By Mile Brujic, OD
Utilize technology to demonstrate the potentially harmful effects of poor contact lens care compliance. In the process, you can greatly improve patient comfort and success with contact lenses.
The freedom from wearing eyeglasses everyday motivates patients to wear contact lenses, but too few are motivated to follow the lens wearing schedule and cleaning regimen that we prescribe. In our practice, we have implemented strategies to make it more likely that patients follow our wear and care guidelines. In addition to reducing the risk of infection and the kind of discomfort that causes many to drop out of contacts, successfully persuading patients to follow prescribed wear and care regimens is good for your practice’s bottom line.
How Compliant and Comfortable Are Your Patients
in Their Contact Lenses?
50% of patients report contact lens related dryness.
19% of patients perceive they got a clear CL wear and care recommendation from the OD and/or tech.
77% of patients follow the OD’s recommendation if that recommendation is clearly presented.
82% of re-fits need reinforcement of original CL solutions recommendation and CL care instructions.
Source: Alcon Opti-Free
Ask Patients to Bring in CL Supplies
When patients who wear contact lenses make an appointment for an annual examination, we ask them to bring their contact lens case, solution and any other product, like eye drops, that they are using. Just looking over these supplies can give you clues about their level of compliance. For example, some patients bring in a store brand bottle of solution rather the one I prescribed or they may even bring in a trial bottle of solution from their last eye exam. The trial bottle is a sign that the patient could not possibly be taking their lenses out and cleaning them on a regular basis. Another indication of a problem is the condition of the contact lens case. If the condition of the contact lens case demonstrates non-compliance, it is an optimal opportunity for you and your paraoptometrists to review how often the case should be replaced, which I usually recommend to be done every three months.
Discover Patient Logic Behind Wear and Care
Rather than simply ask the patient how often they change and/or clean their lenses, we ask how they know it’s time to replace their lenses with a new pair. Rather than just report that they switch out the lenses according to the regimen you prescribed for them, many patients admit that they only change lenses when they become uncomfortable. That logic results in patients wearing the same lenses for longer than the approved wearing time.
Explain Science Behind Compliance
I attempt to tailor the education I deliver to patients regarding contact lens care. For the patient who wears their contacts for months at a time, I explain that they are unintentionally causing irritation to their eyes. I further explain that evidence of this irritation can be seen on the surface of their eye, which I can see through my slit lamp. Our TelScreen Anterior Segment Imaging System takes videos of the patient’s ocular surface, which we show to them to educate them about changes occurring to their eyes and deposits on the surface of the lens. I tell the patient that over time the irritation and deposits increase, eventually making even new contact lenses uncomfortable to wear. I will then say: “I don’t want that to happen to you. The best way to prevent those deposits from building up is to follow my prescribed wearing schedule and use this contact lens multipurpose disinfecting solution [which I hand to them]. This specific solution will do the best job at keeping your lenses clean and retaining surface moisture making the contacts more comfortable for you.”
Have Others Reinforce Message
After the patient leaves the exam room with my wear and care prescription, our paraoptometrists will reiterate the prescription and ask one last time before the patient leaves the office if they fully understand how we asked them to care for their lenses. The repeated, unified message lets the patient know that compliance is essential to both their eye health and their ability to continue comfortably wearing contact lenses.
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Mile Brujic, OD, is a partner of Premier Vision Group in Bowling Green and Lima, Ohio. To contact him: email@example.com.