Contact Lens Success: Vision or Comfort?
BY CARLA J. MACK, OD, FAAO, EDITOR
I've argued that contact lens success or a satisfied contact lens wearer is probably more related to visual performance than to lens comfort. It's my impression that patients are more likely to tolerate contact lens discomfort before they're willing to tolerate blur. You might imagine I'm not a big fan of the term "20/happy," even though I have patients who fit that definition.
While some practitioners agree with these statements, others may say contact lens success expressed by happy and satisfied patients is weighted more toward contact lenses that provide all day comfort. In reality, it's a combination to varying degrees of both visual performance and great comfort depending on each individual patient. In fact, recent definitions of dry eye by expert panels include quality of vision in their definition.
I'm not trying to oversimplify the care of patients by stating that a simple change in contact lens material or solution will result in happy patients. Often it's not so simple. We can't overlook compliance, personality, the environment, the situation and the patient's systemic and ocular health. The challenge is to first carefully determine all the right pieces to the vision and comfort puzzle. Managing, solving and improving patient symptoms of contact lens blur and discomfort can be frustrating at times but also very rewarding for both you and the patient.
It's easy to become complacent and too familiar with one lens material, onesolution and one brand. With all the innovative products and options, your best tool is still your brain. Know the products you're prescribing, use your prior clinical experience and read the literature. Incorporate those aspects to make the best solution and lens recommendation for each patient. The outcome: successful contact lens wearers. Isn't that what it's all about?