Offering patients myopia management services can not only benefit the practice at large, but it can also fill an important role in improving the eye health of the youngest patients you see in your practice. As more and more children are diagnosed with myopia, it’s our job as ECPs to make sure that we have the necessary resources to slow the progression of myopia and reduce the risk of serious, life-threatening eye health risks associated with the condition.
How do you get started with myopia management? While it may seem like a large undertaking for any practice to start offering a whole new suite of services, doing so comes with countless benefits. Education – of patients, their parents, and staff – plays an essential role in myopia management, as does having the proper equipment, knowing the ins and outs of the available treatment modalities, and gaining confidence and trust from patients that these interventions yield benefits in myopia progression.
I’ve been offering myopia management services to my patients for more than 15 years, and these are some of the best practices I’ve gleaned since implementing these strategies.
Training the Staff
One of the most important parts of getting started with myopia management is creating a unified approach among all staff members. These offerings will be new to everyone at your practice, but it’s important to take the time to train the people in your offices to know how to answer patients’ questions and how to best serve anyone who walks through the practice doors.
Seek out training sessions from trusted manufacturers who have dedicated the time and research to myopia management. Having resources on hand from professionals in the field can help everyone on staff stay on the same page and know exactly what to say to any patient who comes in.
What Treatment Methods Should I Offer?
As more research is done in the field of myopia management, leading experts in the field continue to come out with new ways for ECPs to treat myopia. Because the condition can develop from such a young age, and patients and their parents have their own unique set of concerns, knowing what products and treatments are available and which patients may be best suited for each is key.
In my own practice, I’ve been able to offer patients everything from orthokeratology lenses, low-dose atropine, multifocal spectacles, or soft multifocal contact lenses. For the youngest patients, wearing contact lenses on a daily basis, or even just at nighttime, can be difficult. For kids who play sports, contact lenses are the best option. Each patient has different concerns, but knowing what’s available is the first step in being able to actively treat myopia and help to slow patients’ progression.
What Equipment Will I Need?
In addition to training and treatments, having the proper equipment is essential for starting a myopia management sector in your practice. Because there are several different treatment options involved in slowing the progression of myopia, there are a few different instruments you’ll need to make the most of your myopia management offerings.
Axial length is one of the most important measures when evaluating myopia progression, so having a device that can accurately measure axial length is crucial. Additionally, evaluating the efficacy of soft multifocal contact lenses requires a device that can provide anterior segment photography and videography, while properly fitting OrthoK lenses requires a corneal topographer.
Educating Patients and Parents
Many ECPs will say that getting patients and their parents onboard with myopia management services is one of the biggest challenges they face when trying to implement these offerings at their practice. This is why having educational materials for patients and their parents to take home with them is of the utmost importance. All informational materials should be easy to understand and clearly outline all of the available treatment options as well as what the cost and reimbursement options are for each option.
Ultimately, these services are necessary for their children’s overall health and well-being. Slowing the progression of myopia from a young age can reduce the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and other serious health concerns. Make sure that patients and their parents understand just how beneficial these treatments can be, and why making – and sticking to – regular follow-up appointments is so imperative.
While every practice and every myopia patient are different, implementing these specialty services can attract new patients and build a strong reputation for your practice and your staff. Word of mouth is one of the best advertisers, so being informed on the latest technologies and staying committed to helping patients improve their eye health is likely to lead to great long-term benefits.
Paul Levine, OD, FIAOMC, FAAO, is co-founder of Vision Care Specialists in Southborough, Mass. He is also president of the board of directors of the American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control.