DON’T ASSUME PATIENTS ARE AWARE THEY ARE CONTACT LENS CANDIDATES
THANKS TO technology, an array of contact lenses are available to provide comfort and clear vision to many patients who either have never considered contact lens wear or have been told by a previous eye care practitioner, “Sorry, you’re not a candidate.” The problem: Some doctors wrongly assume these patients are aware they’re candidates, so they don’t discuss the options.
Here, I discuss how to broach the subject and the lens types you should keep top of mind.
BRINGING IT UP
Ask every patient who currently wears glasses or requires vision correction, “Have you ever thought about wearing contact lenses?” Doing so not only enables you to educate patients on why and how you think he or she would benefit from a specific lens, it can also prompt spectacle-wearing patients to divulge possible past issues with contact lens wear and/or what their former eye care practitioner told them about contact lens wear that prevented them from pursuing it. These answers often provide an opportunity to rectify their perceptions.
As patients who have presbyopia desire maintaining a youthful appearance and those who have abnormal corneas believe they aren’t contact lens candidates, be sure to focus on mentioning contact lens wear to these patients, especially.
Keep in mind that when presbyopic patients are provided with appropriate expectations, they are willing to try — and are often successful with — multifocal contact lenses. As a brief example, presbyopic patients who also have astigmatism can often achieve comfortable, crisp vision with RGPs. (Even if you are not overly comfortable with fitting these lenses, consultative help from your RGP lab can often make this an efficient process.)
When it comes to presbyopic patients new to your practice, the idea of being able to see at all distances with the ultimate in comfort and convenience is something they may not have been offered by their previous eye care practitioners.
Patients who have abnormal corneas (astigmatism, ectasia, etc.), appreciate hearing that “specialty contact lenses” are now available to meet their visual needs, be it sclerals, hybrids or something else. And just like we refer our patients to an M.D. for specialty care, such as cataract surgery, we can do the same when fitting a contact lens type that is outside our comfort zone, communicating the expectation that we expect the patient will be returned to our care. (Since you’ll be the one who coordinates this care, the patient will likely return anyway out of appreciation.)
With so many different lens types available today, virtually any patient can successfully wear contact lenses.
Rather than assuming non-contact lens wearing patients know this, start actively broaching the subject of contact lens wear with a specific focus on presbyopic patients and patients who have abnormal corneas. These patients recognize the value of contact lens wear and, therefore, are often willing to pay the necessary fees associated with them. Everyone wins. OM