Welcome! My guest today is Dr. Steven Loomis, who is an optometrist in Colorado. He has been a member of the American Optometric Association Board of Trustees since 2007 and is the newly elected president of the AOA since 2015. He has served on numerous other professional boards and received many awards.
During this Medicare enrollment season, there are many questions about eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dental care, which are not part of regular Medicare benefits. You may be wondering what to do. Dr. Loomis is here to answer some relevant questions:
- How did you decide to become an optometrist? “I had decided to be a pediatrician when I realized I might not want to be with children ALL DAY LONG. A friend suggested optometry, so I considered it.” Dr. Loomis has found the perfect niche over the past 30 years, and he is confident that he made the right decision.
- Can you clarify the difference between optometrist and ophthalmologist? An optometrist treats most eye diseases and injuries to the eye, along with providing exams for glasses and contacts. Optometrists provide 70% of primary eye care to patients. An ophthalmologist is an eye surgeon who works closely with an optometrist to treat patients. They even sub-specialize in specific eye care fields.
- Are most optometrists Medicare providers? Yes, all that I know of are. We have been full Medicare participants since 1986.
- What will Medicare cover for vision care? Medicare will cover any eye disease or injury, inflammation, glaucoma, but does not cover routine well vision exams. Those diagnosed eye diseases have their regular exams covered to monitor their problems. Medicare Advantage Plans DO cover preventative eye care services, but you MUST know and understand your plan.
- Can you explain diabetic retinopathy? The retina is sensory tissue in the back of your eye that transmits pictures to the brain. Diabetes attacks the tiny blood vessels in the eye, but a special photo must be taken to view the vessels. Diabetics and pre-diabetics must have yearly exams to monitor the condition.
- Why should a Medicare Nation listener get an annual eye exam if they aren’t having a problem? The two leading causes of blindness are diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition in which pressure inside the eye damages nerve fibers. Macular degeneration is another eye disease. These eye diseases are asymptomatic, which means that they can exist without initial symptoms until vision is severely affected.
- How would a senior make the most of their Medicare dollars? They must understand their plan; participants in Parts A & B are eligible, but the amounts vary from state to state. Usually, patients have to pay about 20% of approved amounts. If they have met their deductibles, then now is a good time to get it done. For example, the Part B deductible is only $147, so must people have already met that by the time the 4th quarter rolls around.
- How else can uncorrected eye problems or undiagnosed eye problems affect seniors’ quality of life? Most seniors want to maintain their vision for reading, watching TV, and other daily activities. Also, falls are a big problem that can devastate a senior, and a significant number of falls occur because of poor vision.
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