I’m in Need of a Comprehensive Eye Exam; Should I Put It Off a Little Longer?

As eye doctors, we are doing our best to keep our offices as clean and safe as they can be during this pandemic. The real issue is making sure patients are healthy and they are seeing their best. If you have any changes or problems, then it is critical to make sure the situation is properly triaged and managed before vision is permanently lost. As long as you feel comfortable and safe, the time to schedule your exam is now.

When considering the overall health of the body, the eyes can show an eye doctor if there may be other problems going on in the body. For adults, we are mostly talking about diabetes and high blood pressure, but it is estimated that over 250 diseases can be diagnosed via the eyes. We tend to ignore the health of the eyes even though they are so very important to each and every one of us. Just ask someone who has lost vision and you will get the truly best answer to this question.

In the last month, I have had to admit two patients to the hospital for system conditions that happened to manifest in the eyes, and if not treated, one could have died and the other could have gone blind in one eye. Both patients were in their 30’s.

Are You Seeing All Patients on a Regular Pre-Pandemic Schedule? Have You Decided to Use Telemedicine instead of In-Person Visits?

I err on the side of caution and have patients come into the office if there is any chance of a concern. Telemedicine, for our practice at least, was difficult because of the varying resolution of cameras, patients’ internet connection, etc. With a total revamp of how our office is run (extensive cleaning between every patient, social distancing, wearing masks), it was and is very safe to come into the office for the visit.

We recommend calling your office as a first step to discuss your concerns and make the right decision with your eye doctor about scheduling an appointment.

What Extra Precautions Are You Taking when Seeing Patients during COVID-19?

Immediately, we instituted the CDC recommendations for seeing patients and they included: more extensive cleaning between every patient, social distancing, wearing masks (both doctor and patients), and risk questionnaires. We also removed more than half the waiting chairs in the office. Finally, we have been scheduling patients for all services including picking up glasses, contact lenses, adjustments/repairs. That has decreased the possibility of having too many people in the office at the same time.

Are There Any Common Questions You Are Hearing from Your Patients?

There are two that come up most often:

  1. “Is it safe to wear contact lenses during the pandemic?”
    Contact lenses have never been safer to wear, because we are all being hypervigilant about washing our hands and just being cleaner than ever before. Secondly, more patients are using daily contact lenses which further eliminates risks related to cleanliness.
  2. “Can you catch COVID-19 in your eyes?”
    The answer is yes. The eyes are susceptible to most viruses, colds, flus and the herpes viruses. Social distancing and masks are the best ways to keep safe.

Do You Have Any Other Eyecare Tips for Our Visitors?

Dry eye is a problem for as many as 30% of the country, so keep your eyes lubricated. The first sign of dry eye is blurred vision that is worse in the afternoons and evenings. 

Digital eye strain can have a hugely negative impact on productivity during the day. I recommend digital lenses for those patients with eye strain. Kids have also been spending increased time on their digital devices and many parents wonder if they are going to hurt their eyes. Getting outside frequently helps to make sure kids’ eyes are having to focus at long distances, which relieves digital eye strain symptoms.

UV exposure is interesting. Most people agree, Americans are exposed to 80% of our lifetime of UV light by the time we are 18 years old. UV protection is more than just sunscreen, it should include sunglasses that block both UV-A and UV-B. They don’t have to be an expensive pair of sunglasses, but they need to be effective. We can actually test the percentage of UV blockage for any pair of glasses and let you know if they are doing their job.

Finally, please be patient. We are all doing our best to give you a wonderful experience, but it’s a different experience. More technology and maybe less personality. No more handshakes or hugs, but we are doing our best to smile with our eyes!

Hearing about one of my patients going through the virus scared me badly. He is 18 years old and recently graduated from Navy bootcamp. He should have been the poster child for health; he barely had a symptom, but he suffered for almost four weeks just trying to breathe. This pandemic can get each and every one of us and we need to respect it by taking the necessary precautions to avoid it. Keep washing your hands, stop touching your face, and have some patience for the people around you as we go through this together!

Learn more about Dr. Ogden and Downtown Vision at https://dtvisionreno.com/.