Our patients want and need to see the best they can, especially in this visually demanding world, and that’s why they come to your practice. As an eye and vision care specialist, you have the opportunity to be the patients’ hero by providing the very best vision and best vision solutions throughout their lives.
Contact lenses are the obvious choice of vision correction for not only many sports activities but normal and active daily lifestyles. Some of today’s contact lens optical designs have the best advanced aspheric optics for spherical aberration correction and even high definition vision in some cases. This can be especially effective for patients with normal amounts of spherical aberration of the eye, a larger pupil or in low-light situations. Too many spherical contact lens wearers are trying to cope with -0.75 diopter of uncorrected cylinder that as eye care professionals we would never let go uncorrected with spectacles. If these patients are left with their cylinder uncorrected, they will not only suffer blur but possibly eye strain and even discomfort. Today’s toric lenses are nearly as easy to fit as spheres, so there is no reason to let them go uncorrected.
The Astigmatism Opportunity
Recently, we discovered an opportunity for your patients and your practice that may surprise you. In the survey conducted by Decision Analyst.1 it was revealed that more than 40 per cent of astigmats believe that their astigmatism is the reason they cannot wear contact lenses.
The survey also revealed that 66 per cent of astigmats who have never worn contact lenses and nearly half of those who have worn contact lenses in the past would be highly motivated to wear lenses if they were available to correct astigmatism.
Some of today’s contact lens optical designs have the best advanced aspheric optics for spherical aberration correction and even high definition vision in some cases.
A total of 993 vision-corrected astigmatic consumers between the ages of 18 and 49 completed this online survey. 150 respondents had never worn contact lenses and 178 had worn contact lenses in the past. The survey also found that 7 out of 10 of those who have never worn lenses would be highly motivated to wear contact lenses if they were available, and if their eye care practitioners made the recommendation. Half of previous lens wearers would be motivated to try contact lenses again if they were available.
There is ample opportunity with the right toric design to fit even more patients who desire the benefits of contact lenses but do not realise that toric soft lenses are available for their visual needs and lifestyle.
Additionally, great optics and lens stability are two key attributes of soft toric contact lenses that lead to successful contact lens wear and great vision. But, when a soft toric lens is rotated or moved off axis during normal daily activities like lens insertion or rubbing of the eyes, rapid rotational recovery to the lens resting position is a critical element in reducing the potential for variable vision or loss of visual quality that could lead to patient dissatisfaction, up to and including dropping out of lens wear.
Some astigmatic lenses also feature advanced aspheric optics in monthly hydrogel, silicone-hydrogel and daily disposable modalities as well.
The Presbyopic Opportunity
We are rapidly approaching a worldwide population of 1.5 billion presbyopes.2 The Presbyopic population is growing faster than the population as a whole.
A 2008 Gallup Organisation study projected that the number of prospective contact lens wearers in the U.S. was expected to increase to almost 34 million over the next decade – a percentage increase (9.2 per cent) greater than the overall projected national population growth rate (8.4 per cent).
In less than 10 years the 50 and older age group will represent 16 million of the current 34 million contact lens wearers that are now 13 years of age and older. Clearly, as an increasing number of our patients live longer and have more active lives, growth in this patient segment will remain robust for years ahead.
Patient interest in multi-focal contact lens correction will substantially increase in most of our practices as a result of consumer advertising, word of mouth, and trade advertising of new technology. We need to be ready to help our patients and our practices reap the benefits of new and emerging contact lens technologies for presbyopic correction.
Only one in 10 of the vision corrected population age 50-64 wears contact lenses. Our market research shows that one-third of monovision wearers and one-third of regular contact lens wearers would be willing to wear multifocal contact lenses.
I’ve always said that refitting a current early presbyope contact lens wearer into a multi-focal contact lens is a slam dunk. Those in their 40’s do great with multifocal contact lenses. Start them early and they can progress easily in to a higher add as they enter their 50’s. This will also keep these patients from dropping out, and endear them to you and your practice.
Young, energetic, high-tech, emerging presbyopes want to stay in contact lenses or try contact lenses for the first time. You can again be the hero by easily satisfying their gradual onset of near vision challenges from the first symptoms to full presbyopia with exceptional vision at all distances while maintaining better depth perception with multifocal contact lenses over monovision.
As I learned a long time ago when fitting and treating presbyopes, a happy presbyopic multi-focal contact lens wearer is a loyal patient who is willing to refer other presbyopes for the opportunity to see well at distance and near with contact lenses.
The Daily Disposables Opportunity
I personally choose daily disposable lenses when I wear contact lenses for sports. I truly believe daily disposable lenses are one of the healthiest ways to wear contact lenses and of course, the most convenient.
The benefits for patients are clear. They are easy to handle with advanced packaging; a sterile lens every day of use; no lens care; great for first-time wearers, part-time wears and full-time wearers; great for children and teens; great for allergy sufferers; great for heavy depositors; ideal for occasional wear for sports or vacations and, in fact, they are great for nearly all your contact lens wearers.
There is growth in prescribing of daily disposable lenses throughout the world.
In the U.S. growth of single use lenses increased 20 per cent in 2008 compared to the year before. Obviously, patients and eye care professionals alike agree this is an excellent modality.
Recommending daily disposable lenses can build your practice through a high level of patient satisfaction. Annual lens supply purchases, along with the best modality for lens replacement compliance at 88 per cent, can lead to improved patient retention rates which is beneficial to your patients as well as your practice. Daily disposable lenses can be as affordable as two week lenses when pricing is right and rebates are available and utilised. Daily disposable lenses are valuable to your patients, so keep this modality top of mind when making a recommendation.
As so many of you are becoming experts in disease treatment, and are increasingly focused on treatment of dry eye and seeking the most comfortable contact lens options, remember that most of your patients seek your services because you are the vision expert. Take the opportunity to provide the best vision and vision solutions for your patients throughout their lives.
Dr. Joe Barr, OD, MS, FAAO is Vice President Global Clinical & Medical Affairs and Professional Services Vision Care Bausch & Lomb. Dr. Barr joined Bausch & Lomb in July 2007. Prior to this he was editor of Contact Lens Spectrum from 1987 to 2007, holding one of the longest editorial tenures in healthcare publishing. He also edited the Contact Lens Today weekly newsletter.