What your patients with glasses need to hear from you now
In a recent post, we discussed the concerns and confusion your contact lens patients may be experiencing during COVID-19. What’s safe and what’s not? What services is your eye care practice offering now? Is online ordering the only option? Patients who wear glasses may have many of the same concerns. Be proactive about communicating with these patients to let them know how to stay safe and how you can help. Preventing glasses from fogging up while wearing a face mask is only the beginning. Here are some other ways to help patients now.
Reach out and reassure patients.
Reach out via email, social media, and your practice web site to let patients know you are open and it’s safe to come in for any glasses-related needs. Reassure them by sharing any enhanced safety measures you have implemented. This might include limiting the number of patients allowed inside the practice at the same time, cleaning sample frames before and after each patient, and providing or requiring face masks for both patients and doctors. If you are offering telehealth or curbside pickup, let patients know how to access those services.
Reach out to your patients to tell them what services you are offering now, what you are doing to keep them safe, and if you’re offering telehealth or curbside pickup.
Clear up misinformation.
There’s a lot of conflicting information going around. Contact lens wearers, wary of increased risk of COVID-19 infection, may have temporarily switched to glasses. It is true that because the virus can spread via respiratory droplets that are released when breathing, speaking, coughing or sneezing, eyeglasses can help prevent virus particles from coming in contact with the front of the eyes, according to experts from the Krieger Eye Institute in Baltimore. However, let patients know that regular eyeglasses may not provide adequate protection from the top, bottom, and side angles of the frames.
The message to patients, whether they wear contacts or glasses, is that the best way to reduce their risk is by maintaining proper hygiene, including regular hand-washing and keeping their eyewear clean.
Let patients know that special lenses, adjusting their frames, and wearing a mask properly can help them avoid their glasses fogging up.
Emphasize the importance of adjustments.
Patients may not realize what eye doctors offer that online retailers do not—for instance, that with a professional fitting the frames will be appropriately sized and adjusted so that they don’t slide down the nose. Let patients know that with the correct fit, they won’t touch their face as often and their glasses won’t fog up so much while wearing a face mask.
Offer a “tune-up” for existing frames to help them sit slightly farther from the face, optician Shannen Knight suggested to AllAboutVision.com. “This will allow that hot air to escape instead of getting trapped between your face and the lenses of the glasses.” Getting these patients in the door and allowing them to browse your optical dispensary will encourage repeat business.
Teach patients the proper way to wear a mask.
As an eye doctor, you are a trusted source of information for your patients. Emphasize the importance of wearing a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19, per CDC recommendations. Proper fit makes the mask more effective, and makes it less likely that warm air will escape from the top and fog up glasses.
Consider sharing these tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology: “When putting on your mask, make sure to pinch the top of the mask to fit the shape of your nose. If your mask allows it, tighten the sides as well for a good fit. Use medical or athletic tape to close the gap between the bridge of your nose and the top of your mask. If you don’t have tape, try an adhesive bandage.”
It’s important to educate patients on proper hygiene and how to keep their glasses clean.
Educate patients on how to keep glasses clean.
Keeping glasses clean not only helps prevent fogging, but also reduces the chance of infection. Tell patients to avoid placing glasses on any surface they aren’t sure is clean and to put glasses away when they’re not wearing them. This might mean keeping glasses in a case as opposed to letting them hang from your neck on a string, noted Laura Green, M.D., of the Krieger Eye Institute. “Hanging them around your neck can expose the inside part of the glasses that ends up closer to your face to droplets in the air.”
Show patients how to clean their glasses gently with soap and water. Remind them that alcohol is effective, but it will degrade lens coatings over time. “It’s important to avoid wiping glasses with tissue paper or the hem of a shirt, or any other cloth that’s not designed for cleaning lenses, because these things will cause scratches,” said Dr. Green. Share this video on proper glasses care with your patients:
Promote regular eye exams.
Reassure patients that it’s safe to come into your practice for routine care, and that regular, comprehensive eye exams by a trained provider are important to maintain their vision and eye health. With people spending more time on screens during the pandemic, issues such as digital eye strain, dry eye, and myopia are on the rise—and you’re here to help. Need to give patients a nudge to schedule their checkup? Try sending this video.