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Conscientious Choices for the Conscious Consumer
BY TOD MCNAB, OD
Have you ever asked your patients what they want? Chances are your patients are better informed and have a better perspective on what they want than patients you saw even just a few years ago.
In the past, this question may have been met with a blank stare, because many patients didn't know what they wanted, which is partly why they were sitting in your chair. Patients came to see us because we were viewed as the trusted experts who would educate them on what they needed. They looked to their doctors to question them, examine them and then solve their problems in the most effective manner.
But an evolution in patient thinking has occurred as trust in traditional healthcare and medicine has changed. Patients are educating themselves, and researching and questioning conventional thinking in order to protect themselves as patients and consumers. They come into our practices with more knowledge than ever before and they expect the best care possible. We must understand the newest technology, offer the best products and provide the most conscientious care.
The “if it ain't broke then why fix it” attitude isn't good enough. The contact lens landscape has changed tremendously, with silicone hydrogel materials and lens designs that allow us to satisfy the most challenging patients' needs. Toric and multifocal lenses have improved dramatically, and with designs that correct spherical aberration, our patients have never seen better. Add daily disposable lenses to the mix and there is a solution for practically every patient who seeks a nonsurgical alternative to eyeglasses. Future advances in lens materials, lens packaging solutions and optics will help us meet the needs of even more patients.
Bio-engineered solutions offering the most effective cleaning and disinfection ever, while remaining compatible with the physiological requirements of the eye and adnexa, would be a welcome addition to the market.
Consider patients who want to get rid of their eyeglasses and tried contact lenses years ago. A recent search of “LASIK” on Google shows 5,290,000 hits. These patients may come to your office armed with information and questions related to refractive surgery. But have they considered new options in contact lenses and lens care?
Despite advances in refractive techniques, it's essential that we provide alternatives to a nonreversible surgical procedure. New cleaning and disinfecting solutions, lens designs and your expertise may make it possible for patients to resolve their visual problems without surgery.
Patients should look to us as the authority to help them make informed choices for their needs, rather than relying on information they've heard through the media or read on the Internet.
While not all new products will be suitable for all of our patients, it is our responsibility to identify those patients who may benefit from the latest advances in eye care. Advances in medically based bio-inspired products will allow us to provide the best that nature has to offer while maintaining overall ocular health and clear, comfortable vision.
There is a great deal of evidence that patients are looking for the most effective and harmonious ways to take care of themselves, their homes and the environment. But they will demand safety, convenience and reassurance that they are doing the right thing. As eyecare providers, we can introduce them to the best treatment options for their visual needs. In fact, we have an obligation to do so. CLS
Dr. McNab is in private practice in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is a member of the Canadian Examiners in Optometry and is on the Board of Directors of FYi Eye Doctors. He is a member of the Third World Eye Care Society, a British Columbia-based group of eye care professionals that provides vision care at no charge to people in need in developing countries. He has served as an advisor to Alcon.