contact lens practice pearls
Presenting the GP Lens Option
BY THOMAS G. QUINN, OD, MS, FAAO
Times have never been better for the GP lens fitter. We have outstanding materials, designs and technological advances at our fingertips, so why aren't we fitting more GP lenses?
GP lenses are widely regarded to offer crisp vision, easy care and a healthy ocular environment. Most would agree that GP lens wearers stay with the practitioner who fits them and will most likely purchase all their lenses from the same provider. Patient retention and increased material sales are great contributors to a healthy bottom line.
The Stumbling Block
To take advantage of the many benefits of GP lenses, practitioners must overcome one large hurdle: Comfort. More specifically, that you and your staff are comfortable with presenting and managing GP lenses before this option works for you.
Patients come to us for our guidance and expertise. They may ask for soft lenses, but this is because many aren't aware of GP lenses and their many benefits. It's our job as vision care professionals to explore what contact lens option is best for each patient and, if GP lenses are the answer, to commit to them with confidence.
Start With Education
Begin by educating the patient about the benefits of GP lenses. For example, at the completion of the refraction, briefly mention, "Besides being nearsighted, you also have astigmatism. I'm going to take the astigmatism correction out of this instrument so you can see the effect it has on your vision." When you then proceed to discuss contact lens options, explaining that GP lenses will correct the nearsightedness and astigmatism in a healthy, easy-to-manage and economical way, patients get it.
Education is key to success. If you don't take the time to demonstrate and explain the benefits, the patient wonders why he can't get soft lenses like his friend. With education, he'll work with you to achieve success.
How do I prepare the patient for the initial physical awareness of a GP lens in a positive and realistic way? Use words such as "awareness" rather than "hurt" or "irritation." A common analogy I use that seems to click for patients: "It's similar to wearing a watch or ring for the first time. You notice it at first, then you gradually adapt until it becomes a part of you."
I find many are further comforted when I explain it's the eyelid, more than the eye, that must adapt to the lens presence. The eyes are a sensitive area, psychologically as well as physically.
I find instillation of a drop of anesthetic at the time of initial lens application helpful. Bennett, Smythe, Henry et al (1998), have shown it improves long-term patient acceptance of GP lenses. It also helps minimize tearing, allowing me to assess the fit and vision more efficiently.
Whatever you do, don't dwell on the comfort issue too long. The more you tell patients it's not a big deal, the bigger deal it becomes! Inform and then move on. Enjoy the superior performance provided by GPs.
Dr. Quinn is in group practice in Athens, Ohio and has served as a faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Optometry.