ONE-TO-ONE: NICOLE THOMAS AND ERIC BENDER

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Nicole Thomas, neurolens’ vice president, marketing, and Eric Bender, OD, discuss how neurolens can alleviate patients’ symptoms and help build your practice. Bender, who has been in practice in Tustin, CA, for more than 15 years, is a consultant for neurolens.

Jeffrey Eisenberg: So neurolens officially launched this past spring?

Nicole Thomas: We’re really excited because neurolens is bringing something completely new to the optometry practice. The neurolens system is comprised of a unique measurement device and a brand new category of lens design. What we found was that over half of patients coming into optometry practices were experiencing symptoms such as headaches, eye strain and neck tension that were not able to be addressed by regular computer lenses. Through clinical research, we discovered that these symptoms were correlated with eye misalignment. So we developed a system to measure it, and we developed a new category of lenses to treat it. neurolenses feature a contoured prism, which addresses eye misalignment at distance, intermediate and near. And 93% of our patients report that their headaches, neck tension and eye strain are being relieved.

Eric Bender, OD: This is a tremendous opportunity for independent practices. We’re using a technology to treat a disparity between the central and the peripheral vision, which calms down the trigeminal nerve. When you have a difference between eye alignment from far to near, the trigeminal nerve becomes overstimulated, and so neurolenses are like a medical treatment we can apply to calm that down and alleviate patient symptoms. What resonates with my patients is that there’s a medical issue going on. And now we have a new technology to calm the trigeminal nerve, and your symptoms can be alleviated or even eliminated.

This technology has been incredibly valuable to me, and I believe that trigeminal nerve overstimulation is going to be a new and significant issue for optometrists, and that’s. It is expressed as chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and computer vision syndrome. We’re all tied to our phones and computers now. So, headaches or blurred vision or just asthenopia discomfort at the computer are all things that originate from a disparity between your peripheral and your central nervous system.

We measure a patient using the neurolens Measurement Device, and I’ve chosen to integrate it into my pre-testing. So, essentially every patient that comes through the office gets tested. It’s so powerful and new to have that information right from the beginning.

NT: We offer them a lifestyle questionnaire, too.

EB: So they get tested and they also fill out a questionnaire, “Do you get headaches? Do you get neck pain? Do you have dizziness? Do you feel discomfort when using a computer? Are your eyes dry?” These are major topics that a lot of our patients feel and have.

What’s amazing is that our patients start to feel relief right when they put on the trial lenses or their symptoms go away right after they start wearing the prescription. I’m seeing the same thing with neck pain. It’s through using the neurolens technology that I’ve come to realize how much small phorias effect people. The results can truly be life changing.

JE: I’ve been hearing about the neurolens for digital eye strain, but it sounds like a lot more than that for other conditions as well.

EB: The real opportunity is for optometrists to treat things we haven’t been able to treat before, especially now when you use the lifestyle index to solicit and ask, “Do you get headaches?” Because people don’t always associate the optometrist with being able to fix your headache. Our test is on is, on average, three to five minutes, so it’s simple to add into the pre-testing routine.

JE: What is the learning curve like in terms of using the equipment? Is it something your techs are able to do?

EB: With anything new that you bring into an office, you have to dedicate time. Within a few weeks, it’s smooth. But it is something new that you need to figure out and get involved with training your staff.

NT: We have a dedicated team for each practice that spends two days training the doctor and the staff. They line up patients ahead of time. We give them the Lifestyle Index so they have patients that they can test and apply the knowledge once the device is delivered.

EB: And what I’ve done is train all of my staff. I usually have five employees in my office. All staff has been trained on the machine so that anyone can start the neurolens and test patients. Frankly, I think everyone in a practice should be cross-trained anyway.

NT: We also put the doctor and the staff into neurolenses if they have a misalignment. We believe that if somebody on your staff is experiencing symptoms, they’re potentially a big advocate for the technology, and they could speak to their personal as well as clinical experience.

EB: It’s not a hard sell. You’re showing concern for a patient, and these symptoms affect more than half of the patients who walk through the door. This is something I personally address in the chair because it’s a medical treatment, and if I cure a patient’s headaches …

JE: You have very grateful patient and a good referral source.

EB: Exactly.

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