A COURSE CATALOG FOR YOUR PRACTICE

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As September gets underway, many of you no doubt are thinking about education, whether it’s buying an endless supply of pencils and notebooks, braving the gridlock of a college campus on move-in day, or getting ready to attend Vision Expo West to further your own education.

No matter what age your patients are, it’s never too late for them to learn either. Think of them as lifelong learners, students who will look to you as teacher for their continuing education. Here are some classes you might want to include in your course catalog:

Children’s Vision 101. Now that school is back in session, it’s an ideal time to educate parents that a vision screening in the school nurse’s office doesn’t replace the need for regular comprehensive eye exams. It’s also an opportunity to educate them about the connection between binocular vision disorders and poor school performance, and to remind them to bring any child who has experienced a concussion for a comprehensive eye exam.

Contact Lenses 101. Most contact lens wearers admit to at least one bad hygiene habit that puts them at risk for eye infections, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, one in three contact lens wearers sleep or nap in their lenses even though this carries a six- to eightfold greater risk for a serious eye infection. These patients need you to educate them about proper lens wear and care.

While you’re at it, you might want to remind patients not to flush their used contact lenses down the toilet or sink or place them in the recycling bin. Researchers from Arizona State University found that these end up affecting the environment and ocean life or adding to waste at landfills.

Diabetes 101. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 84 million have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. Although diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults, an American Eye-Q Survey from the AOA found that 79% of Americans don’t know diabetic eye diseases have no visible symptoms, and more than half do not know comprehensive eye examinations can detect diabetes. Your patients with diabetes will need you to educate them about the importance of regular eye exams as well as keeping their diabetes under control.

Digital Eye Strain 101. Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours looking at a screen, whether it’s phones, laptops, TVs or tablets, according to a new study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of CooperVision. They’ll need you to educate them about the signs and symptoms of digital eye strain, healthier habits for screen time, and contact lenses or ophthalmic lenses that can relieve their symptoms. The syllabus should also include a reminder that overexposure to blue light increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Nutrition 101. Your older patients no doubt see advertisements and talk with their friends about supplements that might protect them against AMD. But, they and your patients with dry eye need you to educate them about which supplements are most appropriate. This is also a good time to educate patients about the importance of a diet rich in carotenoids and omega-3s as well as lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of AMD.

Your students’ passing grade: improved ocular and visual health. They may also recommend that other prospective students take your class.

Jeffrey Eisenberg | Editor-In-Chief | JEisenberg@FVMG.com

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