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Patients, Contact Lenses and the Summer Sun
BY THOMAS G. QUINN, OD, MS, FAAO
It's summertime! With warm weather comes more time outside and increased exposure to the sun. How can we help the contact lens-wearing outdoor enthusiast?
Provide Easy Access to Sunwear
One benefit of wearing contact lens correction is the ease it affords to wearing non-prescription sunglasses. Sunglasses can be a great fashion accessory. The lower cost of non-prescription lenses provides increased opportunity for multiple sunglass sales. Who wants to wear the same sunglasses on a shopping excursion that they wear on the beach?
Consider featuring a display of plano sunwear with styles appropriate to your patient clientele. If you have a large population of college-age contact lens wearers, wrap-around frames and mirror coatings might be something to consider. If your patients are further along in years, consider a more classic style.
Sunglasses will often be the first purchase a new contact lens wearer will make after acquiring his contact lenses. Unfortunately, all too often the patient makes this purchase at a drugstore or a discount chain such as Wal-Mart or a wholesale club such as Costco instead of from your office. To prevent this from happening, consider providing a complimentary pair of non-prescription sunglasses to all your new contact lens patients. This will help the patient see your office as the source for purchasing future sunwear.
You can obtain attractive yet economical styles at a great price when you purchase sunglasses in bulk. The minimal expense to you is well worth it and you can easily incorporate it into your contact lens fees.
Applying a contact lens to the corneal surface often increases a patient's sensitivity to light. Sunglasses help overcome photophobia as well as protect your patients' eyes from potentially harmful ultraviolet rays.
Don't forget the added comfort that sunglasses provide contact lens wearers by virtue of their ability to block wind and dust. You shouldn't underestimate this benefit, especially when you consider that discomfort has been cited as the leading cause of contact lens dropout.
UV Blocking Contact Lenses
Many contact lenses now on the market incorporate UV blocking agents. Many patients appreciate the added safety provided by this feature.
In my practice I find that the most enthusiastic supporters of UV contact lenses are parents of contact lens-wearing children. The parents recognize how much time their children spend in the pool, on the beach and at the ball field and appreciate UV protection for their young ones.
Outdoor Sports Contact Lens
Bausch & Lomb and Nike have recently released the Nike MaxSight Sport-Tinted soft contact lens. This lens is intended to reduce distortion and glare by selectively filtering specific wavelengths of light.
The MaxSight lens is available in an amber and a grey-green tint. Amber is recommended for playing fast-moving ball sports such as baseball and soccer, while grey-green is more suitable for sports played in bright sunlight where glare and comfort are more significant, such as golf and running.
Don't Forget the Hat!
When used in conjunction with a brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses, contact lenses can provide wonderful freedom for summer activities as well as valuable ocular protection from the potential harmful rays of the sun. Don't forget the sunscreen!
Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio, is a diplomate of the Cornea and Contact Lens Section of the American Academy of Optometry and advisor to the GP Lens Institute.