Tele-Optometry: Handling “Invisible Patients”


“Invisible Patient” is a term that is becoming increasingly more popular amongst optometrists across the globe. This group of patients consists of those who cannot physically appear in the office for care.

There are many reasons people may not make it in for their annual visits. It could be a physical disability, a sickness, or even the fact that their “commute is too long”.

But out of sight, out of mind, right? Not quite.

A growing demand for remote service

It’s still essential for those who are not able or willing to appear in person to still receive the eye care their body needs.

According to Digital Optometrics, out of the 61 million American with eye disease symptoms that they accounted for, only half saw an optometrist for an assessment. This is a concerning statistic, considering the fact that an annual visit reduces the risk of vision loss significantly. It has become increasingly more difficult for patients to be seen in an actual office now because of stay at home orders and the precautions people are taking to stay healthy.

All things considered, there is a definite need for optometrists to get creative and adapt in order to service these “invisible patients”.

Integrating telemedicine

Telehealth is the process of receiving health-related services and advice anywhere, anytime, without needing to leave your home. This long-distance patient care is a huge turning point for the future of optometry, as well as other healthcare industries.

It turns out that one of the leading solutions to remote care for patients has been right in front of us all along. Or to be more specific, it has been right in our pockets all along. Smartphones aren’t just good for making calls and sending texts anymore. They also make surprisingly efficient optometrist tools. There have been incredible developments in smartphone-based technology in the recent years that focuses on screening patients’ vision without a large piece of equipment and an in-person visit.

The advantages of this new tech

The greatest advantage of tele-optometry is its ability to provide accessibility. This newfound easy access to care empowers people to be proactive about their eye health. It removes the uncertainty of and inability to maintain an in-person visit.

As well as creating accessibility, this new technology also solves the problem of healthcare professional shortages. With over 7,000 areas in the US currently experiencing difficulties hiring and keeping specialized doctors, telehealth becomes vital to the future of the industry.

We can see shared time and resources from physicians worldwide. Now, there would be a larger network of physicians who are able to provide care and support from anywhere, despite the distance. The Arizona Telemedicine Program does a great job discussing the use of telemedicine as a solution for the physician shortage.

Digital surfacing has been around for several years but is fast becoming the industry standard for optical labs and eye care professionals. It is just one part of a move towards greater efficiency, accuracy, and versatility in optical labs. That being said, not all labs are equal in the way they produce their product and the services they offer. At Allentown Optical, we are committed to not only providing the most technologically advanced services but personalized customer service. We take a hands-on, human approach to delivering the best optical products and services to our clients.