Talking to your patients about easy fitting toric lenses and encouraging them to ‘have a go’ could lead to their improved vision and your increased sales.
How many times do you hear a patient say, “I was told I can’t wear contacts because I have astigmatism.” Given that we never say it to our own patients, it makes you wonder where patients are hearing it!
Regardless of the source of the usual misinformation, these ‘un-fittable’ patients are great practice building opportunities. And I’m not only talking about patients with prescriptions like +3.50 -4.25 x 41. While those patients certainly might be a fitting challenge, bell curves are bell curves for a reason and there really aren’t too many patients like that. Rather, I’m talking about more routine patients with low to moderate amounts of cylinder that need correction, or those patients who are currently wearing spherical lenses that could easily see better if they were fitted with toric lenses.
Take a true middle of the bell curve Rx like -3.75 -0.75 x 180. Will you fit that patient with a -3.75 sphere or a toric lens? Of course, you don’t know which will ultimately perform better until you actually try a lens on, but the point of this article is to resist the temptation to reach for the ‘easier fitting’ lens. ‘Easier’ is in quotes for a reason – because with today’s toric lenses, there isn’t much more difficulty to fitting a patient like this with torics vs. spheres.
Practice building focused practitioners will blaze their own contact lens trail regardless of what the patient habitually presents with.
Yet, the benefits are many. And of course, with the wide array of easy to wear modalities, like daily disposable toric lenses, there is even more of a reason to fit this patient with torics.
Let’s make the above patient fitting decision a bit more challenging by adding that the patient comes to your practice already wearing a -3.75 sphere. When asked, “How are your lenses working out?” they respond, ‘Fine’. Would you still fit a toric lens to this patient?
To answer that, let’s examine the story behind ‘fine’. ‘Fine’ is obviously in the eyes of the beholder. In this case, perhaps 6/9 vision is fine and sufficient for what the patient needs to do. Of course, if the patient is correctable to 6/6, they might not know that they are capable of seeing any better. In a case like this, I’d recommend you take the ten seconds necessary to hold up some loose trial lenses in front of the patient (in this case, perhaps plano -0.75 x 180) and ask the patient, “I know you said your vision was fine. Does this make it any better?”
Blaze Your Own Trail
Taking time to either try torics on a new fit or trying to enhance the acuity of an existing wearer, has benefits beyond increasing the patient’s vision. From a practice building perspective, the patient, especially the current wearer, is implicitly led to believe your practice is up-to-date and willing to do what it takes to best serve its patients. Instead of doing what many practitioners do, which is to ask patients, “Which lenses are you wearing now?” and being steered or guided by that answer to the next (usually same) lens, practice building focused practitioners will blaze their own contact lens trail regardless of what the patient habitually presents with. After all, if you have the ability to make your patients see better, don’t you at least owe it to them to try and do so? And in the case of these toric patients, you really won’t know until you try.
Leaving your office with unexpected improved vision (remember, they walked in ‘fine’) patients that are refit with the result of better vision can become practice evangelists and become enthusiastic referral generators.
Your innovation and willingness to help them will be contagiously communicated to their circle of family and friends. Contrast this with the same patient being fitted with the same lenses they’ve worn for the last four years. With nothing new to discuss with friends, there is no reason to mention they even visited your practice. All that from a little cylinder.
Dr. Gary Gerber is the founder and president of The Power Practice (www.PowerPractice.com), a practice building and consulting company with a mission to make doctors more profitable and efficient by introducing innovative strategies and techniques.