There are a variety of ways to develop and expand your practice which focus on your scleral lens fitting expertise.
Market Your Services to Colleagues
In order to grow your practice and obtain referrals, inform and meet with practitioners who do not fit specialty contact lenses. These practitioners could include optometrists, general ophthalmologists, corneal, glaucoma or retinal specialists, or other medical practitioners.
Scleral lenses have three major functions. They can be used to treat corneal irregularities, manage ocular surface disease, or correct refractive error. Scleral lenses are often used for the management of corneal ectasias such as keratoconus and pellucid marginal degeneration, the most common reason for scleral lens referrals.1,2 After penetrating-keratoplasty, scleral lenses can provide excellent vision in eyes with significant corneal irregularity and astigmatism,2 the second most common condition for scleral lens referrals. Furthermore, scleral lenses can be used to delay or avoid corneal transplantation altogether. It is beneficial for patients to work with corneal specialists and ophthalmologists in a collaborative manner. In patients with ocular GvHD (graft versus host disease), the most frequent and serious complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT),3 communicating the benefits of scleral lenses to oncologists is imperative. Scleral lenses benefit patients with autoimmune disease including Sjögren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Collaborating with rheumatologists in the care of these patients is extremely valuable.
Arrange a call or e-mail the practitioner or staff person you would like to meet with. Set up a time to speak via phone or for an in-person meeting to discuss how scleral lenses can benefit their patients and practice. Regular communication, either written or verbal, between practitioners is essential to provide optimal patient care.
More Marketing Ideas
Use your website anad social media to inform your existing patients and community about your services and scleral lens options. Many of your existing patients with healthy eyes and normal corneas may be candidates for scleral lenses. A happy patient can give a written or video testimonial to feature your expertise. Different types of media such as news publications, radio, television and social media can also be used to provide publicity. Offer to create an article or video about scleral lenses for the local news station or publication. The best way to elucidate the benefits of scleral lenses is a story of a happy patient.
To grow your scleral lens practice, create a list of keywords and claim your web pages. Use search engine optimization (SEO) to make your practice website straightforward for both patients and search engine robots to understand. Google is one of the largest search engines and hits can be obtained by typing in specific words. In order to draw potential patients to your site, it is critical to optimize certain keywords. For example, the word scleral lens or keratoconus could draw business to your scleral lens practice. Specific keywords of products, services, location and/or practice details will enable the right audience to find your practice.
Internal marketing is often the best form of advertising. Trained staff can initiate the discussion of scleral lenses that complement point-of-purchase materials within the practice such as brochures, videos, literature or patient testimonials. Staff members can identity appropriate patients to enthusiastically recommend unique scleral lens technologies and the expertise of the practice.
Additionally, becoming a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society permits you to list your name on their website, thus obtaining referrals. Associate with the National Keratoconus Foundation to obtain keratoconus referrals on their website.
These tips will not only enhance and grow your practice, but will improve the quality of life for your patients.
1. Dimit R, Gire A, Pflugfelder SC, Bergmanson JP. Patient ocular conditions and clinical outcomes using a PROSE scleral device. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2013;36:159-63.
2. Rosenthal P, Croteau A. Fluid-ventilated, gas-permeable scleral contact lens is an effective option for managing severe ocular surface disease and many corneal disorders that would otherwise require penetrating keratoplasty. Eye Contact Lens. 2005; 31:130-134.
3. Espana EM, Shah S, Santhiago MR, Singh AD. Graft versus host disease: clinical evaluation, diagnosis and management. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2013;251:1257-66.
Dr. Melissa Barnett is a Principal Optometrist at the UC Davis Eye Center in Sacramento, specializing in anterior segment disease and specialty contact lenses. Dr. Barnett is the Past President of The Scleral Lens Education Society. She lectures and publishes extensively on topics including dry eye, anterior segment disease, contact lenses and creating a healthy balance between work and home life for women in optometry.