Gas permeable contact lenses provide
excellent vision, excellent oxygen transmission, durability and cost
effectiveness. So why don't more patients opt to wear them? One
reason may be your hesitation to fit them. Another reason
may be that patients don't know about GP lenses, whether because you
don't mention them or because consumer advertising focuses on
The Adaptation Issue
reason that I hear often is that GP lenses aren't as comfortable as
soft lenses. I admit that adaptation to GP lenses takes motivation.
I know because I've worn them. The first time I ever had a GP lens
on my eye, I wanted to claw it back out; but after approximately two
to three weeks of wearing them a little bit every day, I liked them
better than any soft contact lens I'd ever worn. You see, I have
astigmatism, and GP lenses provided vision that was far superior to
that with my soft lenses. In addition, my eyes didn't feel as dry at
the end of the day with my GP lenses.
Watch Your Language
So how do
we get patients motivated to adapt to GP lenses? One way is to avoid
four-letter words when describing them to patients. No, not the ones
that sent your parents into a frenzy or got your mouth washed out
with soap as a child. I mean the words that so many people (patients
and practitioners alike) use to describe how a GP lens feels the
first time it is applied to the eye.
tell a patient that the contact lens is going to
hurt initially, that paints a very
negative picture of GP lens wear. Even if you just say that it may
be painful, the patient will instantly
have a negative impression. Many patients use the same words when
speaking about GP lenses - particularly if they've first heard them
from you or from your staff. I myself am notorious for using the
expression lens awareness when presenting GP lenses.
negative language and attitude can doom the fit from the start.
Instead you need to remember and focus on the many positive aspects
of GP lenses. You need to remember that adaptation is temporary and
what patients gain once they have adapted. Taking inspiration from
my last name, Rah, I've become something of a cheerleader when
helping patients adapt to GP lenses.
Consider Topical Anesthetic
Motivational speaking is great, but another successful technique to
ease your patients into GP lens wear is the use of topical
anesthetic. Bennett et al (1998) reported that using one drop of
topical anesthetic before the initial fitting and again before lens
application at the dispensing visit helped with GP lens adaptation.
I've found this technique beneficial when fitting preteens,
adolescents and adults. One reminder: never dispense anesthetic to a
patient. One drop at the fitting and another at dispensing is all
topical anesthetic along with projecting a positive attitude in your
initial presentation of GP lenses is a powerful combination. So get
out there with your pompoms and megaphone and motivate some patients
to try GP contact lenses.