Contact Lens Practice Pearls
Ready for Something New?
BY JASON R. MILLER, OD, MBA, FAAO
Who, when, and why should we consider upgrading or offering a change in contact lens design, material, or modality? During a typical clinic day, we often have many, many opportunities to upgrade contact lens patients into something newer. Do you take that opportunity or just settle on rewriting the same contact lens prescription for them?
Many factors can play into that decision. For example, if you are running behind and don’t want to take the time that day, you may decide to just keep a patient in the same contact lens. Additionally, you may like the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. Whatever your reason to not make that offer, our patients typically like to have the newest things for their eyes—just like we want the newest cell phone in our pocket. Following are a few reasons to consider taking that opportunity to upgrade patients—or to at least make the offer:
• To develop the perception as an innovator to your patients.
• To add increased value to the contact lens evaluation fee.
• To proactively improve the contact lens wearing experience and potentially prevent contact lens dropouts.
• To improve care of patients.
Most patients like to hear about the newest designs and would consider finding another practitioner if you are not offering the best for their vision. This was demonstrated with a survey of presbyopic patients in which 33% of respondents indicated that they would likely seek services of another practitioner if their current one did not inform them of multifocal options (Studebaker, 2009). This same survey revealed that only about 8% of lens wearers reported being told about multifocal lenses after reporting near vision complaints with their current lenses.
There are two types of contact lens refits: patient- and practitioner-initiated.
Patient-Initiated Patient-initiated refits make this process easy. Patients come in complaining of something—comfort or vision usually—and want to try something new.
They may have heard about a new colored contact lens, a new daily disposable lens, or a new multifocal contact lens from an advertisement or a co-worker. They usually tell you what they want, and they often don’t want to settle for something else.
Practitioner-Initiated Practitioner-initiated refits take more effort, but can yield the highest results. These patients typically are not unhappy with their lenses, and they don’t necessarily pay attention to what’s new or exciting in the contact lens industry.
They come to their eyecare provider to update their contact lens prescription, but they may want to hear about new designs that can improve their comfort or visual satisfaction over their current lenses. Many patients will at least like to try a new lens. Even if they do not, you have set the stage for a future upgrade.
This starts with education and explaining the why. Explain what makes the newest products great and why they should consider changing to this design. It may be improved oxygen transmissibility, improved compliance, and/or the highest level of comfort. Whatever the reason, be sure to relate the technology to a patient’s specific visual condition.
Patients will talk to each other. Would you prefer that they heard about a new lens from an advertisement, a friend, or another co-worker? Or, would you rather be the one telling them that they are an excellent candidate for one of the newest lenses on the market?
Take the time to upgrade your patients, or to at least present them with the opportunity to try something new. Improved patient loyalty may be one result, but you also may be surprised by what your patients decide to do. CLS
For references, please visit www.clspectrum.com/references and click on document #235.
Dr. Miller is in a partnership private practice in Powell, Ohio, and is an adjunct faculty member for The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He has received honoraria for writing, speaking, acting in an advisory capacity, or research from Alcon, Allergan, CooperVision, and Visioneering Technologies. You can reach him at email@example.com.