Have you made the transition to digital slit lamps yet?

16th December 2021

Technology in the eye care industry is ever-evolving and there have been significant advances in recent years that can help deliver greater patient care. A prominent example of this is developments in photo documentation in the form of digital slit lamps. However, there isn’t widespread use of such technology throughout the industry.

There’s no denying the fact that introducing digital slit lamps to the clinic represents a significant investment. They are typically priced at $10,000-$20,000, with high-end models going for notably higher than that. As a result, many won’t initially see them as a cost-effective purchase, despite the benefits they bring for patient education and management.

Photo documentation is incredibly beneficial for engaging patients when it comes to their eye care. It provides a visual representation of the issues they’re experiencing, helping to educate the patient as to why the relevant treatment is required. In this instance, it is much more engaging for the patient to see their own eye as opposed to example images or diagrams. Given the lack of adoption of digital slit lamps generally across mainstream opticians particularly, many patients will likely have never seen such images of their eyes before and will therefore be enticed into your service offering.

Without photo documentation, ECPs are purely reliant on previous reports when assessing the patient’s condition in the clinic. It can be hard to describe everything in appropriate detail and for this to be interpreted correctly 12 months down the line, especially given there’s no guarantee the patient will be seen by the same optometrist.

The ability to show patients imagery of their eyes at consecutive appointments also demonstrates the impact of following their treatment programme or not. Being able to show your patients how their treatment is alleviating their condition, or how their eye issues are persisting or worsening by not following their prescribed plan, they are more likely to properly carry out their treatment. As a result, their condition will improve as will their satisfaction as a patient, making them more likely to remain with your practice and give positive referrals. Whether they require something as simple as eye drops or in-office treatments priced and hundreds of dollars, this presents an opportunity to generate a significant additional revenue stream.

What if I’m still not ready for a digital slit lamp?

Despite the benefits, many will still be hesitant at the prospect of parting with the funds required for a digital slit lamp. If this is you, then a slit lamp adapter is an effective interim solution. These are a fraction of the price of digital slit lamps themselves, with quality adapters costing a few hundred dollars (you can pick them up on Amazon for as cheap as $20, but we’d highly recommend you avoid those).

These adapters attach to the slit lamp’s eyepiece to allow ECPs to take images using their smartphone. They can be adjusted to fit a variety of makes and models and with the camera open on your phone, you can adjust further to create a clear image.

With AOS v3.1, patients can be comfortable with their privacy given the software is fully compliant with data protection regulations. This is because any images taken of the patient are stored on the cloud, rather than on the phone itself.

Whether you opt for an adapter or want to go all out for the full hardware, being able to provide photo documentation will add significant value to your patients and give your clinic a competitive edge.