I’m a big fan of referral letters. I write letters to other doctors all the time as a service to my patients who have systemic disease which may manifest in their eyes. I think it’s a good way to keep other healthcare providers in the loop. I always appreciate reading a progress letter about a referred patient that lets me know how they’re doing.
And then I thought to myself, what if a patient were to write me a letter. What would it look like? In that line of thinking, I figured I’d go ahead and whip up a template for all future patients. I’ve left some fields alterable so you can fill in the blanks as necessary. Think of it as a healthcare Mad Lib. Your eye doctor (whether it’s me or not) will (possibly) thank you.
Dear Dr. [optometrist’s surname],
I am concerned that I might have [astigmatism, the glaucoma, hypochondria]. I’ve also been told that I have [migraines, cataracts, carpal tunnel]. During my eye exam today, I would appreciate it if you would address all of these problems including the ones that I will tell you about when the exam is over.
I would also like to renew my contact lenses. I’m not sure what I’ve been wearing, but I mean who really knows what they put in their eyes, right? My contacts are supposed to be replaced every [two weeks, month, Olympics], but I’m pretty bad about sticking to a schedule. I was also wondering about contact lens solutions; I generally use [Opti-Free, something generic, breast milk], is that okay?
Oh, are you going to dilate my pupils today? The last time I had that done it made me [nauseous, dizzy, dance on the ceiling]. If we could skip that today I’d really appreciate it; I have to [drive, go to work, make a list of excuses to not be dilated], and having my pupils dilated would really make that difficult. I mean, I’ve heard that the side effects of those dilating drops can include [light sensitivity, impaired near vision, erectile dysfunction] and I really don’t need that right now.
In the event that my glasses don’t work, I hope you have a [return policy, cash-back guarantee, forgiving temperament]. That whole test with the “which is better, one or two” stuff was really tough and I hope you knew what you were doing because my eyes can be really [dry, sensitive, indecisive]. Also, can you show me ‘number 2’ again? I think you tricked me the first time and that’s the one I’d actually like in my [glasses, contacts, actually nevermind I’d like ‘number 1’].
Anyway, thanks for your time and for helping me to see better. Oh by the way, I think I forgot to mention that I have [diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, leprosy], but I figured that since you’re only an eye doctor you wouldn’t need to know that. Thanks again and see you in a year!
Hopefully that didn’t seem too snarky. Basically all you have to do is print this out and circle the pertinent answers; then when you go to your next eye examination just hand it to your optometrist. Trust me, it’ll save some time and result in a more accurate prescription.
For my optometrist subscribers, I’ll post the appropriate response letter in the weeks to come. Expect equilateral snark.