By Steven Turpin, OD, MS
Feb. 5, 2020
Single-use contact lenses are beneficial to your patients. Two-week or one-month disposable lenses are frequently over-worn and accumulate dangerous bacteria. Moving more patients into the single-use modality can also offer financial benefits to a practice, creating patients who will be more satisfied with their lenses, less apt to drop out and more likely to continue visiting you for exams.
With both patients and practice standing to gain, I have made a concerted effort to move more patients in my 10-doctor, six-location practice into single-use lenses.
About a quarter of the new-fit contact lens patients I see are put into single-use lenses. The percentage of patients prescribed, and agreeing to, single-use contact lenses is growing by a few percentage points per year.
Begin By Asking About Satisfaction Level With Current Lenses
Our evaluation always begins with questions. We want to know the good, the bad and the ugly of their current lenses. If they only wear lenses part-time, express frustration with lens care, or are having comfort issues during the second half of the month with their planned replacement lens, single-use lenses are easy to introduce.
Part-time wear makes single-use contacts similar in terms of cost compared to a planned replacement. Frustration with lens care is eliminated with single-use lenses. Issues with comfort in the later part of the wear period resolves with a fresh lens every day. For patients not having problems that could be directly solved by a single-use lens, we present with the intention of developing a patient’s awareness of all options, but not in a way that seeks to “convert.”
Emphasize Greater Safety of Daily Disposable Lenses
Practitioners should do their best to understand the scientifically proven advantages of single-use lenses. Studies show the risk of infiltrative events are lower with daily disposable lenses, but comfort and ocular surface irritation are no different between single-use and planned-replacement lenses.
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So, making the statement that switching to a single-use lens reduces the risk of infection compared to a planned replacement is true. But making the blanket statement that single-use lenses are more comfortable is not supported by the literature. Touting false claims about the vast superiority of single-use contacts only comes back to bite you if a patient switches and continues to have dry-eye issues.
Address Cost Concerns
Cost is one of the biggest issues for patients when it comes to contact lenses. The counter argument usually involves discussing cost in terms of a single-use expense. We explain the cost of a monthly product plus the cost of contact lens care products totals about 80-90 cents per day. For a single-use product, patients can get their lenses for around $1.10 to $1.40 a day depending on the specific product they are fit in and rebate availability. We simply ask, “Is the increased safety profile and convenience of single-use lenses worth 30 cents a day?” Usually the answer is yes.
Have Doctors & Staff Speak In Same Terms About Daily Disposables
We train our staff to use the same language as the doctors. Everyone in our practices knows the benefits and drawbacks of single-use contacts. They are on the lookout for patients who would benefit from single-use contacts, and then will educate them on the “why.”
I personally do presentations at our monthly staff meetings on updates in the contact-lens industry, including new lens designs, parameter increases and other improvements and expanded options in the contact lenses we prescribe. With this education, our support staff is able to easily field most patient questions themselves.
Explain Why What You’re Prescribing is Better Than What Hubble Is Selling
If a patient asks why we can’t just prescribe the lenses sold by a site like Hubble, we discuss our concerns with the patient about the lack of follow-up of many of the online sellers and the potential for a poor-fitting lens.
That said, if our goal as practitioners is to get a large percentage of the population in single-use lenses for the health benefits, theoretically a well-fitting Hubble lens is “better,” with follow-up at our office, than a planned replacement lens purchased from our office. As a result, we don’t aggressively push back against patients when they bring up the subject.
Steven Turpin, OD, MS, practices at Cascadia Eye, an ophthalmology-based practice with multiple locations in the Seattle, Wash.,area. He is a graduate of Pacific University College of Optometry, where is also served a residency in cornea and contact lenses. To contact him: email@example.com