If your plans for 2019 include opportunities for improved patient care and practice growth, you may want to consider offering specialty contact lenses to those patients who are “hard to fit,” says contact lens guru Jason J. Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., Education Committee Chair of the Global Specialty Lens Symposium and editor of Contact Lens Spectrum, (a sister publication of Optometric Management).
“Most soft contact lenses are now available online — some legitimately and some not,” Dr. Nichols explains. “Specialty lenses, due to their inherent need for customized and personalized fitting are not, making them exclusive to practices.”
“I can’t tell you about a specific study that shows this, but talk to any O.D. who actively fits specialty contact lenses, and they’ll tell you that these patients are their most loyal because they are so appreciative of the practitioner’s time and care in getting the lens choice and fit right,” he says. “Remember, so many of these patients have been told, ‘you are not a candidate for contact lens wear,’ so when they’re told they can be fit in contact lenses, it means a great deal to them, and they place a lot of value on that doctor, bragging to their friends and family, who often become patients themselves for other ocular issues.”
Dr. Nichols adds that patients are also grateful for the specific features of their specialty lenses:
“If you consider some aspects of specialty toric and multifocal lenses, for example, they can provide an enormous visual benefit to patients who can’t achieve this benefit with standard torics and multifocals,” he says. “Additionally, patients who can’t get relief from dry eye disease have been able to via specialty lenses.”
STREAMLINED FITTING TIME
“By and large, with the diligence of the expert consultants at the various labs, the perceived time needed to fit patients in specialty lenses has been substantially trimmed due to enhancements in this support and fitting guides,” Dr. Nichols says. “Also, advances in specialty lens designs have played a role in that.”
One of the best ways to learn about specialty contact lenses is to talk to the labs directly, which can be accomplished at related meetings, such as the Global Specialty Lens Symposium (produced by PentaVision, publisher of OM), says Dr. Nichols. Such meetings also offer networking opportunities with specialty lens O.D.s, researchers and the labs directly. (More on GSLS starting on p.28.)
CORRECTION: In “Tax Break: Do You Qualify” (OM December 2018, p.14), we incorrectly reported the percentage of revenue of ophthalmic goods that would allow a practice to qualify for a tax break as a non-specified service trade or business (non-STBB). The proposed regulation states that for a practice to qualify as a non-STBB, 90% or more of revenue must be derived from the sale of ophthalmic goods. OM apologizes for this oversight.