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This Illinois Eye Doctor Makes Up to 10 House Calls in a Single Day

And he feels richly rewarded for it, personally and financially.




This Illinois Eye Doctor Makes Up to 10 House Calls in a Single Day

BRINGING THE GIFT OF better vision directly to the doorsteps of those unable to visit your clinic requires dedication, compassion, and a little ingenuity. It may not be for everybody, but those optometrists that still make old-fashioned house calls find it both financially and professionally rewarding. We spoke to Dr. Steve Butzon, owner of DuPage Optical in Addison, IL, who carries on his father’s legacy by ensuring that quality eyecare is accessible to all in his community, regardless of their mobility.


After completing his graduate training, Butzon returned to his home state of North Dakota, working briefly for his father, also an OD, and another practice. “I recall as a child accompanying my father on a rural house call to see an elderly patient who was confined to the home, which most likely provided my inspiration to show the same compassion,” says Butzon. Later, working for another doctor in Chicago, he was performing an exam when his elderly patient asked Butzon if he could make a home visit to examine his housebound wife. Butzon’s boss was supportive, and he made the trip. “That was the beginning of my journey to develop home visits in my current practice.”

This Illinois Eye Doctor Makes Up to 10 House Calls in a Single Day


Butzon says an optometrist’s services can easily be performed in a patient’s home, from refraction to dilation. Most optometrists already have the equipment needed, he adds. “I travel with a lensometer, a trial lens case, an eye chart, a prism bar, Worth four-dot and red green glasses.

Also, a handheld ophthalmoscope, retinoscope, and penlight, an I-Care pen for IOP, an amsler grid, dilating drops and a 20-diopter lens to use as a suitable slit lamp and Bio.” Be prepared to assist in finding an ophthalmologist if needed for surgery, he advises, and make sure you can co-manage post-op eyecare in their home, since transporting patients for post-cataract care can be difficult and costly for the patient. Butzon also provides low vision services in the home if needed.

Typically, patients or their caregivers will request an appointment after finding DuPage online or being referred by other home care providers or from the practice’s existing patient base. Butzon consents to make house calls provided the patient is homebound for physical or psychological reasons such as agoraphobia. DuPage’s staff is trained to request all medical information and insurance on the patient, and ask whether glasses or contact lenses will be needed, as well as their eyewear preferences. A selection of frames is offered based on this questioning. Says Butzon, “We do limit the distance we travel to see a homebound patient. I’ve scheduled up to 10 visits in one day, logging well over 200 miles.” He adds that it took some time before he actively engaged in marketing his home visits. “I sent my information to home care providers and the local senior community centers. After a few years I was devoting one day a week to house calls, averaging about eight a day.”



Butzon says caregivers and patients are extremely grateful to have a doctor take the time to see them in their home. “As a doctor, if you feel so inclined, you will find it professionally challenging and financially rewarding,” he says, cautioning those interested to “expect the unexpected while traveling: a flat tire, weather conditions, traffic delays and patients that are not well or expire while en route. Enjoy the freedom, adventure, and experiences that this needed service offers and all my best to my colleagues that take on this rewarding specialty.”

Do It Yourself: Make Optometric House Calls

  • REACH OUT. Market your house calls to home health agencies and senior centers.
  • START SLOW. Set aside one day a month to begin this endeavor, Butzon advises.
  • BAG OF TRICKS. Find a suitable case to transport your equipment.
  • PLAN AHEAD. As you travel that day, call to confirm that the next patient on your list is still well enough … and living … for your visit.
  • WORTH YOUR WHILE. Limit the distance you travel from your office and charge a travel fee, insists Butzon.


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