Optometry Podcast: How Prescribing for Patient Comfort and Symptom Relief Can Set Your Practice Apart

In Partnership with Neurolens

How can you stand out as an optometrist in your local community? Providing state of the art care and prescribing innovative solutions to your patient’s problems is a great way to set yourself apart. We sat down with private practice owner Dr. Melissa Richard on this podcast to discuss the technology that she has invested in to build her practice. 

Dr. Richard cold-started Spectrum Vision Care in Chalfont, Pennsylvania in 2015 with a focus on delivering comprehensive eyecare along with following her passion of providing low vision and brain injury rehabilitation services. “I knew early in optometry school that I wanted to specialize in something,” Dr. Richard shares. She was drawn to low vision care while she was a student at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, and completed her Masters in Low Vision Rehabilitation at the same time that she graduated as an OD. “I really enjoyed working with the visually impaired patients and giving them hope to read again or do the things they wanted to do.” 

Through building her name in the community with her low vision specialty, her scope of practice naturally expanded to serve patients that had suffered strokes as well as concussions. She built her educational base on how to best serve these patients with hours of independent research and regular attendance at the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) annual meetings.  About a year after attending her first NORA meeting, her father suffered a stroke which severely impacted his ability to read and navigate his world. The personal impact of treating her own father with yoked prisms and neuro-rehabilitative care made her mission to provide care to patients affected by brain injury or stroke in her community that much stronger because she witnessed first hand the ability that optometrists have to positively impact a person’s life and recovery after suffering this type of event.

“I think optometrists are totally underestimating how many of these patients are out there,” Dr. Richard states. Patients don’t necessarily schedule an appointment with an optometrist because of headaches or dizziness and might not even bring up a history of concussion or brain injury because they don’t know that it could be relevant to their eye exam. Her community had plenty of patients that needed her skill, but she didn’t have a great technology option to prescribe for their needs.

Dr. Melissa Richard, Founder of Spectrum Vision Care

Dr. Richard first learned about a technology that could set her practice apart called Neurolens at a NORA conference event. She had already been prescribing base in prism to many of her patients who suffered from headaches or chronic ocular discomfort, but she had found that her patients often needed separate distance and near glasses to accommodate the different amounts of prism that they needed at each working distance. The Neurolens technology was a perfect solution for her practice because it allowed her to prescribe one pair of glasses with a contoured prism to allow differing amounts of prism at distance and near. It was a slam dunk solution for her patients in convenience and ease of use.

What took her by surprise was how many of her every day patients benefited from this technology and she soon found that she was prescribing Neurolens technology more often in routine care than she could have predicted. She started giving the Neurolens Lifestyle Questionnaire to every patient scheduled for a comprehensive eye exam which screens patients for symptoms like headaches, neck stiffness, pain behind the eyes, and light sensitivity. In her practice, she has found that of her patients that report these symptoms, 95% of them are good candidates for Neurolens. Of these patients that are good candidates, roughly 40% go on to purchase. At the end of the day that’s around 20% of her routine comprehensive eyecare patients leaving her office with Neurolens glasses. 

The technology has been incredibly successful in her practice in addressing patient symptoms. “I’ve caused a lot of tears,” Dr. Richard jokes. “Patients put on their glasses and exclaim: that’s how it’s supposed to look?!” She’s noted a surprising amount of relief for patients’ symptoms of neck pain and shoulder stiffness which she didn’t expect before she started prescribing these glasses. And patients that are suffering from chronic dry eye discomfort where she has found no staining or signs of active ocular surface disease have also seen a huge benefit in her practice.

Dr. Richard shares that her investment in Neurolens has been a great practice builder. She is getting a lot of new patient referrals from happy patients that have experienced relief from purchasing this technology. Because the technology is not covered by insurance, she was concerned when she first brought Neurolens to her practice that it might be too expensive for her family oriented optical. She has found that price has been no issue for her patients, and in fact her average frame sale has gone up since bringing in Neurolens technology because her patients that are investing in the benefits of this lens technology are wanting a higher quality frame since they are committed to making a long term investment in their glasses. 

During COVID-19 she has felt that offering Neurolens technology has actually helped her practice recover faster. With many patients working from home, complaints of headache, neck pain, and ocular discomfort are rampant. Prescribing a true solution to the symptoms her patients are suffering from has allowed her to stand apart from other opticals and online glasses retailers. “When you can validate your patients’ symptoms and show them this technology and what this lens can do for them, they are really not hesitant to spend the money on relief.”

The relief that Dr. Richard’s patients are experiencing has really stuck with her. She shares the story of a twenty-year-old patient that had been suffering from chronic headaches that were disrupting his ability to study in college. He measured a very low prescription and only 1.8 base in prism diopters, but when he received his Neurolens glasses his mom immediately called Dr. Richard o rave about the technology. Her son had just experienced his first headache free day in eight years after wearing his new glasses. These stories have become the norm and not the exception in her practice. Her own mother is also a wearer who just ordered her second pair of Neurolenses after being relieved of dizziness and motion sickness complaints after being prescribed Neurolens technology.

To learn more about this technology and learn how to bring relief to your patients, head to https://www.neurolenses.com/.