Certain things we tend to take for granted. Running water, your 6-year-old teasing her toddler brother, and making—and then breaking—New Year’s resolutions. Somewhere lower on the list is scheduling regular eye exams even if we’re not concerned about our sight.
Of course, many things we might not think twice about aren’t available to everyone throughout the city. For example, it can be difficult to get access to a qualified eye doctor without having to travel into Manhattan. It’s even more difficult for people without insurance or whose families use Medicaid.
A study published last June in JAMA Ophthalmology looked at the availability of a routine pediatric eye exam for both patients with insurance and those on Medicaid. The researchers concluded that children with Medicaid “had significantly decreased odds of receiving an appointment” when compared to children who were covered by insurance. Another group of researchers concluded that “persistent socioeconomic disparities” exist in access to eye care.
When you consider that the vast majority of visually impaired people throughout the developing world are suffering from preventable visual impairments, the importance of getting routine eye care can’t be overstated. And it’s not only the lack of vision insurance that poses a roadblock. Indirect costs of getting eye care include taking time off from work—which can be several hours—and the cost of transportation, both of which can discourage people from making appointments with eye doctors.
The good news is that finding a quality ophthalmologist in the Bronx or Queens is possible. About 5 years ago Dr. Neil Patel saw the need for vision care services in these neighborhoods and established New York Ophthalmology. There are now 3 locations—one in the Bronx and 2 in Queens—which provide a range of eye care services to a population that had been underserved for years.
Dr. Patel’s dedication has helped build the practice’s excellent reputation and has led to continued growth. The practice has recently added multiple eye doctors, including both ophthalmologists and optometrists. Many of the doctors and support staff speak multiple languages to better serve the communities where their offices are located. They serve patients who speak Spanish, Bengali, Hindi, Russian, or traditional and simplified Chinese.
The neighborhood roots of New York Ophthalmology are deep. Dr. Patel attended Columbia University, where he earned an undergrad mathematics degree and a master’s degree in applied physics. He obtained his medical degree at SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn and then completed a one-year internship in general surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. That was followed by a residency in ophthalmology at the prestigious New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, the nation’s oldest and busiest eye hospital and a premier institution for ophthalmology training in the tri-state area.
Even though New York Ophthalmology accepts a wide range of insurance coverage, along with Medicaid and Medicare, Dr. Patel works with patients who may fall between the cracks when it comes to getting quality eye care.
The exteriors of the practice’s locations appear unassuming but that’s not the case when patients go inside. “We take pride in providing a positive patient experience that exceeds expectations,” Dr. Patel says. “Many patients express surprise when they visit us for the first time, both about the modern, high-tech equipment we use and the friendliness and welcoming nature of everyone at our eye clinics. Even though few patients wait for more than a couple of minutes for scheduled appointments, we’ve ensured that you’re relaxed and comfortable prior to seeing your eye doctor.”