New Multifocals Open Doors

Success stories are as common as the failed stories of their predecessors.


New Multifocals Open Doors

Success stories are as common as the failed stories of their predecessors.

By Gary Gerber, OD

Can I wear contact lenses? Five simple words. Yet when presbyopes speak those words, they drive fear into the hearts of mortal optometrists, causing spikes in blood pressure and causing even some of the most seasoned contact lens practitioners to cower in terror. Why does this guttural reaction exist, and given the significant practice-building upside to fitting presbyopic patients with multifocal lenses, what can we do to prevent it?

Multifocal Baggage

If there were ever contact lenses associated with significant baggage, multifocal lenses would be the ones. It seems that every new multifocal lens launch is associated with, “You have to set proper patient expectations.” Doctors have heard that so often that it has become code for, “Make sure you tell patients their vision will be blurry.” Similarly, “Charge appropriately for your extra chair time” is decoded as, “Be prepared for many return visits and unhappy patients.”

Newer Is Indeed Better

Yet, those of us who have readily embraced newer multifocal designs, such as the AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lenses (Alcon), have found that these common historical qualifiers aren't needed nearly as often. There's absolutely no question that AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lenses aren't simply a small incremental improvement in quality over previous lenses. They are quantum leaps ahead with success stories as common as the failures of their ancestors.

AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal Contact Lenses

With this as a backdrop to get you started and willing to try today's new lenses such as AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lenses, here are three things you must do to succeed.

Steps for Success

First, you and your staff need to get “in the zone.” And that zone is the success zone. You'll certainly get there after a few successful fits but change your initial mindset from, “I hope this works” to “This is going to work.” Then, start with very easy cases to boost your confidence and demonstrate success to your patients and your staff. Fitting a staff member is a great place to start and making that staff member your AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lens “coordinator” is an even better place to start. Also, be sure to follow the AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lenses Fitting Guidelines to help ensure success.

Next, set your fees accordingly. But don't use old school thinking like, “I have to set my fees to compensate for the inordinate amount of time this is going to take.” Charge for your training, experience, expertise and the overall value of the anticipated outcome. Additionally, with a bit of experience, fitting AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lenses doesn't take much longer than fitting spheres or straightforward torics. So while you should charge for your time — examination, evaluation, fitting and followups — that shouldn't be the only thing for which you charge. You'll experience fit success with this lens and you should be willing to charge for the life-changing attributes of these lenses. As with most disposable contact lenses, it's advantageous to promote the dispensing of yearly supplies of lenses. This helps with compliance, profitability and pulls patients out of shopping mode for future lenses, thereby strengthening the bond with your practice.

Finally, regarding the old concept of “setting expectations” which is nothing more than, “let patients know this probably won't work” you still have to screen for clinically appropriate patients and prepare them for modifications that may be necessary during the fitting process. Of course, cases that you anticipate will be marginally successful should be told so in advance. But unlike lenses of old, it isn't necessary to “warn” patients about the limitations of lenses. Common sense and following the Fitting Guidelines will lead to a high success rate. Start creating your patient success stories now, with AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal contact lenses.

Dr. Gerber is president of the Power Practice, a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or

Important information for AIR OPTIX® AQUA Multifocal (lotrafilcon B) contact lenses: For daily wear or extended wear up to 6 nights for near/far-sightedness and/or presbyopia. Risk of serious eye problems (i.e. corneal ulcer) is greater for extended wear. In rare cases, loss of vision may result. Side effects like discomfort, mild burning or stinging may occur.