In today’s digital world, consumers constantly receive offers for “online eye exams” or value glasses/contact lenses in their social media feeds. As eyecare professionals, we know the difference between an online refraction and a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist. We also know about the innovations and protections that ophthalmic, contact lens, and pharmaceutical companies put into the latest premium lenses, contact lenses, and ocular surface disease treatments, but do patients know about them? We understand the importance of annual eye exams for every school-aged child, but many parents are not even aware of the difference between a vision screening and eye exam.
In addition, many patients have digital-age dry eye and eye fatigue symptoms, but they have not heard of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and digital eye strain solutions. They are surprised when we discuss lids/lashes and digital hygiene in the exam room.
As primary care optometrists, we need to team up with the eyecare industry to help consumers understand the importance of annual eye exams and preventive eyecare.
Here are tips for eyecare education success:
1. ENGAGE ONLINE
Simply setting up a website or social media account is not enough; content and engagement matter. Here are examples of how to improve your content to generate engagement:
• Include specific eyecare topics on your website, and keep an active blog.
• Create albums by topic within your business Facebook page for more in-depth education.
• Set up playlists on your YouTube channel. For example: MGD and Dry Eye, Digital Eye Strain, Myopia Control.
• Feature informative photos on Instagram, and task your employee with the most followers to oversee it.
• Study your Google analytics regularly to identify where your patients are coming from and what they are searching for. Consider adding pages about common search terms to your website.
2. BEFRIEND LOCAL MEDIA
If you have patients in local media, offer to be their eyecare topic source. Provide content, show appreciation, and work around their story schedule. Create a “TV News Media” album and playlist on your practice Facebook and YouTube to share and for easier search.
3. EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF ANNUAL EYE EXAMS
Offer “breakfast/lunch & learn” sessions at local pediatricians’ offices and ask for referrals. Send an appreciation lunch to the entire office at the beginning and the end of the school year. In addition, ask to meet and offer assistance to area school nurses. For those doctors with children, start with your kids’ pediatricians and school nurses.
Patient education is more important now than ever: 66% of the world’s 7.47 billion people have mobile phones, and 2.5 billion are active mobile social media users, which means 34% of the world’s population are spending hours on their smartphones every day. Actively engaging with patients online and providing quality educational content will bring them into your practices. In addition to these tips, I support Think About Your Eyes, which encourages patients to get an annual eye exam and also educates them about various vision issues at ThinkAboutYourEyes.com. Patient education never stops, and it’s our duty as advocates for eye health to equip them for success.
Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, is the founder and CEO of Vision Optique and iTravelCE. She writes and lectures on the topics of digital eye health, dry eye disease, anti-aging eyecare, healthcare social media, and ocular aesthetics. Shen Lee is one of the TFOS (Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society) global ambassadors representing the U.S. She is one of 21,000 doctors listed on the Think About Your Eyes doctor locator. First Vision Media Group is a media partner of Think About Your Eyes.