With much of the digital revolution occurring after 2008 and most contact lens technology developing well before it, there is an inherent design feature mismatch. The majority of the available contact lenses are not designed for how patients are using their eyes. Specifically, older-generation materials and designs feature technology that isn’t optimized for how we stare at multiple digital devices for nearly all of our waking hours.
It wasn’t until just a few short years ago that we became a digital-device–obsessed nation. For example, it seems like smartphones have been part of our lives forever, but the reality is that the first iPhone debuted in mid-2007. The iPad was released in 2010. Factor in social media not really taking off until 2008, and you begin to see a picture that helps explain why so many of our patients are struggling with contact lens technology that predates their mobile technology.
Previously from Dr. Bazan: Handling patients who want you to adjust glasses purchased online
Many of my patients are also on laptops, desktops, tablets, and TVs—many of them using multiple devices at the same time. That is a great deal of screen time, and it only seems to be increasing. The jury is still out on how much these digital devices are harming our ocular health, but one thing is for certain: While using these devices, our blink rates drop dramatically.
This reduction in blinking has led to contact lens-related dryness for patients who have likely upgraded their smartphones but not their contact lenses. Optometrists should be proactive in offering their patients solutions to digital device-induced dryness.
Missing the opportunity
However, ODs may be missing the opportunity to offer their patients the solutions they need.
For example, it’s become a habit for ODs to simply ask their patients how they are doing with their contact lenses. If we hear, “Fine,” we move on. This saves us time, but is it really in the best interest of the patient?
Our patients are accepting end-of-day discomfort as the norm because they don’t realize there are better options. It's also important to point out that in the past, we often didn’t have a better option to offer. All we could often hope to hear was, “Fine,” because we didn’t have the upgrade available.