Every clinical decision made at Vision Optique in Houston, Texas, is built on evidence-based guidance, says co-owner Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD, FAAO, FBCLA, FEAOO, Diplomate ABO. “We have been prescribing nutraceutical supplementation for much of the past decade, recommending products that have been supported by research, science and performance.”
Dr. Shen Lee says she dove deeply into the science behind supplements in 2015 when she was invited to join a medical advisory board for a supplement company. “I spent a lot of time studying published research on nutritional supplements for retinal health and macular degeneration. It was a turning point for me,” she says.
Around that time, she met Prof. John Nolan, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, who lectures on the protective qualities of macular pigments (lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin) on the retina. “I still remember learning that a person would have to eat nine cups of organic kale per day to get enough necessary carotenoids for eyes,” she says. After studying much of the evidence-based research on nutritional supplements for long-term macula health protection, she began recommending supplements containing all three macular carotenoids–lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin–in the same 10:10:2 ratio that makes up the macular pigment.
In the past few years, the doctors at Vision Optique have been prescribing nutritional supplements from MacuHealth. MacuHealth has continued to evolve its product line when the science identifies best practices for ocular health. In mid-2021, the company launched TG Omega 3, currently the highest purity omega-3 supplement that follows the TFOS DEWS II recommendation of 2,200 mg of EPA and DHA combined per serving.
In April 2022, MacuHealth launched another new product, VitreousHealth, to help patients who suffer from floaters. “VitreousHealth is the first scientifically proven formula to reduce the severity of floaters,” she says. “It’s based on a double-blind, placebo-controlled Floater Intervention Study.”
Dr. Shen Lee serves as a key opinion leader for MacuHealth, but she would not have taken on that role if she did not “firmly believe in their products and what they continue to develop,” she says.
In her office, Dr. Shen Lee reviews patients’ retinal exam findings and recommends MacuHealth Triple Carotenoid Formula for patients who would benefit from it. “It is important to us to have a retina nutritional supplement that has all three carotenoids,” she says. For patients with diagnosed age-related macular degeneration (AMD), she prescribes MacuHealth Plus+. MacuHeath Plus+ is an AREDS2 Formulation fortified with 10mg of meso-zeaxanthin and a reduced level of zinc for patient safety.
For dry eye patients, she prescribes the TG Omega-3, which has the highest triglyceride form of omega-3s. It offers a pure and potent formula at 90 percent concentration with 2,200 mg of EPA and DHA combined per serving.
For patients with diagnosed cardiovascular and neurological disease and early macular changes, she prescribes both MacuHealth Triple Carotenoid Formula and TG Omega 3 for the best long-term retinal health protection and disease progression prevention. Both products are recommended to healthy patients who are interested in optimal eye health protection and visual performance.
At Vision Optique, the staff captures both meibomian glands and retina images on patients before they see the doctors for their comprehensive eye exams. “I have a scribe in the exam room to record all the clinical findings and recommendations. During the slip lamp exam, I review the patient’s intraocular pressure, lids/lashes, ocular surface and anterior segment exam findings. Then I review the patient’s retina and meibomian gland images. Treatment plans and prescribed products are reviewed with every patient at the end,” Dr. Shen Lee says.
She reviews with each patient what she sees on the retina image, paying particular attention to both macula and blood vessels. For patients with a family history of macular degeneration and/or early clinical signs, she asks what eye vitamins they are taking and if they are aware of the importance of all three carotenoids.
For patients who are already taking eye supplements, she gives them the MacuHealth brochures with the key ingredients and benefits highlighted. Patients are asked to finish their current supply and then switch to a MacuHealth family product. Many will choose to buy their first supply from Vision Optique on that day.
She will prescribe the specific product based on the patient’s health history and clinical findings for patients who are not taking any supplements and who are interested in starting.
With those who have family members diagnosed with AMD, she reviews the benefits of the MacuHealth Plus+ formula and highlights the ingredients section on the brochures. She teaches patients how to compare what their family members are currently taking and asks them to discuss recommendations with the family member’s eye doctor.
Vision Optique stocks all the prescribed products for both in-store and online-store retailing. For patients who are interested in buying the recommended products from big online retailers, she educates patients on the following benefits of buying here.
- Vision Optique’s pricing is identical to an online retailer.
- The products are authentic.
- Patients can use certain health savings account cards.
- Patients can repurchase from Vision Optique’s online store.
- And they are supporting their beloved local small business owner.
Her competitive pricing and top-notch customer service help patients make decisions to purchase from Vision Optique.
“There is no downside to talking about ocular nutrition, and we should educate our patients,” she says. At a minimum, patients learn what’s best for their long-term eye health protection. “With increased interest in wellness and prevention, more patients than ever want a lifetime of healthy eyes and optimal vision. Well-educated patients are the most loyal patients.”