Is This the New Norm?
Is Selling Contact Lenses the New Norm?
BY MILE BRUJIC, OD, FAAO, & DAVID L. KADING, OD, FAAO
We see it all the time when a new lens comes to market. We see information on it in all the publications and are educated about it through emails, videos, and meetings. Simultaneously, sales consultants educate us on the product’s attributes and encourage us to offer it to every patient who is a candidate for the lens. Does that make you a little uncomfortable? Does it feel a little bit like we are salespeople as opposed to healthcare practitioners?
What Is the Real Patient Need?
When reviewing the literature, it’s interesting to find out the reasons why patients discontinue contact lens wear. The overwhelming reason why a majority of individuals discontinue contact lens wear is because of dryness and discomfort (Dumbleton et al, 2013).
Whenever we saw this data, we couldn’t believe what was occurring with contact lens wearers; it was unrelatable to us. Our experiences showed that our contact lens wearers were extremely comfortable with their lenses. Or were they?
Reality Sets In
I remember the typical dialogue we would have with our contact lens wearers.
Eyecare Practitioner (ECP): How are your contact lenses?
Patient: They’re good!
ECP: Great! We’ll finalize your prescription for you today.
Our patients were seemingly comfortable, so the research we read seemed to not apply to our patients or our practice. But, after receiving advice from a well-respected practitioner, we decided to ask every contact lens wearer two additional questions:
1) On a scale from 0 to 10 (with 0 being the least comfortable your lenses could be and 10 being the most comfortable your lenses could be), please rate the comfort of your contact lenses about 5 to 10 minutes after you place them on your eyes.
2) Now, please rate the comfort of your lenses using that same scale about 5 to 10 minutes before you take them out.
What we found was pretty surprising. We found that a number of contact lens wearers whom we thought were comfortable were, in fact, much less comfortable than we thought. In reality, we had a misunderstanding of our patients’ true wearing experience.
We have now employed strategies such as the one discussed above to help us better understand the true wearing experience of our patients. By doing this, our efforts can be very focused on the unmet needs of our patients and on solving problems that we simply didn’t know existed.
Taking this approach, we never have to sell new technologies. Rather, we simply provide our patients with solutions that may better meet their needs. This understanding has allowed us to be very active with regard to understanding our patients’ true needs and fitting the latest contact lens technologies to better meet those needs.
If selling contact lenses is the new norm, we don’t want to be normal. CLS
Special thanks to Dr. Fred Goldberg, who recommended that we scale our patients’ response to comfort. It has changed our perspective on patient comfort in their contact lenses.
For references, please visit www.clspectrum.com/references and click on document #247.
Dr. Brujic is a partner of Premier Vision Group, a three-location optometric practice in northwest Ohio. He has received honoraria in the past two years for speaking, writing, participating in an advisory capacity, or research from Alcon Laboratories, B+L, Bruder, Optovue, RPS, SpecialEyes, and VMax Vision and has received research funding from Optovue and SpecialEyes. Dr. Kading owns the Specialty Dry Eye and Contact Lens Center in Seattle. He is the co-owner of Optometric Insights with Dr. Mile Brujic. He has received honoraria for consulting, performing research, speaking, and/or writing from Alcon Laboratories, Allergan, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Oculus, OptoVue, RPS Detectors, Paragon Vision Sciences, TearScience, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Valley Contax, VSO, ZeaVision, and Zeiss. Follow him on Twitter @davekading.