Optometrists who have completed one- to two-year residencies with specialized training in areas such as pediatric or geriatric eye care, specialty contact lenses, eye diseases, or neurooptometry are qualified to provide specialty services. They must meet the same requirements as doctors when generating clinical summaries and transferring data to other healthcare providers in order to make proper use of electronic medical records. Optometrists must educate and advise patients on the lifelong prognosis of their condition. Interestingly, optometrists can represent a greater burden for eye insurance companies, as they are the ones who generate the prescriptions for glasses that increase their use.
Optometrists should consider themselves doctors and should assume their role as primary health care providers. Those who specialize in geriatric care understand the need to help older adults maintain as much independence as possible. In 1987, optometry achieved parity with Medicare, with a small change in the wording that added optometrists to the list of health care providers classified as “doctors.” Optometry is best placed within any comprehensive system to provide primary health care services to people who would not otherwise access the system. The optometrist must keep in mind that the best treatment for chronic, prolonged, and life-altering visual disabilities must be prevention, and that the optometry profession must consider playing a greater role early in life to improve long-term eye health.
The specialized care provided by geriatric optometrists has been linked to more satisfactory results in surgical procedures to remove cataracts. For many years, optometry has been considered and classified as a primary care provider, and Medicare and other physical health insurers have preferred it for better reimbursement. In this new era of responsible care, electronic medical records and reasonable use, optometry must reconsider its role in the new health care system. Optometrists are uniquely qualified to provide geriatric vision care. They have the knowledge and experience necessary to diagnose and treat age-related eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
Geriatric optometrists are also trained to assess vision changes due to medications or other medical conditions that can affect vision. They can provide comprehensive eye exams that include testing for glaucoma and other eye diseases, as well as prescribing glasses or contact lenses if needed. Geriatric optometrists understand the importance of providing personalized care for each patient. They take into account the patient's lifestyle, medical history, and overall health when making recommendations for treatment. They also understand that older adults may have difficulty adapting to new eyewear or may need additional assistance with activities of daily living such as reading or driving.
Geriatric optometrists are committed to helping older adults maintain their independence and quality of life. Optometrists play an important role in providing quality vision care for older adults. By offering specialty services such as geriatric vision care, they can help ensure that older adults receive the best possible care for their eyes.