Dilation probably raises the most questions of any procedure performed during an eye exam. Most patients don’t really understand what dilation does or why it’s so important. They also walk away from these procedures feeling annoyed and even in pain. That’s why it’s important for optometrists to structure their exams in a way that presents dilation in a positive manner.
The best thing you can do as a doctor is provide TOO MUCH information to your patient. In a time when insurance payouts and increasing fees make doctors feel like they need to rush things, it’s important to take the time with a patient to explain what dilation is and its advantages. If patients can understand the various options related to dilation, they feel like they are the ones making the choice for dilation, rather than it being forced upon them.
Make sure your patients understand their options with dilation. Today, other techniques can be used to create digital photographs instead of dilation. These have pros and cons, just like dilation. Make sure your patients understand these options and why they should choose one over the other. Also, make sure patients understand that even with other options, there still may be the need for dilation if a possible concern shows up on these photographs. Remember, you live and breathe optometry all day long, so these different procedures and options make perfect sense to you. Most patients, though, only see you once a year and don’t think about dilation until they stop in your office.
Make sure your patients are prepared for the after-effects of dilation. Disposable sunshades, such as Rollens wrap-a-round lenses, are a great way to make sure your patients can get home safely on a sunny (or even overcast!) day. Stress to them the importance of having protection for their eyes after they’ve been dilated. If you’re based in a sunny part of the country, this is an absolute must! Remember, even cloudy days can feel really bright to dilated patients. Also, make sure your patients know that their near vision may feel impaired for a few hours while the dilation wears off. Set realistic expectations for your patients!
Dilation is part of running your optometry practice, but it’s one of those things that patients simply don’t enjoy dealing with. A few simple expectations and creature comforts, like Rollens lenses, can set the stage for a positive experience with dilation and your practice!