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In the past decade, how we are socially connected to the world and how we see the world have changed dramatically. With the introduction of smartphones and tablets and innovations in computers and wearable entertainment technologies, our lives have become more technology-dependent. As the primary eye care providers for most of the general public, optometrists are seeing more eye health effects related to this modern lifestyle.
In an online poll of consumers and eye care providers (ECPs) conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Shire, 89% of responding ECPs said they feel that dry eye disease (DED) is becoming more common because of today’s multiscreen lifestyle.1
The symptoms of digital eye strain (DES) and DED are becoming more commonly reported by our patients on a daily basis.2,3 DES is characterized by dry eyes; blurred vision; eye strain; headache; and neck, shoulder, and back pain.2 Computer or digital screen use reduces blinking and increases eye fatigue, thereby contributing to some of the symptoms of DED.3 DED most commonly presents as eye dryness and overall eye discomfort,4 but patients may also feel stinging, grittiness, burning, and blurred vision.5
With 66% of Americans using multiple devices,1 65% reporting DES symptoms,2 and 79% reporting eye discomfort after viewing screens,1 what solutions can ECPs offer the 41 million contact lens wearers in North America?
DAILY disposable lenses are THE ANSWER
In the past 5 years, all four major contact lens companies have released new premium 1-day disposable contact lens materials to help eye doctors address symptoms of DED. At my practice, Vision Optique, we have tried all of the new daily disposable contact lenses and worked with patients to identify the best fit for their demanding multiscreen lifestyles. Daily disposable contact lenses represent more than 70% of our overall contact lens business.
In addition to the traditional benefits of optimum eye health and convenience, we have found that the level of all-day comfort with the new premium daily disposable contact lens is much higher than with older models and that these lenses help to prevent and alleviate DED. Furthermore, with the availability of new multifocal and beauty contact lenses, we have introduced the concept of the “contact lens wardrobe” to match our patients’ demanding lifestyles. The daily disposable modality makes it easier for patients to choose the right lens for Monday-to-Friday workdays, evening events, and busy weekends when more driving is required for sports or other recreational activities.
Our patients enjoy being among the first to experience the latest daily disposable contact lens innovations, and they share their happiness on social media. Vision Optique’s active and content-rich social media sites help the business to grow. Many of our patients look forward to their annual eye exams to experience the latest eye care innovations, and they see us as their eye care heroes.
LEARNING FROM APPLE
When Vision Optique was opened in 1999, there were many ECPs located in the area, and there are even more now. We differentiate ourselves by providing eye care innovations, earning patients’ trust, and building long-term relationships.
We are often asked how we became one of the highest-volume daily disposable contact lens practices. The secret? We learned from the Apple Store! Like the 1 billion Apple iPhone users,7 we have gone through quite a few of the 10 generations of iPhone inventions since the product was launched in 2007.8 Out of the 7.4 billion people in the world, 3.8 billion are estimated to be unique mobile phone users,9 and 1 billion have an iPhone.7,8 Think about the last time you went to an Apple Store or a competing phone company store when you needed to update your phone. Did the staff member who took care of you offer to show you the latest generation smart phone and its features, or did he or she simply replace your device?
SO MANY CHOICES
There are many innovations in the 1-day contact lens market, in both materials and design. These innovations can benefit digital-age patients tremendously when their eye doctors are knowledgeable about the performance of these contact lenses and are prescribing them. As trusted ECPs, it is our job to introduce the 1-day lens that best matches our patients’ needs, and then it is up to the patients to decide whether to use the daily disposable contact lens on a daily or occasional basis.
With so many choices on the market, how do we decide which ones to prescribe? The first step is to experience all of the premium contact lens materials produced by each of the four big contact lens companies. The introduction of the first iPhone in 2007 forever changed how we are connected to the world, so only the 1-day disposable contact lens launched since 2007 are listed in the accompanying figures and tables.
CHANGE YOUR PRESCRIBING BEHAVIOR
As the eye care industry continues to provide innovations to keep up with the visual demands of the digital age, it is easy to agree that daily disposable contact lenses are healthier for our patients, but it is more challenging to actually change your prescribing behavior. See the graphic listing some tips for changing your practices.
Growing a 1-day contact lens business requires time and team effort, beginning with the doctor believing and explaining that the daily disposable contact lens modality is the best fit for the modern multiscreen lifestyle. Like many of you, we are constantly learning, adapting, and changing so that we can always be the heroes in the eyes of our patients!
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. The price of your device [infographic]. Shire. 2016. http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7893551-shire-dry-eye-disease-awareness/docs/the-price-of-your-device-infographic-2030817095.pdf. Accessed January 5, 2017.
2. The Vision Council. Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma. The 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report. https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/digital-eye-strain-report-2016. Accessed January 5, 2017.
3. Yazici A, Sari ES, Sahin G, et al. Change in tear film characteristics in visual display terminal users. Eur J Ophthalmol. 2015;25(2):85-89.
4. The definition and classification of dry eye disease: report of the Definition and Classification Subcommittee of the International Dry Eye WorkShop (2007). Ocul Surf. 2007;5(2):75-92.
5. Facts About Dry Eye. The National Eye Institute. February 2013. https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye. Accessed January 5, 2017.
6. Cope JR, Collier SA, Rao MM, et al. Contact Lens wearer demographics and risk behaviors for contact lens-related eye infections--United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(32):865-870.
7. Statt N. 1 billion Apple devices are in active use around the world. The Verge. January 26, 2016. http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/26/10835748/apple-devices-active-1-billion-iphone-ipad-ios. Accessed January 5, 2017.
8. Mamiit A. Apple announced first iPhone on January 9, 2007: here’s a brief history of the iPhone. January 9, 2016. Tech Times. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/123053/20160109/apple-announced-first-iphone-on-january-9-2007-heres-a-brief-history-of-the-iphone.htm. Accessed January 5, 2017.
9. Digital in 2016. We Are Social. January 27, 2016. http://wearesocial.com/uk/special-reports/digital-in-2016. Accessed January 5, 2017
Bridgitte Shen Lee, OD
• Cofounder & CEO, Vision Optique, Houston
• Founder, iTravelCE
• drbshenlee@iTravelCE.com; Twitter @DrBridgitte @visionoptique
• Financial disclosure: consultant to Bausch + Lomb, Essilor, Guardion Health Sciences, J&JVC, OcuSoft, and Shire