Dr. Lyerly is a 2011 graduate of Southern College of Optometry. She founded Eyedolatry in 2011, a media platform dedicated to patient-friendly and doctor-approved ocular health advice and industry news. She has successfully coordinated on media campaigns
In late February 2019, the patients of Olds Eyecare in Alberta, Canada, woke up to this message on Facebook and Instagram:
“Olds Eyecare Clinic is so excited to announce the release of the brand new Acuvue Oasys with Transitions contact lens! Yes, you read that right, a contact lens that has the technology to change and darken in the sun! Stay tuned for upcoming offers and maybe even a contest for your turn to try these incredible new lenses.”
While the lens didn’t officially launch until April 1, Olds Eyecare was one of a few select practices given early access. In the following months, Tanya Sitter, OD, of Olds Eyecare garnered experience in how to describe the lenses to patients and what patient complaints are best addressed by the contact lens technology. The results have been surprising and have taught her to think outside the box with new innovations.
Olds Eyecare in Alberta is a three-location, 11-doctor practice in rural Canada. Her patients suffer from common conditions such as dry eye exacerbated by the cold winters and dry air and light sensitivity from digital lifestyles and the outdoor sports and activities that are popular in her community.
In her practice, Dr. Sitter traditionally fits daily disposable and two-week disposable contaact lenses due to the dry climate-she says that monthly disposable lenses have historically caused her patients significant comfort concerns.
Previously by Dr. Lyerly: What happened in Oklahoma: Expanding scope of practice and protecting what has been earned
Since getting early access to the lens in February, Dr. Sitter has worn the lens herself and had a chance to learn from her patients and their lifestyle complaints how best to position the lens.
Her first advice is to talk to every patient about what’s new each year at their annual eye exam. This allows her to create patient value around coming in for a comprehensive annual eye exam and prevents her from pigeon-holing patients into categories when they would be interested in a newer technology.
“Lots of people who I wouldn’t have expected have been interested in trying these lenses,” Dr. Sitter says.
Instead of presenting the lens one way to every patient, she recommends listening to patient complaints and presenting the lens in the best way that fits their lifestyles.
Related: ODs have room to grow in selling annual CL supplies
For patients who have outdoor hobbies, the reduction of outdoor glare is the motivating influence. In its activated (darkened) state, Acuvue Oasys with Transitions contact lenses absorb visible light and reduce transmittance to at least 23 percent.1
Research shows that patients experience significant visual function and comfort improvement in outdoor light wearing the photochromic lens versus a clear contact lens. In a study of 58 patients presented by Billy R. Hammond, PhD, at the American Academy of Optometry meeting in 2018, patients reported:2
• 43 percent faster visual recovery from exposure to bright light (or five seconds faster visual recovery vs a clear contact lens)
• 38 percent less squinting
• 27 percent less visual impairment from disruptive glare
• 32 percent improved chromatic contrast
Not just athletes or outdoor enthusiasts have benefitted from the lens in Dr. Sitter’s practice. She noted significant benefits for her patients who are chronic migraine sufferers and have complaints of indoor glare and light sensitivity. Acuvue Oasys with Transitions absorbs visible light (380 nm to 780 nm) with at least 84 percent transmittance in the inactivated/indoor state.1Also by Dr. Lyerly: An OD's experience with online contact lens disruptors
Like Transitions glasses, the lens helps to reduce transmittance of high-energy visible (HEV) light, creating a “blue blocker” effect to reduce indoor light sensitivity and glare. This is a function of the lens that Dr. Sitter noticed when wearing the lens herself to work. She usually does not wear contact lenses in the office because she is a low myope in her early 40s, but at the end of her patient care day she appreciated improved ocular comfort.
But like all products, in Dr. Sitter’s experience this lens works best if patient expectations are managed right from the beginning. For patients expecting this lens to replace sunglasses, they will likely be disappointed.
“This contact lens is not dark enough when it’s really bright outside so you’re still going to need a pair of sunglasses,” Dr. Sitter says.
She equates it to patients who wear Transitions glasses but need a separate pair of prescription sunglasses for driving in bright light.
In her experience, the lens works great for patients who typically play outdoor sports without wearing sunglasses-but patients who are most comfortable in dark sunglasses outdoors may not think the lens improves their daily function.
Related: Troubleshoot contact lens discomfort and prevent complications
Additionally, switching patients from daily disposable lenses to a biweekly product has not been an ideal fit. In Dr. Sitter’s practice, she thinks the lens would be better received if it were a daily disposable.
She advises that the lens is more subtle that patients and practitioners may expect.
“Many patients didn’t notice much difference until they went back to the clear pair,” she says. “It’s more subtle than what people are expecting it to be. They may not notice the difference until after they switch back to their old, clear lenses.”
When trialing the lens, Dr. Sitter recommends giving the patient Acuvue Oasys with Transitions contact lenses in both eyes instead of trialing a clear lens in one eye and the photochromic lens in the other. In fact, Johnson & Johnson Vision advises against unilateral wearing due to potential disturbances in depth and motion perception as well as cosmetic concerns. The company recommends a plano photochromic lens instead of a clear lens in the fellow eye.1
Many doctors express concern about patient compliance with a two-week disposable contact lens. Would patients be tempted to keep their sample pairs and wear them throughout the year for outdoor sports, putting themselves at risk for infection? The technology does have some built-in lens compliance, however. The package insert advises to “always store worn Acuvue Oasys with Transitions contact lenses in the lens case and out of direct sunlight” because the darkening effect will wear out with time and exposure to sunlight.1Related: Experts offer advice on fitting, pricing daily disposables
Dr. Sitter says that social media has been extremely effective in bringing patients into the office interested in trying the contact lens.
“This lens kind of sells itself,” she says.
By simply posting that the lens was available on the practice’s social media accounts, many patients came in asking to try the product. Patients who have tried the lens and have loved the results have also been excellent promoters, referring friends and family to get fitted for the lenses themselves.
Related: 3 strategies for social media success
Several patients have stood out to Dr. Sitter as success stories. Neither of these patients were previous contact lens wearers, and she wouldn’t have thought to recommend contact lenses to them initially with their complaints.
One patient was an older male who was an avid hunter. He had never been motivated to wear contact lenses before, but the glare reduction and improved contrast afforded by the lens made it ideal for his use while hunting.
Another patient who loved the lens was a janitor at the local school. All day she was going back and forth between indoors and outdoors, and changing her glasses constantly back and forth was a big inconvenience. Being fit with these contact lenses gave her an immediate lifestyle improvement.
In this podcast, Defocus Media explores what ODs need to know to position this contact lens for success in their practices and what patient expectations to manage before getting started.
Read and listen to more podcasts here
1. Johnson & Johnson Vision. Acuvue Oasys with Transitions package insert. Available at: https://www.acuvue.com/sites/acuvue_us/files/acuvue_oasys_with_transitions_package_insert_pi-fig_ao-10-18-00_english_-_web.pdf. Accessed 5/23/19.
2. Johnson & Johnson Vision press release. Two studies measure performance of Acuvue Oasys with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology Contact Lenses in simulated sunlight, day and night driving conditions. Available at: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/two-studies-measure-performance-of-acuvue-oasys-with-transitions-light-intelligent-technology-contact-lenses-in-simulated-sunlight-day-and-night-driving-conditions-300744735.html. Accessed 5/23/19.