Tony Bancewicz, practice owner at Stirling Optical, explains how the Vision-R800 has helped him meet social distancing requirements and make the practice safe for his staff and customers
Just weeks before the UK went into lockdown, we made the decision to modernise our eye examinations and purchase a new phoropter from Essilor Ltd. In fact, we are now the first practice in Scotland using the Vision-R800 phoropter, which can also be conveniently operated by console up to seven metres away from a patient.
The Vision-R800 was installed, at the end of June, a week before we were able to reopen for face to face testing, so it was perfectly timed for being able to conduct socially distanced eye exams.
It has really helped to reassure patients that we can now conduct eye exams from a safe distance
This obviously wasn’t a factor that we had taken into account when making the original decision to purchase the kit, back in March, but it has really helped to reassure patients that we can now conduct eye exams from a safe distance.
We had a training day in January with a member of the Essilor Instruments team, who has first-hand experience of working in practice. We also spent a week trialling the kit in-store before deciding to go ahead.
The whole process starts with a simplified eye examination, with a series of user-friendly ‘smart tests’, cameras to check the patient’s position, and electronic measurement of the near vision chart location. This means the whole refraction process becomes much easier for both the patient and optometrist.
Our regular patients have all preferred it over the traditional trial frame eye exam
Unprompted feedback from patients has all been extremely positive, with comments about how comfortable it is compared to wearing a clunky, heavy trial frame.
We have also had observations about how clean it looks, which helps patients feel at ease, particularly in the current climate. Overall, our regular patients have all preferred it over the traditional trial frame eye exam.
The equipment also allows us to flick between the prescriptions, and patients can appreciate the difference in clarity and answer more accurately. The AVA programme measures to a precision of one hundredth of a dioptre, and a large percentage of people do realise the difference in their vision between a prescription precise to 0.01D compared to the traditional 0.25D.
From an ECP’s perspective, our optometrists have all liked how simple the kit is to use and clean compared to a trial frame. They also felt reassured that it helps keep close contact to an absolute minimum, as they operate the phoropter from a console.
They also like the fact that the Vision-R800 can manually refract as well as using automated “SMART” mode. This allows them the flexibility to tailor-make their own programme too, and use their refraction skills.
Putting these measures in place and being able to use equipment like the Vision-R800 at a safe distance has really helped put everyone’s minds at rest
A key factor in our purchasing decision was that the Vision-R800 would enhance patient belief that they are getting a more precise prescription, because the ‘theatre’ drives home their understanding and appreciation of the actual improvement in accuracy.
It is remarkable the number of people who have commented that it is an incredible piece of kit. This in turn helps keep the practice in a prime position in terms of quality of environment, and being at the forefront of technology.
While patients are worried about the risk of contracting COVID-19, putting these measures in place and being able to use equipment like the Vision-R800 at a safe distance has really helped put everyone’s minds at rest. It has allowed us to limit unnecessary contact as we navigate this new normal.