Optometric Management Tip # 67   -   Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Opened Boxes of Contact Lenses?

I had it happen often enough in my practice that I finally did something about it. Here is the problem: I occasionally found it necessary to change a contact lens fit in some way -- power, base curve, brand or whatever - only to find out that the patient had opened one or more of the multipacks that I just dispensed. Being customer service minded as I am, I generally exchanged the patient's previous boxes of lenses for the new ones - opened or not. The problem is, of course, that contact lens manufacturers will not accept opened boxes for return - so I would end up being stuck for the cost.

We tried all the usual things to prevent this, but we still had opened boxes of lenses accumulating. We told patients in advance that they could not return opened boxes of lenses, and we always used free trial lenses first in the fitting process - but it still happened. For various reasons, the patient would want to try a different pair - or would need a new lens before they could get back to my office for a follow-up appointment, and they would open the box.

Preventing this dilemma was actually very easy. I had my printer make up special stickers that my staff places on every box of lenses we dispense. We place it over the box flap. The sticker reads:

boxes are not
R        L

Each round sticker is 1-inch diameter. I chose fluorescent orange for the color so it would not be missed. The stickers come on a large paper roll, and they have a removable adhesive, so they do not damage the paper on the box of lenses if removed (damaged boxes are not accepted by manufacturers either). The price I paid at my local printer was $32 per 1000 stickers.

We have our stickers serve double duty by having the R and L printed at the bottom. My technician simply circles the R or the L so the patient keeps them in the correct eyes. We were already placing a plain white sticker on the boxes and writing a R or L on it anyway, so we no longer need to do that. Keep in mind that you can't return boxes that are written upon.

It has been about two months since we started using the new stickers. My staff says they like them, and we have not had a single opened box come back yet. I'm sure there will be exceptions in the future - but I'm convinced it will be greatly reduced.

Best wishes for continued success,

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