Article Date: 8/1/2003

contact lens management
Solutions Matter
Choose the right multipurpose solution for your contact lens patients.
SARAH A. MAROSSY, O.D.

As an eyecare practitioner, I can relate to the complaint doctors frequently voice about the lack of chair time with which to properly educate patients and to make recommendations about product usage. But without a doctor's recommendation, many patients drift into using whatever seems adequate to them -- often generic-brand products. So it's important that we make time to educate them.

Alcon's Opti-Free Express has label approval to claim lasting comfort. 

Be informed

Educating patients and making recommendations to them is easy once we feel confident and well informed as to which products are best for our patients. Many formulation differences exist between the contact lens care products on the market.

I like Alcon's Opti-Free Express, which uses the PHMB-free preservative Polyquad for disinfection. The solution is labeled for use with all soft contact lenses, including silicone hydrogels. Additionally, it has label approval to claim lasting comfort, in part because of its unique Tetronic 1304 wetting agent.

This is no place for mystery

The problem with generic-brand solutions is that you never really know what you're getting. Although marketed under a generic name, the solution itself can change every few years depending on which manufacturer holds the contract at a particular time.

Still another problem I've found with generic brands is that they may not be formulated the same as their name-brand counterparts. When a patient tells me that generic brand solutions are as good as the name brands, I tell him to think back to his last trip to the grocery store -- did his shopping cart contain only generic-brand products?

Of course the answer is usually "no," and my next question is, "Why purchase name brands when you could have bought cheaper alternatives?" One hundred percent of the time, the answer is that certain generic items don't taste or perform as well. Consumers will spend extra money for a quality brand that they know and trust.

Will it work in the exam room?

Gaining compliance outside of the exam room will take more than just a doctor's recommendation or a grocery store analogy, though. We must better educate our patients about products that offer comfort, better health and convenience. Opti-Free Express fits nicely into discussions of compliance issues because it addresses all of the considerations mentioned above.

Comfort comes first

Comfort is an especially important consideration and one that registers with patients. If a patient has a bad experience with a particular solution, you can bet she's going to stop using it. As practitioners, we must ask our patients at each visit if they've switched solutions or if they're having any problems with the one they're currently using. It's easy to fall into the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but this can lead to trouble when patients stop complying and start self treating.

Convenience is another important issue. The more bottles and time involved in caring for contact lenses, the less likely it is that patients will follow instructions. Improper care can be dangerous, resulting in pathological consequences.

All contact lens solutions are not created equal and it's our job as eyecare practitioners to keep our patients educated, comfortable and compliant.

DR. MAROSSY IS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE IN COER D'ALENE, IDAHO. SHE WRITES AND LECTURES ON VARIOUS CONTACT LENS TOPICS. DR. MAROSSY HAS ALSO SERVED AS A CONSULTANT FOR ALCON AND COOPER VISION. CONTACT HER AT SM@ISOMEDIA.COM.

 

 


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2003