GPs Obsolete in 2010? It Won't Happen
BY EDWARD S. BENNETT, OD, MSED
Professor Nathan Efron predicts the demise of GP lenses. Professor Efron is a reputable author and researcher. He has said:
- Soft lenses result in improved ocular physiology relative to GPs
- Soft and GP lenses provide equal quality of vision
- GP lenses provide no advantage for myopic progression in young people
- Little to nothing about GP lens benefits for presbyopia
- GP lenses do not benefit patient loyalty and show selfishness on the fitter's part because they prevent patients from seeking alternative lens outlets.
- Students and practitioners are not confident in their GP design and fitting skills
Soft vs. GP Lenses
The Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) surveyed via e-mail the Clinical Diplomates in the Cornea and Contact Lens Section of the American Academy of Optometry. This is a skewed group of practitioners because of their obvious expertise; nevertheless, their knowledge helps in comparing applications and benefits of GP vs. soft lenses as well as in identifying future trends. Table 1 shows the preliminary results from questions which asked respondents to rate both soft and GP lenses on a "1" (negative attribute) to "5" (strong benefit) scale.
When asked if GP lenses would be obsolete in 2010, all of the respondents said "no." Many commented on the current and potential future impact of corneal refractive therapy/orthokeratology as well as of GP lens applications for presbyopic designs, high astigmatism and keratoconus. The GP industry must continue to reduce the initial awareness difference, but note that in these 18 categories, GP lenses were significantly better in 13, exhibited parity in four and significantly less in only one.
Students and residents could benefit from more GP clinical experience. A survey of Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE) members showed that efforts to expand educational programs and resources has increased in most of its respective institutions and that this trend should continue. Several large independent GP laboratories have provided workshops, and the RGP Lens Institute (RGPLI) provides programs coordinated by Ursula Lotzkat. The RGPLI, Polymer Technology and Paragon Vision Sciences have developed a number of new clinical educational resources. This trend is not limited to North America. The International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) has developed a comprehensive resource library. A significant component of this library is devoted to GP lenses.
TABLE 1Cornea and Contact Lens Diplomate Survey Responses
|CATEGORY||GP LENSES||SOFT LENSES|
|Quality of vision||4.80||3.74|
|Potential for reducing myopia progression||3.87||1.47|
|Ease of care||4.20||3.74|
|Ease of handling||3.94||3.27|
Dr. Bennett is an associate professor of optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and executive director of the RGP Lens Institute.