Jennifer Tsai, OD, tells us how to start the conversation with patients about dual-wear, and the benefits of this from the patient and provider perspective.
Jennifer Tsai, OD, caught up with Optometry Times®' assistant managing editor, Emily Kaiser, to chat about new US consumer data from the Contact Lens Institute presented during the 2023 Vision Expo East meeting held in New York, New York.
Hi, everyone. I'm Emily Kaiser without Optometry Times, and I'm sitting down with Dr. Jennifer Tsai who presented new US consumer data from the Contact Lens Institute at Vision Expo East 2023 in New York City.
Welcome, Dr. Tsai. Can you tell us a little bit more about the survey and the resulting data?
Jennifer Tsai, OD:
Of course, thanks, Emily, for having me. I'm Dr. Tsai, I practice in Manhattan, New York City as an optometrist and I'm happy to share some of the data—a little bit of the recap—from Vision Expo East of 2023.
A lot of interesting data, we found that a lot of patients and consumers are interested in dual wear and would like that recommendation. There's certainly a demand and opportunity of that, and that helping with consistent conversations has really been a great way to introduce contact lenses in the exam room.
We also find that situational wear has been more prevalent, and that there are ways to fit patients depending on their hobbies and their lifestyles, and providing really our patients consumers with a voice for choice to be able to optimize on their eye health and comfort in their vision. So there's definitely a heavy need. and there's definitely an opportunity that make it obvious that we really should promote that more in our eye care and optometry practices.
For sure. And do you have any suggestions for optometrists who want to start the conversation of being a dual wearer of contact lenses and glasses with patients?
One of the things that we discussed on stage about recommendations for dual wear is really to just ask the question. Patients oftentimes may not know that they're candidates for contacts, whether they are presbyopic, or maybe they have a lower prescription, or maybe they have astigmatism, they were maybe previously told that they weren't a candidate, just really bringing that conversation and talking about lifestyle and choices outside of work and their demands and their needs. That's a great way to learn about what they do.
What I do during exams is I take information when they first check in about their hobbies, and from there, it's easier to bring up the conversation with the patient about have you thought about wearing contact lenses for your hobbies that you enjoy doing on the weekends and things like that?
That's a nice little tidbit. And what does this opportunity mean to optometrists and practice owners?
I think opportunities are important to really, first, build a great relationship with your client in terms of trust and credibility, and using education information as a tool for that. I think being able to provide the best for our patients, and helping them see their best, we are really the advocators for our patients, and it's our job to educate.
So not only does it increase sales—because patients are interested in contact lenses and eye wear purchases—but they also come back yearly for their comprehensives, because their prescriptions for their fits expire per year, and it's a good reminder to bring that client back into the office to see you every year. So I think it provides that consistent patient flow, as well, in that relationships.
Yeah, for sure. It's good for the patient. Good for the practice owner. Good for everybody. All right. Is there anything else that you wanted to mention about the survey that we haven't touched on?
think some of the interesting things that we mentioned on stage were that when patients wear correction, there is an opportunity to discuss or optimize on that. So for example, in my practice, I might fit a patient in distance contact lenses for sports. But day to day activities, when they go to the grocery store and drive a car, they might want to be in multifocal contacts.
And really giving the patient the option—or at least understanding and educating them that there are options available for them—helps them understand why certain lenses are used for certain occasions.
I even have situations where it also is a combination of eyewear and contact lenses, for example, fitting my patients in distance contacts, but they wear computer glasses to help ease their eyestrain at the computer desk. These are ways where I would see it more of a complementary relationship between optical and contact lenses instead of opposing ways to correct vision.
I think that one of the other interesting pieces of information that we've gained is that it's as easy as just offering or bringing it up in the exam room, and also repeating that information during the handover to your optician or receptionists and getting the conversation going.
I think the last thing I want to mention is that there has been a shift during COVID and post-pandemic we've seen that during that time period, a lot of consumers switched to wearing glasses more because they're at home. But now that people are out and about they sort of have an appreciation for dual wear, which is switching between contacts and glasses depending on the occasion.
So reevaluating, revisiting that conversation for practices, I think that's it's really key to sort of maintaining your patient base and growing a good relationship again with them.
And just the data alone are really, really astounding if you just see the data, 1 out of 5 glasses weareres are very interested. There's a huge opportunity that's being missed, and having these conversations with consumers and patients.
For sure. and you're kind of creating like a custom solution for these people, which is pretty cool. Do you find that you have more satisfied patients when you have these conversations with them?
Very much so. One of the conversations that I've had on stage with every one was that one of my patients who was a bus driver, she was in her 50s, she was always wearing distance contacts because she had astigmatism and she was told that she could never have multifocal lenses. So it's always hard for her to sort of see anything up close including her dashboard, which is kind of scary for operating a vehicle. And I told her, "the worst thing we could do is just try a pair on—you are a candidate, and we'll see if you'd like it." And as soon as she put it on, she started crying and I said that it's usually scary— if someone's crying in the exam room, it's usually not a good sign. But she's crying because she was just shocked. She's very happy and it really changed her life.
And I think the fact that we can sort of provide everyone with options that improve their life and their vision, I think it makes it rewarding and reassuring what we do for our profession. And patients really do appreciate that—that we think about their needs first.
Yes, absolutely. You know, as a dual contact and glasses wearer, I know that I appreciate it when my optometrist brings it up. So yeah, cool stuff. All right. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat today and can't wait to hear more.
Thank you for having me.