Laboratory Consultant: Your Best Friend in GPs
The GP contact lens consultant is
vital to the success of any contact lens practice. The role of this underutilized
resource has evolved over the past 10 years. Although lens designs and manufacturing
processes have improved, the time devoted to evaluating fitting problems has decreased.
Consultants now have more responsibility for a successful fit without the benefit
of seeing the lens on the eye. The primary reasons for this pertain to their knowledge
A Knowledgeable Resource
Most practitioners don't consider
themselves GP specialists. Therefore, consultants are the vital link between practitioners
and industry advancements. Consultants know more about the selection and applicability
of their products than anyone. They also understand lens design geometry and how
it may apply to a patient's needs.
Certainly an area of much interest
to practitioners pertains to selecting a GP lens material. Consultants can cut through
the maze and provide you with a specific (or a few specific) material(s) that would
meet the needs of a given patient, factoring in such characteristics as oxygen permeability,
surface wettability and specific gravity.
Perhaps the area in which consultants
benefit practitioners most
pertains to specialty designs, especially multifocals. They can assist with design
selection (every GP laboratory has multifocal/ other specialty designs listed at
www.gpli.info), fitting, problem-solving and providing diagnostic lens fitting sets.
Likewise, with increasing use of
corneal topography to assist in GP specialty fits, many laboratories are set up
to assist practitioners in interpreting the maps and making recommendations. Many
consultants are familiar with the software and pertinent data from multiple topographers,
and these data are influential in choosing a specific design.
Vast Design Experience
Obviously a consultant's knowledge
is closely associated with his experience. A consultant is a walking encyclopedia
of fitting scenarios who is able to solve many fitting challenges. Certainly, a
good consultant will complement the knowledge and experience of the practitioner.
However, it's important to emphasize that the laboratory consultant often provides
based upon the experience of designing thousands of lenses for similar patients.
This is especially valuable with more challenging fits (often post-surgical/irregular
It's unlikely that a practitioner
will present a challenging patient that the consultant hasn't already managed at
least once, if not often. Experience comes from repetition, and the laboratory consultant
experiences every day what some practitioners see once or twice in their lifetime.
A Winning Combination
In my role as a consultant to the
Contact Lens Manufacturer's Association (CLMA), I commonly hear that practitioners
are fearful of exhibiting their ignorance about GP lenses to a consultant. In fact,
it's evident that in the mind of a trained consultant, there's no such thing as
a stupid question.
Use your consultants. With their
knowledge of lens materials and various design options, they can use the properties
of these materials in combination with their experience and knowledge to help provide
custom lens fits that will enhance your reputation and build your practice.
Acknowledgments: Dan Bell (Corneal
Design), Cindy Belliveau, (Visionary), Steve Ernst (Contex), Sherre McMahon
(Firestone), Greg Ogden (Soderberg), Keith Parker (Advanced Technologies) and
Kevin Sanford (Conforma)
Dr. Bennett is
an associate professor of optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and
is executive director of the GP Lens Institute.
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: June 2005