During the pandemic, more people took advantage of online doctor visits than ever before with virtual doctor visits increasing an estimated 5,000%. Not surprisingly, a recent survey out of the McKinsey Institute found about 40% of consumers plan to keep using telehealth appointments to stay on top of their personal health and wellness, including visiting an eye doctor.
With laser vision correction procedures, such as LASIK and SMILE, continuing to surge, many ophthalmologists who perform these and other refractive surgeries are offering virtual consultations for people exploring their options.
Lance Kugler, M.D. of Kugler Vision in Nebraska noted, “I view these online appointments as a real benefit for everyone involved because the patient and I are fully engaged with less stress and distractions. As a result, the conversations are better, more positive, and productive. Patients come away with a better understanding of the information they need and I get to learn more about them as well.”
Not everyone is familiar with participating in an online doctor visit, particularly for vision and eye care. To help, we offer some insights on how to prepare, what to expect and what to do after your online doctor visit.
Before Your Virtual Doctor Visit: How To Prepare
Consultations have always been part of the research for anyone considering or thinking about LASIK. Likely your lifestyle, hobbies, work-life, or other priorities have put your vision correction options at the top of your priority list. Maybe a friend or family member recently had an LVC procedure. Making a virtual doctor visit is very easy, offering the ultimate flexibility to talk with an eye doctor about laser vision correction procedures like LASIK, SMILE, and PRK to determine which may be right for you. These visits give you a great opportunity to ask all of the questions you may have like “how does it work,” “is it safe,” and “does it hurt.” Gathering your thoughts, questions and full medical history with you at your device helps maximize your time together with your eye doctor. Here are three tips to help you prepare:
- Be prepared to discuss your full medical history, not just your eye health. This should include the prescriptions and other medications you are taking.
- Jot down a list of questions you want to ask about LASIK, SMILE or other laser vision correction procedures.
- Highlight your work and leisure priorities so the doctor has a sense of what your daily life looks like and how your vision performs in it.
During Your Online Doctor Visit: What To Expect
What makes an online doctor visit especially valuable one-on-one time you get with your doctor. It is a terrific opportunity to meet in a private one-on-one setting where you and your eye health are the focus of discussion. During this time you and your eye doctor can discuss what is happening with your eyes and vision:
- Prioritize your conversation with your eye doctor. Start with why you are interested and what challenges you are dealing with your eyes and vision currently.
- Review your full health history notes you’ve prepared being sure to call out any autoimmune issues, prescriptions, etc.
- Go through your questions.
- Are there specific work, home or activities that are regularly impacted by your vision or your need for glasses or contacts?
- What your expectations may be with LASIK, SMILE or other vision correction procedure?
- Be sure to ask the eye doctor what your vision correction procedure options are, what he/she might recommend and other considerations.
Importantly, you are in your own space. In these virtual visits, typically done over a secure video platform either off your computer or smartphone, you can expect to spend about 15 – 30 minutes of dedicated time with your eye doctor. Your doctor will likely be in his or her private office, not the clinic or exam room, during your time together.
After Your Online Doctor Visit: Next Steps
When wrapping up your visit, discuss the next steps together, which will likely be scheduling an in-person preoperative exam to determine final candidacy for a laser vision correction procedure.
It is important to discuss what the next steps are during your conversation with your doctor. Are diagnostic tests needed to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure being recommended to you? Are you ready to move forward and schedule the laser vision correction procedure your surgeon recommends? Your surgeon will make sure to put you in touch with the person in the practice who can make arrangements for your in person visit.
Online doctor visits offer a lot of flexibility to get information about an important aspect of your health and wellbeing – your vision correction options – with very little disruption to your schedule. It can happen whether you are working, traveling, or taking care of yourself at home.
Knowing telehealth visits are more widely available, even for laser vision correction consultations, offers a terrific way to pursue the right vision correction option for your and your lifestyle. If you are looking for an eye doctor in your area to discuss laser vision correction options including LASIK, SMILE and PRK, RSC’s find-a-doctor is a place to start.