contact lens economics
What Do You Charge
To Fit FITB Lenses?
BY GARY GERBER, OD
I frequently speak about new technologies and new types of contact lenses. After discussing the clinical issues and fitting strategies, the conversations invariably turn to questions about fees. The first question is what I charge for the lenses themselves, and the second is what do I charge to fit the lenses.
The first question is what I charge for the lenses themselves, and the second is what do I charge to fit the lenses.
The answer to my first question is what I've recommended to my clients: keep lens fees in line with major Internet retailers, and try to make the lion's share of profits from professional fees.
To the second question, "What do I charge to fit FITB lenses?" I have a simpler strategy: the same fee I charge to fit every lens.
Fill in the Blank
What's a FITB lens? "Fill In The Blank." I don't charge my patients fees to fit contact lenses per se. Rather, I charge them for my time to fit their lenses. With this in mind, I am tailoring my fitting fees for each particular case and no particular lens. That's why you can FITB for your professional fees. Here are two examples.
Mr. Easy comes to our office to be fit with contact lenses. Upon questioning, he tells us he has been wearing disposable lenses for eight years and never had a single problem. He requests to be fit with the same lenses he currently wears. After his examination, consultation and fitting, we determine that using the same type of lenses would indeed be an excellent safe and healthy alternative for Mr. Easy. He requires no instruction whatsoever on the care and handling of his lenses and can safely and properly apply and remove them. We fit him with FITB lenses and charged him an $X fitting fee.
Mr. Almost Impossible
Mr. Almost Impossible, an engineer, was referred to us by Mr. Easy after we successfully fit his lenses. He has tried for over five years with seven eye doctors to be fit with soft lenses for astigmatism. He was convinced his prognosis was poor. We carefully evaluated Mr. Impossible and performed some procedures we do not routinely use on easier cases. After applying the first pair of diagnostic astigmatism lenses, we determined we would need to spend several office visits to complete his fit. We told him, if he wanted to continue the fitting process, we'd get to be very good friends! We eventually solved his case and successfully fit his lenses after eight visits. He was fit with the same FITB lenses as Mr. Easy. His fitting fee was 8($X).
In these two examples, both patients are wearing the same FITB lenses and paying the same amount for the lenses. However, as we knew Mr. Almost Impossible would be a challenge, we charged him more for the anticipated time we would spend with him. To do this, we simply calculated the expected number of visits it would take and multiplied it by our typical office visit fee.
Like many other service industries plumber, carpenter, electrician, auto mechanic it's simply a matter of time and materials. Unlike these other industries, however, we have the luxury of historically charging (and hopefully collecting) our professional fees before the "job" is done, not after.
So what do you charge to fit FITB lenses? Hopefully the same as every other lens.
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. He can be reached at 800-867-9303 or
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: January 2003