Primary Care is the gateway into the health system for many individuals. Care coordination is an important function of the Primary Care Physician (PCP). If you need to see a medical specialist, your primary care doctor coordinates and manages your care, Primary Care Physicians play an important role in referring patients, when necessary, to the appropriate health care professionals, making sure that treatments you receive are appropriate for you, that the drugs you are prescribed work well together, and that all the doctors who care for you know about other medical problems you may be having. When (PCPs) Primary Care Physicians discuss vision care with their patients, the patients are more likely to get eye exams. Right now only high risk patients such as those with diabetes and some already diagnosed with eye diseases get the vision care checks from other medical professionals.
Where and when does vision care receive importance?
We know that overlooking your eyes could lead to serious health and quality of life issues. Vision loss is associated with falls, social isolation, decreased independence and cognitive decline. PCPs don’t always ask about a patient’s eyes or changes in vision. Just because a patient has 20/20 vision doesn’t mean there aren’t other issues going on. Patients sometimes avoid eye doctors and exams for financial reasons. Many patients do not have access to vision care because of insurance, not everyone has coverage for routine vision care and glasses. Medicare for patients over 65 years of age (a high risk group for vision problems) have no coverage for routine eye exams. Medicare Part B only covers some vision care not routine eye exams or vision correction devices – the only exception is after cataract surgery care. For these reasons many at risk patients do not receive treatment early when most can be done to save their vision and quality of life. All healthcare professionals need to work as a team for the sake of our patients.