What Can You Do?
Contact lenses contribute to ocular
dryness by acting as a moisture sink, decreasing corneal sensation and disrupting
the mucin layer of the tear film. This is especially important to consider because
research has often cited that discomfort due to dryness is the number-one reason
why patients drop out of contact lens wear.
Keep in mind that instead of complaining
to you about discomfort, many of these patients gradually drop out of contact lenses
and drop out of your practice.
What can you do
to stop these patients from dropping out? First, start with a rehabilitated eye.
Whether you prescribe artificial tears, punctal plugs or mild steroids,
always underscore the fact that dry eye can develop into a serious medical condition,
so every patient should always return for proper follow up.
Follow the medical
model for dealing with dry eyes. This includes proper documentation of the patient's
condition and proper follow-up care.
also should recommend refitting the patient into Proclear contact lenses.
Following the Protocol
When performing a complete eye exam
on a patient complaining of dry eye symptoms, document the patient's complaints
and perform appropriate diagnostic tests such as tear break-up time (TBUT),
phenol red, rose bengal or lissamine green testing. Code for the initial comprehensive
eye examination, new (92004) or established (92014). Then, code follow-up visits
with the appropriately documented and justified evaluation and management code.
Most often this would be an established level 3 (99213).
Provide the patient
with a sample of a low-viscosity artificial tear to determine its effectiveness.
Lubricating eye drops and artificial tears are appropriate for patients who have
mild dryness complaints. Bill this component of the examination to the patient's
your patient wears contact lenses, ask him specifically if he experiences any discomfort
and ask about average wear time. The reality is that nearly all patients want to
wear their contact lenses all day. If they're not, make sure you find out why.
the patient complains about decreased wear time, then fit him in Proclear Compatibles.
While I prefer Proclear, others mention changing solutions or switching to silicone
hydrogels, daily disposables and Extreme H2O lenses (Hydrogel Vision
Corp.). In addition to the comprehensive eye exam (which you bill to the patient's
medical insurance), you can charge a separate lens refitting fee, which the patient
will either pay out of pocket or bill to a vision plan.
you do next is the key: Have the patient return for a dry eye follow-up visit in
one to two weeks. Tell the patient that artificial tears are only one way to treat dry eye and that
further evaluation will reveal their effectiveness. If they don't work, there are
other options that you can utilize to help resolve the problem.
Dry Eye Follow-Up
If your patient received adequate
relief from the artificial tears, then bill the appropriately documented and justified
evaluation and management code (992XX). Reinforce at this visit that Proclear Compatibles
are the best lens on the market for ocular dryness.
If your patient
still complains of dry eye symptoms, consider switching to high-viscosity drops
and/or lubricating ointments. These supplements last longer, but may periodically
blur patients' vision, which is why qhs dosing is usually the best option. Alternatively,
you may discuss the need for punctal plugs. If you change the patient's medical
regimen, then see him again for a follow-up visit in one to two weeks to check for
you do insert punctal plugs, use 68761-E2 for the right lower punctum and 68761-E4
for the left lower punctum.
the patient keep track of symptoms and return for a follow-up exam in roughly two
weeks. Many may no longer need lubricating drops while others will notice a decreased
dependency on them. Once again, bill both the office visit and punctal plugs to
the patient's medical insurance.
Dry Eye Documentation
As primary eyecare providers, most
of us are comfortable managing patients who have dry eyes. This, however, adds the
burden of properly coding and getting reimbursed for these patients. This is especially
true because revenue from the materials part of contact lens fitting has decreased
significantly over the past several years. More of us are losing lens prescriptions
to outside sources or we have to lower our prices to compete. However, when it comes
to dry eyes, using Proclear Compatibles as a therapeutic lens can help offset some
or all of the lost revenue.
The key here is
to be consistent and to provide adequate documentation. In general, proper reimbursement
for testing done on dry eye patients depends on the following four factors:
Proper coverage for the service
Proper justification for the service
Proper documentation of the service
Proper coding on the claim form (CPT and ICD-9)
Benefits for All
If you document everything you'll get reimbursed
accordingly. By following a protocol to treat your contact lens patients'
dry eye, both your patients and your practice will benefit.
Dr. Gupta practices full scope optometry
and is a clinical director of The Center for Keratoconus at Stamford Ophthalmology.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: July 2005