Overcoming Objections to SiHy Contact Lens Wear

SiHy lenses represent a major step forward, but some practitioners are still reluctant to move patients into them. Here’s why you should make the move.


Overcoming Objections to SiHy Contact Lens Wear

SiHy lenses represent a major step forward, but some practitioners are still reluctant to move patients into them. Here's why you should make the move.

By Ernie Bowling, OD, MS, FAAO

The development of silicone hydrogel materials was a major advance in contact lenses. Their acceptance by the profession has been phenomenal and for most practitioners, they've become the first choice in contact lenses. For patients suffering from corneal neovascularization, end-of-day discomfort and contact lens-related dryness, the lenses are a welcome alternative to traditional hydrogel lenses.


But what about the asymptomatic patient who is comfortable in his current conventional hydrogel lenses? Why make a change? These lenses are ideal for young patients who may not be compliant with the daily-wear schedule of traditional hydrogel lenses. More importantly, SiHy lenses are made of the latest and best contact lens materials available. That said, switching asymptomatic patients to silicone hydrogel lenses requires a bit of finesse, because some patients view contact lenses as a commodity, and without understanding the differences between various contact lens materials and brands, they may want to stay in the lenses with which they're already familiar.


The bottom line is that you want to fit your patients with what you feel is the best lens for their eyes. Most patients also desire lenses that are healthier and more comfortable during their personal wearing period. But patients need to hear about these advances from YOU. They want to know YOUR recommendations, and most times, they will follow your advice.

Make the conversion process as painless as possible for the patient. Start by explaining the benefits of the material: greater oxygen transmissibility, wettability and increased continuous wear time. Patients also like to know that other patients are successfully wearing this lens. That's why I like to convert HEMA patients into AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses. Not only have I had success with the brand, but Alcon found that ECP's who had experience fitting AIR OPTIX® AQUA lenses* reported that 91% of HEMA patients were successfully converted to AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses.1**


You may also want to consider a “test drive.” Same-day fitting of the lenses allows patients to experience the lenses while your recommendation is fresh in their minds. We've all had patients come into our office with the “free trial pair” coupons in their hand. Manufacturer marketing is driving them to you. You simply have to close the deal.


Be open and honest about costs. Many doctors shy away from discussing costs with their patients, delegating this task to staff. Don't be afraid to discuss costs with your patients. A superior product - in any field - will carry a higher price tag. You may encounter some initial concerns about cost, but any resistance is usually overcome with patient education and an enthusiastic recommendation from you - their trusted practitioner. Remember that two-thirds of the HEMA market are in 2-week replacement lenses. By choosing to switch HEMA contact lens wearers to monthly replacement SiHy lenses, not only may your patients be more compliant, but they only need 4 boxes for an annual supply versus 8 boxes with a weekly lens.

Another way to ease the sticker shock: rebates. Many lens manufacturers offer rebates on their SiHy lenses. When accounting for rebates, patients can switch to an annual supply of AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses for less than an annual supply of Acuvue 2 (the leading HEMA lens).2 Also, be sure to tell patients that contact lens purchases are typically eligible for flexible spending account disbursements. Again, in this economy, patients are looking to save every penny possible.


Converting traditional hydrogel lens wearers to silicone hydrogel wear is all about patient education and service. Patients want to know they're receiving care from an expert, one who is dedicated to prescribing a healthy vision-correction option that offers excellent comfort and provides the absolute best contact lens to meet their specific needs. SiHy material is an excellent option for nearly all patients, so why wouldn't you offer them to all of your patients?



1. Based on a post-launch evaluation in which 88 eye-care practitioners refit over 400 patients in AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses; Alcon data on file, 2011.
2. Based on one-time manufacturer fit rebate and annual supply rebate, and third-party industry pricing information, 12 months ending December 2011; Alcon data on file.

*Prior to the evaluation, 100% fit AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses and 85% indicated AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses were their preferred SiHy lens for new fits
**successful conversion defined as the patient received a prescription for or purchased AIR OPTIX® AQUA lenses