How to Start the Conversation About Your Eyes
By Elizabeth Shimer Bowers
To create the best possible care plan, it's important for health care providers and their patients to engage in open, honest communication. This is true in all areas of health, eye care included.
A recent online survey of 1,053 adult Americans on conversations between health care providers and their patients conducted by Allergan, makers of Restasis Multidose® (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05%, and Kelton Global found that only a third of respondents say they openly discuss concerns about their eyes with their eye care professionals. Among those who do, the majority (88%) describe the conversation as positive, and three-quarters say the conversations are helpful. Almost a third (29%) called the interactions "enjoyable."
Among those with concerns, nearly half (45%) of survey respondents don't openly discuss concerns with their eye doctor because they don't think it's a serious issue, hope it will go away on its own or assume it's a natural consequence of aging. This indicates some people may need help from their eye care professionals to have better conversations about symptoms or eye-related changes.
The same Conversation Starters survey showed that when visiting the eye doctor, many brought up changes in vision but were less likely to discuss other eye concerns, such burning or stinging (9%), redness (9%) or watering eyes (15%). As such, it's important that eye care professionals bring up these topics to help determine if a patient may be at risk for conditions such as chronic dry eye.
Beyond eye symptoms, it's also critical for eye care professionals to talk to patients about their health in general. According to the survey, this may be one place eye care professionals are falling short. When participants were asked which health care professional they were most at ease with when it comes to talking about their health, the majority—53 percent—named their general practitioner. Only 6 percent said their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
But eyes can provide important clues to a person’s overall health, especially when coupled with targeted questions about eating habits, family history of disease, exercise routine, and other things pertaining to health history. So, these general health conversations are important to have.
Survey responses also identified people's desire to connect with their providers. Nearly two-thirds (63%) said they prefer having conversations with their health care providers in person, rather than over email or the phone. When a provider makes casual small talk about topics like the weather during a visit, 58 percent said it helps break the ice and makes them more comfortable, 44 percent said it increases trust, and 39 percent said it increases likeability—clearly, a good thing. Of course, all health care providers are aware of the limits on their time for office visits, but when it comes to chatting with patients, a little appears to go a long way.
With this in mind, here are some helpful questions health care professionals can ask their patients to maximize productiveness and communication during visits:
When's the last time you had an eye exam?
Overall, how have your eyes been feeling?
Have you experienced any changes in your vision? If so, how long has it been going on?
What exactly are you experiencing/seeing?
Are you having any problems driving at night or seeing in the dark?
Do you notice increased sensitivity to light?
Do you have any issues with your glasses or contacts?
Are your eyes red?
Are your eyes itchy?
Do you have any burning and stinging in your eyes?
Do your eyes water?
Are you experiencing any eye pain?
Do your eyes bother you when you wake up in the morning?
When is the last time you saw your primary care provider?
Do you or do any of your family members have a history of any of the following:
high blood pressure
How many fruits and vegetables do you eat per day?
How often do you exercise?
What questions do you have for me regarding your eye health?
This resource was developed with the support of Allergan RESTASIS MULTIDOSE®. Please see additional Important Safety Information below.
RESTASIS® (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05% and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® help increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to Chronic Dry Eye. RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® did not increase tear production in patients using anti-inflammatory eye drops or tear duct plugs.
Important Safety Information
Do not use RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® Ophthalmic Emulsion if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Be careful not to touch the container tip to your eye or other surfaces, to help avoid eye injury and contamination. RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® should not be used while wearing contact lenses. If contact lenses are worn, they should be removed prior to use of RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® and may be reinserted after 15 minutes.
The most common side effect is a temporary burning sensation. Other side effects include eye redness, discharge, watery eyes, eye pain, foreign body sensation, itching, stinging, and blurred vision.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.