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Is providing the best possible vision correction at odds with ensuring a level of comfort that will keep contact lens patients satisfied...and loyal?
This question arose repeatedly in two panel discussions I moderated recently at the Indiana University School of Optometry, Bloomington, and the Southern California College of Optometry, Fullerton. These meetings brought together academics and other prominent optometrists, with the goal of establishing an open dialog and sharing insights relevant to contemporary optometric practice.
From the Indiana University School of Optometry: Pete Kollbaum, OD, PhD, assistant professor; Susan Kovacich, OD, associate clinical professor; and Neil Pence, OD, lecturer.
From private practice: Dana Donaldson, OD, of Indianapolis; Denise Howard, OD, of Bloomington, IN; Rhonda Robinson, OD, of Indianapolis; Aaron Sako, OD, of Laguna Hills, CA; and Glenda Secor, OD, of Huntington Beach, CA.
How do patients see it?
Several panelists emphasized that, even in this hard-won era of medical optometry, the ability to provide patients with the best possible vision is what is driving their practices, and keeps their patients returning to them. Dr. Marsden noted that a practice that devotes the time and effort to provide optimal correction for difficult cases quickly builds a loyal word-of-mouth following: "If you fit them, they will come."
Several panelists pointed out, however, that although the need to see better is what drives people to seek vision correction, comfort-especially for contact lenses-is the paramount issue behind dropouts.
"Once you find out there is a comfort problem, we have to look at all the different factors that could be causing a problem with comfort, and then we have to try to make the appropriate changes to keep the patient in contact lenses" Dr. Kovacich said.