Shaking Up the Rhythm
Establishing your eye care practice as an AMD Center of Excellence
By Pamela Lowe, OD, FAAO
3 Effective Strategies for Building Your AMD Center of Excellence
There are certain tasks we optometrists perform every day to ensure our practices run smoothly. From inventory management to team-bonding sessions, we all have a certain rhythm that we’ve become accustomed to, yet I find sometimes it helps to shake things up a bit. I found I had to step out of my comfort zone to pursue my goal of establishing our practice as an AMD Center of Excellence®.
What prompted this paradigm shift? A while back I started asking my patients over the age of 50 if they were having problems seeing at night. To my surprise, many reported difficulties adjusting from bright light to darkness – much more than I expected! Knowing dark adaptation impairment is the first symptom of subclinical AMD, I realized I needed to act to help this undertreated demographic.
It takes effort to strive for the formidable objective of turning your practice into an AMD Center of Excellence, but it is attainable. With the right mindset and planning, practices committed to their AMD patients can successfully implement dark adaptometry into their retinal exam routine.
- Identify Patients at Risk for AMD
- Invest in Dark Adaptation Technology
- Educate and Inspire
Identifying At-Risk Patients
It’s vital to identify patients who are at risk for developing AMD to ensure proper measures are taken to help preserve their vision. The most common risk factors are pre-determined:
- Age (1 in 8 over age 60; 1 in 3 over age 75)
- Gender (females are twice as likely to develop the condition)
- Concurrent diabetes
- Concurrent cardiovascular disease
- Family history
- Race (specifically Caucasian)
- Light-colored eyes
In contrast, there are other risk factors that can be modified and should be addressed:
- High cholesterol
- Chronic sunlight exposure
Following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and maintaining overall health are sound goals for all patients. These lifestyle choices may act synergistically to prevent or delay onset or progression of AMD. As a clinician, it is best practice to examine your patient for risk factors and devise a plan of action to prolong their quality of vision.
“Every optometrist wants to be on the cutting-edge of technology and with your AdaptDx, you are ready to get a jump on AMD.”
Invest in Dark Adaptation Technology
Is your patient 50 or older? Are they having difficulty seeing or driving at night? Is it hard for them to read in dim light? Is this dark adaptation impairment a normal part of aging or something worth investigating further?
Pay close attention as these could be red flags. Dark adaptation impairment is the first symptom of AMD and occurs very early in the disease, at least three years before drusen can be seen during a clinical evaluation. In fact, dark adaptation is a highly accurate measure of retinal function and is useful in the detection of AMD. Thus, measuring the time it takes for your patient’s eyes to adjust from bright light to dark – the Rod Intercept (RI) – offers an opportunity to intervene early in the disease, well before visual loss occurs.
The AdaptDx dark adaptometer is revolutionizing the way AMD is detected and monitored and, as such, has become an essential part of our AMD armamentarium. It is easy to fit into our workflow, has a minimal learning curve, and the patients seem to find it valuable. That one objective measure, the Rod Intercept, helps me to confidently diagnose and treat my patients. It also helps me to identify when the disease progresses, so I can take proper measures. What can I say? Investing in the AdaptDx is one of the best business decisions I have made as a clinician.
Educate and Inspire
Intervening early disease is critical. That’s why, as doctors, education starts with us and it is our job to stay informed of the latest studies, technologies, and treatments on the market. AMD is the leading cause of blindness for adults in developed countries and knowing when and how to detect AMD is one of optometry’s biggest opportunities to impact patients’ lives positively; as well as build stronger, more profitable practices. Identifying risk factors, educating patients on lifestyle modification and prescribing nutritional supplements, plus assessing retinal function using the latest dark adaptation technology is a winning combination in our fight against AMD.
Develop an AMD Center of Excellence and your practice will not only better serve your patients, but it will also inspire other optometrists. Together, we can greatly impact the standard of care of our AMD patients.
About the Author
Dr. Lowe of Professional Eye Care Center, Inc., is a graduate of Loyola University with a Doctor of Optometry Degree from the Illinois College of Optometry. She has published several articles on eye health and speaks at many optometric conferences across the country. She serves on the Contact Lens and Cornea Section, is a spokesperson for the American Optometric Association, Director of Vision Source Chicagoland, and is active in many other optometric organizations.