contact lens primer
Keep Up-to-date with Changes In Soft Lens Solutions
BY TIMOTHY B. EDRINGTON, OD, MS, FAAO, & JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO
Soft contact lens solutions represent one of the fastest changing elements in contact lens practice. Eyecare practitioners and staff must keep current with changes in lens care products.
Educate Yourself and Your Patients
Several manufacturers have recently obtained FDA approval to market "no rub" versions of their soft contact lens multi-purpose solutions. We can all debate whether a no-rub regimen is as effective in cleaning a lens as a regimen that includes rubbing, but the manufacturers have data to support its efficacy. Even if we choose not to prescribe no-rub lens care, our patients will be exposed to it through the media and in the marketplace. From our patients' perspective, the added convenience is appealing.
Our role is to educate ourselves about the advantages and disadvantages of the available soft lens care systems and then educate our patients regarding the lens care systems we prescribe for them.
Indications for the various no-rub solutions vary. Some require a longer and more thorough rinsing cycle. Others are approved for use only with disposable lenses. This could confuse patients, especially because the rub and no-rub indications may be for the exact same product.
The More (Options), the Merrier
Soft lens care is in a state of change. Keep current by reading published research about the products and procedures, obtaining literature from the manufacturers and reading the package inserts and instructions.
The increased number of options allows us to more precisely tailor the prescribing of lens care products to our patients' individual needs. One of the more important variables is the lens replacement schedule. Lenses that are not frequently disposed of should be cleaned by rubbing with clean hands or an alternate form of agitation, rinsed and disinfected in fresh solutions in a clean case.
As soft contact lenses are replaced on a more frequent basis, the need for a separate enzyme cleaner decreases. Many practitioners reserve prescribing a separate enzyme for patients who replace their lenses monthly or less frequently or who exhibit excessive protein deposition on their lenses.
Hopefully in the near future we will have access to improved rewetting drops and in-eye cleaners. Dry eye symptoms, especially later in the day, continue to be an all too common patient complaint. Single use lenses and newer lens materials might also provide relief for patients with soft contact lens-induced dry eye symptoms.
Soft contact lens care systems and products have improved dramatically since the 1970s. Thankfully, solution-related complications are infrequent and tend to be minor. The introduction of more convenient, yet effective, options have enhanced our practices, but it is still imperative that you stress the importance of fresh solutions and clean contact lens cases. With increased choices come the potential for misinformation and misunderstanding regarding their use. Commit to continuing to educate yourself and your patients.
Dr. Edrington is a professor and chief of contact lens services at the Southern California College of Optometry. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Barr is editor of Contact Lens Spectrum and assistant dean of students at The Ohio State University.