Dropouts, the Eye and Education
JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
Here's what we know: The
United States has two contact lens wearers for every one contact lens dropout. That's
both good news and bad news. If you like numbers, that's 35 million contact lens
wearers in the United States and 17.5 million have-beens. So what can you do about
it or do you care? You could just say, "some patient's eyes just don't accept
contact lenses." Or you could say, "I'll happily fit any of those 17.5 million dropouts
because they're willing to apply something on their eyes." Or you could say (this
is the 60s version), "Practitioners just don't know how to fit some patients." Don't
make me laugh.
another statistic: 22 percent of current contact lens wearers have worn the same
lens type for 10 years. Are these patients the survivors, meaning they can wear
Coke-bottle bottoms, or are they the patients about to drop out unless you rush
to their aid?
Do you care whether patients
who haven't come in to your practice for years need something different? A few years
ago, we called such patients and asked them why they had stopped coming to see us.
To our amazement, most of them scheduled an appointment.
Here's the point. Sure, most
dropouts quit wearing contact lenses for comfort reasons and so-called drying. And
in today's world, with better lenses that dehydrate less and better solutions that
add moisture, it's not hard to make things better.
Do you really update each patient
to the best material for his eyes and the solution you think is best, or do you
let someone else make those decisions? Do you explain everyday lens care or let
someone else instruct your patients?
I believe most practitioners
care little about drop out. They have delusions that more patients will want contact
lenses than will drop out, and obviously, they're right. And most think that contact
lens dropouts just can't tolerate the lenses and really aren't worth that much to
the practice which isn't true.
So what can you do to minimize
drop out and make your contact lens wearers comfortable and happy? Prescribe the
most comfortable, biocompatible lenses and explain why you do. Prescribe the most
biocompatible solutions and educate your patients over and over again about how
to use them properly. Educate patients about why lens disposing compliance is important.
Explain whether patients can or can't sleep while wearing their lenses, and if they
can, then explain when and when not to. Review all of this at every visit. Recall,
communicate, update, educate and review proper lens care and compliance over and
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: June 2005