By Ellie W. Hattori, OD
Our aging population increases the need for multifocal contact lenses. Serving patient needs with the latest materials and designs makes multifocal CLs a practice-builder.
People in their 50s and older today aren’t ready to slip peacefully into their senior years. Most of these individuals want to continue their active, fashionable lifestyle including the ability to wear contact lenses. Presbyopia makes single-vision contacts a struggle; it requires keeping a pair of reading glasses on hand. In contrast,multifocal contact lenses can allow the wearer to seamlessly see near and far. In my practice, in which I work exclusively with contact lens patients, I have put almost 25 percent of contact lens wearers in multifocals.
Offer Multifocal CLs to All Presbyopic Patients
Presbyoic patients have definitely contributed to the growth of our contact lens practice. The lifestyles of Baby Boomers are not like that of our parents or grandparents at this age. Patients in their 50s and 60s today are active and want to be free of glasses for many of their activities. Many do not want to deal with reading glasses over their contacts. With the availability of superior multifocal lenses, we can now offer it all to our patients.
Ask How You Can Improve CL Experience for Patient
A current contact lens patient will rarely want to give up contact lenses unless there is a problem that they think cannot be fixed. All of our patients are asked: “if there was anything you could change in your contacts lenses what would that be?” If the answer is they are having problems reading, I enthusiastically share with them that we have multifocal contact lenses that will allow them to see distance, intermediate and near. I also always tell them that’s what I am wearing and how much I love them.
Multifocal Lenses Generate Practice Revenues
A specialty lens such as a multifocal or toric costs more, and, therefore, will be more profitable to a practice. Multifocals are usually about a third more expensive than single-vision contacts.
Have Cost Conversation: Multifocal CLs Expensive But Not More than Progressive Glasses
Presbyopic patients are usually already aware of progressive glasses, which can be three times more expensive than single-vision glasses. Standard multifocal contacts are not even double the cost of single-vision contacts, which often surprises the patients. Cost is rarely a hindrance in our contact lens discussion.
Present Multifocal CLs with Enthusiasm
If we present multifocal lenses with confidence, the patient will be excited. Once you’ve identified the patient’s lifestyle and let them know these lenses can allow them to see well while enjoying that lifestyle, they can hardly wait to try them.
Get the Word Out about Multifocals
I have taken advantage of contact lens vendor letters to selected patients to announce new multifocal lenses. The letters describe the advantages of the new lenses and encourage patients to make an appointment to try them.
Set Expectations for Level of Possible Correction
I always let the patient know these contact lenses should take care of 80-90 percent of their daily visual needs, but that sometimes we may need glasses to supplement the remainder. Patients are usually so happy to not have to wear glasses 100 percent of the day that they are pleased with this explanation.
Use Umbrella Fee
All of our contact lens fittings are almost always covered under one umbrella fee. This fee is presented during the contact lens consultation. However, if the prescription is complicated, an exception to that rule is made, and a fee range is given. We also share with the patient the cost of an annual supply of the contact lens I am recommending.
Our professional fitting fee for a new multifocal contact lens wearer is $325. By comparison, the fitting fee for a new single-vision contact lens wearer is $190 and $240 for new toric wearers. With better multifocal lenses today, we often can get the prescription right the first time. The performance of these lenses is more predictable than ever. But, on average, multifocal fittings require two to three office visits.
Sell Annual Supplies of Multifocal CLs
When the contact lens fitting is completed and prescription is finalized I let the patient know I would like to see them in 12 months and that I am authorizing a 12-month supply of lenses. If there is a concern that their prescription may change, I reassure them should that happen we will trade them the contacts they just purchased for the new prescription.
Also Encourage Purchase of Progressive Eyeglasses
I do not recommend that patients wear their contact lenses during all their waking hours. I let them know that even with the extremely breathable materials we now have in contact lenses, our eyes still need a break from having something inside of them. Too often full-time contact lens wearers do not wear their eyeglasses because they no longer see well out of them. I always encourage patients to invest in an updated pair of progressive glasses.
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