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Image courtesy of UBMD Physicians' Group
Image courtesy of UBMD Physicians' Group

Drive-thru glaucoma pressure screenings for at-risk patients

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Wed, May 13th 2020 12:00 pm

During the COVID-19 pandemic, drive-thrus are common for COVID-19 testing – and now for eye-pressure tests, as well. UBMD Ophthalmology at the Ross Eye Institute is offering glaucoma patients an alternative to in-office visits for their care with drive-up eye pressure testing.

At the Orchard Park office, ophthalmologist Sandra Sieminski, M.D., a glaucoma specialist, has transformed the breezeway into a drive-thru testing clinic for glaucoma patients.

“With glaucoma, a big component of the care and management of the disease is checking and monitoring the patient’s eye pressure,” said Sieminski, director of glaucoma services for UBMD Ophthalmology. “Are the eye drops working? Do they need a change in medication or is their condition remaining stable?”

Glaucoma is a disease that, if left untreated, can cause blindness.

“This pandemic has added an additional layer of stress to our glaucoma patients who are already trying to manage a potentially stressful chronic disease,” said Sieminski, director and assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. “We wanted to provide safe ways for them to receive their follow-up care to help avoid them falling through the cracks and risking vision loss.”

Gowned in personal protective equipment, the team administers an eye pressure test while patients remain in their vehicle. The test uses a disposable tip and measures the pressure of the patient’s eye. With a slit lamp (a microscope that shines high-intensity light), Sieminski also examines the patient’s eye, charting any concerns or changes. During the visit, the team reviews the patient’s medications, adjusts them as needed, and determines the patient’s next appointment.

“We schedule these clinics in the afternoon, so that it’s hopefully warmer out for our patients, and is after our emergency clinic hours,” Sieminski said. “We’ve remained open for our patients this entire time for urgent and emergent visits. By having the clinics not overlap, we further reduce potential interactions our patients could have with others.”

If during a drive-thru visit, it’s determined the patient needs additional care, they are able to take the patient directly into an exam room for treatment.

“Through this new way of testing, we’re able to uphold our commitment to our patients, while providing safe, convenient ways for them to receive care with the least possible interactions with providers, staff or other patients,” said James D. Reynolds, M.D., president of UBMD Ophthalmology at the Ross Eye Institute and Jerald and Ester Bovino professor and chair of the department of ophthalmology at the Jacobs School. “Just like in-person or telemedicine visits, these appointments are scheduled, so patients don’t have to worry if they’ll be seen or not. They can ask questions about their care, bring up any new concerns, and know they’ll all be taken care of directly by their physician and care team.”

The drive-up testing clinic is available to existing UBMD Ophthalmology/Ross Eye patients, with Sieminski scheduling two each month. All UBMD ophthalmologists also offer telemedicine visits for concerns, such as new styes, red eye, and contact lens concerns. For more information, visit rosseye.com.

UBMD Ophthalmology is only university-affiliated vision care practice in the region, providing care for Western New Yorkers with the latest technologies and approaches available, and teaching and training students and residents at the University at Buffalo.

UBMD Ophthalmology is a member of UBMD Physicians’ Group, the largest medical group in Western New York with more than 550 physicians in 18 medical practices. UBMD treats patients, conducts research on top medical needs, provides research-guided care and teaches the next generation of doctors. UBMD Physicians’ Group is the clinical practice plan of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.

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