Will GP Contact Lenses Survive?
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
This topic came up at a recent meeting and has been one for the last decade will practitioners use GP lenses in the future only for irregular astigmatism and when soft lenses fail?
Nathan Efron, PhD, from England, has been brave (or provacative) enough to say that practitioners will use GP lenses very little in the future. Ed Bennett, OD, MSEd, executive director of the RGP Lens Institute, has voiced his disagreement across the globe. Time and many other factors will tell.
Some good news includes CLMA's attempt to rename RGP lenses GP (oxygen permeable) contact lenses, and we are trying to comply. CLMA says consumers respond better to this term. A number of studies and conventional wisdom indicate that vision is better with GP lenses than soft lenses. They seem safer for extended and continuous wear than soft lenses and certainly provide better tear flow. They are easier to care for than soft lenses and can be used for orthokeratology and corneal refractive therapy. They may even reduce the progression of myopia in children. GP manufacturing and materials are better than ever, including torics and multifocals for presbyopia.
The bad news is that they are not more comfortable than in the past, and soft lens comfort is the standard. They are more time consuming to fit, and too many practitioners don't want to take the time and effort to fit them and manage patients through adaptation. GP lenses typically don't come in multiples either, so if patients lose or damage one, they need to wait for a new one. Minimal marketing of features and benefits does not help them succeed in the marketplace either.
GP lenses can be a very important part of your practice and your patient care. GP patients are typically very compliant, and they see very well and are very loyal to your practice. If you are driven to be a contact lens "specialist," you certainly need to master GP fitting and aftercare.