ONE-TO-ONE: CAROL ALEXANDER

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Carol Alexander, OD, FAAO, DNAP, joined Johnson & Johnson Vision (JJV) in 2007, bringing a rich history of leadership in organized optometry. She was selected as the American Optometric Association’s Young Optometrist of the Year in 1997 and as Ohio’s Optometrist of the Year in 2007. As director, professional communications, at JJV, Alexander champions the importance of preserving the doctor-patient relationship and advocates against initiatives that threaten patient health and safety.

RICHARD CLOMPUS, OD, FAAO: One of the most significant products introduced by Johnson & Johnson Vision is the monthly ACUVUE VITA lens. Senofilcon C is a new material with characteristics that balance hydration with lipid integration throughout the lens. Can you share some insights about this 30-day lens?

CAROL ALEXANDER, OD: In studying the category, we’ve learned that most practices have a significant number of patients who wear monthly replacement lenses. These patients are very dedicated contact lens wearers who want affordable, reliable, hassle-free contact lens wear and seek to maximize the use of each pair of lenses for a full month. However, a survey of individuals in the U.S. and Europe who wear spherical contact lenses for 30 days found that more than two-thirds of monthly wearers experience comfort-related issues, and 73% of those patients don’t plan to tell their eyecare providers because most think those issues are normal.

ACUVUE VITA works with the tear film to maximize and maintain lens hydration. And, beginning this month, providers will be able to offer ACUVUE VITA to astigmatic monthly patients with the launch of ACUVUE VITA for ASTIGMATISM.

RC: Optometrists can prescribe ACUVUE Brand Contact Lenses with replacement cycles ranging from one to 30 days. With so many choices, how do you determine the best lens for your patients?

CA: Patients have unique needs, both in refractive status and lifestyle requirements, along with complex medical histories that must all be considered when determining the best lens to prescribe.

We did not choose to enter the monthly market lightly. We firmly believe that a shorter wear schedule is best for a patient. But when there is an unmet need in the market, like there was with monthly wearers, we want to help patients have a better contact lens experience. That is really what it is all about—putting patient needs first—and that is exactly how I’d recommend determining the best lens to prescribe. Professional oversight in the selection process is paramount to ensure that patients receive the optimal lens to meet their unique combination of needs.

Lastly, taking the time to explain why one prescribes a specific lens helps the patient understand that this medical device is far more than a commodity and that there is a reason he or she needs a doctor to prescribe contact lenses.

RC: An aging population of baby boomers seems like a wonderful opportunity for practitioners to prescribe more multifocal contact lenses for full or part-time wear, yet I’ve seen many of our colleagues struggle to explain to patients how contact lens optics function.

CA: When I approach the conversation with a patient, I rarely use the word “presbyopia” or “bifocal.” I just say: “Based on our conversation it’s no surprise that focusing difficulties you’re having can be beyond annoying. If I had a lens that could make focusing between distance and near tasks easier would you like to try it?”

I usually follow that with a comment that helps set expectations, namely: “You know vision is complicated. While no lens ever created will be as good as your natural vision once was, I think you’ll love this new lens because it will allow you to do most visual tasks efficiently. You may still need some additional help with really fine print, but seeing your phone and accomplishing most focusing tasks should be much easier than you’re experiencing now.”

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