Article Date: 4/1/2010

How To Identify The Best Case Studies

How To Identify The Best Case Studies

All contact lens case studies are not created equal. The best can move you.

Jim Thomas

At Optometric Management, we review scores of contact lens case studies each year. Admittedly, a few of the studies aren't what we'd like them to be, including a small handful that even the most creative and talented editor can't render print worthy. But, most are very good. And then there are those that are so good, they just “click.” They make editors smile. And having been around editors for 30 years, it's rare to see editors smile when they're buried deep in the details of a manuscript.

What's the difference?

The case studies we receive usually don't include exhaustive research, but they do detail the patient care and the practice management aspects of a case. And it's simple to spot the bad studies: We find out little about the patient, either by author observation or the patient history. The diagnosis seems simplistic. You get the feeling the patient could have complained about anything (poor distance vision, dry eye, hair loss), and the author would have recommended the same course of action. Little research is cited, either from medical literature or the doctor's experience in practice.

Yet in spite of this, within a month, the patient sees well, is comfortable in contact lenses, has re-grown hair and has thrown a no-hitter in the Yankees farm system.

The better studies provide a more complete picture of the cases. They detail the results of all appropriate testing. The author bases any treatment on research, and the research is then evaluated objectively.

The clincher

When it comes to contact lens case reports, the best papers have personality that adds life to an already solid medical case. It's nice to hear that the doctor has provided a 60-year-old patient with 20/20 vision at all distances. It's more impressive to find that patients can begin — or return to — activities that enrich their lives.

The fact is, most patients expect to leave your office with sharp vision and healthy, clear eyes. But they may not understand how new materials and designs — and your skills in fitting contact lenses — create opportunities for them to do what they couldn't do before the office visit: go fishing, exercise and play sports, start a new job or spend endless hours on Facebook. These moments create “patients for life” and the best case studies.

Despite these benefits, many practices don't actively recommend contact lenses to their patients. I'd classify this as a missed opportunity. And I have scores of case studies to prove it. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2010