A Daily Opportunity to Make Your Patients Happy - Daily Disposable Contact Lenses [ view all articles ]
It is no secret that the daily disposable market is growing fast in the US, accounting for about 15% of all contact lenses prescribed as of 20111, up from around 5% in previous years. It is easy to understand the trend; no solutions necessary, near elimination of many common contact lens related complications2, and the ease and convenience that consumers want today. However, compared to the 40% to 60% of daily disposable usage in Europe and Asia, the United States may be missing out on an opportunity for both practice profitability and patient satisfaction.
The classic daily disposable candidate is easy to spot: non-presbyopic, less than -0.75 cylinder (refractive and corneal), average keratometry readings (42.50-46.00) and average sphere power range (+4.00D to-8.00D). Many of these patients will gladly opt for full time one-day use, leaving happy and purchasing 90-pack supplies.
However, not to be overlooked are the various other patients that may benefit from a daily disposable option, if only as a second choice. Thinking outside the 6-pack box and offering them to a new patient base can result in practice growth as well as grateful patients.
Consider offering daily disposables to more patients:
· The satisfied disposable soft lens patient
Every practitioner appreciates a happy and compliant contact lens wearer. They may just need an update in Rx. Perhaps they are even willing to try out your latest product offerings. The patient may not report any complaints at all with their current lenses.
But wait, do they travel? Do they hate taking their contact supplies to the gym twice a week? Do they have to replace their lenses too often because they lose or misplace them during certain activities? Suggest a daily disposable as a companion lens option. To reduce additional chair time, try to offer a companion lens from the same manufacturer with similar optics and characteristics if possible (aspheric with aspheric, silicone with silicone, etc...). Try sending the patient home with a strip of daily disposable trials to try along with their regular supply order, and they may return to fill this Rx as an add-on. Your simple suggestion is appreciated by the patient as a valuable service and this can generate good patient referrals.
· The potential occasional wearer
Even the fashionista who loves having 12 different pairs of glasses will have the occasional use for contact lenses! This patient may not ask for contacts simply because they don’t want to “fuss” with them as they usually prefer glasses. This type of patient may not be motivated to care for a frequent replacement lens, but consider offering them a fitting for daily disposables3 . Let the patient know that if they are interested at all, contact lens wear doesn’t have to be an everyday preference. A 30-pack of daily disposables along with their newest eyeglass purchase could result in a happy and fulfilled patient. If the patient is not interested, they will at least be glad that you offered.
· The multifocal wearer with distance-oriented hobbies
A presbyopic patient who has been successfully fit into a multifocal lens may be hesitant to tell you if they only have trouble with their distance vision in certain scenarios. If they are within one-day parameters for distance, try asking “Are there any particular times when you are NOT happy wearing them?” This simple question may reveal that although they are experiencing good vision most of the time, they miss the unobstructed distance vision they used to get in SV (single vision) lenses for certain activities. Offering a one-day distance lens for these activities may prevent them from dropping out of multifocals because of these infrequent occasions.
· Kids or teens that participate in sports
A young contact lens candidate may not ask for contact lenses, but may mention that they are active in sports or school plays. If this patient has poor vision when uncorrected (for example 20/50 without their specs) a daily disposable contact lens for occasional use could be invaluable when their glasses will present a problem.
Be considerate that it may be best to approach the subject with the parent first before mentioning the option to the child. The parent may not support the idea at all. However, some parents are more than happy to have the discussion.
· The patient with recent comfort complaints or possible solution-related issues
There are various contact lens wear issues that may not necessarily call for a discontinuation of lens wear. However, there may be a concern of recurring issues if reusing their same lenses until the issue is resolved. In some cases a month’s supply of daily disposable contact lenses could be offered for those occasions when the patient insists on wearing contacts. After your prescribed treatment plan, returning to full time contact lens wear can be re-evaluated. Providing this reasonable option (when it is ethical and possible to do so) may help the patient stay compliant with your prescribed treatment plan. The patient needs to know that you are listening to their needs, but you need them to know that you are serious about their eye health.
· The Seasonal Traveler
The college student who tells you he’ll be backpacking across Europe this summer might prefer to be switched from DW (Daily Wear) monthly lenses to a daily disposable instead. Those with mild seasonal-only allergies may also be a candidate for an intermittent daily disposable lens. 4
· The changing eye
Consider patients recently coming out of gas permeable lenses, those experiencing hormonal changes, and don’t forget those taking short-term medications. There are many cases when a contact lens Rx cannot be finalized at their yearly exam, even if its determined they are still a candidate for CL wear. A supply of daily disposables and a scheduled follow up before finalizing may be a temporary solution to the problem.
Long-time contact lens patients considering corrective surgery in the near future may be hesitant to buy a 6-month supply of a monthly lens. They may even ask your staff for several free trials and a few solution sample kits to “tide them over”. If they are a candidate, a 30-pack of daily disposables instead may be a sensible option.
A Daily Opportunity
There are many patients that are never going to be a candidate for (or even interested in) daily disposable lenses. However, there are more options than ever for the daily disposable candidate.
Daily disposable lenses are now available in both spherical and aspheric designs, hydrogel and silicone hydrogel, and even toric and multifocal lenses.
1.Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO How is Your Daily Disposable Percentage? http://www.optometricmanagement.com/mtotw/tip_new.asp?tip=520
2. Solomon OD, Freeman MI, Boshnick EL, et al. A 3 year prospective study of the clinical performance of daily disposable contact lenses compared with frequent replacement and conventional daily wear contact lenses. CLAO J. 1996;22(4):250-7.
3.Karen K. Yeung, O.D., Stephanie Makalintal. Daily Disposables: Prescribing Trends and Pipeline Lenses 2010 http://www.reviewofcontactlenses.com/content/d/soft_lenses/c/21293/
4. Hayes VY, Schnider CM, Veys I. An evaluation of 1-day disposable contact lens wear in a population of allergy sufferers. Contact Lens Anterior Eye. 2003; 26(2):85-93.