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Tele-medicine for Pediatric Eye Care

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Here at San Luis Obispo Eye Associates the health of our patients and community is our highest priority! As we are opening for more general eye care, we are working to come up with innovative ways to deliver safe and effective eye care. To protect patients during Covid 19, the government authorized Tele-medicine visits. This was new to us. Now that we have tried it, we are very excited to provide this format for care. Dr. Stathacopoulos personally screens all exams and referrals to determine if Tele-medicine is appropriate. Below, we help you see the benefit to a Tele-medicine visit and explain why it is a great option in the era of Covid 19. The Upside to a Tele-medicine Exam

• No commute. We see you in the comfort of your own home. • You are not exposed to the public. • You and your child do not need to wear a mask, wait in your car, undergo health and temperature screening, and follow all the social distancing protocols in our offices (this can be challenging with an active child). • Less chance of reschedule-Because, crying can spread droplets, just like coughing or sneezing, patients who get upset during an in-office exam and cry will need to be rescheduled to be seen at a time we can use more protective gear. • Tele-medicine exams are more “on time”, we see most patients within 5-10 minutes of their scheduled time. • You get the Doctor’s full attention. Normally in the office you are also seen by staff and assistants and only see the Doctor for a brief portion of the exam. With Tele-medicine, the Doctor does the full exam and explains everything to you personally. • Most children are happy and enjoy video exams.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 1. Why was a Tele-medicine visit recommended? Every exposure with the public carries a risk of contracting Covid 19. The goal is to reduce risk. Keeping you safe at home reduces your risk and the community’s risk.

2. I’m afraid the doctor won’t be able to see what needs to be seen to make an accurate diagnosis. We will make that determination. Dr. Stathacopoulos has now done MANY Tele-medicine exams and knows what works. If you need assessment beyond the Tele-medicine exam, we will schedule you for limited testing/evaluation in our office face to face (or mask to mask) to diagnose your eye problem. This way we minimize your contact with other patients and staff. Remember the fewer people you interact with, the less likely you are to get Covid19 and give it to family and loved ones.

3. Doesn’t my child need to be dilated? Most eye visits involve an evaluation of vision, eye tracking, and the exterior of the eye. However many eye problems require evaluation for glasses and examination of the retina. In children (who can’t be checked accurately for glasses the same way as adults) this involves getting eye drops, waiting 45+ minutes in the office, and being re-examined. With Covid 19 we cannot have children playing in waiting rooms sharing germs and toys, so we can no longer dilate patients in the office. Previously, new patients and established patients requiring a comprehensive exam were in our office 1.5 to 2 hours. This is simply not safe with Covid 19. Our goal with a Tele-medicine visit is to assess vision, eye alignment and exterior eye problems by video exam, if a diagnosis and treatment can be determined based on this exam, then no office visit is needed. However, if additional examination/testing is needed, eye drops can be prescribed to dilate at home and we can do additional in-office assessment only in patients that need this.

4. I don’t think my child will cooperate on video. We were worried about this too. Surprisingly we find that 95% of patients do great on video. Alternatively, we find that some young children are doing poorly in the office and we are unable to get meaningful in-office exams. This is because we are all wearing masks and medical protective gear; children can find this quite upsetting. We also do not have the ability to use as many fun toys and puppets as before because they must all be sanitized after each patient. For some children, a video exam may actually be better than an in-office exam.

5. I am not afraid of getting Covid 19 and I want to come to your office for an “in person exam”. We understand this sentiment, but your assessment of risk is not how we determine what is safest. There is ample data to support that reducing public contact reduces risk and we intend to play our part in supporting this. Please respect our determination, or consider asking your pediatrician for a referral to another office.

6. What if the doctor can’t get any useful exam by video? We will see you in the office and not charge you separately for the Tele-medicine exam. (this does not apply to situations where we recommend additional testing, dilation, refraction, or retinal exam).

©2020 Rena Stathacopoulos

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