The Business of Contact Lenses

Let the GPLI Help You Set Your Practice Apart

The Business of Contact Lenses

Let the GPLI Help You Set Your Practice Apart

By Clarke D. Newman, OD, FAAO

When I was in school, our idea of high tech was hitting the ground with a stick (to steal from Mel Brooks). Since that time we've come a long way, but not always for the better. I have iPhone apps that calculate crossed cylinders, plus I have gloves and everything. (Sorry Mr. Brooks, I can't help it.) We are so much better off than we were back then, but as I have said before, and as Dr. Irv Borish has admonished us many times: “Don't leave a vacuum.”

What's Missing

Well, we have left a vacuum in GP prescribing instruction. There, I said it. It had to be said. While many of my colleagues will take great umbrage at such an assertion, I will stick to my guns—although some of the schools and colleges of optometry do a better job in this area than others do.

One of the things that can set your contact lens practice apart from those around you is the ability to prescribe corneal, corneo-scleral, and scleral GP lenses with something resembling acumen. However, with the didactic and clinical education in that area so limited when compared to what I received in the 1980s, what is a young practitioner to do?

The answer is to look for resources in our community that can aid in that effort. One very good resource for GP lenses is the Gas Permeable Lens Institute (GPLI), which can be found on the web at Now, I have to disclose here that I am on the GPLI Advisory Board. So, I am a bit biased in my opinion of the GPLI. Plus, I prescribe many GP lenses in my practice.

A Great Resource

So, what can the GPLI do for you? Well, one of its best features is frequent webinars on topics related to GP lenses. Another is online tools for calculating toric and multifocal lens designs. There are troubleshooting guides and prescribing guides (I hate the word “fitting”) that can be invaluable when you run into a problem.

The GPLI has a newsletter. I believe everyone should subscribe to this newsletter because it always contains good information. It comes out every other month or so and can be very helpful.

The GPLI offers a tremendous database of GP materials and solutions. The materials list contains many of the properties that are helpful to know when designing certain types of lenses such as torics and multifocals.

You'll find a list of labs that are members of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA), which is comprised of labs that fabricate rigid lenses. The GPLI is part of the CLMA.

The care, handling, and application videos on the GPLI's website are particularly valuable. Also, the consumer information offered by the GPLI can come in really handy. You can order a laundry list of educational materials to distribute in your office that promote and educate.

Finally, the GPLI hosts symposiums. This year's Symposium will be, “GP Lens Practice… Today and Tomorrow.” It will be held this month on Oct. 23rd in Chicago, Ill. For more information on the Symposium, you can go to the website and click the “Events” tab.

Let the GPLI help you create a GP practice that will set you apart from your colleagues. CLS

Dr. Newman has been in private practice in Dallas, Texas since 1986 specializing in vision rehabilitation through contact lenses as well as corneal disease management, optometric medicine and refractive surgery. He is also a consultant or advisor to B+L. You can reach him at