Drops Back In to Stay
This patient gave contact lenses another try and is glad she did thanks to her eyecare practitioner's commitment and realistic expectations.
By Carol Elliott, Gastonia, N.C.
I really don't mind eyeglasses. In fact, sometimes they can be a fun fashion statement. But other times I'd rather not deal with them, like when I'm teaching sixth graders every day or sitting on the beach with a pair of sunglasses and a good book. Dr. Ann Hoscheit helped me find the right contact lenses, and they fit into my life perfectly.
I've tried several types of vision correction over the years I'm farsighted and have astigmatism and I've worn glasses for reading since I was in my 40s. Reading glasses don't work well while I'm teaching. I need to alternate between reading and looking out at the class, and I'm often on the move. I tried monovision contact lenses, but my eyes got too tired with the amount of paperwork I do for school. Finally, I switched to glasses with progressive lenses and wore them for years.
With greater commitment and patience on the part of doctors and patients, I think more people could be happy in contact lenses. Patients should look for a doctor who's willing to work with them.
When I started seeing Dr. Hoscheit, she suggested I try contact lenses again. From the start, she told me it would be an ongoing process of mutual participation and feedback. "Wear each pair for a few weeks," she said. "If they're not working for you, then call me or stop in the office for a few minutes, and we'll try another pair."
So that's what I did. If a lens didn't feel good or I couldn't see very well, I'd describe the problem to Dr. Hoscheit, who'd listen, check my vision and adjust the prescription. We tried at least four pairs of lenses to find the best one.
Now, I'm wearing my new contact lenses all day at school, from 6 a.m. to nighttime. They fit my eyes, and they work wonderfully well. My vision is good, and I have greater freedom.
I like my appearance better with contact lenses than I do with eyeglasses, and now I have a choice. I wear my contact lenses whenever I go out, and I usually wear my glasses at home on weekends. The only issue I've had with the contact lenses is some dryness, and Dr. Hoscheit and I are working on solutions for this.
With greater commitment and patience on the part of doctors and patients, I think more people could be happy in contact lenses. Patients should look for doctors who are willing to work with them. They also need to understand that trying contact lenses is a process, and they must be willing to go through it. They may not find the right lenses on the first try.
In my experience, Dr. Hoscheit is one of a kind. She really takes the time, with patience and energy, to search out what's best for her patients.
Dr. Hoscheit's Perspective
It was a brief phone call, but it started Carol Elliott on a road to contact lens success ... and it's a road that needn't be the one "less traveled."
"Carol, I just read about something. Will you try a new contact lens for me?" I asked. "Absolutely!" she answered quickly. As it turned out, we'd hit on just the right lens for her the culmination of a weeks-long process.
SIMPLE, SUCCESSFUL PROCESS
Carol's prescription combines the big three of vision correction hyperopia, presbyopia and astigmatism and I told her up front that finding the right contact lenses would be a process. I make sure my patients know about this process, and then I can go as far as their motivation will take me. I use all the options at my disposal to find the right lenses.
I started Carol in gas permeable multifocal lenses, but she had continued lens awareness. Soft toric monovision lenses weren't right for her either.
Many of my patients have had experiences similar to Carol's with other doctors, who stopped the process right here. But I believe we need to think outside the box.
If current lens designs don't work for a particular patient, I put his or her name and "special needs" on a list. When I read about something new a lens or dry eye treatment, for example I check the list to see if one of my "special needs" patients might be a candidate. That's just what happened with Carol. When I saw a journal article about a soft toric multifocal lens, I called Carol right away, and then I called the company and ordered a diagnostic pair. The lenses work great for Carol.
Specialty contact lens fitting can take time and carries a sizeable fitting fee, but to me, the payoff is when patients say, "I don't have to worry that you won't know about or won't try something new." After all, studies have shown patients will leave our practices if they think we don't know about the latest developments.
For patients who are Carol's age (61), it's important to suggest contact lenses proactively. Often, they don't ask because they think they're "too old" or they might seem vain.
About 45% of my contact lens patients are over 40. In fact, I've gained a reputation as the "eye doctor to see" among mature patients interested in contact lenses. My patients know I have a lot of tools in my toolbox, and I do a lot of work with dry eye, another issue for mature patients. What's more, I'm over 40 myself, so I empathize with mature patients. Word gets out.
Carol is having some dry eye issues now. We changed her lens solution, and now she uses Systane Lubricant Eye Drops on application and removal and Blink Contacts Lubricant Eye Drops during the day. If this regimen isn't adequate, I'll do a tear film analysis and go from there.
Carol attended a party recently and told several friends about her new contact lenses. Many of these people called me to learn more, and I've fit several in specialty lenses since then.
Patients like Carol reinforce the value of building relationships and exceeding expectations. When I do that, I don't need to worry about retention and referrals. I believe Carol will be my patient for life.
Ann Hoscheit, OD