As research continues to indicate the hazards of blue light, many ECPs feel the need to turn their offices into blue light practices.
If you’re considering converting your practice into a blue light business, be warned that it’s not a quick fix. There are a number of factors to consider.
So, where should you begin? Simply put, all hands need to be on deck. The first-and most important-aspect of the process is to have the ownership and administration educated and on board about informing every patient about blue light issues. Next, you’ll need to ensure that all support staff is comfortable and articulate with the information they’ll need to convey to patients. This includes technicians, clerks, scribes, front desk personnel, call center operators, and any other staff members who work directly with patients. Explain to the team why the office feels this initiative is so important. Tell your staff that educating all patients about blue light and its risks will benefit them and is a part of their overall healthcare.
When it’s time to train the team on how to educate patients about blue light lenses, provide the information in print, online, video, and audio formats. You don’t need to overwhelm them with information. Just give them the major points and let them read the rest, followed by a basic assessment to ensure they know the material.
There are numerous touch points where the team can share the blue light story with patients. For example, Ms. Moulton enters the practice to check in, and the front desk person notices the smartphone in her hand. This is a great opportunity to ask, “Do you have blue-light blocking eyewear?”
Ms. Moulton asks about blue light and why it’s important to protect herself against it. The front desk person explains that blue light is omitted from many electronic devices and that research shows that it can increase the chance of macular degeneration and eye fatigue, and throw off circadian rhythms. At this point, Ms. Moulton is directed to some printed information or given a link that leads to detailed information she can view on her smartphone (information that can-and should-be available on the practice’s website).
When Ms. Moulton gets called into the exam room by a technician, who then takes her history, she mentions her use of computers for work, her smartphone use, how her eyes are tired at the end of the day, and that she is taking sleep medication. The tech then asks Ms. Moulton about blue light protection, which reinforces the conversation she had at the front desk.
During the exam, the ECP also discusses blue light risks and protective eyewear options, ideally in front of the optician during the handoff. “Ms. Moulton, with your mention of eye fatigue and use of sleeping medications, as well as your use of computers and a smartphone, I recommend lenses that protect against blue light. Our optician, Mark, will explain more about the options.” In the eyewear dispensary, the optician confirms all the information the patient has heard and continues the education process.
Teaching patients about blue light issues only takes seconds from each team member, but it can make a world of difference to the patient, the practice, and the community.
Mark Johnson is the Director of Optical Services at Virginia Eye Institute in Richmond, VA.