Off the Cuff: Telemedicine in Eyecare
During the pandemic lockdowns, our office stayed open. We rescheduled all routine exams; continued renewing contact lenses, eyeglasses, and medication prescriptions to hold our patients over during those uncertain times; and added more patient-centric options. The only patients we saw were emergencies. Even though Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the country, still today our clinic is nearly the only after-hours emergency provider around. Because so many offices were closed, we were seeing emergency patients from all over the state.
Early on we had a patient from Yuma call with blurry vision in one eye and a nagging headache. He did a telemedicine visit with his primary care physician, who thought it was a sinus infection and prescribed oral antibiotics. When that didn't work, the patient was then prescribed oral steroids. When those also didn't work, he found us. I requested retinal photos and OCTs which quickly confirmed the optic neuritis I suspected and ordered an MRI to be performed in Phoenix which further confirmed the patient’s new onset multiple sclerosis.
I absolutely understand the necessity and utility of telemedicine especially during the pandemic, but this technological “advancement” in healthcare misses the mark in medical eye care. Imaging equipment, like our ultra-widefield retinal camera and OCT, has become core to what we do on a daily basis in both primary and specialty care. We rely on state-of-the-art technology and cannot ignore the role that that technology has had in evolving optometry into the truly medical profession it has become today.
Note about Epstein: the surgery he had on Wednesday went as planned and at the time of this writing, he is still in ICU recovering very well. The surgical team and nursing staff at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix has been just exceptional, and Arthur is receiving amazing care. I'm very grateful to all of our friends who have reached out and checked in on us. I can't thank you enough.
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The views expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Jobson Medical Information LLC (JMI), or any other entities or individuals.