the contact lens exam
Structure Your Office for Effective Contact Lens Training
BY GREGORY J. NIXON, OD, FAAO
As experienced contact lens fitters, we have all dealt with the myriad of complications that arise from contact lens noncompliance. This is particularly frustrating as it is well known that contact lenses are a safe and effective method of vision correction when worn and cared for properly.
Therefore, it is critical to emphasize the importance of proper lens care and handling to new contact lens wearers during the initial fitting examination. This will harness new contact lens wearers' excitement and lead them to adopt good lens care habits that will help prevent contact lens complications and allow them to enjoy a lifetime of successful lens wear.
Have a Little Class
In my office, we have created a separate appointment for new lens wearers called a contact lens class. This appointment goes beyond the exam room fitting with the practitioner and focuses solely on educating patients about contact lens care and proper lens application, removal, and handling techniques. Creating an additional appointment with the practitioner or an ophthalmic assistant highlights the importance of continued contact lens care after a professional fitting and sends the message that patients need to take personal responsibility to maintain compliance with that continued care.
For patient convenience, try to schedule the contact lens class appointment immediately following a new contact lens fitting examination. Our office also reserves two one-and-a-half-hour time periods per week when an ophthalmic assistant's schedule is blocked out to offer contact lens classes to patients who are unable to perform training on the day of the fitting. These reserved contact lens class slots also allow patients who are struggling with applying and removing their contact lenses to return for further instruction.
Provide the Right Environment
One of the keys to successful contact lens training is to establish a proper setting within the office for education to occur. Lens application can be a difficult encounter for some new wearers, so limiting the scrutiny of others is advisable. I recommend that you have a private area that is not exposed to an eyewear dispensary, reception area, or other patient waiting area. This not only eliminates unnecessary distractions from the important elements of contact lens education, but also provides a safe, private environment for new wearers to practice lens application and removal.
Other key elements for an effective contact lens training area include:
- Good lighting
- A sink with optical soap to promote hand washing and good hygiene prior to all contact lens handling
- Multiple mirrors of various magnifications and orientations
- Visual displays of proper and improper lens handling, application, and removal techniques
- Visual displays of ocular complications that can result from improper contact lens care to help reinforce the importance of compliance
- Proper supplies such as disinfecting solutions, cases, tissues, and instruction handouts
Lead by Example
Your patients will only take compliance with contact lens care seriously if you do. Make sure that you structure your exam and appointment sequence, office layout, key staff people, and fitting policies to highlight the value and importance of proper lens care.
My next contact lens exam column will discuss key elements to review during a new wearer contact lens training session. CLS
Dr. Nixon is an associate professor of clinical optometry and the extern coordinator at The Ohio University College of Optometry. He is also in a group private practice in Westerville, Ohio.