Many frequent replacement contact lens wearers 'stretch' prescribed replacement intervals

May 1, 2010

The majority of patients wearing frequent replacement contact lenses are not compliant with their prescribed replacement schedule.

Key Points

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care sponsored the survey. However, the participants were randomly selected from a panel of U.S. consumers who volunteered to take part in online surveys about a variety of products and were unaware that the information in this survey was being sought by a contact lens manufacturer.

A total of 448 consumers wearing hydrogel contact lenses and 197 consumers with silicone hydrogel contact lenses provided answers to a series of questions about replacement frequency.

Minor stretching was identified among 65% of persons in the 2-week replacement group and 55% of those in the 4-week replacement group (p = 0.02), whereas 4% of patients in the 2-week group and 23% of those in the 4-week/monthly group displayed extreme stretching (waiting ≥8 weeks) to replace their lenses (p <0.01).

"There continues to be debate in the industry about the optimum replacement schedule for soft contact lenses," said Sheila B. Hickson-Curran, BSc (Hons), MCOptom, FAAO, Director of Medical Affairs, VISTAKON, Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.

Taking sides

"While there is good science to suggest that more frequent replacement is better for optical performance, patient comfort, and ocular health, there are advocates for a longer replacement interval based on the idea that reduced frequency of replacement would improve replacement compliance," Hickson-Curran said.

"The results of this survey reaffirm that noncompliance with prescriber's instructions is an important issue among contact lens wearers," she continued. "They are also consistent with the old adage, 'Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile.' It's counterintuitive that patients who are noncompliant with a 2-week replacement schedule will be more adherent to instructions if allowed to wait 4 weeks to change lenses.

"Furthermore, noncompliance with a 4-week replacement schedule may put patients on a slippery slope leading to significant problems," Hickson-Curran said.

"Therefore, when noncompliance with frequent replacement is an issue, switching to single-use lenses is probably a better alternative because there are good data to show that vision, comfort, and safety are best with these products that avoid the need for cleaning/disinfection solutions, storage cases, and remembering about replacement."