November 1, 2022
By Robert Goerss, OD, and Jacqueline Ladd, OD
One of the most significant things we learned from Treehouse Eyes was how to communicate with parents. Getting the important message across to parents in a way that makes them understand the urgency of the situation has been huge, and we wouldn’t have had that without Treehouse Eyes.
When Dr. Ladd joined our practice in 2013, myopia management was on the cusp of accelerating, but it still sparked an interest in us. Knowing we could prescribe contact lenses, even off-label at that time, to reduce progression in myopic kids was really exciting. We first started implementing myopia management in our practice by dabbling with orthokeratology and soft multifocal contact lenses. However, rather than presenting myopia management options for all myopic children, as we readily do now, we used to only prescribe these treatments when parents actively expressed concern about their child’s progressing myopia or if we saw a particularly quick-progressing myope. That approach, while still unfortunately widely used by other practices, wasn’t in our patients’ best interests.
When Treehouse Eyes opened up the St. Louis area for expansion and we were first approached to partner with them, it was exciting and we had some questions. At that point, our practice had already experienced how efficacious myopia management treatments can be, even with off-label use of orthokeratology and soft multifocal contact lenses. However, we didn’t have a consistent and proven clinical process or protocol for marketing myopia management. Our doctors understood the importance of myopia management, but like all things, nothing can truly take off unless you have the support of your entire office team. Once we got on board with Treehouse Eyes and saw the support they’d provide not only for doctors but also for our staff, there were no more questions. Their proven system of working with practices on the entire myopia management process — clinical and practice management — proved to be exactly what we needed.
Six months ago, we built out our exam room featuring the very unique and memorable Treehouse Eyes branding, and we’re excited by all the new products, services, and marketing they continue to offer us. Our work with Treehouse Eyes has allowed us access to new myopia-related products before they’re widely available elsewhere. We’ve always liked the philosophy of being early adopters in our practice, and having these opportunities gives us credibility with new and established patients. The Treehouse Eyes system is well thought out, well organized, and easy to implement among our team. Treehouse Eyes has been instrumental in organizing everything, keeping everyone on the same page, and engaging our employees. We’ve embraced change quickly and avoided the common challenges that come with bringing something new to a practice. Perhaps most importantly, more kids are getting the important, high-quality myopia care they deserve. Our doctors and staff are enjoying the process as well as the economic benefits.
Dr. Goerss and Dr. Ladd have updated their practice to reflect their relationship with Treehouse Eyes.
Better Communication with Parents
One of the most significant things we learned from Treehouse Eyes was how to communicate with parents. Getting the important message across to parents in a way that makes them understand the urgency of the situation has been huge, and we wouldn’t have had that without Treehouse Eyes. Their training in this important area is based on their extensive consumer/parent research, and it is distilled down to language, documents, and educational and marketing materials that are easy for us to implement.
Working with Treehouse Eyes taught us how to easily and seamlessly incorporate a discussion about axial length with parents. With both compelling visuals and language — and never scare tactics — we help parents understand the risk of future retinal pathology so they’re more likely to get their kids treated. It was definitely a paradigm shift for us. Optometrists have been doing the same thing for years, just correcting symptoms of blurry vision by prescribing glasses. That paradigm is normal for patients — and their parents. People don’t realize myopia is a preventable disease, resulting from the eye elongating too much. That elongation can have more ominous retinal consequences if we let it go unchecked for too long. Explaining it to parents in a supportive, non-threatening manner is now the norm in our practice.
The Treehouse Eyes App Helps Parents Visualize Myopia Progression
Treehouse Eyes has also provided us with numerous resources to use with parents in the exam room. We utilize the MY-TDA app, which allows us to input the child’s age, ethnicity, current refraction, and axial length. From there, it shows an interactive projection of what the child’s future myopia could look like if we were to use traditional single-vision glasses or a myopia treatment. Then, it shows how we could reduce progression based on the most current literature using available myopia management treatments. It also creates a trajectory that looks at the axial length regarding retinal risk. That’s been a great visual for parents to see their child’s data plotted on the graph with low, medium, and high risk for problems in the future. That has been really helpful for driving home the point with parents and helping them understand the whole picture.
Getting the Word Out to More Practitioners
With myopia management, we feel the sky’s the limit right now. We’re in an epidemic of myopic children, and it doesn’t seem that the world really understands how crucial and critical it is to try to get ahead of it. The biggest hurdle right now is awareness. That’s another reason we feel fortunate to work with Treehouse Eyes, because they’ve pushed us to do our part to get the word out about myopia. With their media connections, assistance, and coaching, we’ve done interviews on local news channels to spread the word about myopia, and it’s given us the confidence to conduct continuing education events for local doctors. (Dr. Ladd was featured on FOX 2 News and KMOV Great Day St. Louis.) Treehouse Eyes also continues to invest nationally in its entire network of practices, with each investment helping not only the local practice but the entire growing team of like-minded practitioners.
The more the right message spreads, and the more quality information patients hear, the more the proper message will proliferate. Treehouse Eyes is driving home that message.
Moving forward, we hope to see more optometrists move from just dabbling in myopia management to proactively prescribing treatment options to all myopic children.
|Dr. Robert Goerss graduated from the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry in 2001. He became a partner at Tomasino Goerss Vision Source in January 2009 and became sole owner in July of 2020. He completed externships at both the John Cochran and Jefferson Barracks VA hospitals in St. Louis, assisting with the eye care needs of the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Blues and developing skills in fitting specialty contact lenses. He is a Past-President of the St. Louis Optometric Society and is an active member of the Missouri Optometric Association, while also serving as a Trustee of the American Optometric Association. Dr. Goerss has presented the latest pharmaceutical and ophthalmic technology on behalf of Alcon and Johnson and Johnson. He was given the 2004 Young Optometrist Of The Year Award by the Missouri Optometric Association and the Optometrist of the Year Award by the St. Louis Optometric Society in 2011.|
|Dr. Jacqueline Ladd is an O’Fallon resident who graduated with honors as class salutatorian from the University of Missouri St. Louis College of Optometry in 2013. She completed clinical rotations at the Kansas City VA hospital, Chickasaw Nation Indian Health Service hospital, and Galanis Cataract and Laser Eye Center. These clinical rotations provided her with extensive training in the management of diabetic eye disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Dr. Ladd was the recipient of the UMSL faculty award for clinical skills in the area of contact lenses, she received the Vision Service Plan Scholarship for Academic Excellence, and she was chosen as the sole member of her class to earn the Missouri Optometric Association’s Clinical Optometry Award. Dr. Ladd also enjoys teaching and mentoring optometry students that rotate through the office as part of their clinical externships. She has lectured locally and nationally on the subject of myopia management for children and has been featured on KMOV’s Great Day St. Louis and FOX2 News.|