Contact lenses have been an integral component of many optometric practices for more than 3 decades. But, over the years, industry disruptors have altered the practice of optometry. The popularity of online eye exams and contact lens sales has drastically changed contact lens services for many practices. These disruptors affect not only practice sales, but, perhaps more important, also patient care. It is therefore essential that we as eye care providers educate our patients about their ocular health, about proper lens care, and about advances in contact lens technology.
It is now more important than ever for eye care professionals to diversify their contact lens practices and face new challenges head on. Making small alterations to your current contact lens offerings, with little additional investment, can open the door to significant growth. This article offers some suggested changes you can make in your practice.
WAYS TO KEEP YOUR CONTACT LENS GAME STRONG
Upgrade Your Patients’ Lenses
When you uncover an opportunity to improve visual acuity or comfort in a contact lens wearer during a probing case history, this can allow you to offer an upgrade. Offering patients the opportunity to try new lenses will not only keep them coming back year after year, but it will also lead to invaluable referrals. Patients will appreciate the attention and education, and letting them test out a new technology builds loyalty and discourages them from finding other, potentially easier venues for renewing their contact lens prescriptions.
Give the Gift of Convenience
Refitting patients into a new contact lens modality can increase the patient’s satisfaction and loyalty, and your profit. After explaining the health benefits of daily disposable lenses, giving the patient an opportunity to trial a daily disposable lens allows him or her to experience first-hand the ease of care. Sending the patient home with a 1-week supply of lenses often results in the successful conversion to the new modality.
With readily available rebates for daily disposable lenses, a 1-year supply easily and readily becomes an integral part of the yearly contact lens evaluation. It is also important to pre-appoint the patient for his or her complete eye examination and contact lens evaluation for the following year.
Get Tech-y With Torics
Exploring new technology to improve visual acuity can be another source of increased revenue and patient loyalty. Correcting astigmatism with contact lenses has become both efficient and effective. Contact lens wearers with astigmatism who have previously been corrected only with spherical lenses are a potential new base of patients right within your existing practice.
For so long, the functional acuity provided by multifocal contact lenses was unsatisfactory. But with an explosion of new multifocal contact lenses over the past few years, the options for correcting presbyopia have made success significantly more achievable. Simply beginning the discussion with patients about the ability to correct their vision without glasses opens the door to building a loyal and profitable patient base. Enabling the patient to return to his or her work environment with a multifocal contact lens provides an immediate opportunity for that patient and his or her co-workers to witness the possibility of improved function without glasses.
Take the Time to Specialize
Developing a specialty contact lens practice can help to keep an optometric practice relevant. Offering scleral lenses creates a niche for innovation and the potential for a loyal contact lens base in your practice. Developing skill with scleral lenses can quickly set you apart and attract a strong referral base from other local eye care providers. Patients with ocular surface disease who are referred to a practice for sight-restoring scleral lens evaluations often then become key sources for other referrals.
Another lucrative and creative way to diversify your existing contact lens practice is by offering myopia management with contact lenses. Once again, developing new fitting skills opens up a new population of contact lens patients that you may have previously overlooked. Although myopia control is not exclusively done using contact lenses, new literature lends itself to the benefit of slowing the myopic curve by fitting young patients with multifocal contact lenses. For more on this topic, read “Myopia Control With Multifocal Contact Lenses” by Roxanne Achong-Coan, OD, FAAO, FIAOMC, FSLS.
A smart strategy is to place copies of articles on myopia management in your waiting room. This helps to initiate discussions with parents who are eagerly seeking treatment for their children. Once the education process has begun, many parents are quickly willing to incur extra costs for a multifocal contact lens evaluation, routine follow-ups, and a 1-year supply of daily multifocal lenses.
PRESERVE AND GROW YOUR CONTACT LENS PATIENT BASE
Offering excellent care and new technologies that cannot be obtained through most online exams and delivery services will help you to preserve your current contact lens wearers and attract new wearers to your practice. Being on the forefront of new technologies and offering new options will help you build a local base of patients who will look forward to yearly visits with you to see the new options available.