New Orleans – LSU Healthcare Network achieved an adaptive medical first in New Orleans this week by providing drive-through eye pressure checks.
Patients, by appointment only, drive to the back of the LSU Healthcare Network clinic at 3700 St. Charles Avenue where they are met by techs in full personal protection equipment (PPE.)
After verifying patient information, the techs conduct the eye pressure checks, and the patients are on their way in minutes. LSU Healthcare Network is the first in the area to provide the service.
“It’s a way to check eye pressure without increasing COVID-19 risk spread,” notes Lena Al-Dujaili, MD, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and a glaucoma specialist at LSU Healthcare Network. “It’s mostly for glaucoma patients but is available to any patient who needs eye pressure checked during this time.”
Regular eye pressure checks are crucial for managing glaucoma. The instrument used at the Healthcare Network is called a tonopen, which lightly touches the eye after the patient is given a numbing drop, to give an intraocular pressure reading.
High pressure is a hallmark of glaucoma, which untreated, can lead to damage in the optic nerve that may eventually result in blindness. Not only are the tests used to aid in the diagnosis of glaucoma, but also to determine how well treatments are working.
“COVID-19 times call for unique ways to check eye pressure in glaucoma patients,” says Dr. Al-Dujaili. “It’s a good alternative to having an in-office visit.”
The drive-through eye pressure checks are followed up either by a telehealth visit with their LSU Healthcare Network physicians or a telephone call, depending upon the patients’ digital technology capabilities.
“We continue working to overcome the challenges to delivering patient care in the COVID-19 pandemic,” adds Jayne S. Weiss, MD, Chief Medical Officer at LSU Healthcare Network and Chair of Ophthalmology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine. “We are committed to the health and well-being of our patients and are striving to innovate creative solutions to meet their needs.”