2007 Reader Survey
BY CARLA J. MACK, OD, FAAO, EDITOR
Market research has always interested me, and we've reported on a number of eyeopening surveys in the last year. As in years past, in 2007 we conducted a Reader Profile Survey to get a glimpse of our readers' opinions on a number of relevant topics. We received 227 responses to our survey from 142 males and 85 females with more than 60 percent in solo or group practices. Of the 227, 73 percent were optometrists, 10 percent were opticians, 10 percent were contact lens technicians and 7 percent were ophthalmologists.
Our readers report that silicone hydrogel fits and refits are still on the rise at 52 percent compared with just 38 percent in 2005. For hydrogel lens fits and refits, daily disposables rose to 12 percent and one- and three-month planned replacement rose to 34 percent, up from 8 percent and 29 percent in 2005 respectively. Twoweek disposable fits and refits are still most common at 47 percent, but this is down from 56 percent two years ago. GP fits and refits remain steady at 11 percent.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents feel their contact lens practice will grow over the next few years, with the majority reporting increases in business expected with silicone hydrogels (two-week and one-month), daily disposables, torics and bifocals/multifocals. Market share data shows slow movement with daily disposables in the United States, but 66 percent of our readers expect this segment to increase. Two years ago, 57 percent felt business from daily disposables would stay the same.
Our readers have become more cynical over the last few years with regard to patient compliance. When asked what percentages of patients they feel are compliant with lens replacement schedules and lens care regimens, not surprisingly all reported lower percentages of patient compliance for disposable, daily disposable, monthly and three-month lens replacement compared with compliance percentages in 2005. Lens care regimens took the biggest hit, with reported compliance of 53 percent in 2005 compared with 9 percent reported compliance in 2007. Ninety-two percent of respondents are recommending a specific brand of lens care for each contact lens patient, listing reasons of material/solution compatibility, comfort and complimentary start kit (in descending order). Solution recalls haven't significantly altered our readers' lens care prescribing habits. They estimate that 79 percent of their patients are using chemical or multipurpose solutions and that 20 percent are using hydrogen peroxide systems, up from 14 percent of reported peroxide users two years ago.
Whether you feel these data are representative of your practice or not, several clear trends are emerging. There is opportunity to grow your contact lens practice with daily disposables and with specialty lens designs including torics, especially silicone hydrogel torics, and multifocal designs. It's evident that improvements are needed in our methods of educating our patients on lens wear and lens care compliance. Finally, recent recalls have not shaken contact lens practitioners' confidence.