Opticians should be looking at multifocal daily disposable contact lenses as the next best thing in contact lenses. And one that can help them combat the challenge put forth by the online stores. Nilesh Thite, in his inimitable style, shows us how to approach, educate and dispense this product to the presbyopic patient.
When an enthusiastic person with a positive attitude came up with a smart one liner ‘Age is just a number,’ presbyopia must have grinned and mocked ‘challenge accepted!’ How ironic is it that just when most people believe that life is under control and they are financially and socially well settled.. Boom.. hits presbyopia!! Suddenly they start getting conscious of their age and worried about the dependence on spectacles. This is exactly where the eye care practitioners (ECPs) need to step in. There’s definitely a silver lining to this cloud.
Today’s presbyopes maintain their active lifestyles longer, and many are seeking more convenient, style-conscious alternatives to spectacles for their vision correction at all distances. Most of them are health conscious and financially stable. They do not mind investing in their own health and needs. At the same time, they could be surprisingly unaware of the advancements in the field of eye care especially in correction of presbyopia.
Now let’s take a look at the scenario in contact lens (CL) practice. CL practice across the world is at a critical juncture with some potential opportunities like multifocal lenses for presbyopia, specialty lenses etc and few looming threats such as increasing competition from online business. The growth of the CL industry in India has been relatively slow in the last couple of years. Online business of CL has been co-existing over 6-7 years. It is accepted by ECPs with a pinch of salt. Currently it is estimated to be around 10 % of total CL business. At this juncture, managing presbyopic patients could just be the boost that CL practice needs.
With the rapid growth in the aging population and prediction of the presbyopic population to nearly double by 2050. Presbyopic patients offer a considerable opportunity. For instance, almost all (93%) 35-55-year-old contact lens wearers remain committed to using contacts as they transition into presbyopia. In India, soft contact lenses were introduced in the early 90s. The then young adults would already be in the presbyopic age group now. A majority of practitioners across the world recognise these market dynamics, with 59% of them concluding that fitting more presbyopes is the best means for practice growth. A variety of contact lens correction options are now available for that group.
Another trend within the field of contact lenses has been the increasing popularity of the daily-disposable modality. It has been growing consistently in the last few years. According to international CL prescribing trend-2019, around 35% of the soft contact lens fits internationally were daily disposables. Clinically it is the safest contact lens replacement schedule. It offers the wearer a comfortable, hassle free experience. The dreaded part of lens wear i.e. care & maintenance is removed and the requirement of carrying lens care solutions and cases is also eliminated. Daily disposable lenses are the most convenient category of contact lenses and hence preferred by the convenience and health seeking patients.
Considering the increasing presbyopic population and the benefits of daily disposable modality, a multifocal daily disposable lens seems to be a logical choice. Occasional wear is an under-utilised concept so far. Maybe it’s time to revisit it. There are many presbyopes who would benefit from wearing multifocal lenses on occasions. A software professional may be happy wearing spectacles in the office during weekdays but would enjoy the spectacle-free time over the weekend. Contact lenses are better suited for activities such as picnics, sports and social gatherings.
In our study conducted a few years ago, one of the barriers for prescribing multifocal lenses was unavailability of trial lenses. It is far more convenient and affordable for manufacturers to provide daily disposable trials. Readily available trial lenses might help build confidence and motivate practitioners to recommend these lenses. Some of the manufacturers have launched small packs of five lenses. These could be very handy to ‘seed in’ the concept and let the patients experience the product without investing much. Many a times after a few days of successful wear, these ‘occasional’ wearers get converted into ‘regular’ wearers.
Communicating With Your Patients
The feature-benefit story :
Features are generally the qualities and characteristics of a product– its size, shape, materials etc and are specified in technical terminology. Benefits are how the features help us solve our problems and satisfy the needs. Our patients are more interested in benefits as opposed to the technical details or features of the product. Assuring them how the product can solve their problem convinces them about its utility and value. A relevant example to contact lens prescribing would be: High Dk/t value (oxygen transmission) is a feature of the contact lens while healthy eyes even after prolonged wearing hours is a benefit to the patient.
• Benefits are the logical reasons that justify the purchase
• They create interest and fuel desires
• Benefits generate actions
• Cost takes back seat when benefits suit the needs
Addressing price concerns :
Sometimes even after explaining the features and benefits in a proper manner, cost could be a real issue. By stating how benefits match the needs, you would have addressed it partially. The other ways to manage this concern are:
• Break down the cost- Instead of cost of the pack or cost per month, you could break it down to per day or per wear cost
• Use day to day examples- Compare the cost per day to other commonly used items like ‘a cup of coffee’ or ‘parking charges in a mall’
Correcting presbyopia with contact lenses can be both rewarding and challenging. Fortunately, the industry has focused on developing technically advanced products in terms of designs and materials. Today’s presbyopes have demanding lifestyles, hence they need a solution to match it. As eye care practitioners, we often get only one opportunity to impress our patients. So, let’s put our best foot forward- Multifocal daily disposable lenses!!
Here are some multi-focal products available in the market
Director of Educational Programs at International Association of Contact Lens Educators
Director and Co-Founder of an educational initiative- Masterclass Optometry