contact lens practice pearls
A Contact Lens for Every Prescription
BY GREGORY J. NIXON, OD, FAAO
The ingenuity and initiative of the contact lens industry continues to expand the quality and availability of contact lens products. As a result, we've reached a time in which a contact lens is available for virtually every possible prescription. While we embrace the growth in parameter availability, it is just as important to also make our patients aware of these growing resources.
Old Myths Die Hard
Are you surprised when patients mention that they can't wear contact lenses because they have astigmatism, presbyopia, or dry eye? When a patient says that, I always wonder “Did an eyecare practitioner tell you that? If so, how long ago?” I harbor a little frustration that these myths still exist at a time when we have such abundant fitting resources.
For example, there are toric lenses available in custom parameters for nearly every axis and cylinder power, toric daily disposables, toric multifocals, lenses that incorporate wetting agents, and GPs made with computer-guided lathing technology that can produce multiple base curves and multiple edge clearance profiles in different lens quadrants.
It makes me wonder how long “the world is flat” myth persisted after Columbus discovered the new world.
Regardless of the circumstances that resulted in these persistant misperceptions, it is best that we focus on ways to overcome them.
Breaking the Myth
I believe the only way to increase patient awareness of expanding lens availability is through regular and frequent exposure. Here are just a few ways to enhance exposure within your office:
- When scheduling or confirming appointments, have your staff ask patients if they are interested in trying contact lenses at their next visit.
- Include a brochure featuring a contact lens for astigmatism or recommended for dry eye on top of the paperwork that a patient must fill out prior to the exam.
- Have a flat screen monitor in your welcome area that features advertising of innovative, contemporary contact lens products.
- Include questions on your history form such as: “Are you interested in wearing contact lenses?”, “Have you ever tried contact lenses?”, or “How long has it been since you have tried contact lenses?”
This is just a short list of ways to spark your patients' interest and encourage them to ask you about contact lenses. However, don't forget that the most powerful method is for you to discuss contact lenses with patients and recommend them for a fitting.
Seal the Deal
The key to truly breaking the myth is to allow patients to experience that a contact lens really can correct their refractive error comfortably and consistently. So make sure that your office has a wide variety of diagnostic lenses on hand and structure your exam sequence and fitting fees so that patients have the opportunity to try lenses in a low-risk atmosphere on the day of their exam.
Does this mean that every patient needs to be fitted with contact lenses? No, but certainly every patient who wants contact lenses should know that they are a viable option. CLS
Dr. Nixon is an associate professor of clinical optometry and the extern coordinator at The Ohio University College of Optometry. He is also in a group private practice in Westerville, Ohio. He is on the Allergan Academic Advisory Board.