By Dr. Laurie Capogna and Dr. Barbara Pelletier
Incorporating ocular nutrition in your practice is an effective way to grow your practice. It allows you to offer your patients the best care and value without discounting your services and products. It will give your patients a sense of empowerment, because rather than just focusing on treatment, you are educating them about prevention and helping them to be proactive.
Implementing change into our busy offices isn’t easy, however, change is necessary to compete in today’s competitive eye care market and to take our practices to the next level. The seven step plan to ocular nutrition will help you overcome common road-blocks and effectively integrate nutrition into your practice so that you can provide your patients with the most current and complete care and ultimately enhance your relationships with them.
Here is the 7-step plan to include nutrition into your practice.
Step 1: Educate
• Doctors, Team members, Patients
Carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin and mesozeaxanthin), antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) are some of the most important nutrients for ocular health and visual performance. Everyone benefits from including foods high in these nutrients in their diets everyday.
Here are some simple tips to give to every patient that will help them make the best food choices for their ocular health.
Leafy Greens: A handful a day keeps AMD away.
Orange Peppers: Eat 2 peppers per week, 2 ways, raw and cooked.
Cold Water Fish: 4 Fish per week. Small is safe (low in contaminants).
You can also share these tips with your followers on Twitter and Facebook!
Step 2: Create the environment
• Waiting room, Exam Room, Optical Boutique
Help your patients make the connection between nutrition and eye health. Have books, magazines, and brochures about nutrition. Take a more creative approach and add fun food photos, food displays or offer healthy food samples such as the Eyefoods Nut Mix or mixed veggies and hummus.
In your optical boutique create an attractive retail display with supplements and educational materials. Don’t worry if space is an issue as one or two shelves is all you need.
Step 3: Set the stage
Have your receptionist instruct patients to bring all supplements they are taking to their appointment. Once the patient arrives, conduct a detailed nutrition case history including weekly fruit and vegetable intake, as well as fish intake.
Step 4: Main act
Create personalized nutrition plans taking into account current ocular status, nutritional status and in some cases, genetic testing. Counsel patients using visuals. When you discuss a disease, let the patient know she has the opportunity to prevent progression through nutrition and lifestyle.
It’s time to take a broader view on nutrition in eye care. All of our patients will benefit from nutritional counseling regarding diet. Patients with ocular surface disease, patients with risk factors or those who have AMD, and patients who need high performance vision, may all benefit from supplements.
Step 5: Complete the experience
Provide your patients the opportunity to purchase supplements from your office. This will ensure compliance and provide them with convenience.
Step 6: Take it up a notch
Jazz up your social media posts by including tips on nutrition and eye health. Add seasonal recipes to inspire your followers to make choices for healthier eyes.
Step 7: Follow-up
Finally, in addition to reviewing each patient’s nutrition plan at every visit be sure to track your sales of supplements, just as you would glasses and contacts. Remember, tracking helps analyze and improve performance.
We encourage you to take the leap and start integrating this plan into your practice so that both your patients and your practice can reap the benefits that nutrition education has to offer. It’s time to inspire your patients to make better everyday choices that will lead them to a lifetime of healthier eyes.
Photo: Copyright: ariwasabi / 123RF Stock Photo
Drs. Capogna and Pelletier are the authors of the books Eyefoods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes and Eyefoods for Kids: A Tasty Guide to Nutrition and Eye Health. Both books provide a clear plan for patients and are designed to help the eye care professional incorporate nutrition into their practice. To learn more about Eyefoods please visit www.eyefoods.com.