It's Time for All of Us to Step up
BY JASON J. NICHOLS, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO
Lately I've been feeling that the industry is at a crossroads in a way. For instance, I've been wondering about the potential impact of industry consolidation in terms of the development of novel and innovative products. There has been relatively little activity in the market recently in terms of major product launches—we have seen some advances in specialty lens designs (both soft and GP), but there have been relatively few advances in contact lens materials or entirely new lens care solutions made available to us. Finally, and related to all of this, there may be a general lack of growth in the contact lens portion of the ophthalmic industry. So, where are things going from here?
I have to say that we are quite fortunate in continuing to have patients who are interested in wearing contact lenses. Whether the reason is for visual correction alone, to improve cosmesis, to facilitate convenience, or otherwise, it seems apparent to me that patient interest in contact lenses remains strong. How can we then optimize our ability to care for our patients who desire to wear contact lenses?
I think a few things need to happen. First, industry must launch new products that not only meet patient needs, but also create even more interest in wearing contact lenses. We need to move beyond incremental advances and rebranding. I've seen some potential industry activity in this regard, and I believe that we might see some exciting new products enter the market within the next year.
The next step is that practitioners must adopt these products. It's critical that we are all proactive in promoting and prescribing as much as possible. Why not offer that neophyte a chance to be free from glasses? Return a prior dropout to part-time wear? Prescribe a pharmaceutical to make a patient more comfortable in his lenses? Fit the child (and his teenage sister) in contact lenses?
If we all work together on these things, I believe this will help ensure that we stay off the road least taken and on the road to continued growth and success.