Contact Lens Practice Pearls
Are Daily Disposables Worth It?
BY JESSICA H. MATHEW, OD, PHD, FAAO
We all know that typically, if someone can show us the value in something, we’ll pay the cost. We do this every day, especially when it also buys convenience: smartphones, gym memberships, eating out, satellite radio, spa treatments, club memberships for luxury amenities, etc.
Patients often have misperceptions about daily disposable contact lenses—that they are excessive (because “why would you throw away a perfectly good lens?”) and unnecessary (because their current lenses “work just fine”—but do they really?). As practitioners, we know the advantages that replacing a lens every day can offer: hassle-free convenience, less lens deposits (especially with SiHy materials that, in turn, provide a more breathable option to those who deposit easily), elimination of most sensitivities to solutions and environment, a healthy option for children…the list goes on.
I don’t think that I need to convince you of the multitude of advantages associated with daily disposable contact lenses, but I do think that we need to convince our patients of this. It is often our tendency to timidly suggest daily disposables because we think that once patients realize the cost, they automatically won’t be interested. While this is often likely to be true, don’t let that discourage you from prescribing this modality—especially if it is the best option for a particular patient. A “crafty” approach can help you “convince” your patients, or, better yet, let them convince themselves.
Show Patients the Value
We have the distinct advantage with our business to allow patients to test products out before spending money on them. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take home several computers or mattresses to decide which one we really like before committing to such a large price tag? We essentially have nothing to lose by allowing patients to trial a newer design or material lens, and we’d be selling ourselves short by not doing this regularly.
Contact lens options are continually changing; newer technologies are likely improvements over what patients currently wear, and we need to advocate for them more. When you go to the car dealership, it doesn’t have the old outdated cars sitting in the showroom, and we’d probably run the other way if a dealer tried to sell us an older model. Rather than even bringing up costs, focus on the advantages of the lens. Tell your patients the truth: you value their vision and comfort, and, based on their lifestyle, symptoms, previous contact lens history, etc., you recommend this newer lens option over their current lenses. Tell them that you are going to let them give it a try for a week (or two) to see how they like it. Make it your recommendation, not an option. It’s very likely that they will return happier with end-of-day comfort and excited about the convenience.
It’s Not About Cost
When it comes time to talk cost, remember that no one goes into a store or medical practitioner’s office hoping for the cheapest merchandise or equipment. No one wants an outdated computer, and no one wants his dentist to use aluminum fillings on his teeth. People expect the newest, most up-to-date technologies.
Surveys show that Americans fear losing their eyesight more than any other long-term health condition, so it is not unreasonable for patients to pay a little more for their lenses, especially considering the amount saved from not purchasing solutions and cases. Also, many companies offer good rebates that help lower the cost, and many patients have insurance to further offset costs. You have to believe that the comfort and convenience are worth the cost—our eyes and our vision are the most important things on which to spend our money. CLS
Dr. Mathew is a research assistant professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. She manages patients who have severe corneal distortions and require specialty contact lenses, and she is also involved in basic science and clinical trial research with The Ocular Surface Institute. She has received research funding from Allergan, CooperVision, Clearlab, Essilor, Shire, TearLab, Menicon, and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.