These patient education videos address top risks for the 41M contact lens wearers in the U.S.
Approximately 41 million U.S. adults wear contact lenses, according to a recent CDC study, along with more than 3 million adolescents. To eye doctors’ dismay, the data show that the vast majority of contact lens wearers engage in behaviors that put them at risk for serious eye infections and even blindness. Here’s a look at how you can help your contact lens patients develop healthier habits.
The most common contact-lens risk behaviors
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study examined several risk factors that are associated with contact lens-related eye infections, including sleeping in lenses, exposing lenses to water, not adhering to replacement schedules, and reusing disinfecting solution. Of all those contact lens wearers surveyed, 81 to 85 percent, depending on age, reported at least one behavior that put them at risk for a contact lens-related eye infection.
As many as 85% of contact lens wearers in a CDC survey reported behaviors that put their eye health at risk.
Among adults of all ages, the top most frequently reported risk behaviors were replacing lenses and lens storage cases at intervals longer than those prescribed or recommended, followed by swimming in lenses and sleeping in lenses.
Both new and experienced contact lens wearers can benefit from our short educational videos that discuss best practices for lens care and proper hygiene. Direct patients to your website or email them videos, such as “Success with Contact Lenses,” so they can refer back to them once they’re home.
That way, if a patient has a question – swimming in contacts is not recommended, but what about showering? – they will have a reputable resource right at their fingertips. All patients will benefit from visual patient education materials, but you can also share this list of tips from the CDC: Healthy Contact Lens Wear and Care.
Videos can take the pressure off you (no lecturing) and lead to more productive conversations with patients. Some patients who claim contacts aren’t for them are not following the proper lens care regimen, some optometrists find. Educating patients on proper lens care and asking the right questions can increase their comfort levels and decrease dropouts, which can hurt your revenues.
Supply safety is also key
While some risk behaviors for contact lens wearers have to do with habits, others have to do with supplies. As stated, the CDC survey found that the majority of contact lens wearers are waiting too long to replace lenses and lens storage cases.
The majority of contact lens wearers are waiting too long to replace lenses and lens storage cases.
Let patients know that this increases the risk for eye infections because recurrent handling of the contact lenses and storage cases can introduce microorganisms, and the moist surfaces of the lens and storage case are ideal environments for microbial growth.
Be clear about when patients should replace their lenses; send them reminders via text or email if possible. Sharing the video, “Why Buy a Year’s Supply (of contact lenses),” helps patients understand the benefits of buying in bulk – cost, convenience, and compliance – and can boost your rate of annual contact lens orders.
The American Academy of Optometry, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the CDC all recommend replacing contact lens cases at least once every three months, as well.
Also make sure patients know not to “top off” disinfecting solution, since mixing old and new solution can introduce bacteria, and solution loses its efficacy over time.
Reinforce the importance of trusted eye care professionals
The CDC study found that although both adults and adolescents most commonly reported purchasing contact lenses through their eye care provider, adults were more likely to purchase lenses on the Internet.
To help patients understand why they should only buy from a verified source and not online, consider sharing “Only Buy Contacts from Eye Care Provider” through an email newsletter or on social media.
Remind patients that buying contacts online, including colored or Halloween-inspired lenses, is not advised.
And as we approach October 31, remind patients that “colored contact lenses and Halloween-inspired designs are not costume jewelry,” as stated by the American Academy of Optometry. “Decorative lenses must be prescribed and fitted by an eye care professional. They require a prescription, just like regular contact lenses.” Sharing the video “Scary Contacts, Scary Consequences” on social media is an effective way to get the attention of patients who may be considering this trend.
Lastly, make sure patients know that eye pain, blurred vision, redness, or discomfort are not normal and that they should remove their lenses and contact you immediately if they experience any of these symptoms. Let longtime contact lens wearers know that if their lenses aren’t comfortable or convenient anymore, you can work together to find a better option. Ongoing communication is key, so send reminders for annual visits and let patients know that regular follow-up care with an eye care professional is essential to keeping their eyes healthy.
With the contact lens market growing at more than 10 percent a year, establishing your practice as the go-to contact lens source is a smart move. Our contact lens package makes it easy for you to customize your messaging at every step of the patient experience.