As an eye care provider, you are very knowledgeable about diseases, diagnoses, and treatments. Your patients, however, may never have even heard of the names of eye diseases before. To patients, the names may sound quite scary. Vision literacy allows your patients to stay informed and ensure they fully understand their options. Keep in mind the following tips for providing your patients with vision literacy.
Anticipate Their Questions
When explaining the diagnosis to the patient, you should try to anticipate some of the questions they may have before they even ask. Provide the details in your explanation. Consider providing the patient with a handout that answers these 'frequently asked questions' to bring home. It is likely they will have loved ones that want an explanation as well, or they may forget the answers and want to refresh their memory.
Keep it Simple
It can be easy to fall into the habit of using medical terms when discussing a disease with a patient. Keep in mind that the patient doesn't likely have a medical background. Therefore, keep the words you use simple so they can understand what you are saying. Include the use of diagrams to help explain the disease and how it impacts vision. This will help the patient gain a complete understanding of what is going on. Diagrams can reduce confusion and even anxiety about what the diagnosis means.
Avoid Overwhelming Them
It is important to find the right balance between providing too little information and providing too much information. You don't want the patient to be overwhelmed. If you are diagnosing them with macular degeneration that has been detected early, don't provide details about treatments for advanced macular degeneration unless they specifically ask questions. With this, a patient hearing the name of an eye disease for the first time may get confused if other diseases are mentioned in the same conversation. They may go home and wonder what they were diagnosed with. Therefore, it is best to just mention the primary or prominent diagnosis so as not to cause additional overwhelm.
Offer them Suggestions for Further Research
Some patients will want to learn more than you can possibly tell them during their visit. Some won't ask any questions during the visit but will have 10 questions by the time they get home. Coupled with the information you give them; they may do their own research on the web. The internet can provide incorrect information, consider giving patients a list of reliable resources they can study if they want to learn more.
Following the above tips when talking to a patient about a diagnosis will help provide them with a clear understanding of what they are facing. By providing them with vision literacy they will leave your office more informed and feeling at ease.