Contact Lens Practice Pearls
Five Steps for Improving Patient Compliance
BY JOHN MARK JACKSON, OD, MS, FAAO
I recently read an article online about the importance of taking care of your contact lenses. I wish I could say that the reader comments were insightful and encouraging, but they weren’t.
Comments ranged from “I keep my lenses in for three months and my eyes are fine!” to “Bloodsucking docterz wants yer moneez!”
Of course, we are trying to look out for their long-term eye health and comfort. Following are some suggestions for motivating your patients to follow the rules.
Features Tell; Benefits Sell
I learned this little adage long before I got interested in eyes. This sales maxim means that customers don’t just need to know what a product will do, but how that product will improve their lives. Don’t just tell Ms. Jones that she needs to rub her lenses clean, but explain how that will improve her comfort throughout the wear cycle. Explain how topping off her solution can lead to an eye infection that could prevent her from working, or even result in losing an eye.
Don’t Just Tell Them; Show Them
I would rather watch an online video on how to do something than read about how to do it (or at least have a lot of photos in the written instructions).
Most people are visual learners. Having patients watch lens care videos in the waiting room can be an effective reminder on the proper steps. Giving them the opportunity to view a video on lens application and removal before your tech teaches them can make it easier for them to understand those steps as well.
Figure 1. Take a photo of your patient’s lens deposits to show them.
Give Them the Tools They Need
Send patients home with materials to reinforce what you taught them. Some contact lens companies provide appropriate written materials, or you can download patient instruction sheets from the Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators (AOCLE) at www.aocle.org—with evidence-based literature citations! Encourage patients to use a smartphone app or calendar to remind them when it’s time to replace lenses and cases. Consider daily disposables as well.
Make It Personal
Hearing about bad things that happen to other people is not as effective as showing patients how something affects them. Photos or videos of their eyes and their lenses can be more effective in making your point. Figure 1, a photo taken with a smartphone held near the slit lamp ocular, shows large areas of non-wetting from deposits on a patient’s scleral lens. After seeing the photo, she understood how modifying her care routine could improve her comfort and vision.
Partner With the Patient
I think the days of authoritative medicine are long gone. You are less likely to get your message across with today’s healthcare consumers if your instructions come across as, “Because I’m the specialist and I say so, that’s why!”
Patient compliance is always going to be a challenge. Hopefully these tips will help you and your patients have better contact lens success. CLS
Dr. Jackson is an associate professor at Southern College of Optometry where he works in the Advanced Contact Lens Service, teaches courses in contact lenses, and performs clinical research. You can reach him at email@example.com.