Can everyone benefit from contact lenses? Tips4EyeDocs Daily 27 Jan 2012 – No. 37

The soft contact lens of 2012 is an advanced medical device. It is vastly different from the lens of 1970, 1980, 1990 and even 2000.

Most of our patients aren’t aware of the advances that contact lenses have made. They’re safer. They fit many more patients. And they work four times out of five.  One of the biggest mysteries of clinical practice is how little patients know about contact lenses.  Most figure that they are not a good candidate. Most feel that lenses are not available for them.. Lastly, some patients never get the chance to “fail” in lenses because their doctor have decided at the outset that they should not or cannot wear lenses even before any clinical findings are taken.

Practically every patient that is over the age of ten and under the age of seventy is a potential contact lens wearer. Except some doctors don’t believe that.  However, it is the doctor’s job to explore all corrective options and that includes contact lenses. It is not even a difficult job to to talk about contact lenses and how lens wear is possible.

How good a doctor does their job is related to their own experience in succeeding or failing with certain patients. Most often patients are habitual and gravitate to glasses because that’s all the doctor may talk about or they have had an unsatisfactory experience several years back when contact lens designs were limited.  No doctor wants to use “chair time” needlessly to try options that are certain to fail. But most failures occur for unmotivated or misguided patients. They fail because their expectations were not discussed.

Even if a patient decides against contact lenses, talking about it during the case history and the examination exhibits a multidimensional aspect of your practice.  Patients do appreciate talking about potential alternatives to spectacles. Therefore, talking about contact lenses to a patient is not a “waste” of chair time.

Contact lenses doesn’t have to expend chair time if it is woven into the examination flow itself.  “Test driving” a lens for a naive contact lens patient may alter completely preconceived notions of wear from both the patient and the doctor’s view point.  Patients frequently comment that the lenses were far more comfortable than they had heard.  Combine this with a prescription and it can be an  indelible experience. When asked by friends and family, they can relate that the lenses didn’t hurt.  And they got to “test drive” them.

Contact lenses are as good an option for vision correction as glasses and surgery.  Avoiding this as an option can potential limit the professional environment of your practice as patients “brag about the doctor who showed and let them test drive a pair of contact lenses”  That’s the kind personal selling that is undoubtedly the most powerful. The next time a patient between ten and seventy sits down in your examination chair, take a breath, and discuss contact lenses. There may be a surprise awaiting you.

About Richard Hom OD, MPA

Dr. Hom holds Doctor of Optometry and Masters in Public Administration degrees and practices family eye care and consults on public policy, health information technology and program evaluation.
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