I recently visited the office of a practitioner who was in his fourth decade of providing eye care. His practice was slightly outdated but well put together. I sat in on his exam and could see why his patients came back to him. He was kind, generous, and loving. He truly looked out for the best interest of his patients, even if it meant a lower sale for himself. I loved it.
During my tour of his practice, we went by his contact lens fitting set room. At many practices that I have visited, I have observed around 20 to 25 fitting sets. The sets represent an accumulation of the last few years of fitting different lens designs. Sometimes, there is even a fitting set in a corner that has not been unwrapped yet, because their rep had just ordered it for them (last week or seven months ago). Daily, two-week, and monthly lenses in spherical, toric, and multifocal designs are all represented. Understandably, the number of fitting sets “needed” quickly adds up.
The Trophy Collectors
But then there are the contact lens hoarders, and you know who you are. These practitioners sometimes have 50 or more fitting sets. This describes the practitioner with whom I was meeting. His contact lens fitting room had shelves that went from floor to ceiling. I saw lenses that had entered the market long before I started optometry school. Not only did he have shelves of contact lenses, he had drawers with contact lenses—in vials.
The best part of the whole room was the expiration dates. I found a fitting set with lenses that were 15 years expired. I asked the technician in the room whether the practitioner ever used the fitting sets, and she said, “no, but he likes to have them just in case he needs them.” Just in case he needs them?! Why would he need a lens fitting set that is 15 years expired and no longer manufactured?
To some practitioners, these fitting sets are trophies of old. They are a connection to the hundreds of patients with whom they successfully fit the lenses. I can connect with that.
Free Up Some Space
The problem with a room full of history is that it creates clutter. Not just physical clutter, but mental and emotional clutter. Barry Schwartz wrote The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. He explains that while we think that more choices mean that we have better options and more satisfaction, the opposite is true. Having excessive choices makes us question our decisions and is detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. Mr. Schwartz says that eliminating excessive choices may reduce our stress and anxiety and leave us with greater satisfaction.
My clinic used to have 25 trophy sets, and I remember walking into my trial room, looking at all of my options, and thinking, “I have no idea which to pick.” I also remember when I used to give my patients three lens choices and ask them to come back with the ones that they liked the best. Patients often would return for their follow up struggling with the decision and less satisfied once one was made.
Now, we house a small closet of fitting sets at each of our three locations. Each closet has three families of daily disposable lens sets: two silicone hydrogel and one hydrogel. Each family has a spherical and toric design, and two of the families have a multifocal. These three lens families are the ones that I believe are the best for my patients and my practice. As such, they are the ones into which I fit 78% of our patients—and into which I am working to convert the remaining 22% of my patients. I now offer patients one lens choice.
Once I chose my favored lenses, I eliminated the rest of the fitting sets. That way, I’m not faced everyday with too many lens choices. If there is a vision or a health issue, which is not as often as you might think, we order a trial of another brand.
Trophies are fantastic; but put them in a museum, not in your contact lens fitting room. CLS