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Contact lenses: The big price myth...

Elizabeth Lumb (BSc (Hons) MCOptom, FBCLA), European Professional Services Training Manager at CooperVision, discusses new research that provides insight on the changing behaviours and attitudes of contact lens wearers. Article 4 in a series of 4.
 

When asked for the rationale behind making the right contact lens prescribing decisions for our patients, our key priorities as eye care professionals (ECPs) are likely to be:

  • To maintain normal ocular physiology
  • To support comfort
  • To minimise risk.

Interestingly, recent interviews with experienced contact lens wearers show that they too see health and comfort as their top two considerations, with convenience as their third.1 This is great news!

However, results of the recent 2015 CooperVision survey that looked at ECP behaviour towards contact lenses revealed that nearly half of respondents would not necessarily discuss new products, despite huge advances in contact lens manufacturing technology or the desire to offer patients the best experience.2

Value of your expertise.

As contact lens wearers play such a passive role in the fitting process, they are not always aware of the benefits of the lenses they are wearing.1 This can make discussions about new products more of a challenge but it’s still important that we make an effort to address this, highlighting the importance of the progress-check and, in turn, raising the perception of our role as the expert.

The recent CooperVision survey conducted with some 2,000 experienced contact lens wearers identified that they would like to know more about the products they are wearing.1 The research concluded that contact lens wearers would have a more positive opinion of their ECP if they were offered new products and would consider an upgrade to a healthier lens if it was offered to them.

Although avoiding conversations about new products may appear to save us time in the short-term, failing to capitalise on the opportunity to build on the ECP-patient relationship can easily drive loyalty elsewhere.

A small price to pay.

Of course, cost is a factor for contact lens wearers, although for most this is a secondary consideration behind health, comfort and convenience.1 This may seem an unlikely finding, but considering how little even experienced wearers know about their lenses, ‘How much?’ is often the only sensible question they can ask.

Cost to benefit ratio.

With convenience a key consideration for the majority of wearers, and safety at the forefront of the ECP’s mind, it’s no wonder that the time-saving and safer daily disposable modality is being embraced by both ECPs and patients. Some markets are adopting this modality as the preferred option over reusable lenses3 and the cost-per-wear model4 actually indicates that daily disposable lenses equate to the same cost, or less, than reusable lenses for wearers who choose to wear them for up to five days a week. The ‘package deal’ that wearers get with daily disposability – always having spares, no time-consuming care regimes and no degradation of comfort and vision over time, holds even greater value than the price itself.

Putting cost in its place.

With goals aligned, it makes sense for us to proactively prioritise health, comfort, convenience and safety for our new and existing contact lens wearers. Approaching the update/ upgrade discussion with wearers at very opportunity in this way helps to focus attention on the things that matter most and at the same time, educate wearers that not all lenses are created equal.
 

For more information on the 2015 CooperVision RFT insight studies, click here
For further reading, with commentary form Sarah Morgan, click here.
Ask your CooperVision Salesperson about tools to facilitate ‘upgrade’ discussions with contact lens wearers, or click here to send a request.

References:
1.    CooperVision consumer insights study, 2015
2.    College of optometrists publication.
3.    Dumbleton et al, A multi-country  assessment of compliance with daily disposable contact lens wear, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye 36 (2013) 304-312
4.    Efron N, Efron S, Morgan PB, Morgan S. A cost-per-wear model based on contact lens replacement frequency. Clin. Exp. Optom 2010