Reach for Excellence

ODs, When Was Your Own Last Annual Eye Exam?

Nov. 8, 2017

You have the opportunity to set a good example for patients by noting that you, too, get an annual eye exam. But maybe you aren’t getting one yourself. Forty-six percent of respondents to a recent Women in Optometry Pop-Up Poll say they haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam in the past 12 months, and fifty-three percent said they do not typically get an annual eye exam. Click HERE to view the full results of the poll, along with comments from WO readers on how they handle their own eye exams.

“Do what I say, not what I do.” A report published by the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that doctors don’t always take their own advice. Some 940 primary-care physicians were asked to evaluate hypothetical medical scenarios. The study showed that physicians were more likely to opt for treatment for themselves that had fewer serious side effects, but a higher risk of death. But that’s not what they’d recommend for patients. The study showed there is a discrepancy between what doctors recommend to patients compared to the treatment they choose for themselves.

A 2011 study published in Occupational Medicine looked at 27 studies on doctors self-medicating. The study concluded that this behavior is an occupational hazard for doctors, and that these problems have a direct impact on patient care. Doctors with bad health habits are less likely to counsel their patients on the same issues.

Believe it or not, doctors are humans with all the weaknesses that come with the human condition. Some, not all, doctors are overweight, abuse alcohol, lead sedentary lifestyles, use tanning beds, smoke, and yes, even don’t have annual eye exams. When the reasons for such behaviors are explored, the most common anecdotal answer we’ve heard is low-risk perception.

Perhaps even more common is that the doctor does not put themselves into a recall program. It’s too easy for time to fly by, and to suddenly realize that it’s been a couple of years since the last eye exam. With today’s calendars traveling with us in our cell phones, it should be easy to simply put an appointment into the calendar for an annual eye exam. But then, accountability becomes the problem. It’s far too easy to delete your own appointment when it conflicts with another appointment.

A better solution is for the doctor to have their name in a recall system where staff can keep reminding them that it is time for their own annual eye examination.

What is our action plan for this week? Pull out your cell phone right now and schedule your annual eye exam. Get into the recall system, and promise yourself that you will do what you tell your patients to do.

Change the game from: “Do what I say and not what I do” to “Do what I do and what I say.” Your patients need you to have the best vision possible while you are examining their eyes.

 

References

Archives of Internal Medicine

Occupational Medicine

 

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