and Young Practitioners
EDWARD S. BENNETT, OD, MSED
One of the greatest challenges that experienced
contact lens practitioners and GP lens manufacturers face
is how to effectively
communicate the benefits and applications of GP lenses so that young
practitioners will better embrace
them. I recently interviewed several
all members of the GP Lens Institute Advisory Committee, about how they
lenses in their practices and why their emphasis
on GP lenses has helped them succeed.
I noted the following common themes that can apply to every practice.
Application of Technology
It's no secret that an increasing percentage of spherical GP lenses
are fit empirically. Unless an inventory is available, empirical fitting can offer the
patient a more positive initial experience because of the potential wow factor that
good vision can provide. Current lathes can produce consistent edges, ultrathin constructions
and relatively low edge clearance aspheric or pseudo-aspheric peripheries, providing
good centration and less initial awareness than in past rigid lens designs.
An Alternative to Soft Lenses
Patients deserve the Pepsi Challenge test. An astigmatic patient
who experiences transient blur from a series of soft toric lenses, a highly astigmatic
patient who desires better vision, young progressive myopes and presbyopicpatients
who desire to see well at all distances are examples of patients to whom you should
offer GP lenses as an alternative to soft lenses. Newer designs, topical anesthetic
use when needed and providing realistic expectations will all help you succeed.
Managing Irregular Corneas
A growing number of young practitioners are working with corneal
specialists and ultimately manage a large number of keratoconus, post-refractive
corneal trauma, pellucid marginal degeneration, Intacs (Addition Technology) and post
corneal transplant patients with GP lenses. The optical quality of the lenses, including
an increased emphasis on aberration-control, and the ocular health benefits of GP lenses
are important in these cases.
However, you don't need to be in a specialty practice to fit GP lenses
on irregular corneas. You can work closely with your laboratory consultant to carefully
assess fluorescein patterns and make changes accordingly, and with patience you can
succeed in these cases. Having access to a corneal topographer, including through a
referral to another practice, is important in these cases as well. Avoid the temptation
to simply fit a soft lens or refer to a specialist. Dramatically improving the quality
of a patient's life is a powerful reward.
In a competitive environment in which patients increasingly consider
contact lenses accommodity, it makes "cents" to include GP lenses which generate
higher fees and increase profitability as an important component of a contact
lens practice. Fitting GP lenses can also garner referrals from very satisfied
patients as well as boost your patient retention and self-satisfaction.
Success begins with well-trained staff members who truly believe
GPs are a valuable option. Teach them to be positive in their approach to discussing
GPs and to effectively train patients on the care and handling of GP lenses.
Well-established contact lens practitioners commonly believe that
GP lenses are essential to the growth and success of a practice. However, this column
primarily reflects the thoughts of several young practitioners. Any young practitioner
can experience the many benefits of fitting GP lenses with the help of CLMA
laboratory consultants, the GP Lens Institute and its various online resources, and
a desire to help each individual patient see the world as clearly as possible.
Dr. Bennett acknowledges Drs. Brad Giedd, Shawna Hill, Michelle
Lee, Kaaryn Pederson and Jeff Sonsino for their help with this article.
Dr. Bennett is an associate
professor of optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and
is executive director
the GP Lens Institute.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: October 2006