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Contact lenses: Is ‘OK’ good enough?

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 3 in a series of 4.
 

Contact lenses can change a patient’s life. It’s a bold statement but it’s true. And as an eye care professional (ECP) it’s always a privilege to be a part of that journey. For the spectacle wearer who perhaps feels self-conscious, contact lenses can be a life-changer, particularly when it’s taken them as long as ten years to try them1. Key drivers such as the desire to look more natural, the opportunity to overcome the practical limitations of wearing spectacles and an improved level of confidence can mean that the motivation to stay wearing contact lenses is high.1

Does high motivation lead to acceptance?

So, with a high motivation to avoid wearing spectacles, are contact lens wearers prepared to put up with a less than optimal performance without question, assuming that all contact lenses are created equal? When we, as ECPs, question them on their wearing experiences, perhaps they don’t acknowledge those moments where they are just ‘making do’ because they are unaware that there could be a better solution. So, at what point should we accept that ‘OK’ really is ‘OK’?

Researching the wearer experience.

In the summer of 2015, CooperVision conducted a Europe-wide survey that explored some 2,000 contact lens wearer experiences and behaviours. The data reveals that two-thirds of wearers expressed an interest in lenses which could be worn for longer. A similar number of wearers also expressed an interest in lenses that reduced redness.2

This implies that as few as three out of the ten wearers we see for their progress-checks are finding their wearing times and the appearance of their eyes acceptable.

Looking specifically at daily disposable wearers, we learn that a quarter do not feel satisfied with their current lenses.2 This is also reflected in a separate clinical study (Kathy Dumbleton et al, 2013) where 50% of participants reported an increase in awareness of their lenses as the day progressed, leading to a difference of approximately four hours between their total ‘wearing time’ and their ‘comfortable wearing time’.3

Progress-checks: Making them count.

Selecting an initial contact lens for our patients depends on many factors, including the proposed wearing time suggested by the patient. Days, weeks, months or even years down the line, wearing times often increase. Certainly there is strong evidence from many sources1,2 to indicate that daily disposability does not necessarily equate to part-time wear.

The wearer perception of a progress-check is often thought of as a means to an end – a box-ticking exercise that has to be completed in order to receive their next set of ‘OK’ contact lenses. Our role, whilst primarily clinical, is also to discover if ‘OK’ is, in fact, ‘OK’ or if there are alternative options available which would offer our motivated contact lens wearers greater freedom and significantly improve their lens wearing experiences.

For more information on the 2015 CooperVision RFT insight studies, click here.

For further reading, with commentary from 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 qualitative research, 2015
  2.  CooperVision quantitative research, 2015
  3.  Dumbleton et al, A multi-country  assessment of compliance with daily disposable contact lens wear, Contact Lens & Anterior Eye 36 (2013) 304-312.