Obituary for GPs Premature
By Edward S. Bennett, OD, MSED, FAAO
In Professor Nathan Efron's article, “Obituary—Rigid Contact Lenses,” in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, he emphasizes lack of clinical training as a reason why he believes GP lenses are dying (or “dead” in his opinion).
Actually, comparing the GP market from 2009 to 2010, it is relatively stable in the United States (Nichols, 2009; Nichols, 2010). In Contact Lens Spectrum's October 2010 GP Annual Report, it was mentioned that according to a survey of the GP Lens Institute (GPLI) Advisory Committee, the three areas of greatest potential growth in the GP market are (in decreasing order): multifocal designs, scleral lenses, and overnight orthokeratology. There are several reasons to be optimistic for the future.
There are several online clinical resources when managing different types of GP patients. Eye-Dock (eyedock.com) offers lens databases and design calculators. The GPLI (gpli.info) has a searchable database for GP designs and the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA) member laboratories that make the lenses. There are clinical resources including a narrated PowerPoint and a module on GP management of presbyopia to help educate not only practitioners, but staff and patients as well. A downloadable GP Clinical Manual for managing spherical and specialty patients, the Mandell-Moore Bitoric Calculator, and a GP Grand Rounds Troubleshooting Guide are also available. The latter is a case-based online text with more than 70 cases pertaining to managing different types of spherical, high astigmatic, presbyopic, corneal reshaping, and irregular cornea patients. There is also the opportunity to be listed in the doctor locator on the consumer site contactlenses.org. If you want your patients to learn more about contact lenses, consider linking your office Web site to allaboutvision.com and contactlenses.org.
Several resources have been added to the GPLI site, including a four-part narrated series on the GP management of keratoconus from Christine Sindt, OD, FAAO. The toric calculator from Thomas Quinn, OD, MS, FAAO, allows you to input keratometry readings and refraction and then dynamically shows the resulting powers and base curve radii. “Click N' Fit” is a simulated fitting program that allows you to observe the effect of lens design changes on fluorescein patterns; it also helps with problem solving spherical lens designs. As comfort is often a factor that influences prescribing habits, a PowerPoint titled “Optimizing the Initial Comfort of GP Lenses” addresses this important issue. Updates also are provided regularly on Facebook (facebook.com/gplens.)
A number of symposia emphasize the clinical applications of GPs. The Global Specialty Lens Symposium emphasizes GP lens fitting and problem-solving. Other programs include the Bronstein Contact Lens and Cornea Seminar, the Orthokeratology Academy of America, and the University of Houston's annual Cornea, Contact Lens and Contemporary Vision Care Symposium.
The GPLI also sponsors GP education and recently initiated regional standalone symposia. The GPLI and many laboratories provide webinars on specialty GP fitting and troubleshooting. They also provide case grand rounds workshops at schools and colleges of optometry.
Bright Future for GPs
GP resources are abundant. With the ongoing introduction of high-success-rate multifocal designs, variable-diameter and initially comfortable scleral designs, innovative keratoconus and post-surgical designs, and orthokeratology lenses with a high first-fit success rate, the future looks even brighter for GP lenses. CLS
For references, please visit www.clspectrum.com/references.asp and click on document #183.
Dr. Bennett is Assistant Dean for Student Services and Alumni Relations at the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry and is executive director of the GP Lens Institute. You can reach him at email@example.com.