Existing contact lens patients are currently receptive to newer, improved contact lens technology, and others are ready to be introduced to the “magic of contact lenses”, according to Melbourne optometrist and mivision columnist Jessica Chi.
Ms Chi’s views are echoed by findings of a recent global online survey of contact lens wearers conducted by MarketVision and commissioned by Alcon. The survey of 1,511 contact lens wearers aged 18 and over, from Australia, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea found wearers have been more vigilant about hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic, are ready to return to regular contact lens wear, and are open to innovative lens technology.
Optometrist Jessica Chi said despite the many negatives associated with COVID-19, the pandemic has provided a valuable opportunity to upgrade patients from reusable to daily contact lenses
The survey was designed to understand the impact of COVID-19 on contact lens usage and care, and consumer expectations post-COVID-19. Findings show eye care professionals remain the trusted source for information on eye care and are well placed to educate their patients about new technology and how eye care needs may have changed during the pandemic.
Other key findings include:
- 90% of contact lens wearers expect to returnto their normal wearing schedule, with 70%planning to do so within the next two to three months, if not sooner,
- 90% believe contact lenses enhance theirlifestyles, and
- 94% of contact lens wearers have remainedloyal to their current brand.
Study data reveals that while the majority of contact lens wearers have remained loyal to their current brand, 75% of wearers are open to talking about upgrading. Furthermore, more than 70% of wearers are willing to pay more for an innovative lens.
Ms Chi said despite the many negatives associated with COVID-19, the pandemic has provided a valuable opportunity to upgrade patients from reusable to daily contact lenses.
In her typically optimistic style, the Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia Victorian President said she has noticed distinct behavioural changes among some of her contact lens patients in recent months.
“It has been interesting to see how different patients have responded differently to COVID–19, social distancing, remote learning and working from home. There is the group of ‘tracky dacks and pj’ patients, who have given up on personal appearances and have reduced contact lens wear as ‘no one will see them’. This group also comprises many individuals who have unfortunately lost their jobs due to COVID–19.
“There is the ‘laissez-faire’ group where nothing changes – their behaviour is exactly the same pre and post COVID–19, contact lenses are worn exactly as is, e.g. those who depend entirely on them, and those who use them for activity-specific wear. And then there is the ‘can do’ group who are now motivated to wear contact lenses, because they have the time to dedicate to it.
“This time, more than ever, is a great time to convert patients to daily disposables, the safest modality. Regardless of motivation, there is plenty of opportunity out there to upgrade existing patients into newer, improved technology, or to introduce new patients to the magic of contact lenses,” Ms Chi said.
Antoine Delgrange, Vice President, Vision Care International Marketing Group at Alcon, said “eye care professionals can be confident that contact lenses provide an excellent opportunity to build loyalty and trust with existing patients, bring new patients to the clinic and create resiliency within their business.”
Contact lens wearers surveyed said they view their eye care professional (ECP) as a trusted authority when it comes to eye care. They are open to ordering lenses through their ECP, and receptive to helpful information and tips through practice websites, emails, virtual newsletters, apps or text messages. Interest is especially high among younger to middle-aged audiences.
The survey also demonstrated that nearly 80% of those surveyed have improved their contact lens hygiene habits during COVID-19, which includes being more diligent about washing their hands before inserting or removing their contacts, and changing out their lenses as directed. This provides an opportunity for ECPs to encourage wearers to sustain these habits to protect their sight.
Ms Chi hopes this changed behaviour will continue. “COVID–19 hasn’t changed the rules in any way about proper contact lens compliance, however it has hopefully motivated our patients to play by the rules. Many studies have shown that virtually all contact lens patients are non-compliant, with a recent study showing that almost half the patients do not wash their hands before handling the lenses. Gross. Hopefully if this study was repeated in a post-COVID world, we should see this number significantly decrease.”