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Tuesday / May 21.
HomeminewsCL Technology Consumer Interest Grows

CL Technology Consumer Interest Grows

A global survey of 2,000 contact lens (CL) wearers and 326 eye care professionals,1 commissioned by Alcon Vision Care, has found interest in new CL technologies has increased and wearers are willing to pay more for a better CL experience. The study highlights a valuable opportunity for optometry practices to boost sales and patient outcomes by communicating with patients more often – both face-to-face and virtually – about potential CL technologies that will enhance their comfort and vision.

Conducted in October and November 2021, the research aimed to identify trends in CL wear, pre-and post-COVID, across the key markets of France, Germany, Italy, Australia, and South Korea. More specifically, the researchers wanted to determine how the pandemic affected CL wearing habits and identify opportunities to leverage growth in the future.

Key insights for Australia as of May 2022 included:

  • Six in 10 optometry practices were not back to their pre-COVID fit volumes and two thirds were experiencing a backlog of CL appointments,
  • 52% of all practices reported that COVID had a negative impact on their business; 59% reported a net decrease in sales, 28% reported no change and 14% reported an increase,
  • 16% of Australians were wearing CLs ‘less often’ as opportunities to go out were reduced during the COVID pandemic, and
  • While 40% of lapsed patients stopped wearing CLs during COVID, the majority said they were likely to return to wearing CLs. Those who lapsed during COVID expected to return sooner than those who lapsed before COVID.

Rich Oliver, Alcon Vision Care Franchise Head, said the findings provide exciting learning opportunities for both optometry practices and the CL industry as a whole.

With people returning to their pre-COVID activities, he confirmed that as anticipated, CL wear is increasing. Interestingly, more people reported wearing daily CLs in preference to reusables. Amongst CL wearers, 64% were reporting more diligence about CL hygiene/ care, with handwashing remaining the top habit, reflecting concerns over hygiene and COVID spread raised early in the pandemic. From May 2020 to November 2021 Mr Oliver reported daily CL usage grew from 64% to 70% with patients now more open to upgrading (75–80%) and paying more (71–76%) for innovative CLs.

THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE

“We also identified that consumers have an insatiable demand for hints and tips on CL wear, and yet they are afraid to ask questions while in the practice,” said Mr Oliver. “During the pandemic we recorded a 5% increase to 71% of those surveyed, who said they had visited optometry websites to seek information. Also up 8%, 59% of consumers surveyed said they want and expect to receive this type of information via apps and 57% (up 11%) text alerts. They want a more rounded experience – they want the opportunity to learn more online, and this will enable them to feel more confident about asking questions and having informed discussions in practice.”

With only six out of ten optometrists initiating a CL discussion in practice, Mr Oliver said opportunities for practices to grow this segment of their business by capturing the interest of both first time and lapsed wearers is significant.

“This is not about suggesting patients substitute their spectacles with CLs, it’s about suggesting they wear both. By talking to patients about CLs, practitioners can drive more revenue while at the same time improving their patient’s vision experiences”.

ADDRESSING DROP OUT

With CL drop out in Australia sitting at 25 to 30% of wearers within the first five years of use, mostly due to wearer discomfort,2 he said it is also important for practitioners to support first time and returning wearers, especially during the first few weeks and months of wear.

“Drop out is something the whole industry needs to address – but it’s up to companies like Alcon to support optometrists by providing advice to ensure patients really do enjoy the wonderful benefits this technology provides.

“There are videos available online that optometrists can refer patients to for extra information and in the near future, we’ll be adding to this with omni-channel resources to help optometrists provide patients with advice they need on CL care. We’ll also be embarking on education to upskill practices’ front-of-house staff so they can start CL conversations with patients and provide day-to-day support.

“In the meantime, we hope optometrists are reassured by the results from our research which show people are more interested in the benefits of CLs, they want to upgrade to new technologies, and they are prepared to pay more to do so. That’s really encouraging for optometry practices throughout Australia and New Zealand.”

References

  1. Alcon Rebound 2.0 Post COVID-19 Impact Research
  2. Nadia Michaels And Stephanie Lai To Suffer in Silence…or Not? Avoiding Contact Lens Dropout. www.mieducation.com/pages/to-suffer-in-silenceor-not-avoiding-contact-lens-dropout