Contact Lens Profitability

How to Increase the Value of Contact Lens Patients

By Thomas F. Steiner

Director of Market Research,
Review of Optometric Business


Contact lens patients exceed eyeglasses-only wearers in revenue and profit to an optometric practice—and their overall contribution is potentially higher.


PRESCRIBE DAILY OR MONTHLY USE. Patients prefer either daily or monthly replacement.
PROMOTE ADVANCES. Let patients know about the benefits of new CL materials & designs.
PRE-APPOINT, SELL ANNUAL SUPPLIES. Better recall pays off, annual supplies drives it.

Read first two articles in series:
Contact Lens Profitability: Making Contact Lenses = Greater Share of Practice Revenue

Contact Lens Patients Are More Valuable than Eyeglasses-Only Patients

While the average contact lens patient generates more revenue and gross profit over the long term than does a patient wearing eyeglasses only, the revenue and profit potential from contact lens patients is usually even higher.

For eight years, the Management & Business Academy (MBA) has collected annual production data from independent ODs, including eye exams performed and device sales revenue. Based on these practice assessments, MBA calculates that the median practice generates just $152 in contact lens sales annually for each contact lens exam performed during the year. That’s equivalent to a sale of about three boxes of contact lenses. Top performing practices sell $200 or more of contact lenses for each exam performed–an increase of one-third or more over median production. A majority of practices have an opportunity to substantially increase revenue per contact lens patient.

Failure to realize the full revenue potential of contact lens patients has three major causes: inattention to product mix, lack of adequate recall process and lack of consistent presentation of annual supply savings. Best practices to address these deficiencies include:

Prescribe daily replacement and monthly replacement lenses. Numerous studies show that patient compliance is higher with these two regimens. A majority of patients prefer monthly replacement over a two-week replacement cycle. And daily replacement and monthly lenses can yield higher revenue and profit per patient than two-week lenses.

Upgrade suitable candidates to specialty lenses. Patients with low astigmatism (-1.00D or less) often experience better visual acuity with toric lenses than with spherical lenses that compromise vision. Similarly, presbyopic patients often see better with multifocal lenses than with monovision.

Introduce new technology to patients as soon as new lenses become available. Contact lens technology has advanced rapidly, as new materials and designs are constantly introduced. Astute ECPs understand that patients want to upgrade their wearing experience and will pay more to do so. It’s better to proactively recommend new technology to seemingly satisfied patients who do not complain about their current lenses, than to passively wait for patients to express unmet needs.

Develop a process to consistently present annual supply savings to every contact lens patient. Every ECP understands the value of selling annual supplies, but only a minority of ECPs are consistently successful at doing so. Selling an annual supply increases patient compliance, raises the capture rate and increases contact lens revenue and profit per patient. Use the manufacturer rebates and offer annual supply discounts to dramatize the value of an annual supply purchase.

Pre-appoint contact lens patients. Most ECPs hope to see contact lens patients every year, but typical patients have exams only every 18 months. Achieving higher recall success increases the contact lens capture rate, improves patient compliance and deepens patient relationships. Pre-appointment is the most effective recall process.

Thomas F. Steiner, Director of Market Research for ROB, has spent more than 25 years helping eyecare practices succeed, including pioneering the introduction of color contact lenses into optometry. To contact him:

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