As May is National Allergy & Asthma Awareness month, optometrists provide top tips on educating patients that they can treat allergy.
• Ask, and ask again. Include questions about ocular allergy symptoms (itching, watering, etc.) in the patient history form, and personally ask when the patient is in the chair, regardless of how he answered the patient history form, recommends Glenn S. Corbin, O.D.
“Some ocular allergy patients have become so accustomed to their symptoms, that they don’t even recognize they have a problem. So, if we inquire again, when the patient is in our chair, we’re bringing attention to these symptoms, which makes the patient realize he may have a problem,” he explains. “This opens up a discussion about how, specifically, the patient has been treating it, and we can then explain how we can intervene. For example, if the patient says he’s been using an OTC drop to control his symptoms, we can educate him that prescription drops may provide greater relief.”
• Perform in-office testing. “I try to do allergy testing on as many patients who have signs and symptoms as possible,” says Jason Schmit, O.D. “This way, I know [and they know I know] I can identify and treat allergy, accordingly.”
• Go visual. Vin T. Dang, O.D., F.A.A.O., suggests employing Facebook ads and Instagram campaigns in the beginning of allergy season to remind patients about allergies and how they can affect their eyes. Additionally, he says he shows videos in the reception area that discuss allergic conjunctivitis and how the optometrist can test for and treat them.
“Inside the exam room, on the computer screen, we have a slide show that also explains allergies and the effects on the patient’s eyes,” he says. OM