For thousands of elderly Nebraskans who live in rural areas, it’s no easy trip to see the eye doctor. Many have found access through mobile medical clinics, but they don’t come around often. Dr. Brad Blumenstock, an optometrist in O’Neill, says he’s trying to meet the needs of rural residents.
“We strive to make sure that our elderly population, with its challenges with macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, are served to its maximum potential,” Dr. Blumenstock says. “At this juncture, we know the elderly have a hard time commuting, people have to take off work to take their parents or grandparents to their doctors’ appointments, so in this regard, we can do the treatments and take care of patients in their hometowns.”
He says some older residents are hesitant to adopt to modern equipment and techniques. “The main challenge as we see it is rapid change in technology and the delivery of medications and the delivery of treatments,” Blumenstock says. “We as optometrists want to utilize all of these technologies to their greatest potential.”
Blumenstock says the elderly have a hard time getting to a doctor and need “front line eye care providers” in their area. One solution, he says, is the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps, founded in 1985 to provide medical care to some of the poorest and most remote areas of the world.