Doctors and more and more patients know daily replacement contact lenses are the best choice for comfort and eye health. Until recently this option was not available to patients with an astigmatism who required toric lenses. That is no longer the case.
A vast majority of patients have at least a small amount of astigmatism. Clinically significant astigmatism starting at about -0.75 DC affects about 35% of patients. The only barrier to tapping this market is misconception. Many patients with astigmatism had negative past experiences with an eyecare provider who told them they could not wear contact lenses or they would be more difficult to fit in contact lenses due to their astigmatism. With today’s technology, there are very few astigmatic patients who can’t fit into contact lenses.
Maybe Even More Profitable Than Other CL Wearers
A study about the value of contact lens wearers by Mark Ritson, PhD, of London Business School, shows that contact lens wearers are 4:1 more profitable to an optometric practice than spectacle-only wearers over time. If it was a closer margin, the results could be questioned, but this creates such a large, overwhelming reason to fit all patients in contact lenses.
In addition, daily replacement wearers are significantly more compliant than two-week and one-month wearers. It is a win-win! Patients love the convenience of daily replacement and the practice is more profitable.
A comprehensive business analysis of the different modalities and which patients are more profitable would be helpful to us all. The assumption would be that astigmatic patients are more likely to purchase contact lenses from their eyecare professional because their prescription is more specialized. We should each take time to analyze the business performance of the different modalities of contact lenses that we prescribe and look for trends over time to aid our financial and inventory planning.
Greater Loyalty and Opportunities for Referral
Focus on astigmatic contact lens patients because they are more loyal to their eyecare professional who can fit their prescription successfully. They will often refer more of their friends and family to you because of that perceived “extra care.” In general, contact lens patients come in more frequently and have a stronger relationship with their eyecare professional-a fact that is even truer of astigmatic patients who finally are able to wear the contact lenses they always wanted to wear.
Have the Conversation with Patients
With the enhanced wear-ability of daily replacement contact lenses, the greatest challenge is getting patients to give them a try. Given the chance to try daily replacement toric contact lenses, most of these patients become long-term, enthusiastic wearers.