Article Date: 10/1/2002

o.d. to o.d.
Contact Lens Practice in Turmoil
The specialty area that was once the darling of optometry faces many challenges today.
BY NEIL B. GAILMARD, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O., Chief Optometric Editor

Contact lens practice is quite controversial these days, which isn't necessarily a good thing. They once transformed optometry from a hands-off, mostly spectacle-oriented profession to one that touches the human cornea and manages its physiology. The field of contact lenses has been our high-status specialty and the most financially lucrative aspect of optometry.

However, I now hear some colleagues saying that they don't want to fit contact lenses anymore. O.D.s feel unappreciated by consumers who want it fast and cheap and by retailers, which seek only to capitalize on the next new business idea. Federal and state governments do not seem to grasp the issues.

Let's look at some of the recent events in the contact lens field:

Viewing the government's stance

Movements in the marketplace

Inside the industry

Continuing the good fight

What is the individual optometrist to do in the face of all this? In my opinion, we should continue the good fight. As optometrists, we are the leaders in contact lenses. No one knows them better. The public demands this important vision correction tool.

So embrace contact lens practice, even with its challenges. Work with our professional associations to create a favorable legal environment. Participate in education and research. Look within your own practice to make contact lens care efficient and convenient for patients while still safeguarding their eye health. Release lens prescriptions promptly when requested and when current -- regardless of where the patient buys them.

Continue to provide contact lens materials -- pricing them for a fair profit and providing the service that makes them a good value. Your patients have the right to choose where they buy contact lenses, but in the end, most will choose you.

You may contact Dr. Gailmard at


Optometric Management, Issue: October 2002