Can you tell me a little about your background and how the business began?
“I grew up in Warrenton, and returned to the area after graduating form Pacific University in 1992. In 1999, I started Coastal Eye Care in Long Beach. We started with a one doctor and one location practice. We have been blessed with support form the community over the years and have expanded our service area. This partnership with Dr. Karren and Dr. Madsen allows us to further expand our service offerings, allowing us to serve more patients.”
Who are the optometrists on staff?
“We have three optometrists: Dr. Katie Powers, Dr. Bruce Stebel, and myself.”
What are the new services that will be offered?
“Dr. Karren and Dr. Madsen will be performing cataract surgery, Medical management and laser treatment of glaucoma, eyelid surgery, medical management and laser treatment of diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration.”
What prompted the new services to be offered?
“Previously there had been a large void in the treatment of wet, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. I believe the future of eye care, as well as the future of health care in general, is integrated care. I have been working for several years to incorporate ophthalmology into our practice. Through this partnership with Dr. Karren and Dr. Madsen, Coastal Eye Care is able to truly provide seamless eye care, and provide services that previously were not available.”
Want will the impact be for locals?
“We are now expanding access to local ophthalmologic care and we are offering some services that have never been available in the county. They will be performing surgery at Seaside Providence Hospital. Patients will not have to travel into Portland to receive treatment and care. One service we are particularly excited to be offering is intravitreal injections. This places medication directly into the eye for the treatment of wet, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic macular edema and macular edema following retinal vein occlusions. This treatment was first made available in 2006 for the treatment of wet macular degeneration. It completely revolutionized the treatment of wet macular generation. Prior to the intravitreal injections, the vast majority of people with wet macular degeneration suffered devastating vision loss. The new drugs do not cure the disease, but stabilize and prevent progression, saving a person’s eyesight. In order to be effective, the medication must be used over an extended period of time, many patients receive an injection every 4 to 6 weeks and the treatment often lasts for years. Previously, these patients had to travel to Portland to receive the injections. As you can imagine, this creates a significant to burden, having to travel to Portland every 4 to 6 weeks. Often during the winter, people have to cancel their appointments due to inclement weather thus delaying their treatment. The injections cause temporary blurring of the vision and most people require a driver to transport them. Unfortunately, over the years I have seen patients suffer unnecessary vision loss because they were unable for one reason or another to make the frequent trips into Portland.”
What are some things people can do to maintain the health of their eyes?
“Things that promote good general health are good for the health of your eyes, such as maintaining good control of your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and protecting your eyes from ultraviolet radiation. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants containing fruits and vegetables. Of course wearing safety glasses during any potentially hazardous activity is important too. One of the most important things to do is maintaining routine eye exams.”
Are there misconceptions you regularly encounter regarding eye care?
“I think the biggest misconception is believing that just because your vision is clear and you’re not experiencing any discomfort, that your eyes are healthy. Unfortunately there are multiple conditions that have no outward signs or symptoms. With ocular disease, as with any disease, the sooner it is detective and treated the better the prognosis or outcome. We tend to take our eyesight for granted. It is one of our most precious senses. Unfortunately in many cases by the time a person is aware they’re having a problem it is difficult or sometimes impossible to regain any lost vision.”
How has the business changed or evolved over the years?
“Technology has dramatically changed the way we practice. It has affected every aspect of our practice from the way we store information in our electronic medical records to the advanced retinal imaging available. We are much better able to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. It’s not just disease detection and treatment either; our ability to help people see with (and even without) glasses and contacts has greatly improved. Refractive surgeries, like, Lasik allow people to see without their glasses. There have been dramatic advancement in contact lenses; they are more comfortable and are able to correct a larger variety of conditions. We even have bifocal contacts that decrease or eliminate the need for reading glasses. Lens technology for glasses has also greatly improved with introduction of high-tech digital lenses which we offer in our practices.”
What do you feel is the future of the industry?
“I believe the future of health care in general is headed towards a more integrated model. I think when we all concentrate on our areas of expertise and work together, everyone benefits and patient care is maximized. Technology will continue to drive change, but we can’t lose sight of the personal interaction between the doctor and the patient. Changes in health care reimbursement and policies have forced all practitioners to have to see more patients in the same amount of time. The administrative burden has also increased over the last few years, forcing doctors to spend more time on indirect patient care. We have to be careful not to let the patient get lost in this rapidly changing health care system. Everyone at Coastal Eye Care is committed to listening and really getting to know our patients on a personal level. All health care needs to be a partnership between the practitioner and patient.”