Beyond the Lens: Dr. Rob Kloepfer Uses His Instagram to Explain Eye Conditions

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Rob Kloepfer, OD
Rob Kloepfer, OD’s Instagram page, EyeDrKloepfer, currently stands at 2,627 followers and it won’t be too long before he hits the 3,000 mark. The page, which features images taken by holding his camera up the slit lamp oculars, is a hub for eye conditions that even those who work within the industry and aren’t ECPs haven’t heard of.

It’s a clinically-focused page, aimed to educate any anyone who is willing to go in depth about what an optometrist sees during those routine eye exams we hear about so often. With 125 posts to date and counting, it’s hard to believe that the page started by accident. “In 2015, I randomly decided to use my iPhone in clinic to take anterior segment pictures through the slit lamp oculars. These images were used to either show patients their eyes for interest sake and to have photo documentation in charts for monitoring purposes,” Dr. Kloepfer explained. “My phone started to build up a large repertoire of eye photos and in April 2018 I decided to launch an eye-centered Instagram page to share what cases an optometrist might encounter on a regular basis.”

EyeDrKloepfer covers everything from conditions that we hear about often such as dry/ wet macular degeneration and cataracts as well as others such as lattice corneal dystrophy and chemosis, which the average person wouldn’t know about. With these images, Dr. Kloepfer wants to show his audience the scientific side of optometry, which goes beyond just glasses and contact lenses.


“Though the prescription is an important role as an optometrist, a comprehensive eye examination involves so much more,” he told VMail Weekend. “In Alberta, our scope of practice allows Doctors of Optometry to diagnose, treat and monitor a variety of ocular diseases. For this reason, I chose to deliver a glimpse of the important role an optometrist can play in the entire medical well-being of our patients. I’m hoping to convey a unique perspective with educational value that shows our eyes can tell so much regarding our entire systemic health.”

Curating content is not an issue for Dr. Kloepfer because his life as a practitioner gives him the opportunity to encounter so many different things daily. His posts come from the anterior segment photos and videos he accumulates on his phone or interesting retinal images captured by the clinic camera.

“The great thing about working in an optometry clinic is that each day you never know what can walk in the door. In Alberta, the health care system will pay for any medically necessary eye emergency so there is a tremendous variety of acute ocular conditions I can encounter,” he stated. And his encounters have run the gamut—everything from a bee stinger embedded in the cornea to prison inmates that were struck in the eye with a tuna can wrapped in a sock have made their way to his chair.

While his day may be eventful, Dr. Kloepfer still has to practice a level of discretion both as a practitioner and as a social media influencer. His posts have to be eye-catching in order to get people to engage, but they also have to be purposeful and informative so he makes sure his followers understand that the only way to get an accurate diagnosis for symptoms they may be having is to go for an eye exam.

  

“There is still a professional liability boundary we need to uphold as health care practitioners using a platform such as Instagram,” he said. “My disclaimer is the information posted on my page is for educational purposes only, but I encourage anyone to always seek independent medical advice.”

EyeDrKloepfer gets updated weekly. If he doesn’t put a new picture up, Dr. Kloepfer also has his daily Instagram Stories with various images, polls or questions, to keep his followers engaged. While the page is doing well, averaging over 100 likes per post—Dr. Kloepfer has to invoke the power of content-compiling apps to help him gather his content ahead of time.

In addition to practicing at Olds Eyecare in Olds, Alberta and Downtown Vision Care in Calgary, Alberta, he is also the secretary of the Calgary Society of Optometrists; he sits on the Alberta College of Optometrists Council; volunteers across the world for eyecare trips with Canadian Vision Care (CVC); and lectures across Canada, so he is not always able to sit and create a post from scratch.

  

As the page continues to grow, Dr. Kloepfer hopes his posts can help people learn more about varying eye conditions and in turn be more informed when they visit their doctors. For his peers who are also ECPs, he hopes the page provides some insight that may be helpful in their own practice.

As for the future, Dr. Kloepfer is looking to add more content. “'How-to' videos, introducing new technology emerging in the eyecare industry, and of course more ocular disease photos and videos will continue to fill the majority of the content for EyeDrKloepfer,” he said.

“I have a growing list of saved content and new ideas so I'm looking forward to bringing those forward. My hope moving forward is that my lecturing and this page will be intertwined to offer various ways to deliver educational eye content beyond the clinic setting.”