Article Date: 4/1/2012

The Many Choices of Contact Lenses
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The Many Choices of Contact Lenses

With all the alternatives, it may be best to take a measured approach to CLs.

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Jim Thomas

One of the benefits of editing an optometry publication is that optometrists unselfishly share their insights with us. As this is our annual contact lens issue, one of the most striking lessons I've learned is that clinicians face a lot of choice. This is good: With all the designs, materials and modalities, there's been no better opportunity to match patients who require vision correction with the right contact lens.

Choice also abounds when we discuss options for contact lens marketing and patient education. For example, an abbreviated list of options includes:

► educating patients on contact lenses through websites, social media, etc. before the patient ever visits.
► providing targeted marketing to contact lens patients.
► training staff on how to discuss/promote contact lens wear.
► Utilizing in-office promotional and educational material.
► offering contact lenses to all appropriate patients who require vision correction.

(Of course, the greatest influence on patients will be the education provided by you, the doctor.)

Each of these choices is the result of a conscious decision made by you, the doctor. Similarly, practices may provide no education at all or only when asked. You may even make the choice to discourage contact lens wear.

The best approach?

The message I've heard from many O.D.s is that there's no one ideal way to promote contact lenses, yet each option does come with associated costs and benefits. For example, when a practice invests in educating staff on contact lenses, the results — more patient interest in contact lenses and ultimately, more contact lens fittings — can be measured.

At the other end of the supply chain, inventory practices include:

► keeping as large an in-house inventory of lenses as possible.
► stocking only popular lenses.
► outsourcing inventory and/or inventory decisions to a vendor.
► stocking no contact lenses.

While these choices occasionally spark emotional debate, again, there is no one “right” or “wrong” approach. Successful practices appear to be those that analyze the costs and benefits of each decision in terms of patient care and practice finance.

If you've had success in measuring your contact lens supply chain practices, I invite you to share your story with us by e-mailing james.thomas@wolterskluwer.com. The cost is a few moments of your time. The benefit: Your shared knowledge can foster a stronger profession. OM



Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: April 2012, page(s): 6