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Author: Corrina McElduff 

28 February 2024

Seeing is Believing: The Art of Great Patient Communication

Within eyecare, effective patient education and communication is paramount for fostering understanding.  


Effective communication is the key to patient involvement, without a clear understanding, patients may feel excluded, overwhelmed or simply confused by important conversations.1


Whether it's a straightforward recommendation for spectacles or a more intricate discussion about ocular disease and its management, the message may not resonate without comprehension. If patients don't grasp the information, how can they make informed decisions about their eye health? 


A well-rounded approach to conveying information is essential, and this involves harnessing the power of both visual and verbal communication. 


The Power of Visual Communication

Visual communication transcends language barriers and provides a dynamic way to convey complex information.The human brain processes visual information faster than text, making it an invaluable tool for simplifying intricate medical concepts. Infographics, diagrams, and charts can distil complex information into digestible visual formats, aiding patients in grasping key concepts.2

For example, when explaining the progression of cataracts, visual aids on the impact to vision can provide a clear and memorable representation. Visuals not only enhance comprehension and adherence but also cater to diverse learning styles, ensuring that information is accessible to a broader audience.2

Verbal Communication: A Personal Touch

While visuals offer clarity, verbal communication provides a personal touch. The spoken word allows eyecare professionals (ECPs) to convey empathy, answer questions, and address concerns in real-time. Establishing a direct line of communication fosters a trusting patient-professional relationship, crucial for patient engagement and compliance.

Moreover, verbal communication allows for tailoring information to an individual's specific needs and understanding level. Using plain language and avoiding technical jargon ensures that patients can absorb information without feeling overwhelmed. Open dialogue encourages patients to express their uncertainties, allowing ECPs to address misconceptions and provide reassurance.

The Symbiotic Relationship

The combination of visual and verbal communication creates a symbiotic relationship that enhances the overall educational experience. An appropriate illustration or picture accompanied by clear and concise verbal explanations ensures that patients receive a comprehensive understanding..3

Consider the example of educating a parent about their child’s myopia risk. A visual representation of where their child plots on a centile chart, paired with verbal explanations about lifestyle modifications forms a holistic educational approach. Visuals can showcase how their child compares to other children while verbal communication offers guidance on managing myopia onset. 

Accessibility and Inclusivity

With most ECPs working in diverse community settings, utilizing both visual and verbal communication ensures accessibility for individuals with varied needs. Patients with different learning abilities, language preferences, or cultural backgrounds can benefit from a multifaceted approach that caters to their specific requirements.


In conclusion, the combination of visual and verbal communication is indispensable for effective patient education about specific ocular conditions, their management and ECP recommendations. Visual aids enhance comprehension and retention, while verbal communication establishes a personal connection and addresses individual concerns. This holistic approach not only ensures that patients are well-informed but also empowers them to actively participate in their eye care. As ECPs continue to strive for patient-centred care, the synergy of visual and verbal communication emerges as a pivotal tool in achieving this goal.

  1. Coverdale, S. et al 2022 Parent  and child attitudes to myopia, myopia management and myopia research. International Myopia Conference, 4-7 September 2022, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  2. Shamaskin AM, Mikels JA, Reed AE. Getting the message across: age differences in the positive and negative framing of health care messages. Psychol Aging. 2010 Sep;25(3):746-51. doi: 10.1037/a0018431. PMID: 20677886
  3. Houts PS, Doak CC, Doak LG, Loscalzo MJ. The role of pictures in improving health communication: a review of research on attention, comprehension, recall, and adherence. Patient Educ Couns. 2006 May;61(2):173-90. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2005.05.004. Epub 2005 Aug 24. Erratum in: Patient Educ Couns. 2006 Dec;64(1-3):393-4. PMID: 16122896.

Corrina McElduff, Director of Professional Affairs & BCLA Council Member

Corrina McElduff is a visionary leader and accomplished optometrist, currently serving as Director of Professional Affairs at Ocumetra.

Passionate about clinical advancement and improving patient outcomes, Corrina's remarkable contributions as the clinical lead for a group of independent optometrists led to the establishment of one of the pioneering myopia management clinics in the UK. 

Her groundbreaking work allowed her to gain early access to FDA-approved myopia management products, even before their official market release - a testament to her forward-thinking approach and commitment to pushing boundaries.

Corrina's pioneering vision and dedicated commitment to equipping eyecare professionals with state-of-the-art data science solidify her position as a trailblazer in delivering exceptional optometric care.

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