As much as we might want to, all too often we’re reminded that we can’t protect the children in our lives against every possible danger 24-7. As a parent, I’m still working on accepting this. However, we try to offer them anything within reach that improves their well-being and protect them against everything that we possibly can. That includes their health—and their eyesight.
With correct wear and care, contact lenses can offer kids many visual benefits, convenience when playing sports and, in some instances, higher self-esteem. When not worn correctly or not purchased from a reputable source, they can lead to painful, possibly sight-threatening, infections.
When you consider that six out of seven teenagers engage in at least one behavior that puts them at risk of a contact lens-related infection, encouraging compliance seems like a Herculean task. It’s not. The truth is that nearly the same number of adults engage in at least one risky behavior as well. And, as Brook Messer, OD, FAAO, points out about teenagers, “Most of the time they just need a reminder of how to take care of their lenses.”
Her advice: Treat teenagers as adults. Assume they are responsible. That’s how you’ll connect with them and hopefully get your message across.
In addition to contact lenses, you already protect your patients’ health in other ways, whether it’s by prescribing correction for myopia (or halting its progression), diagnosing a binocular vision disorder that’s been affecting school performance, or treating any other ocular conditions they have.
One additional thing you can do: Remind them to take breaks from screen time. According to the Vision Council, 72% of Americans say their children get more than two hours of screen time daily. Also, 31% of Americans say those same children, as a result, experience headaches, neck and shoulder pain, eye strain, dry or irritated eyes, reduced attention span, poor behavior and irritability.
Along these lines, you may be missing an opportunity to help your patients who are digital device users, a new survey from CooperVision shows (page 6). For example, just 14% of contact lens wearers surveyed had spoken with an ECP about digital device use, yet 78% said they would be very interested in exploring ways to reduce eye fatigue with an ECP. And, nearly one in three would be willing to pay a premium for that help.
Also in this issue, Michael Chaglasian, OD, FAAO, describes how glaucoma diagnosis continues to improve. Testing takes less time, so you may have an easier time convincing them to return for follow-up tests. Patients can also participate in their diagnosis by monitoring their IOP at home, providing you with valuable information about their diurnal IOP in the process.
While you can’t protect your patients, including teenagers, from every possible danger, there still are things from which you can protect them.