By Vittorio Mena, OD, MS
Oct. 5, 2022
Preventing contact lens dropouts can be life-changing for patients–and a significant financial win for practices.
At least one out of every two of our patients suffer from contact lens-induced dry eye, and about 60 percent drop out of contact lenses in their first year without even telling their eyecare specialists.1 The sad part is that roughly one out of every four patients drop out of contact lenses altogether.
As experts in our field, we should be leading our patients with the latest dry eye management as well as the latest contact lens technologies, so they will be happy in their lenses long-term and return to the practice every year, referring friends and family in the process.
From a profitability standpoint, every lost patient decreases your revenue per patient. The revenue generated from sales of glasses range between $350-$550, generating an average $450 per pair. If you were to add contact lenses to the purchase of glasses, your practice would generate an additional $200-$1,000 per patient,2 with the level of additional revenue generated dependent on the size of the contact lens supply each patient chooses. The contact lens evaluation fee also generates revenue. The additional profitability soars even more when the contacts you prescribe and sell are daily disposables, multifocals or torics.
With so much at stake for both patients and practice, here are three actions I take to increase the chances that my patients stay in their contact lenses long-term.
Action #1: Liken New CL Technology to Other New Technologies
Spend at least a few seconds talking about the latest contact lens technologies, drawing a comparison to the improvement in technology in other consumer goods, like smartphones. Explain to patients that, just as they regularly upgrade their phones to take advantage of improved operating systems, there are new contact lens innovations that make it worth upgrading lenses.
Too often, patients are in outdated lenses with older technology that can lead to contact lens-related dry eye symptoms, and ultimately, discontinue of wear altogether. If I do not let patients know the best options in contact lenses, and give them the opportunity to experience those best options, I am doing them a disservice and making it more likely they will eventually drop out of their lenses.
I want my patients to be happy with their experience when they come into the office, and because of that, I almost always recommend a daily disposable contact lens. If we put the patient in a reusable lens, and they are not happy in the lens, they will simply go elsewhere for eyecare, or worse, order online a different brand from the one you prescribed, hoping for better comfort and relief.
It’s essential to actually have the patient try on and wear the newest lenses, so they can make a decision for themselves! I have my staff educate patients on the phone and when they come into the office about the newest contact lens technologies and ask them if they are even interested in trying the new lenses.
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We are used to the “if it is not broke don’t fix it mentality.” We often believe that if we were to switch a patient to a different modality, it will eat up our chair time, so it’s not worth the trouble if the patient is happy in their old lenses. When you are able to give a patient that wow factor with a great, much improved pair of contact lenses, it will transform that patient’s life and be a game-changer for your practice.
Action #2: Educate Presbyopic Patients About Multifocal CLs
I educate all patients needing near-vision help about the opportunity to wear multifocal contact lenses. Many, if not most, patients don’t know what multifocal contact lenses are. Many times when a patient in their forties or fifties is in my exam chair for the first time, and I mention multifocal contact lenses, they look puzzled or astonished because nobody ever mentioned this option to them before.
Other times, patients tell me they tried multifocals before, but the lenses didn’t work for them or were uncomfortable. I continue to probe and ask how long ago the patient tried them. Many of these patients say they tried multifocals 5-10 years ago, or even longer ago. I then explain, that like all the other technology in our lives, contact lens technology is constantly evolving, and that there are newer, better multifocal options available now that may work well for them.
I ask them to try the latest and best multifocal options, providing them with trial lenses to test out. I especially emphasize this opportunity for patients who have expressed frustration at having to wear glasses all the time, or having to remember to always carry reading glasses with them.
Action #3: Educate Astigmatic Patients About Torics
If a patient has astigmatism, I let them know that there are now high-quality, highly comfortable and effective contact lenses available, especially for them.
These patients will sometimes tell me that a previous eye doctor told them contact lenses were not an option for them due to the astigmatism. About half of people wearing glasses have astigmatism,3 and the reality is that out of that 50 percent, only about 10 percent are wearing toric contact lenses.4
As eyecare practitioners, we need to be on the front lines of educating patients on the newest and best contact lenses, whether that means prescribing single-vision daily disposables, multifocals or torics. Doing so keeps patients comfortably in their contacts for decades while creating an impressive practice growth and profitability booster.
1. Sulley A, Young G, Hunt C. Retention rates in new contact lens wearers. Eye Contact Lens. 2018.
2. Morgan PB. What’s on my contact lens wish list. Contact Lens Spectrum. 2019;34:18-23.
3. Young G, Sulley A, Hunt C. Prevalence of astigmatism in relation to soft contact lens fitting. Eye Contact Lens. 2011;37:20-25.
4. Multi Sponsor Surveys Inc. The 2014 Gallup target market report on the market for toric contact lenses.