In the recent Vision of Britain 2017 report by Optegra, 55% of UK adults stated that they don’t book an eye test until they notice a problem or change in their vision – when it could already be too late. Eye tests are the first step when it comes to preventing many common eye diseases and protecting against sight loss in the long term.
Regular screening to detect any eye health problems means conditions can be treated as early as possible, providing patients with the best chance of maintaining their sight for longer. Sadly, regular eye tests don’t always seem to be at the top of patients’ priorities.
So how can you encourage patients to have regular eye tests, and minimise their risk of sight loss?
Educate your patients
Educating patients about the bigger picture can make it more likely they’ll attend regular sight tests. Many are afraid of what an eye test entails if they have never attended or don’t attend regularly, but once a patient is familiar with the process they are more likely to have their eyes checked. Regular eye screening is very important to aid early detection of many sight-changing conditions, like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, which is best if treated in the initial stages.
Despite 82% of adults indicating that perfect vision is important to them in Optegra’s survey, 24% described their standard of vision as ‘frustrating’, and 20% said it was ‘annoying’.
Outlining the benefits of regular eye tests and the positive impact of treatment or glasses could, therefore, encourage patients to have their eyes tested more often. These advantages could include improved vision and the ability to drive more safely up to reducing the risk of developing sight-stealing conditions like glaucoma.
Additionally, educating your patients about the risk factors of conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma could encourage them to become more interested in their eye health.
Take a look at our guide to AMD’s modifiable risk factors to find out how you might consider advising your patients to manage certain life factors, such as smoking and exercise, to reduce their risk.
Another way to encourage patients to have regular eye tests is to raise awareness of the importance of doing so. Interacting with events and trends, particularly via social media, can be a great way to do this.
For example, events like Eye Health Week are an ideal time to reach raise awareness of eye tests and their benefits. Interacting with the hashtag #EyeWeek helps your tweets reach patients easily, helping to inform them of key issues and reduce the fear of having an eye test.
Additionally, displaying posters and distributing leaflets about eye health throughout your practice and in the local community could encourage more patients to see you regularly.
Make eye tests accessible
There are many reasons why people fail to have their eyes tested regularly, and the RNIB outlines that the main barriers to eye tests, particularly for the elderly, can be:
- A lack of own eye health awareness
- Transport issues.
Making a booking and attending an eye test as easy as possible for patients of all ages is, therefore, be a key priority for ophthalmic practices. You could do this by ensuring your contact details and address are easy to find on the internet, as well as making public transport options are clearly displayed on your website and explained in other communications with your patients.
Accessibility within your practice is also important. By ensuring your practice is easy to access for elderly or disabled patients, you will help them feel more comfortable and confident about attending their eye test appointments.
Explain the costs
As already mentioned, the costs associated with eye tests can prevent people from attending regularly. Paying for potential treatment, glasses and the test itself are all factors which could put people off booking regular eye tests.
To try and help patients with these concerns, you could offer advice on the cost of tests, funding treatment or their potential eligibility for NHS-funded eye tests. Additionally, providing informative leaflets and price information on your website will help inform people of their options when accessing eye care.
Offer support beyond the tests
Assisting your patients beyond their appointment will improve their eye health too – stay in regular contact with your patients to remind them to take care of their sight.
Providing additional support, such as nutritional advice, supplementation tips and lifestyle ideas is likely to encourage patients to have regular eye tests and keep on top of their eye health. Learn more about how The AMD Diet can support eye health, and how supplements like lutein can protect and preserve eyesight.
Invest in equipment
Fast, reliable and accurate ophthalmic devices are crucial for early detection and monitoring of diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Cutting-edge yet affordable technology means you can screen with confidence, which in turn will provide your patients with the knowledge that they’re receiving high-quality care from their eye care professional!
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