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How Telehealth Works for an Eyecare Visit

By Essilor News

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare offices across the spectrum have been affected by closures and limited services, and eyecare is no exception. Fortunately, telehealth offers a safe way to connect with your eyecare provider for a range of needs.

How COVID has changed visiting the doctor

With safety in mind, many optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians are temporarily closed to in-person visits except for essential services. However, even if you can see your eyecare provider in person, you might not want to risk exposure to the coronavirus, especially if the issue you’re having isn’t serious (or doesn’t appear to be). Not to mention, with limited in-person appointments available, you might not be able to get on your eyecare provider’s schedule when it’s best for you. So, what do you do? You set up a telemedicine visit with your eye doctor.

What is a telemedicine appointment?

In general terms, telemedicine uses technology to remotely connect you and your optometrist. For some services, like setting up an appointment and completing forms, you do so on your own with your computer or phone. What we’re talking about here is actually interacting with live healthcare professionals by phone or through the internet, using chat, audio, or both audio and video. This means you can get a real consultation from your eye doctor without leaving home.

Telemedicine makes it easier to see your optometrist, and vice versa

Telemedicine can’t replace in-office appointments that require the use of diagnostic equipment or dilating your eyes. But if your optometrist has the ability to perform virtual visits, they might be able to evaluate an eye issue you’re experiencing, depending on how clearly they can see your eyes. More likely, they’ll use telemedicine to offer online eye exams so you can renew your expired prescription and order new glasses or contacts.

Setting up a telemedicine visit with your eye doctor

If you have a concern about your vision or need new lenses, the first step is to contact an eyecare provider near you and find out what services they can provide remotely. You’ll use your insurance just like an in-person appointment, and you’ll be billed the same way—the main difference is that you’re limiting your contact with other people and places in order to stay safer during a pandemic. Just know that you might not be able to change your prescription using virtual visits since that typically requires an in-person exam, but you can renew an expired prescription to get new lenses. Different eye doctors will offer different services, and some might even be able to provide remote consultations for eye medical issues. As the capabilities of telehealth grow, it’s likely to become an in-person alternative that lasts far beyond COVID-19.