Laboratory Consultants: Your Most Valuable GP Resource
BY EDWARD S. BENNETT, OD, MSED, FAAO
The most valuable and most underutilized resource for any practitioner fitting GP lenses—notably specialty designs—is the consultation and related services provided by the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA). These benefits include the following.
Laboratories have experienced consultants who can guide you through the entire design, fitting, and problem-solving process. By consulting with practitioners daily, consultants are qualified to answer any question, and they offer a history of success with challenging patients. Consultants are also the first to indicate that they take great pleasure in helping practitioners who are beginning their journey into fitting GP lenses and that no question is too routine. Consultants essentially serve as the "decision-making tree" for any potential GP wearer, and they are well qualified to serve in this role.
Liberal warranty programs offered by CLMA member laboratories also help reduce practitioner apprehension about fitting specialty lenses.
In a competitive market, the laboratories that have succeeded in 2010 have done so as a result of not only embracing new technology and innovative designs, but also through the customer service provided by their staff, especially the consultants.
Most laboratories have Web sites with a large and increasing number of practitioner resources. At minimum, sites will provide product information, often including fitting guides and/or calculators as well as problem-solving information and possibly articles and supplemental information about their lens designs.
Valley Contax, Blanchard, and Art Optical are examples of laboratories with Web-based educational presentations. Some labs participate with associate CLMA members to provide webinars, such as the one for Paragon Vision Science's CRT lens. Many make sure that their accounts are aware of the resources available to them through the CLMA/GP Lens Institute and they link with the gpli.info Web site.
Many laboratories offer online ordering. Diversified Ophthalmics is an example of a laboratory that provides both online account access and online consultation services.
Many laboratories provide consumer lens education as well. This includes care and handling videos, GP lens benefits, and who makes a good GP lens candidate. ABBA Optical has a Web site limited to consumer presbyopic lens education. Several link with consumer-based sites. Valley Contax encourages accounts to link with contactlenses.org and allaboutvision.com.
A Successful Partnership
Successful practitioners in 2010 typically obtain a significant percentage of office revenue from contact lenses and contact lenswearing patients. An integral part of this formula for success is fitting the appropriate contact lens to a given patient. This is difficult to accomplish without the CLMA member laboratories that are rich in information, customer service, and consultation services. We should utilize everything that laboratories have to offer. The longterm benefits can be nothing short of remarkable. CLS
I would like to acknowledge the following laboratories for help with this article: ABBA Optical, ABB Concise, Accu Lens, Advanced Vision Technologies, Art Optical, Blanchard Contact Lens, Corneal Design Corporation, Diversified Ophthalmics Inc., Essilor, Lancaster Contact Lens, Lens Dynamics, Opticon, Quality Contact Lens, Polychem Inc., Soderberg Ophthalmic Services, and Valley Contax.
Dr. Bennett is an associate professor of optometry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is executive director of the GP Lens Institute.