Contact Lenses

Daily & Monthly Replacement Contact Lenses: Three Doctor-Patient Scripts

By Ted McElroy, OD

SPONSORED BY ALCON

When prescribing contact lenses, my first priority is finding the lens that will be best for my patients. One of the top criteria is finding a technologically advanced lens with a simple wear-and-care regimen. Contact lenses like Alcon’s DAILIES TOTAL1® and AIR OPTIX® AQUA, and Alcon’s other daily disposable and monthly replacement options, make finding the right contact lenses for patients easier. There are multiple options for me to choose from to find the lens that is both best for my patients’ eyes and vision, while also providing a convenient wear and care routine.

With 1,500 contact lens evaluations conducted annually in my practice, and around 33 percent of my practice devoted to contact lens evaluations and sales, more than 98 percent of our contact lens patients are wearing daily disposable or monthly replacement lenses.

Here are three doctor-patient scripts to help educate your patients about the benefits of daily disposable and monthly replacement lenses.

Asking the Key Questions

I find that the questions you ask are the most important part of gathering information from patients about contact lens wear. The responses to your questions will guide you to the lens that best accommodates their vision, comfort and lifestyle needs. Here is a sample of a typical conversation in my exam room with a contact lens patient:

Doctor: “What is the replacement schedule for the lens you are in?”
Patient: “Oh, I don’t know. I’d say I change lenses about every month or so.”
Doctor: “How do your contact lenses feel by the time you are ready to throw them out and put new ones in?”
Patient: “Not too good. That’s usually how I know it’s time to throw them away–my eyes start getting itchy and foggy.”
Doctor: “The reason for that is probably because you’re over-wearing those contact lenses. The lenses you have in your eyes are two-week replacement lenses, meaning they are meant to be worn just for two weeks, and then thrown away.”
Patient: “Oh, yeah, I remember my old doctor saying something about that, but I always thought you could just keep wearing them until they got uncomfortable.”
Doctor: “It’s important for your eye health and comfort to follow each contact lens’ recommended wear and care schedule, and not to over-wear the lenses. Fortunately, I have two options that I think will work much better for you: a daily disposable lens you simply throw out at the end of each day, or a lens that you throw out on the first of every month.”

Prescribe Lens that Best Meets Patient’s Needs

There are many great contact lens options in both the daily and monthly modalities. My recommendation for the patient is based on how each patient is doing in the lens they are already in, or for new wearers, the wear and care regimen that makes the most sense for them. For instance, for the patient who wears a two-week replacement lens comfortably, whose main challenge is over-wearing that lens, a monthly replacement contact lens would be the best option. However, if a patient is following the wear and care regimen for a two-week replacement lens, and is still uncomfortable, I would prescribe a daily disposable lens.

When Daily Disposable is Best

Doctor: “You mentioned that you’ve been good about changing your lenses every two weeks, but that your contact lenses are still not comfortable.”
Patient: “Yes, a lot of times I can’t even make it more than about a week before I feel like I have to get rid of them and put new ones in.”
Doctor: “We have a lot of great monthly replacement contact lenses to choose from, but given what you’re telling me, I think a daily disposable lens–one you throw away every night before you go to sleep–would be the best option. That way you’ll have a fresh lens every morning, and will be less likely to get that dry, uncomfortable feeling.”

When Monthly Disposable is Best

Doctor: “It sounds like your eyes are comfortable in the lens you’re currently wearing, and the only problem is that you are wearing it longer than you should, which isn’t good for your eyes.”

Patient: “Yeah, I don’t have any problem with these contacts, but I tend to wear them for longer than two weeks, which you’re telling me I shouldn’t do.”

Doctor:  “That’s right. It would be much healthier for your eyes to have a lens that was designed to be worn as long as you’re wearing them. For that reason, I’m prescribing a monthly replacement contact lens. I want you to program an alert on your phone that reminds you to throw out these contact lenses, and put fresh lenses in, on the first of every month. Can you do that?”

Seeing is Believing

Rather than delve into the scientific evidence about why the lenses I am prescribing are better for the patient’s eyes and more comfortable than the ones they are currently wearing, I prefer to focus on the patient’s pain points, and alleviating that pain–or in the case of new contact lens patients–preventing that pain from ever occurring in the first place. The best way for me to hammer home the benefits of the daily and monthly replacement schedules is to give patients trial lenses to take home and “see” (and feel) for themselves.

My Alcon representatives, April and Molly, are great partners in supporting me with trial lenses in convenient ready-to-go packs to give to patients. Alcon provides my office with trial lenses so that I can give my patients the opportunity to compare their old lenses with the comfort and convenience of their newly prescribed daily disposable contact lenses.

My patients rarely ask to return to their old lenses after trying out the new daily disposable or monthly replacement lenses I’ve prescribed.

Doctor: “Now I’d like you to try out for a week the new lenses I am prescribing. In one week, give us a call, or drop by, and let us know what you think of these new lenses. I think you’re really going to like the convenience of the new wear and care schedule, and I think you’re going feel the difference in comfort right away.”

Patient: “OK, I like my old lenses fine, but if you think these are a lot better, I’ll give them a try.”

Doctor: “Good–you won’t be disappointed. I think you’ll literally “see” and feel what I’ve been talking about. You’ll be more comfortable, and get more out of wearing your contact lenses.”

Ted McElroy, OD, is the owner of Vision Source Tifton in Tifton, Ga. To contact: tam6767@gmail.com

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