Atlanta—Dry eye represents a major opportunity with more than 25 million people suffering from the condition in the U.S.,1 and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is thought to be the most common cause of dry eye.2 During a session at SECO, Walt Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO, shared his tips for making the most of this opportunity in your practice.
If you make dry eye services a focus of your practice, Dr. Whitley says it is important to plan for the appropriate allocation of resources. He recommends assigning a team to lead and run the dry eye services and allotting time for team training. You will need to establish a dry eye protocol and educate staff on the value these services bring to patients. Dr. Whitley recommends utilizing industry partners to help train your staff.
It is important that you, as the doctor, are the dry eye champion within the practice and demonstrate a commitment to the new services.
Staff aren’t the only ones who will need education—so will patients. He suggests developing a plan for internal and external marketing to notify patients of your practice’s new dry eye services.
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Offering the best treatment
Who should be evaluated for dry eye? Everyone, says Dr. Whitley, but especially symptomatic patients, contact lens patients, and patients with other conditions or who are using medications that are associated with ocular surface disease.
Some basic screening questions he recommends include:
• Do your eyes ever feel dry or uncomfortable?
• Are you bothered by changes in your vision throughout the day?
• Are you ever bothered by red eyes?
• Do you ever use or feel the need to use rewetting drops?
After you have gathered subjective data using patient history, questionnaires, slit lamp exam, and point-of-care testing, it is time to refine your plan. This plan may require additional testing including Sjögren’s test, allergy tests, lipid layer interferometry, and meibomography.
Next, you’ll need to devise a customized treatment that may require medical or procedural intervention. Dr. Whitley says you should consider the patient’s long-term needs when deciding how aggressive the treatment should be.
Dr. Whitley says MGD treatments offers an opportunity to provide a wide range of procedures and products. Some treatment options include punctal plugs, BlephEx (RySurg), LipiFlow (TearScience), and Thermoflo (MiBo). You can also sell compresses, lid scrubs, or supplements that can help your patients feel and look their best.
Virginia Eye Consultants—where Dr. Whitley practices—offers a series of bundled treatments based on the severity of the patient’s symptoms.
For example, for the moderate severity patient, the practice offers a bundle of a BlephEx treatment, three treatments of Thermoflo, and a basic maintenance dry eye care kit.
The bundle for those with severe symptoms offers all that plus a LipiFlow treatment.
And finally, for the advanced dry eye patient, the practice offers a BlephEx treatment, six Thermoflo treatments, a LipiFlow treatment, a dry eye therapy and maintenance package, and repeat treatments.
These products and services can provide relief to your patients and help establish you as the dry eye expert in your community. And when done correctly, dry eye treatment can help grow your practice with a variety of cash-based, value-added services.