Three steps to help contact lens wearers expectations meet reality
Contact lens wearers can be very demanding at times, especially when their lenses don’t provide the comfort and vision they were expecting. That said, when a patient comes to you with a complaint, you must first eliminate any underlying issues. To do so, review the case, ask the right questions and follow-up on the specific complaints. For example, if the patient complaint is blurry vision, ask questions to identify whether it’s at near or distance and whether all-day comfort is an issue. It may be a case in which you need to recheck the ocular surface for evidence of dry eye disease. However, it may also be that the patient is fixated on one feature and is unable to appreciate the other great features of their contact lenses.
Here are three steps to consider when faced with the latter patients:
1 VALIDATE THE PATIENT’S CONCERNS
Whatever the concerns or issues, let him know you understand the issues and you are prepared to improve them. Some of the issues may be normal adaptation issues, but either way, address them up front:
“I understand you have some concerns here. Let’s work through all of those issues because at the end of this contact lens fitting, I want you to love your contact lenses!”
RETAINING CONTACT LENS PATIENTS
Contact lens retention in new wearers has been found to be about 77.6%, or about one in four patients discontinued contact lens wear by 12 months, according to a September study in Eye & Contact Lens. Reasons for dropout include:
41% → PROBLEMS WITH VISION
36% → DISCOMFORT
25% → HANDLING
2 ROOT OUT THE PROBLEM
Find the primary complaint by digging deep into the patient’s experience. For example, some patients like to just dump everything out when they arrive:
“My contact lenses are slightly blurry in the distance, they hurt for a few seconds when they go in, and I don’t like the waste the packaging creates with these daily disposable lenses.”
After asking follow-up questions about these concerns, however, you find that this 26-year-old patient, who was recently fit in daily disposable lenses, is mostly concerned about the cost and the waste.
Address the primary issue, likely discernible by gauging the passion and number of times the issue comes up during follow-up questions, first. In the case above, you could discuss recycling opportunities. For example, one manufacturer offers a recycling program for all daily disposable lenses. Then, discuss, even demonstrate where possible, how annual rebates and the lack of contact lens solution brings the overall cost of daily disposable lenses to a similar level as reusable lenses.
3 BRING IT BACK TO REALITY
Some patients expect better than perfect vision with their contact lenses. Taking that same 26-year-old patient who complained about a little blur with distance vision compared to his eyeglasses, let’s say he has mild astigmatism in both eyes. Demonstrate how a potential change in his contact lens prescription may sharpen his distance vision a slight amount, while also discussing differences in his vision between eyeglasses and contact lenses. The reason: He should know that even with 20/20 vision in both eyes, his contact lenses may not seem quite as sharp as his eyeglasses.
Every situation is different, but demanding contact lens patients can derail a busy schedule. Therefore, understand how to efficiently validate your patient’s concerns, get to the heart of the problem and bring it back to reality to maintain a smooth practice and happy contact lens wearers. OM