A dry eye service is an emerging growth area for eye care professionals that helps broaden their offering, addresses the day-to-day challenges that the condition brings to patients, and can increase revenue.
As a practice that embodies a holistic approach, it was becoming more and more apparent that something needed to change in the way we worked with our clients to get to the root cause of the problem and address their dry eye battles.
Reading an article about TearStim, which uses regulated pulsed light technology (IRPL) to get the meibomian gland functioning properly again, gave us fresh hope and we took a leap of faith and established a dry eye service for our patients.
Opening a dry eye clinicAfter sourcing further information on TearStim and the procedure it uses from our sales manager at Essilor Ltd, we quickly made the decision to invest in the equipment.
In November 2019, we became the first practice in the UK to exclusively offer TearStim to patients and were able to provide those with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) an alternative to drops.
As the only practice in the surrounding area offering a dry eye service, we saw a huge demand for treatment and the feedback we get from patients has been positive.
The procedure is performed within a few minutes and involves covering the patient’s eyes with protector shells. We recommend a course of four treatments and an annual top up.
For patients who required additional help following treatment, such as a drop or a gel to correct a PH imbalance in their tears, and to improve patient satisfaction, we also invested in IDRA dry eye analysis from Essilor Ltd to enhance our service further.
As the only practice in the surrounding area offering a dry eye service, we saw a huge demand for treatment and the feedback we get from patients has been positive
Dry eye analysis
IDRA performs a full assessment of the ocular surface via a series of quick tear ﬁlm tests, including the quality of tears and analysis of the meibomian glands, to classify the type of dry eye disease.
When used alongside TearStim, it can provide eye care practitioners with a complete diagnosis and treatment service for patients living with the most common cause of dry eye, MGD.
TearStim emits painless light pulses below the eye in the region of the parasympathetic nervous system, and by stimulating the nerve, neurotransmitters are released that encourage the secretion of the meibomian glands and contribute to restoring their normal activity.
Using IDRA allows us to inform patients about how well the TearStim procedure is likely to work for them, and whether they will need the back up of a supplement, gel or drop, before they commit to any investment with us.
It diagnoses whether they are experiencing purely MGD or MGD alongside further problems with the meibomian glands, such as an insufficient mucus layer or a PH imbalance.
We genuinely believe it is best to provide the most accurate diagnosis from the onset, so we don’t build hopes up and later disappoint.
IDRA is simple to use and magnifies the eye as a 3D visual. It then recommends a plan, so if TearStim is not an option, it suggests other treatments, whether that is a drop with fatty acids or an omega 3 supplement, tailored to that person’s analysis.
IDRA has become a real show piece for us in-store and patients have commented about how impressive it looks. They also like to get involved with the analysis by looking at the pictures and asking questions about their glands. This all helps them understand the dry eye diagnosis and why we are recommending specific treatments.
The device is also operated via a laptop so can be controlled from a socially distanced, two metres away, making it easier and safer for us to run at the moment.
Offering a dry eye service has been extremely healthy for business and provided a timely additional income stream as part of our business model
Marketing and driving footfall
On establishing our dry eye service, we designed a marketing campaign to promote it to patients and advertised in the local newspaper, in addition to using leaflets and an A-board.
Word of mouth has also proved powerful. One patient recently travelled from the High Peaks about three hours away, and another customer brought her mum to visit from Wales for treatment after being happy with the results herself.
A steady stream of patients are also referred following a routine eye examination, without many even noticing that they have MGD symptoms in the first place.
Offering a dry eye service has been extremely healthy for business and provided a timely additional income stream as part of our business model. It gives us a unique edge that other independents in the local area do not have and helped increase footfall when routine eye examinations dropped during the pandemic.
Although we didn’t perform as many eye examinations during the pandemic r, we ran a lot of dry eye consultations because patients with symptoms didn’t want to sit at home and suffer in silence, especially when the condition can be exacerbated by extra screen time from working from home and keeping in touch with family via Zoom.