The first Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was presented in 2001 to the retina community at the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The well discussed and debated AREDS study was conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI). The ongoing discussion is whether or not patients should take a multivitamin when there are early signs of wet or dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
RetinaLink contacted Dr. Gaurav K. Shah at The Retina Institute in St. Louis, MO to inquire about how he educates his patients on vitamins during their retina exam in his office.
RetinaLink (RL): Please explain the ongoing controversy with vitamin supplements for eye related disease and outline your conversation with your patients.
Gaurav K. Shah (GKS): The controversy surrounding genetics and vitamin supplements continues to be discussed at meetings. My associates and I rely on the NEI studies as our guideline on vitamin supplements. The NEI AREDS studies are time tested and there are other studies that have different conclusions. Currently, I am making my decision on the AREDS study and the recommendations of the AAO. Now as more data is analyzed, that might change, and we may do something totally different. In my opinion, that’s the best information we have in the retina community and I make my recommendations based on the NEI’s data. The data is the data.
There is a healthcare delivery obligation to have a conversation with your patients about macular degeneration, the benefits of an AREDS supplement, the reason to stop smoking, and the importance of leafy green vegetables. The information you provide should be in context. All patients in your waiting area have a smartphone and can google WebMD to find out more about vitamin supplements and AMD. On average, I spend 1 to 2 minutes outlining supplements, provide a brochure and let the patient know they have options.
RL: Why do you recommend vitamins to your patients with AMD?
GKS: Patients want to do “something”, so they get some health benefit. Patients in their 50’s and 60’s are healthcare addicts. I can select patients that will benefit from AREDS2 supplements. The reality is patients with macular scars don’t need supplements; however, a patient with large soft drusen and pigmentary changes should take an AREDS formulated supplement.
Patients want empowerment regarding their health. The conversation I have with my patients is simple yet, informative. Take an AREDS formulation and stop smoking. They can choose to go to Walgreens, Costco or Wal-Mart an select their vitamins off the shelf or they can take a Focus® Select sample available in my office (chewable or non-chewable) and determine if they like the vitamin pill size and taste. We’ve broken down the daily cost for AREDS2 supplements and its approximately $ 15 to $ 20 per month which equals 3 to 4 cups of coffee. That’s a good return on investment for your eye health.
RL: Please outline why your practice prefers Focus Select’s Concierge services.
GKS: We have Focus Vision Supplements in our practice for our patients’ convenience. The Focus Select AREDS2 formulation was developed by retina specialists for retina specialists. My patients can receive their vitamins each month through the auto-ship program which offers convenience and they are always available versus running out.
RL: Why is Focus Select’s program easy for your patients?
GKS: While counseling my patient, I highlight the patient benefits of taking an AREDS2 supplement. As the patient checks out, my front office staff advises the patient that they have three options.
- Get your vitamins from a local retailer.
- Our Retina Institute staff can assist with auto ship registration on Focus Vision Supplement website https://focusvitamins.com to ensure they add the credit card number and patient information correctly since the Internet can be overwhelming.
- Our staff assists the patient to navigate the Focus Vision Supplement website https://focusvitamins.com to type in their information and credit card number.
An important note about Focus Vision Supplement products and the proceeds from these sales. The Retina Institute invests all proceeds in retina education.
I continue to be an advocate for Focus Select because it is seamless for my patients; samples, auto ship and AREDS2 formulation developed by retina specialists for retina specialists. We can make a dent on AMD and give the patient something they can do for themselves. At the end of the day, it’s all about empowerment. To learn more about why Dr. Shah prefers Focus Vision Supplements, products and customized programs, e-mail Mike Harrington at [email protected] or for general inquiries, e-mail – [email protected] .