Why do you choose that contact lens?

April 10, 2015
David I. Geffen, OD, FAAO

Dr. Geffen is interested in refractive surgery and contact lenses. He discloses relationships with Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, Eyecare Live, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Novartis, Sun Pharma, and TearLab.

Today’s contact lens practice has an abundance of choices for almost every patient. We can pick a soft or gas permeable material, custom or conventional, multifocal or monovision.

Today’s contact lens practice has an abundance of choices for almost every patient. We can pick a soft or gas permeable material, custom or conventional, multifocal or monovision. With all these choices, how does the practitioner decide which to use? There are many factors in how we decide which products to use in our offices.

Related: The value of a contact lens patient

Cost

Cost is always a major factor in our practice decisions. Some will always choose the least expensive alternative for every situation. Utilizing the lowest cost option is one way to offer the least expensive product to the consumer, and some use this to maximize the amount of profit per purchase.

There is a belief that offering the lowest price is the only way to compete with Internet and some big-box stores. This philosophy often leads to reduced profits in the long run.

Fighting over the lowest prices typically results in having to compromise over many other areas of our practices, such as not being able to purchase new technology. I believe in looking for the best price on product but not looking for the cheapest product. 

Next: The latest technology

 

The latest technology

Patients are interested in new technology and want to hear about new things. As doctors, we owe it to our patients to keep abreast of the latest technology.

We should talk about what is new and upcoming. We should be educating our patients about what we feel is best for them irrespective of the cost and, after offering the best choice, let patients then decide if it’s right for them. It is important to upgrade our patients to newer technology because the philosophy of “don’t fix it if it’s not broken” will lead to the loss of our patients.

Related: R&D needed for new gas perm care systems, materials

If we are seeing the patient, and after two or three years, we just say, “There is no change, just keep the same lenses,” the patient may think, “The doctor hasn’t done anything different for two or three years. I might as well just buy my lenses online and save the exam fees.”

I upgrade my patients to something new every three years; this tells them I am on the cutting edge of contact lens technology and bonds them to my practice. 

Next: Quality 

 

Quality

Quality of the product is extremely important in our decision of lens choice. This can be quite a debatable topic because most manufactures are making quality products. We should be picking the newer products because there are some quite innovative designs available today.

Related: What's so special about specialty lenses?

Using the higher quality lenses will help keep our patients in their lenses longer and prevent dropouts. Newer technology has improved comfort and wettability for our patients. This results in longer and more comfortable wearing times. More consistent lens production and better optics have improved our patients’ enjoyment of contact lenses, too.

Next: Brand

 

Brand

Contact lens manufacturers provide services that can help you make the decision between brands. Doctors too often look at company representatives as a nuisance instead of as an important addition to the practice. Company representatives can provide you with important information on the fitting and availability of products and help inform you what is new.

The top reps will not only be a welcome source of product information but also a source of information about what is going on in your marketplace. There are some reps who are looking only for the quick sale, and these people rarely last long.

Of course, the information on product will be biased to their products, but we should be able to pull out the important information to use in practice. Reps can also help train your staff. They are more than willing to come into the office to conduct a short seminar or training on a wide variety of contact lens-related subjects.

This helps change up the typical office meeting and takes the burden off the doctor’s shoulders to come up with a new topic. The reps with whom you have the closest bonds are often offering the products you will turn to the most. You’ll have someone to call if a problem arises and be assured it will be fixed.

Related: 5 myths about scleral lenses debunked

I find it valuable to sit down with my reps and talk about the marketplace in my community. Sometimes, when business is slow, just knowing that the entire community is experiencing the same challenge can be a little encouraging. Many reps will bring in ideas from other practices that are making a difference and will help your bottom line, too. The best reps understand if they help increase your business, their business will increase, too.

There are many great new lenses and lens care products in the marketplace today. Picking which products to use in your practice should be more than a seat-of-the-pants decision. We should be looking at the quality of the product and how it will serve our patient’s needs. Will the product help some unmet need in the practice? Do I want to work with the company that creates the product?? How can I best utilize the company’s representative to enhance my practice?

These are the questions we must go through to decide with whom and what we will work.

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