GPs and Young Practitioners
BY EDWARD S. BENNETT, OD, MSED
One of the greatest challenges that experienced contact lens practitioners and GP lens manufacturers face is how to effectively communicate the benefits and applications of GP lenses so that young practitioners will better embrace them. I recently interviewed several young optometrists, all members of the GP Lens Institute Advisory Committee, about how they position GP lenses in their practices and why their emphasis on GP lenses has helped them succeed. I noted the following common themes that can apply to every practice.
Application of Technology
It's no secret that an increasing percentage of spherical GP lenses are fit empirically. Unless an inventory is available, empirical fitting can offer the patient a more positive initial experience because of the potential wow factor that good vision can provide. Current lathes can produce consistent edges, ultrathin constructions and relatively low edge clearance aspheric or pseudo-aspheric peripheries, providing good centration and less initial awareness than in past rigid lens designs.
An Alternative to Soft Lenses
Patients deserve the Pepsi Challenge test. An astigmatic patient who experiences transient blur from a series of soft toric lenses, a highly astigmatic patient who desires better vision, young progressive myopes and presbyopicpatients who desire to see well at all distances are examples of patients to whom you should offer GP lenses as an alternative to soft lenses. Newer designs, topical anesthetic use when needed and providing realistic expectations will all help you succeed.
Managing Irregular Corneas
A growing number of young practitioners are working with corneal specialists and ultimately manage a large number of keratoconus, post-refractive surgery, corneal trauma, pellucid marginal degeneration, Intacs (Addition Technology) and post corneal transplant patients with GP lenses. The optical quality of the lenses, including an increased emphasis on aberration-control, and the ocular health benefits of GP lenses are important in these cases.
However, you don't need to be in a specialty practice to fit GP lenses on irregular corneas. You can work closely with your laboratory consultant to carefully assess fluorescein patterns and make changes accordingly, and with patience you can succeed in these cases. Having access to a corneal topographer, including through a referral to another practice, is important in these cases as well. Avoid the temptation to simply fit a soft lens or refer to a specialist. Dramatically improving the quality of a patient's life is a powerful reward.
In a competitive environment in which patients increasingly consider contact lenses accommodity, it makes "cents" to include GP lenses which generate higher fees and increase profitability as an important component of a contact lens practice. Fitting GP lenses can also garner referrals from very satisfied patients as well as boost your patient retention and self-satisfaction.
Success begins with well-trained staff members who truly believe GPs are a valuable option. Teach them to be positive in their approach to discussing GPs and to effectively train patients on the care and handling of GP lenses.
Well-established contact lens practitioners commonly believe that GP lenses are essential to the growth and success of a practice. However, this column primarily reflects the thoughts of several young practitioners. Any young practitioner can experience the many benefits of fitting GP lenses with the help of CLMA laboratory consultants, the GP Lens Institute and its various online resources, and a desire to help each individual patient see the world as clearly as possible.
Dr. Bennett acknowledges Drs. Brad Giedd, Shawna Hill, Michelle Lee, Kaaryn Pederson and Jeff Sonsino for their help with this article.
Dr. Bennett is an associate professor of optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is executive director of the GP Lens Institute.