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AAOpt 2023: Contact Lens Institute report takeaways

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Ariel Cerenzie, OD, FAAO, FSLS, shares highlights from the recently released Contact Lens Institute report on contact lens culture.

Ariel Cerenzie, OD, FAAO, FSLS, of the Charlotte Contact Lens Institute, shares highlights and takeaways from the recently released Contact Lens Institute (CLI) contact lens culture report while at the 2023 American Academy of Optometry meeting in New Orleans.

Editor's note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Cerenzie clarified after the interview, "Only 56% [of respondents] felt that contact lenses were [more] profitable [compared to non-contact lens wearers]"

Ariel Cerenzie, OD, FAAO, FSLS:

Hi my name is Ariel Cerenzie. I am in Charlotte, North Carolina. My practice name is the Charlotte Contact Lens Institute.

The CLI reports did a great overview on the contact lens culture, profitability, [in] various practices across the US. And there are some really great key takeaways that I took away from reading through the reports.

The first of which is talking with patients that are just glasses wearers. And I am—like a lot of the responders of this report—also guilty of not talking with patients about contact lenses when they're just glasses wearers, because you're talking about so many things with your patients, there's so many conversations that you're going to have with them. But what I found is by asking just the simple question, "Have you ever considered trying contact lenses?" opens up a lot of really interesting responses.

So there's probably 2 main responses. One is kind of a guttural, "Oh, gosh, no, I can't even touch my eyes. That sounds terrible. The thought of touching my eyes terrifies me." And to follow up with that, it could be a simple, "Well throughout the year, if you're ever thinking about something that you're doing, that glasses were kind of a nuisance for, just know that you would be a great candidate for contact lenses."

And then the second most common response is, "Oh, I didn't realize that I was a candidate for contact lenses." So it's a really great conversation to have. I, too, am guilty of not having it every time, but after every time I have that conversation with patients, I always tell myself, I need to be having this conversation more.

The second thing that I found really interesting from the study was profitability of contact lenses. Only 56% [of respondents] felt that contact lenses were [more] profitable [compared to non-contact lens wearers]. And how we tackled that at our office, is we always talk about contact lenses in the form of an annual supply, we never discussed partial supplies with patients.

The benefit of giving somebody an annual supply is you can really take advantage of a lot of the manufacturer rebates that are available. And what we would do is we would outline to patients, this is your cost for your annual supply, this is how much is being taken off from this rebate, this is how much your insurance is taking off. And for us, we also discounted our optical; we gave like $100 off for any sort of backup eyewear, if you will. And when you really broke it down that way and they look at their annual supply costs, it really feels pretty minimal to them in the in the grand scheme of things.

Another great key takeaway from the Contact Lens Institute report was creating and really promoting a positive contact lens culture. And the one that really resonated the most with me—there was there's 21 of them, so definitely check out the report and look at all of the the factors that were discussed, because it's it's brilliant—but the big one was having these contact lenses available in fit sets.

I find that from a patient satisfaction standpoint, if you have those lenses that they want that day that they're able to try, that is so helpful for them to experience it in the moment that they're very excited. But also from a profitability standpoint, where you don't have to have that patient come back and perhaps interfere with some of your chair time.

The second of the 21 factors that really resonated with me was the continual evolvement of technology that's available in contact lenses. Things like the lubricity of a contact lens, for example, is so important with the demands that all of our patients have on their eyes now. Also things like evolving multifocal technology, and these industry leaders continuing to develop these multifocal tools that work in the space that our patients' eyeballs are in throughout the day.

We know that contact lenses provide a quality of life improvement for so many people. So there are some some things that you would really like to have a deep dive research into or surveys. The Contact Lens Institute does an amazing job of providing all that data, so reach out to our friends at the Contact Lens Institute with some of your recommendations on future research projects.

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Megan Cavet, PhD
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