Article Date: 3/1/2001

CONTACT LENS MANAGEMENT
No-Rub's the Word
No-rub solutions and customized comfort can help boost your practice.
By Mary Jo Stiegemeier, O.D., F.A.A.O.

The trend in solution sales over the past 10 years has been toward simpler products -- increased multipurpose solutions and decreased hydrogen peroxide. Multipurpose solutions now represent 80% of the chemical disinfectant sales in the U.S. market.

Non-compliance the norm

Simpler products are important to contact lens wearers. Through telephone surveys and consumer focus groups, we know that these patients are increasingly non-compliant with their care regimens.

Many eyecare practitioners feel that one-third of their patients follow advice as prescribed, one-third follow it in a half-hearted only way and one-third don't bother to follow it at all.

And as we know, the more complex a regimen, the less likely the patient will follow it. What do we have help remedy this dangerous situation? Products that make care easier and serve more than one purpose.

Rubbing contact lenses to clean them has long been a part of every care regimen, but patients find this step inconvenient and often omit it. Consumer focus groups show that 50% of all wearers seldom, or never, rub their lenses.

A masked telephone survey of 200 O.D.s who fit at least 25 patients per month revealed that the idea of a no-rub product was attractive to 65% of those practitioners. In addition, 70% of the doctors indicated that the no-rub product would give them a safety net to compensate for patient non-compliance.

Addressing needs

Manufacturers have responded to this data.

Customizing effects

A few new solutions for rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses have changed preservatives -- Optimum by Lobob Laboratories is one example. The company used to use benzaldehyde, which could irritate the eye, but now it uses 4% purified benzyl alcohol, which has no interaction with lens material and doesn't cause irritation.

A Glance at the
U.S. Contact Lens Market

  • More than 26 million Americans wear contact lenses.
  • They spend $2 billion a year on lenses and lens care solutions.
  • 23.2 million people wear soft lenses.
  • 3.1 million people wear RGPs.
  • 71% of lens wearers are female; 64% have some college education and 67% are younger than age 35.

Other solutions have enhanced lipid removal (Allergan's Claris System, distributed by Menicon, for instance) and are improving the comfort and wearability of RGP contact lenses.

Another new product that was just introduced for RGP lenses is Unique pH Multi-Purpose Solution from Alcon. It contains a proprietary ingredient that adjusts the solution characteristics as a function of pH. The product changes to a thicker solution based on the eyes' tear pH to provide"customized" lens wearing comfort for the patient.

Tear products and lens lubricants are improving, too. There's even a lens lubricant (Alcon's Clerz Plus Lens Drops) that can prevent protein buildup on the lens surface while the patient is wearing the lenses.

No excuses

With products like these new solutions, it's possible to achieve improved patient compliance, resulting in cleaner lenses, improved comfort and, ultimately, more satisfied contact lens patients who keep coming back.

Dr. Stiegemeier is in practice in Beachwood, Ohio.

 

A LOOK INSIDE DR. MILLER'S PRACTICE:

Location: Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland

Years in Practice: 18

Contact lens fits per month: 35 new fits each month

Number of staff: 5 full-time and 2 part-time employees

Percentage of revenue from contact lenses: 31% from materials, 11% from exams

Do you use direct-from-manufacturer contact lens delivery? Yes

Percent of practice based on contact lens patients: 38%

How often do you see your contact lens patients? Most lens patients on an every 6-months basis, especially for adolescents, perhaps moving to an annual basis for adults in daily wear. For extended wear, every 3 to 6 months.



Optometric Management, Issue: March 2001