By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
March 8, 2017
The push by many ODs to prescribe more daily disposable contact lenses appears to be paying off, findings from ABB Optical Group’s year-in-review report on the U.S. optical market suggest. Daily disposable growth was up nearly 23 percent, and represented 76 percent of all growth in the category in 2016. Reusable contact lenses were soft in 2016 with a slight decline of 0.4 percent, but have come to life with recent monthly lens introductions of sphericals, torics and multifocals.
Contact lenses are important to the fiscal health of a typical practice. On a single patient encounter, a spectacle lens patient may be more profitable, but when viewed over a 10-year period, a contact lens patient is more profitable. The contact lens patient is more profitable over time because they return to the practice more frequently, and over time, spend more money in the practice.
Let’s look at the dollars brought into a practice in a typical year. On average, revenue from contact lenses represents 16 percent of the total dollars collected by the practice in a year. For a practice with a gross revenue of $700,000 a year, the amount of the revenue related to contact lenses would be $112,000.
There is tremendous potential for increasing the contact lens portion of any practice. Single-use contact lenses represent one of the easiest areas of contact lenses to increase in any practice.
Single-use contact lenses are better for patients and better for the practice. Single-use contact lenses keep a cleaner contact lens on the eye. Any time a patient reuses a contact lens in any of the other contact lens wearing modalities, there is the potential for the patient to not clean the lens properly, or not store the lens properly. Single-use contact lens wearers are the most complaint of all wearing modalities. Single-use contact lenses removes these problems.
Single-use contact lenses can also be prescribed for patients in other wearing modalities. The doctor can set this up in the examination room by simply saying to the patient, “Are there times you would like to wear a single-use contact lens? That way you can just wear it for a day and throw it away.”
Some patients do not want to wear contact lenses every day. For these patients, single-use contact lenses work perfectly.
Take this week to look at your single-use contact lens utilization in your practice. Start by looking at your usage percentage. Your single-use contact lens sales should be 50 percent, or more, of your total contact lens sales. If your numbers are lower, ask your contact lens sales representatives for help. (In fact, no matter what your numbers, you should ask your contact lens sales representatives what can be done in your practice to increase your single-use contact lens sales.)
One of the strongest statements a doctor, or staff member, can make to a patient is, “I wear single-use contact lenses.” Make this happen in your practice. Make sure the doctors and staff have been fit in single-use contact lenses.
Next, walk through your practice and look for marketing messages that pre-set patients to purchase single-use contact lenses. Every place a patient stops as they move through your office is an opportunity to place a pre-setting marketing message.
Last, but not least, is to make sure your staff has been trained in two major areas: (1) how to handle patient objections to single-use contact lenses and (2) how to make it easy for the patient to pay.
If you’ll follow this plan, your single-use contact lens utilization should increase. This is better for your patients, and better for your practice.
i. Dumbleton K, Richter D, Woods C, et al. Compliance with contact lens replacement in Canada and the United States. Optom Vis Sci. 2010 Feb;87(2):131-9.
ii. Morgan PB, Efron N, Toshida H, Nichols JJ. An international analysis of contact lens compliance. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2011 Oct;34(5):223-8.