By John J. Mertzlufft, OD
Feb. 26, 2020
Specialty contact lenses provide an important service to patients, transforming lives and creating a loyal pool of patients, eager to refer others.
One of the most important partners to me in the growth of specialty contact lens services is ABB Optical Group. The services it offers, including its Wet Lab and Specialty Vision Products consultants, have made a huge difference in my ability to serve specialty contact lens patients while growing profitability.
Great Opportunity for Practice Growth
Over 600 patients in my practice are specialty contact-lens wearers. My practice is comprised of all age groups, but the majority are young professional families. At more than double the national average, over 22 percent of my contact-lens patients are in multifocals. Toric wearers comprise 27 percent of my contact-lens patients.
“True” specialty lenses (sclerals, hybrids, various RGPs and post-refractive surgery soft contacts) comprise about 2 percent of all my contact-lens patients. To me, specialty contact lenses are any lens needed for more complicated eyes requiring something other than routine spherical contacts. I have been fitting more scleral and hybrid lenses over the last few years; and with new and improved multifocal designs, I have really increased the number of happy multifocal wearers.
To learn more about ICD FlexFit, visit abboptical.com/contact-lenses/gas-permeable/icd-gp.
There has been significant growth, of about 15 percent, in my specialty contact lens practice over the past five years.
In October 2019, I hosted an ABB Optical Group Scleral Wet Lab in which Stuart Harrell, OD, led a workshop on fitting the ICD Flexfit Scleral. Scleral consultants, like Dr. Harrell, have been wonderful in helping with fitting adjustments. I have been so impressed with ABB and how committed they are to helping my practice that I have started also using their expert consultants for more routine RGPs and multifocal RGPs, which I previously got through other labs. ABB’s Specialty Vision consultants and our account manager Brian Daggy are especially knowledgeable and helpful, making managing and growing the specialty lens part of our practice easy.
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ABB Optical Group’s Scleral Wet Labs offer hands-on participation in fitting scleral lenses. These wet labs typically consist of two or three patients with keratoconus or post-refractive surgery complications that would be helped by scleral lenses. An experienced fitter lectures on scleral lenses. Local doctors are invited to participate and learn to fit scleral lenses. We had a great time–even the patients enjoyed it.
Specialty CL Educational Opportunity
Most of my staff was present at the wet lab, so they became familiar with terminology, patient experience and the process of scleral lens fitting. Support staff can observe the fitting process, look through the slit lamp at the sclerals on the patient’s eye and ask questions.
And there also are important lessons for doctors. The Scleral Wet Lab offered me a few key takeaways: Don’t worry about K readings, just grab a middle parameter lens and put it on and see what the fit looks like. Knowing that the ICD Flexfit lens is about 300 um thick helps you to know if you are in the ball park with the clearance.
Any optometrist interested in fitting scleral lenses, but intimidated by the idea, should attend an ABB Optical Wet Lab. I believe they will come away with a lot of confidence in getting involved in what often is a life-changing option for their patients.
John J. Mertzlufft, OD, is the owner of Family EyeCare at Westchase in Tampa, Fla. To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org