This Podcast is in Partnership with Allergan
“I was a dry eye sufferer,” Dr. Neena James says at the top of this episode when she describes her passion for the profession. “I had a hard time wearing contact lenses, and it got to be terrible. In college, I couldn’t even drive 5 minutes down the road. It really was debilitating.” This personal struggle led to a mindset that ‘it’s not just dry eye.’ She knows first hand that this condition can impact every aspect of a patient’s day.
In 2006 she purchased an existing practice, 20/20 Eye Care in Huntsville, Alabama, from a doctor who was planning his retirement. Her practice has now grown to three practicing optometrists serving patients from 6 months to over 100. “Every patient gets a cake when they turn 100!” Dr. James exclaims when she talks with pride about serving the elderly population of her practice. She sees dry eye in patients of every age – from childhood through geriatric populations. Detecting dry eye in her practice starts with patient history collected by her staff. They don’t ask “do you have dry eye”, instead her technicians are trained to ask about redness, watering, burning, and difficulty with contact lens comfort. Diagnostically, NaFL and lissamine green dye and an anterior segment camera are the tools she’s found to be extremely effective at detecting dry eye, educating her patients, and sparing excessive expense as her office grew. “Your biggest asset is your voice and the way you educate your patients and the way you can make your patients feel,” she says when it comes to being successful with dry eye care. “No pun intended- but the way you make your patients feel seen is the difference-maker.”
Her recommended dry eye regimen includes making intentional changes to their daily activities – computer use, makeup products, eyelid hygiene and warm compress massages – these lifestyle changes are all a part of daily modifications that need to be done to make a difference. Prescription medications that reduce inflammation in the eye like RESTASIS® are a go-to option for any patient with SPK, reduced tear break up time, or symptomatic patients who are already utilizing high quality artificial tears.
Dr. James and her office were recently featured in an informational video about diagnosing and treating dry eye. You can check out the full video here. Partnering with industry to help educate herself and better educate patients around the world has been an exciting opportunity for Dr. James. She shares that having a relationship with her local industry representatives provided a great way to open the door to speaking and educational opportunities. “It’s hard to make the time with a busy clinic schedule,” Dr. James says about meeting with reps, “but they really are a good resource.” Preparing a media kit for your professional social media platforms can also be useful in reaching out to brands that you utilize and support. Including your number of followers, average engagement and impressions per post, and your audience demographics can help give brands an idea of the value you would bring to any partnership.