Optometric Management Tip # 22   -   Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Informing your patient about contact lens options

This is an exciting time in the contact lens field. There are many new lens designs, materials and techniques available to the optometrist – and patient interest is growing. The challenge for doctors is when and how to bring up the contact lens option to the patient.

Let’s look at the dilemma – and then consider one simple technique that may help.

New Candidates

I believe in discussing contact lenses as an option to every good candidate at the end of his or her visit. But if you examine each case in most offices, for one reason or another, the contact lens modality was often not even brought up. Certainly, we love it when patients bring up the idea of contact lenses to the doctor or technician…

  • this shows some real interest on the patient’s part…
  • which converts to motivation to wear contacts…
  • which, as any fitter knows, is a large factor in predicting success.
  • Current contact lens wearers

    We also should consider the returning contact lens wearer. How much time does the doctor or technician spend explaining new lens designs, materials, modalities to a happy patient who is in for a routine check-up?

    When do we cross the line from educating the patient -- to being perceived as selling additional goods and services? Certainly, if we are too aggressive in promoting new contact lens types, we can harm our valuable doctor-patient relationship.

    The Pre-exam “What’s New?” sheet

    A very useful time occurs in our office when the patient is left alone in the exam chair for a few minutes – right after the technician finishes the pre-testing and right before the doctor enters the room. This void time can be put to excellent use if you have the right printed material available at chairside. During this lull, patients will read anything available, just to have something to do!

    I prepared a one-page information sheet titled… “What’s new in contact lenses?” It is laminated and left at chairside, and the tech hands it to the patient before she leaves the room to page the doctor. She says, “this is some information you might find interesting”.

    The sheet simply has 4 or 5 bullet points, describing the newest innovations in contact lenses that you would like your patients to know about. You decide the lens categories you want to promote, and write an easy to understand paragraph describing each one. I start each paragraph with a short attention grabber in bold print – such as: Imagine… never clean contacts again!. I change the sheet every season – so it reads Summer 2002 at the top and the patient sees that it’s current. Some topics you might cover include:
  • New color contacts
  • Daily disposable contacts
  • Extended wear
  • Orthokeratology
  • Improved bifocal contacts
  • Contact lenses for astigmatism
  • Whether the patient is new to contact lenses or a veteran wearer, many will find an item of interest on this simple in-office newsletter – and they will ask you about it.

    Best wishes for continued success,

    Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
    Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management