Finding it hard to educate patients about presbyopia-correcting IOLs?

January 1, 2008

Presbyopia Correcting IOLs (PCIOLs) are perhaps the most significant technological advancement in recent ophthalmic history. These lenses not only provide patients with the option of seeing near, intermediate, and distant objects without dependence on glasses for most of their daily activities - they could also become the single most important cornerstone for building a successful ophthalmic practice, both now and in the foreseeable future.

Presbyopia Correcting IOLs (PCIOLs) are perhaps the most significant technological advancement in recent ophthalmic history. These lenses not only provide patients with the option of seeing near, intermediate, and distant objects without dependence on glasses for most of their daily activities - they could also become the single most important cornerstone for building a successful ophthalmic practice, both now and in the foreseeable future.

I seriously doubt that too many people would say, "I would prefer to be dependent on glasses for near vision, so please just put in a monofocal IOL, thanks." If this is the case, then why have so many doctors struggled to incorporate PCIOLs into their practice? The vast majority will say their patients cannot afford them, but like any expensive item, people will not spend the money until they truly understand the benefits of what they are being asked to purchase.

But, for many ophthalmologists, the two most significant obstacles preventing them from implanting more PCIOLs are: a) allocating the time to educate patients about the benefits and limitations of PCIOLs and b) having the educational tools to encourage patients to spend a substantial amount of money to have them implanted.

Introducing some software that could help

The IOL Counselor software, released in March of 2007 by Patient Education Concepts, Inc., of Houston, Texas, USA and Eyeland Design Network, of Vreden, Germany, has proven to make the educational process much easier by showing patients visual simulations of how they might see after cataract surgery with various types of IOLs. Doctors using the IOL Counselor software report the number of patients electing for PCIOL implantation have increased from 15% to as high as 80% after implementing the software into their patient flow.

The idea behind the development of the IOL Counselor was to take the bulk of the educational burden away from doctors and empower their surgical counsellors with the tools to increase their skills at presenting the benefits of PCIOLs. For some doctors, giving up the primary educational role has been difficult, but many practices have found that if everyone within the practice is doing their part in educating patients, patients are usually quite knowledgeable about their IOL options prior to hearing their surgeon's recommendation.

Educational posters, videos, and brochures in the reception room are helpful at starting the educational process. The IOL Counselor is also an extremely valuable tool in educating staff members about cataracts and IOL options; so when they are performing the initial consultation, they now have the knowledge to speak to their patients about IOL options during the hour or more they are with the patient. Once the surgeon makes his or her recommendation, they are now finding they only need to answer a few questions before sending the patient to the surgical counsellor to use the IOL Counselor software.

The IOL Counselor CD includes a number of tools to help in the counselling process, including Dr Stephen Dell's Vision Assessment Questionnaire. This form is completed by the patient prior to the exam. It provides the doctor with an idea of each patient's lifestyle visual needs and helps the surgeon recommend a specific PCIOL to meet that patient's needs.