We have all heard the saying “If people never got sick, there would be no need for doctors.” However, this is simply not true. As doctors, we have sworn to improve those who have pathology, however one of our most important jobs is disease prevention. Although it took many years to accomplish, we need only look to our dental colleagues as models for preventive care and development of good habits. This emphasis does not eliminate the need for dentists, but it does help reduce the number of dental procedures. Eye care is slowly moving in this direction, but still has a ways to go to operate from a truly preventive standpoint.
Dentistry advocates see patients twice a year and promote routine cleaning and polishing of teeth. Contrast this with our own profession, where routine check-ups are typically done every one to two years, and the importance of lid and lash cleanliness and good ocular hygiene is oftentimes not routinely mentioned. As doctors, there are many things we can do early – really at every stage of patient care – to guide patients towards improved ocular health. As a start, we can help patients understand the importance of ocular hygiene, its implications on long-term ocular health, and the development of good hygienic habits.
By being more proactive about preventive care, including looking at chronic, progressive diseases like blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction differently; we can help keep our patients’ ocular surface functioning at a higher level throughout their lives. Following are five ways we can be more proactive: