Back in 2003, Tricia Adams, OD, and her husband, J. Murray Adams, OD, joined Advantage Eye Care in Owensboro, Kentucky, a practice started by Dr. Tricia Adams’ father, Andrew Ward, OD, in 1973. When they took over in 2018, they knew some updates would be needed, and focusing on the patient experience was a top priority.
“It was a well-established practice; optometry is a family tradition for us and a personal passion for me,” she says. While her practice had modernized in many areas, the couple felt that they needed to make some more changes. “We started looking at digital refraction systems, and we asked friends what they liked and didn’t like,” she says.
“The resounding message we got from colleagues was that they love digital refraction, so we knew we were moving in the right
direction,” she says. After reviewing the options available, they selected the Reichert Phoroptor® VRx Digital Refraction System. “One of the main reasons was that it integrates with our electronic medical records [EMR],” Dr. Adams says. The transmission of refractive findings is accurate and immediate; there’s no need to turn away from the patient to enter findings, and transcription errors are eliminated.
Once they decided the Phoroptor VRx fit their needs, the doctors had to decide whether to go all in and put the device in all four of the exam lanes. “We toyed around with the idea of experimenting with a few of the lanes,” she recalls. “But we realized that this system was going to be such a great experience for our patients, and we needed to update every exam lane. We wanted a standardized, excellent experience.”
Finding new benefits
Since the practice brought the system into the office in early 2019, Dr. Adams says that she continues to find new uses for it. The practice has a large vision therapy and binocular vision practice. With pediatric patients, the Phoroptor VRx provides quick and accurate refractions. “It has enhanced that niche for us and improved the experience for those patients,” she says.
Similarly, it has helped the refraction process with older patients. “With my older population, dry eye and corneal surface disease
can slow down the refraction. The ability to switch between lenses is so fast, and there’s no lag time. Patients can experience and compare the differences in the choices we are offering them. The optics are so impressive,” she says.
The integrated ClearChart® 4X Enhanced Digital Acuity System provides a pixel-perfect image. “I love how harmonious the experience is; I see the chart on the screen of my console, while the patient sees it on the ClearChart,” she says. “The console is so intuitive with its touchscreen and buttons. The doctors can use the methodology they prefer as there are multiple avenues to the
same result,” she says. So the vision therapy doctor who prefers a different approach than a doctor who works with the adult population can follow his or her own specific exam steps. The devices can even be programmed to run a specific refraction sequence, so other doctors can choose to follow a specific program or use their own.
Some advanced technology is seen only by select patients who need additional testing. Digital refraction, however, is experienced
by everyone. “I like that my patients feel like they’re having a unique experience,” she says. They appreciate the clarity and speed with which their different prescriptions can be presented to them. She anticipates that this will lead to increased updated prescriptions.
“Patients will feel confident in the refraction and the change it produces. They’ll feel justified when they are buying new eyewear,” she says. While she has always shown patients their before-and-after comparisons, this system has made the process
much faster. “There’s no time spent by dialing in the old prescription. The patients aren’t waiting and blinking through that time. It’s simply, ‘Here’s where you were last year, and this is the change today.’”
Comfort for the long term
While the doctors are young, they know firsthand how manual refractions can affect the body. One reason Dr. Ward retired when he did was that an injury made it too challenging to complete manual refractions. “The physical comfort of the digital refraction process is evident immediately. There’s no leaning in, twisting or raising arms all day,” she says.
“The standard of care is changing, and patients are expecting us to change with it. Our other equipment in our office is technologically advanced, but the refraction was old technology that had not changed for years,” she says. Upgrading to the Phoroptor VRx was exactly what they needed to show their patients they remain a top priority.