Telehealth & Virtual Eye Exams: 3 Things to Know

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, eye doctors are looking for ways to serve their patients through virtual eye exams. Many medical professionals are turning to virtual services in order to safely serve their patients while complying with CDC guidelines. At Kentucky Eye Institute, though our doors are temporarily closed, we’re continuing to see patients virtually with telehealth services. Here’s what you need to know about Telehealth and virtual eye exams.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the act of providing healthcare services and information to patients remotely through electronic and telecommunication technologies. This can be in the form of phone calls, video calls, or virtual chat features on websites or apps. Telehealth services can be offered by many different types of healthcare providers for services such as consultations, exams, or quick check-ins if you have a health concern. The ability to send photos to an orthodontist, for example, allows them to virtually assess a patient’s smile. For eye doctors, the use of video calls allows them to administer vision care such as routine eye exams with a patient, virtually.

A key Solution for Safe Health Care

Though nothing can replace the warmth of an in-person appointment, virtual exams are playing a huge role in health care, keeping patients safe by reducing person-to-person contact and thus reducing the spread of COVID-19. The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges all eye doctors to stop in-person exams and normal surgeries and only treat patients in the event of an emergency in order to reduce contact. Medical practices that are implementing virtual appointments are not just keeping patients safe, but their community as a whole.

Convenient Check-Ins

For some offices, this is a temporary solution to help serve patients during this time, but for many practices, the idea of telehealth services, or virtual exams, is a normal part of their practice. It allows for easy check-ins for patients who may think they have an emergency or have simple questions about their medicine or follow-up questions after an appointment.

Instead of waiting days or weeks to be seen by a doctor for something that may not require an appointment, a virtual check-in through a messaging system can mitigate patient concerns quickly. If you’re experiencing issues such as vision problems or eye pain, your doctor can assess if your symptoms warrant an emergency visit.

Follow these tips to take extra care of your eyes during this time:

  • Consider switching from contacts to glasses for a while. Wearing glasses means you’ll be touching your eyes less, reducing the chances of irritation.
  • Wash your hands, especially if you wear contacts. Because COVID-19 can spread through your eye, always wash your hands before removing and inserting your contacts.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. This reduces the chances of infection. If you experience dry eyes, try using a trusted brand of moisturizing eye drops.

Greater Access to Eye Care

In some rural and underserved areas where eye care is less accessible, telehealth services can provide information on and screen for eye diseases, prompting patients to seek further information and care. The use of these services can help to treat many people who would otherwise not receive a diagnosis and go without treatment. In these cases, telehealth services are a reliable avenue for supplemental care and opening the door for greater health care access to an underserved population.

Check to see if your local Lexington, KY eye doctor is offering telehealth services during this time. At Kentucky Eye Institute, your eye health and overall wellbeing are our top priority. We understand that change can be challenging during this time and we appreciate your understanding and cooperation with our adapted service efforts. Please call us if you have questions about treatment or have a medical emergency.