April 20, 2022
New research commissioned by the Contact Lens Institute (CLI) reveals that U.S. eyecare practitioners are missing an opportunity to talk about contact-lens options with two out of three patients, among other “eye-popping” findings. The nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. adults who require vision correction is part of the organization’s See Tomorrow initiative, which is designed to help practices understand and thrive as consumer beliefs and behaviors evolve.
Four ODs—all 2022 CLI Visionaries—will discuss the new data, divulge additional findings, make peer recommendations and take questions during two online learning events. “Revealed! New Consumer Data Shows What’s Holding Back Your Contact Lens Practice” will be offered as live webinars on May 3 at 6 p.m. EST and 9 p.m. EST. Free registration is available HERE for the earlier session and HERE for the later session.
“Consumers don’t know as much about contact lenses as the eyecare community may assume. We found both troubling misinformation and a startling lack of information—areas that can be directly and effectively addressed by prescribers and staff. Incorporating these into conversation during an exam, which requires only seconds of additional time, presents a massive opportunity to increase patient knowledge, trust and satisfaction, as well as grow their practice,” said Stan Rogaski, executive director for the Contact Lens Institute.
Educating the Uninformed
When asked about their two most recent practice visits, only a fraction of adults remembered contact lenses being discussed as an occasional alternative for glasses (11 percent), a replacement for glasses (8 percent) or to replace reading glasses (4 percent). Despite widespread attention about the issue in the past two years, just 6 percent recall their practitioner having talked about contact lenses to eliminate fogging. And a meager 7 percent remembered being told about new advancements in contact lenses. Sixty-six percent stated that none of these opportunities were raised.
About one-in-two Americans aren’t necessarily aware that contact lenses can be different from each other—a recipe for inadvisable switching. Nearly half aren’t sure if all contact-lens brands are essentially the same (44 percent) or if it’s OK to swap their prescribed brand for another (47 percent). Another 57 percent aren’t sure if all contact lenses are made from the same type of plastic, and 46 percent don’t know if they all use the same general design.
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Reaching the Misinformed
Misinformation may affect consumer contact-lens purchasing decisions, placing their eye health and vision at risk. False beliefs may lead to patient-initiated brand swaps, as approximately one-in-five adults definitively stated that contact-lens brands are interchangeable. The CLI research also showed that about three out of five adults may not check with their eye doctor before switching brands.
Urban legends can also be an issue, with about one-in-two adults who require vision correction believing myths that may prevent them from wearing contact lenses. This includes 10 percent who stated that contact lenses are dangerous. Another 11 percent believe contact lenses can permanently stick to the eye, and 14 percent think contact lenses can get lost behind the eye.
Good News: Patients Turn to Their Doctor
The doctor-patient relationship is essential to healthy contact-lens wear and a healthy contact-lens practice. The CLI findings show that nearly seven out of 10 (68 percent) of people turn to their eye doctor for contact-lens information.
Practitioners can strengthen connections by being a source for eye-health facts, directly with patients and through supplemental means. Approximately three-in-five adults (60 percent) also seek out alternate information sources for contact lens wear—including friends and online searches. People ages 18-34 are three times more likely to rely on social media for information about contact lens wear versus the total population, highlighting why a social presence is more crucial than ever for practices.