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CONTACT LENS PRACTICE PEARLS

MY EYES ARE TOO DRY TO WEAR CONTACT LENSES

How many times have you heard this from patients? There is a large bucket of patients who have “tried” contact lenses in the past, but stopped wearing them from “perceived” dryness. It could be clinical dry eye, and in those cases, it may be difficult to return to contact lens wear until their ocular surface disease is treated. In many of these cases though, patients have dropped out most likely due to contact lens-induced dryness.

Older contact lens technology, poor compliance, and improper wearing habits have most likely contributed to this. Engage these previous dropouts to upgrade this group of patients back into lens wear. Here is a simulated conversation for a common patient encounter.

1. Acknowledge Their Prior History

This starts with your staff technicians. “Hi, Mrs. Smith. I understand you have had a history of contact lens wear, but no longer wear them because they seemed to dry out your eyes.”

Staff technicians can relate to your patient and introduce the idea of potentially wearing them again. “I’m not sure whether you know this, but our eyecare practitioners specialize in the newest contact lens options available. I see them fit previously unsuccessfully contact lens wearers all the time. You may want to reconsider trying them, even if on a part-time basis, with some of the newest daily disposable lenses.”

2. Gather the Data

After obtaining your patients’ refractive status and understanding their ocular surface health, discuss contact lens options. “Well, Mrs. Smith, your vision has changed, and I have analyzed your ocular surface health. You are an excellent candidate to wear contact lenses if you desire.”

Describe advances in technology that may enable them to wear lenses again. “I understand that you had previously worn contact lenses, but stopped wearing them due to dryness. There are many new advances in lens designs that increase the lens hydration while it is being worn. These new lenses are often in daily disposable designs, and I would expect you to have a better wearing experience with those lenses.”

3. Show a Picture, and Make the Recommendation

A picture can go a long way, and showing a demo of contact lens surface dryness versus a smooth surface will help your patients understand how they may be successful (Figure 1). “I recommend lens X because of its hydration properties and high comfort rankings. This lens is prescribed to be worn on a (daily, extended, weekly, monthly, etc.) basis. Many patients dropped out of contact lenses previously because they were wearing the lenses for too long and without proper cleaning habits.”

Figure 1. Demonstrate the tears breaking up so patients can understand how that relates to their contact lens comfort.

Conclusion

There are contact lens options for just about every patient out there. My hope is that we won’t hear “My eyes are too dry to wear contact lenses!” anymore. If a patient is going to drop out of contact lens wear, I want it to be because of some other reason than contact lens dryness or discomfort while wearing them. Look for these opportunities, and focus on recapturing those patients. CLS