AOA 2024: Innovations in ocular surface disease

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Video

Walter Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO, weighs in on the importance of staying in the know of innovations in treatment options for the sake of patient care.

Walter Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO, alongside Rebecca Wartman, OD; Selina McGee, OD, FAAO; and Harvey Richman, OD, FAAO, FCOVD, gave an overview and workshop on innovations in ocular surface disease at this year's AOA Optometry's Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, taking place from June 19-22. Whitley details the key takeaways in an interview with Optometry Times.

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Jordana Joy:

Hi, everyone. I'm here today with Dr. Walt Whitley, director of optometric services for Virginia Eye Consultants. He was one of the speakers weighing in on innovations in ocular surface disease, a presentation given it this year's Optometry's Meeting in Nashville. So thank you very much for taking the time to join us today. It's a pleasure to have you.

Walter Whitley, OD, MBA, FAAO:

Hey, thanks for having me.

Joy:

Awesome. So first, could you give us a quick overview of your presentation?

Whitley:

Well, it's actually 2 different presentations. So the first one is pretty much an overview of innovations and ocular surface disease, where we are, where we're going. And what we try to emphasize is not just where we are, but what are some of the innovations in technology when it comes to dry eye treatments, whether it's due to procedures, whether it's due to some of the newer medications that have been out, but we had a twist to it, which is bringing in coding and reimbursement. And so I do serve on the AOA Coding and Reimbursement Committee and so 2 of the presenters, actually 3 of the 4 of us are part of that committee. And so what we wanted to do is talk about technology, talk about prescriptions — where it fits in— but what are some of those considerations when we're trying to bill insurance companies, whether we're trying to bill the patient for cash pay services? And so just making sure we close the loop and keep everybody on the same page?

Joy:

Absolutely. So I believe that there's also a workshop that's associated with your presentations. Could you talk a little bit about that as well?

Whitley:

Yeah, that's the second half of the presentation that we did, where people get hands on. So we go to these lectures, we hear about various technologies or treatments, but then, you know, when are we going to use it? And how can we learn from some of the presenters who do it day-in and day-out? And so we had numerous sponsors there where people got to see demonstrations, but also do it themselves. And so they got to practice hands-on and at the end of the hands on workshop, what we do is we brought everybody together, because now they've learned about it, they've got to do it. But then how do we bring it back together? What are some of those questions that people have? And that's 1 of the things that we find most beneficial anytime we do a lecture program like this is those candid conversations. We all go to meetings all the time and then we want to have that dialogue, but sometimes there's a question that we don't get to ask or nobody asks that doesn't get addressed. And so now, that's where we bring it together with different presenters giving their point of view and perspective on it. And so that's why we felt it was a great program.

Joy:

Okay, great, awesome. So what would you say is most important for eye care providers to stay in the know of these technological innovations?

Whitley:

Well, come to meetings like Optometry's Meeting. It's all for the benefit of our patients. It's where we get to learn new skills, new knowledge, pearls or clinical pearls for our practice. The networking is second to none. But Optometry's Meeting is one of my favorite meetings, because that's where the business of optometry, pushing optometry forward gets done. Other avenues [are] just reading the various journals. I'm 1 of the chief medical editors for Modern Optometry. I do also serve on Review of Optometry and I'm also contributing to Optometry Times. And so we have great resources out there that you can get this information about what's new, what's the come, or how can we improve our clinical skills?

Joy:

Sure, yeah. So what would you say, in your opinion, is the most exciting of those new and upcoming advancements?

Whitley:

I think right now, it's going to be the drugs that are out there. I mean, there's been 4 new drugs within the last year. And so where does that fit in? Because often times, I get colleagues going, "Hey, where does this fit in? Where do I use this? Where do we use this?" And the thing is, we're all learning together. And so at each of these meetings, each of these lectures or follow-up meetings, we're having these discussions where I may say my experiences, but I learn from everybody else's experiences, too. And that's actually 1 of the reasons why I love lecturing is to get that dialogue, to hear what's going on, and, just it all helps our patients.

Joy:

Absolutely. So is there anything else that you wanted to add that we haven't touched on yet?

Whitley:

Yes, everybody has dry eye until proven otherwise. And with all this innovation, we have tools, we have procedures, we have medications, that does help our patients. We're all judged by the comfort and quality of our patients' vision. And so if you don't address the surface, patients aren't going to have that clear, comfortable vision.

Joy:

Great. Well, thank you very much for taking the time today. Dr. Whitley, we definitely appreciate it.

Whitley:

Thank you.

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