Color contact lenses take less chair time than you might think and can help grow your practice.
Ask any eyecare practitioner if he or she fits many color contact lenses, and you may get responses such as “very few of my patients are interested” and “fitting them takes too much chair time.”
Not necessarily. Indeed, a tremendous opportunity exists to make color contact lenses a bigger part of optometric practice. Consider: Research from Alcon Laboratories, Inc. found that color contact lenses were responsible for 13.2% of the dollar share of the contact lens market in 1999 but fell to 3.3% in 2013. Even so, Alcon found, more than 40 million people are interested in color contact lens wear. This includes 16 million clear contact lens wearers, 13.7 million spectacle wearers, 10.3 million individuals who require no correction, 0.8 million individuals who currently wear prescription color contact lenses and 0.5 million individuals who wear plano color contact lenses. Alcon also reports that 70% of patients who try color contact lenses purchase them.
ECPs might not fully recognize the upside opportunity with color contact lenses for their practices due to perceptions that color contact lenses require more chair time and patient education. However, there are now many resources to help reduce fitting time and educate patients. For example, patients who currently wear AIR OPTIX AQUA or AIR OPTIX plus HydraGlyde contact lenses require no refit when changing to AIR OPTIX COLORS contact lenses. And, I’ve found my contact lens technicians to be extremely valuable for helping patients select the best color(s), taking no time away from my patient care.
There are other simple steps ECPs can do to grow the color contact lens portion of their practices.
When patients enter the office, we ask if they are interested in wearing contact lenses and/or color contact lenses. Patients who may not have thought of themselves as contact lens wearers ask if they are candidates, and our current contact lens wearers will often ask about colors. Having proper signage in your office showcasing the different lenses available is another way to start a discussion. If your technicians or opticians are contact lenses wearers, having them wear color lenses is a great way for patients to see how the lenses look. Some offices even offer a discount to patients who purchase both clear and color lenses.
Contact lens manufacturers also provide resources to help. For example, Alcon’s AIR OPTIX COLORS Education Salon features an interactive training platform and resource portal for technicians. They can also find e-newsletters and information about social media, websites, point-of-purchase materials, articles and promotional media there.
Johnson & Johnson Vision also offers several resources on its ACUVUE Professional website. These include practice-building resources to teach doctors and staff how to properly select the correct lens color effect, what questions to ask patients to gauge their interest and tools to be used in the office. ACUVUE helps doctors generate referrals by using the hashtag #BeautyDEFINED.
With so many new color lenses available today, we no longer have to sacrifice comfort of breathability. Staying current on the features, colors and uses of the lenses available is key to incorporating color lenses into your practice.
AIR OPTIX COLORS contact lenses, made of a lotrafilcon A silicone hydrogel material, feature a smooth, permanent plasma surface technology for comfort. These lenses are made with the unique SmartShield Technology, which delivers a protective layer of moisture that resists irritating deposits, so lenses stay comfortable all month long.
AIR OPTIX COLORS contact lenses also have high oxygen transmissibility, with a Dk/t of 138 at -3.00D, and a monthly replacement schedule, which allows for better patient compliance. The power range available is +6.00D to -8.00D, including plano.
The patented 3-in-1 color technology blends with a patient’s eye color to achieve a completely natural look. The technology features an outer ring (limbal ring) that defines and emphasizes the iris, the primary color to transform the eye color, and an inner ring to brighten and add depth. Available colors include pure hazel, blue, green, gray, brown, honey, brilliant blue, gemstone green and sterling gray.
Johnson & Johnson Vision
1-DAY ACUVUE DEFINE Brand Contact Lenses from Johnson & Johnson Vision, are made of etafilcon A and feature LACREON Technology, which permanently embeds a moisture-rich wetting agent directly into the lens matrix for reduced friction and end-of-day comfort. Available powers are +1.00D to -9.00D, including plano.
Studies have shown the size of our limbal ring decreases with age. 1-DAY ACUVUE DEFINE lenses are designed to enhance a patient’s limbal ring for a more youthful appearance and to make eyes look whiter and brighter. This lens has a subtle effect; instead of changing the color of the eyes, it adds definition to the natural eye color. The five effects available are natural sparkle, natural shimmer, natural shine, accent style, and vivid style. The lens is a daily disposable, so patients can decide whether they want to enhance their eyes on a full- or part-time basis.
Expressions Colors contact lenses from CooperVision, Inc. feature a three-layer tinting process, giving a more natural color change. This monthly planned replacement, methafilcon A lens is available in eight colors: blue, aqua, blue topaz, gray, green, jade green, hazel and brown. It is available in +4.00D to -6.00D, including plano.
Many optometrists want to grow the contact lens portion of their practices. By offering all your current contact lens and spectacle lens patients, as well as patients who need no correction, the chance to enhance or change their eye color, you can increase revenue, garner patient referrals and improve patient satisfaction.
Jennifer L. Stewart, OD, is a partner at Norwalk Eye Care, in Norwalk, CT. She is also the co-founder and chief optometric officer at Performance 20/20, a sports and performance vision clinic, in Stamford, CT.