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Contact lenses: What do your patients actually know?

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 1 in a series of 4.
 

Think about the last contact lens patient you saw for a progress check. Now imagine them at a dinner party. If they were asked about their contact lenses by another guest, do you think they would be able to discuss the features and benefits of what they are wearing and why those lenses were specifically chosen for them? Do you feel confident that you shared enough information with the patient and that it was easy for them to understand and remember? And is this actually important?

Eye-opening wearer research.

Throughout the summer of 2015, CooperVision conducted extensive research with experienced contact lens wearers to understand more about their attitudes and behaviour towards contact lenses.

When asked what they remembered most about first being fitted with their lenses, patient recall was strong. All of them clearly remembered the highs and lows of their first application and removal experience along with the ‘rules’ for safe contact lens wear, despite the event being over 15 years ago for 48% of those interviewed.We know that patients remember as little as 20% of what we tell them2 so it’s right to focus on the basics at this stage of the journey to help patients become adept at lens handling.

Wearers have limited knowledge.

However, when asked for the more specific details about their lenses, the patients questioned were rather more vague. As an observer during these interviews, I found it interesting, but not surprising, how little these experienced patients knew about their lenses beyond modality; “I wear daily lenses” or “I wear monthly lenses” was really as much as the patients were able to contribute. When asked if they were aware that contact lenses are available in different materials of varying softness or can offer UV protection, it was clear, to most, this was new information.

Wearers want more.

Despite this limited existing knowledge, the research also concluded that patients are actually hungry for more information about the lenses they are wearing and the options available to them.

Wearers trust their eye care professional (ECP).

Contact lens wearers play a very passive role in the contact lens fitting process, relying heavily on our expertise and trusting in us, as ECPs, to make the right choices for them. Therefore, as a walking, talking advertisement for your practice and its services, it makes sense to treat each progress-check as an opportunity; not only to reinforce compliant behaviour, but to educate and inform those wearers who are thirsty for knowledge.

This could simply mean providing reassurance as to why they are already wearing the perfect lens for them, or perhaps providing reasons why they are not.   

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 consumer insights study, 2015
2.    College of optometrists publication.