By Robert S. Christensen, OD
Patients with deficient color vision now can be helped with specialty lenses. Here is how to make this new option a practice-builder.
ESTABLISH why color deficiency matters to patients.
OFFER a possible solution.
REFINE with diagnostic test and demo lenses who should purchase product.
Deficiency in color vision does not affect a large segment of the population–just 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women–but it can greatly impact these individuals’ lives. Imagine not being able to distinguish the colors in a stoplight, or not being able to distinguish colors on your car dashboard or electronic devices. My practice now is able to provide a solution to these individuals with EnChroma, glasses with lenses designed to improve deficiency in color vision.
EnChroma eyeglasses, which cost around $500, offer improvement, rather than a cure, for color deficiency, and are fashionable enough to wear as sunglasses.
Why Does Color Deficiency Matter?
Those without color deficiency (myself included) may not realize all the things you rely on color recognition for. When you’re driving, not only the stoplights, but the signs on the road are partly recognizable because of their color, and if you see a sign with letters and background that happen to have colors you don’t have the ability to see, you may not see the words at all. In a less serious, but no less inconveniencing, sense, the ability to coordinate your clothes and put yourself together also can be affected. Editor’s Note: “Color blindness” and “color deficiency” are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a clinical difference between these two terms.
A New Solution
I’ve prescribed one pair of EnChroma glasses so far. These glasses, which look like sunglasses, don’t cure color deficiency, but the one patient who has experienced the glasses, says they make a significant difference in color saturation. The glasses enable him to see subtle color differences he ordinarily would not be able to see without EnChroma lenses.
Click HERE to access a useful FAQ page from EnChroma that can be used to educate your patients.
How Do You Know Which Patients Are Best Suited for EnChroma?
In addition to the standard color blindness test which many ODs give as a regular part of pre-testing, EnChroma offers a diagnostic test specific to their glasses, which the OD can load onto an office computer. This is important as this product only corrects the kind of color deficiency a person is born with, not the kind of color deficiency that is acquired later in life through the presence of an ocular disease or other condition.
As I mentioned, we just have one patient in the glasses so far, so it is hard to judge long-term profitability, but it could be promising as each pair of EnChroma glasses costs around $500. It cost our practice $635 for a demo kit that we can use to allow patients to see what life would look like with their color deficiency improved. There is no need to keep an inventory of the products in your office. With just the diagnostic test on a computer in your office and the demo kit, you are able to tell which patients would be helped by EnChroma, and you’re able to let them see for themselves whether they think an investment in the product would be worth it.
The lenses come with many treatments, such as AR, already built in, so there is no need to up-sell the patient on additional treatments, as you would with eyeglasses.
Not Much Adaption Needed to See Benefits
Unlike glasses like progressives that often take some time for patients to adjust to, the brain has enough plasticity in the parts that control color vision, to allow patients to benefit right away. It says a lot that the patient who tried on the glasses in our office was immediately impressed enough that he wanted to order a pair right away. It seems that the more you wear the glasses, the benefits, which were noticeable right away, become even more pronounced.
At this point, it is not possible to apply a corrective power to an EnChroma lens, but that is coming in the next six months. The lenses now just come in glass, but they will be available in Trivex in the coming year.
New, Exciting Solution
The exciting part is we’ve never had a practical, easy-to-implement way to improve color deficiency before. These glasses are so easy to use, and look so good, that the patient we prescribed them for is simply wearing them as sunglasses.
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