Plan to Prosper with Gas Perms
BY THOMAS G. QUINN, OD, MS, FAAO
As the holiday season approaches, I'm reminded of the joy of giving. Here are a few tips I've found helpful for giving the benefits of gas permeable contact lens correction to my patients.
1. Inquire about contact lenses. Make sure you ask all patients about their interest in contact lenses. We provide a one-page questionnaire to patients at check-in that explores their interest in contact lenses. It's quick, and it opens the door to discuss contact lens options with interested patients.
2. Make a professional recommendation. When a prospective contact lens candidate is in your chair, objectively explore the advantages and disadvantages of the various forms of optical correction. When gas permeable lenses come out on top, recommend them with confidence and authority. Most patients don't want a laundry list of options. They want your expert opinion of what you feel is best for them.
3. Educate your patients. For example, show astigmatic patients what impact correcting their astigmatism has on their visual performance. If the patient understands the benefits gas permeable lenses offer, you will have a cooperative atmosphere for the fitting process.
4. Discuss fees first. Before applying a lens to an eye, have your technician review fees for services and materials. Don't invest time in fitting only to have a patient balk at the cost. Get the commitment up front. Bias fees to emphasize your service.
5. Make a good first impression. When applying a gas permeable lens to a patient's eye for the first time, make sure the lens is clean and wetting well. Dim the room lights and instruct the patient to look down initially. This minimizes awareness of the lids interacting with the lens edge. I find using anesthetic on first-time patients very helpful in acclimating them to gas permeable lens wear and helping the lenses settle quickly for fitting assessment.
6. Color code. I usually order my gas permeable lenses with a light green tint for the right eye and a light blue tint for the left eye. The second letter of each color helps patients remember which lens goes on which eye. This avoids the problem of dots wearing off and patients mixing their lenses. There is no cosmetic effect noticeable on brown- or hazel-eyed patients. Be careful with light-eyed patients.
7. Feel the improvement. When dispensing lenses to a first-time patient, give the lenses at least 10 minutes to settle on the eye. Not only will you be able to better assess the fit, this will give the patient time to feel an improvement in comfort before you enter the room. This psychological boost gives patients confidence they will adapt to the lenses.
8. Harp on hand soap. Recommend that your patients use hand soaps that are free of perfumes and lotions. A great fit can go down the tubes if patients handle their lenses with fingers coated with hand soap films that lead to poor lens surface wetting, discomfort and reduced acuity.
9. Four hours for follow-up. I ask my patients to wear their lenses for at least four hours at the time of their follow-up appointment. Some conditions, such as corneal edema and
3 o'clock to 9 o'clock staining, may not show up until lenses have been worn a number of hours. This time request ensures I don't miss anything.
10. Feel good about fitting gas permeable lenses. Appreciate the service you are providing to your patients. You give them freedom from the confines and limitations of spectacles with a device that provides exceptionally clear vision and is extremely safe to wear. The power of contact lens correction on self-esteem and quality of life can be quite profound.
Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio, and has served as a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.