contact lens practice pearls
Educate Your Patients on Bio-Inspired Eyecare Products
BY GREGORY J. NIXON, OD, FAAO
We have many concerns as practitioners in a time of such tremendous technological advancement and innovation. While we may be focused on using new products to meet the visual and ocular health needs of our patients, we should recognize that a number of our patients are conscious consumers who have additional concerns regarding the products they purchase. For example, they may have an interest in how a product is made, how it works, if it is environmentally friendly, or if it is inspired by nature or other biological systems.
Conscious consumers are typically well educated, have at least an average income, are the least price sensitive and often influence the buying decisions of the entire family (marketing-insider.com; allbusiness.com).
A subset of conscious consumers who comprise nearly 41 million people in the United States, or one in four adults, practice Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability or LOHAS (lohas.com). Therefore, it is important to take a moment to review some current bio-inspired eyecare products that may appeal to these patients.
Whether they're marketed as such, most of today's lenses have some element of bio-inspiration. A driving force behind contact lens product innovation is the effort to create a lens that has the least impact on the normal, natural physiology of the eye. For example, to achieve the amount of oxygen transmission that occurs in a non-lens wearer, many modifications to lens materials have taken place to dissolve and transmit as much oxygen to the cornea as the tear film does.
It was believed that the highest oxygen permeability that could be achieved by manipulating water content alone was 40 Dk, thus, the advent of novel materials to maximize soft lens Dk led to the development of silicone hydrogel lenses. Striving to reach the level of oxygen permeability of the biological tear film should limit hypoxia induced ocular complications.
Additionally, many contemporary lenses try to enhance their wettability characteristics to mimic the natural lubricity of the ocular tear film. All silicone hydrogels incorporate a surface treatment, an added wetting agent or a special chemical bonding process to counter the inherent hydrophobic effect of the silicone material.
The improved wettability allows the lens to attract and interact with the precorneal tear film, which reduces the friction forces that contribute to lid wiper epitheliopathy and other lens-induced side effects.
There also has been bio-inspiration in some artificial tear products, such as Soothe XP by Bausch + Lomb. While most tear supplements help moisturize the ocular surface, this formulation is an emollient that contains lipids, which help restore the faulty lipid layer of tears that's often the cause of evaporative dry eye.
While this lipid-like formulation often causes some mild initial blur symptoms, the natural blinking process helps to spread the drop evenly as it infuses into and rehabilitates the tear film.
Appeal to Increasing Concerns
These examples highlight some unique product features that may appeal to many of your sophisticated patients. Taking a few moments to discuss these features may motivate patients to upgrade to products that can enhance their long-term visual and ocular health. CLS
For references, please visit www.clspectrum.com/references.asp and click on document SE2010.
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.