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Look forward by looking back. Run an EHR report on DED pa-tients in your practice. Could you do more for them?

Numbers don’t lie. Just ask the scale. If you have enough DED patients to warrant in-office treatment, consider making the investment. If, however, you offer premium DED services, assess your conversion rate. Are you even measuring? If you think you’re underperforming, reach out to a successful colleague, consultant or industry representative for help.

Presentation is everything. Do you offer OTC products for your DED patients? If so, is your staff actively discussing them? Make sure these conversations are being had.