Virtual Platform Gives Patients Direct Access to Eye Care Specialists

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranked Number One 21st Year in a Row

Natalie Townsend, OD, an optometrist and Director of Bascom Palmer's Rapid Virtual Eye Care Clinic, explains how the virtual platform works to quickly diagnose and treat patients from the comfort of their home, and in some cases, save their vision. Tony Etzel is one of those patients.

Natalie Townsend, OD, is an optometrist and Director of Bascom Palmer’s Rapid Virtual Eye Care Clinic at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. For more information about booking a virtual appointment, click here or visit the UHealth blog.


When Tony Etzel’s right eye became blurred by floaters, he knew something was wrong.

“I would describe it like Tetris, sometimes big black chunks would move across my field of vision,” Tony says.

Instead of waiting for an in-person appointment, Tony used Bascom Palmer Eye Institute’s Rapid Virtual Eye Care Clinic launched during the COVID-19 pandemic under the direction of optometrist Natalie Townsend, OD.

“By creating a virtual platform, patients were able to connect with eye doctors here at Bascom Palmer virtually from the comfort of their own home,” says Dr. Townsend.

With the click of a button, patients can have direct access to a Bascom Palmer eye doctor the same day.

“As long as they have an electronic device, they’ll be able to connect with an eye doctor through a Zoom link that they will get after the appointment is made,” Dr. Townsend says.

Tony had a retinal detachment and was in surgery the next morning. He says the Rapid Virtual Eye Care Clinic and the team at Bascom Palmer saved his sight.

“I feel cared for and protected that I have an advocate to keep my vision good,” says Tony.

For the 21st year in a row, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been ranked the No. 1 eye care hospital in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

“To be recognized for that is a great feeling. I don’t take for granted that I’m working among some of the most brilliant minds in ophthalmology,” Dr. Townsend says.


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