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Discomfort is the number one reason why patients stop wearing their contact lenses. Could their multipurpose solution be a contributing factor?
BY KIRK SMICK, O.D., MORROW, GA.
Dropouts. They're a problem in all contact lens practices, and it can be difficult to uncover why a person stops wearing her lenses. Often, it's easier to get patients to try contact lenses initially than it is to convince them to return to lens wear and work with you to achieve satisfaction.
Some 2.7 million contact lens wearers stop wearing their lenses every year, according to a 2002 report from Health Products Research. And a Vistakon study of vision-corrected consumers found that the main reason patients stop wearing their lenses is discomfort.
Contact lens and solution manufacturers understand this, and they're developing the comfort tools to help us avoid and regain dropouts. Complete MoisturePlus multipurpose solution (MPS) takes a major step in that direction. Here's why I've made this product my first-line solution.
Demulcents vs. surfactants
In my experience, Complete MoisturePlus delivers better comfort than other contact lens solutions. Some manufacturers consider surfactants "comfort agents," but this isn't necessarily the case. Surfactants help keep the lens clean, and all MPSs contain surfactants as cleaning agents. Because surfactants are essentially soaps, they do add some lubricity. However, their use may lead to increased feelings of dryness, similar to what happens with frequent hand-washing.
Demulcents, on the other hand, are clinically proven and FDA-recognized to alleviate and treat symptoms of dryness and irritation. Complete MoisturePlus is the only MPS that contains demulcents. It contains two ophthalmic demulcents in a time-released formula. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) is a moisturizer that hydrates the outer surface of the lens. Propylene glycol (PG), helps bind water inside the lens. The PG concentration in Complete MoisturePlus is comparable to that in many tear products for dry eye disease. Demulcents have higher water-binding capabilities than surfactants in contact lens solutions.
Complete MoisturePlus also contains taurine -- an amino acid with antioxidant properties -- and essential electrolytes like potassium, sodium and chloride that help sustain ocular health. Complete MoisturePlus has the lowest level of EDTA, a potential irritant for sensitive eyes, of any major MPS.
When comfort's an issue
My experience with Complete MoisturePlus has been very positive. Based on years of trying various solutions with my patients, I've found Complete MoisturePlus is the most comfortable MPS available. I recommend it to all my contact lens patients, but especially to new contact lens patients, as well as those who have dropped out or experienced discomfort with other solutions.
When patients come from other practices using other solutions and mention comfort as an issue, a switch to Complete MoisturePlus can make a major difference. In my practice, about 8 of 10 patients who make the switch report they're more comfortable with the new solution.
For contact lens dropouts, in addition to Complete MoisturePlus, I prescribe the newer contact lenses designed to help with end-of-day comfort. Often, the lenses and the solution together make just enough difference to encourage dropouts to wear contact lenses again.
Shifting patients' perspectives
Part of my approach in improving compliance and reducing dropouts is a shift in patients' perspectives on lens solutions. I want patients to understand that their eyes are important, and so are their lenses and solutions. I discuss comfort at every visit and ask what solutions a patient is using. I record this on the chart so we can track it.
Rather than just hand out whatever samples I have, I recommend Complete MoisturePlus. I tell patients that I consider it a premium product and I recommend it because I want the best for them. If I explain why the solution is superior and convince patients to want the best for themselves, they're more likely to stick with it instead of buying whatever solution they find on sale. It makes them better patients down the road.
People stop wearing contact lenses for various reasons, from job changes to simple convenience issues. But given the enormous numbers of patients who do drop out, we need to focus on their central issue: Discomfort.
Advances like Complete MoisturePlus are exciting tools to help us do just that. However, to truly reduce our dropout rates, we need to improve patients' understanding of the important role their solution plays in comfortable contact lens wear. A casual attitude about solutions leads patients to believe it's acceptable for them to use whatever solution is on sale. A thorough approach to educating patients can really make a difference in their outlook over time. And as their outlook shifts, their comfort will increase.
Dr. Smick is co-founder of the Clayton Eye Center in Morrow, Ga. He is a member of AMO's national and international advisory panels.
Welcome Allergy Relief
I'm very impressed with Complete MoisturePlus. My eyes suffer all year long from allergies here in Florida, and I've been using Complete for many years. Since I switched to the new MoisturePlus formula, my eyes have been less itchy and more comfortable. I've been amazed to notice that the MoisturePlus formula has created a marked decrease in my eyes' histamine and mucus production.
With my positive findings, I'm very excited about switching my patients to Complete MoisturePlus.
Tracey Scully, O.D., Ocoee, Fla.