Reach for Excellence

Growth Opportunity: Emphasize the Value of Annual Exams

Dec. 7, 2016

Seventy-nine percent of Americans don’t know diabetic eye diseases have no visible symptoms, and more than half do not know comprehensive eye exams can detect diabetes, according to the 2016 American Eye-Q Survey conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Here’s a list of eye conditions detected during routine eye exams on asymptomatic patients reported in the literature in just one study.1  

We’ve all seen children with significant refractive problems who were asymptomatic. Add to that small angle strabismics that have gone undetected by parents, teachers and friends.

Many of these asymptomatic problems are sight-threatening and many of these problems can contribute to decreased visual performance and, therefore, decreased quality of life.

Why does this matter? Here’s why …

“According to a new poll, Americans across racial and ethnic groups describe losing eyesight as potentially having the greatest impact on their day-to-day life — more so than other conditions, including loss of memory, hearing and speech. A higher percentage of African-Americans (57 percent) cite this concern compared to non-Hispanic whites (49 percent), Asians (43 percent) and Hispanics (38 percent).

Blindness ranked among the top four “worst things that could happen to you” for all respondents, alongside cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS. More African-Americans cited blindness as their top fear.”2

Even when patients become symptomatic, they often delay having an eye examination. Watch the following video of a young woman who becomes symptomatic and delays getting an eye examination. It has been edited for length, but you can watch the full video HERE. 3

She’s not alone. Many people delay care.

That leaves us with the reality that asymptomatic eye conditions that are sight-threatening exist, that people greatly fear vision loss, and that people, even when they experience symptomatic vision problems, often delay care. What can we do?

Here are three steps that we can implement today to move the needle on this problem: educate, make it easy to seek care and capture compelling patient stories.


Review your internal and external marketing that educates patients on the need for annual eye exams. Don’t forget to review your case presentation. Your recall case presentation is part of your internal marketing plan. Answer these three questions:

1.    Is your return-to-office message compelling?
2.    For those patients that you prescribed a 12-month return to office, what percentage of your patients actually followed your recall plan?
3.    What changes would make more patients follow your recall plan?


If a patient calls your office today requesting an examination, how long do they have to wait to get into the office to see you? One day, one week, one month or longer?  What changes are necessary to make it easier for patients to seek care in your office?


Patients respond to other patient stories. The next time a patient sits in your chair with a compelling case, ask them for permission to capture their story. (Make sure to get the HIPAA Marketing Release Form signed.) Have one of your staff members capture a short video using smartphone technology. Create a library of these videos that can be played in your reception area and on your web site.

We want a life well lived for every person on the planet. But every vision problem that is undetected and, therefore, untreated is causing people to have a decreased quality of life. Let’s take this week to see if we can’t help people to seek care sooner through smarter education, by making it easier for patients to seek care in our offices, and by capturing video of compelling patient stories that will help other people to not delay care.


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