Multifocal Contact Lenses: Tips for Converting Patients

Five things to know about fitting contact lenses for presbyopic baby boomers.

By David I. Geffen, OD

One of the biggest opportunities in optometric practices is getting presbyopic patients interested in contact lenses. The baby boomer generation is in the middle of a presbyopic bubble, in which almost all of this huge demographic will need some type of visual correction. These patients happen to be the ones with the most disposable income. They are also a group that is used to spending money on health care treatments to appear young and stay healthy.

These are all good reasons why baby boomers are prime candidates for multifocal contact lens correction. But there are many challenges in getting these patients into lens wear and keeping them there. Below are five pointers to help you demonstrate the potential value of multifocal contact lenses to your presbyopic patients.

AT A GLANCE

Due to their willingness to consider cosmetic vision solutions and their relatively high levels of dispensable income, presbyopic baby boomers are very good candidates for multifocal contact lenses.

Tip No. 1: Mention contact lenses as an option to every patient

Keep contact lenses at the forefront of your mind when dealing with all patients. At my office, we ask on our intake form whether the patient would like to take a “test ride” in contacts today. Our technicians ask about contacts during the workup. And, of course, I ask the patient if he or she has any interest in trying contact lenses in the exam room. I am amazed how many patients tell me that a previous practitioner had told them they could not wear contact lenses.

Tip No. 2: Educate the patient about innovative new technologies

When patients come into the office, they want to hear about what’s new. They are interested in innovative technologies to make their lives better. Unfortunately, most are disappointed. According to an unpublished survey conducted by Bausch + Lomb in 2013, only 26% of doctors discuss new technology with their patients.

We need to tell patients about how developments in contact lens manufacturing have created new designs that may make wearing contact lenses more comfortable and give them better vision. Tell them the truth: that we are in a golden age of contact lens development. Manufacturers have come out with new products for presbyopic patients, and we are finding that they work, in our estimation, more than 85% of the time in our practice.

Tip No. 3: Discuss the benefits of multifocal contact lenses over other options.

When you review contact lens options with presbyopic patients, positive explanations of multifocal contacts will go a long way toward convincing patients to try such contact lenses. Specifically, you should compare the results of wearing multifocal contact lenses with the results of wearing monovision contact lenses, single-vision contact lenses, and spectacles. I hear too many doctors say, “Well, we can try a multifocal lens, but you won’t see as well.” This negative assertion will not entice patients toward giving them a go.

Be excited! Say, “We have great new contact lenses that I have found to work very well for most of my patients, and they are very happy not to have to wear their glasses all the time.”

Tip No. 4: Use part-time wear as an entry point

Many of my presbyopic patients would like to wear contact lenses for social occasions. With new daily disposable multifocal contact lenses, you have the perfect entry point for those patients. Most of my patients who try this end up wearing their contact lenses much more often than they planned.

Remember that contact lens patients return to your office more frequently than spectacle wearers, and that baby boomers typically have the ability to spend more than younger patients. This equates to greater profit per patient for your practice, while also fulfilling a need for patients that will make them more appreciative of your skill. I have found that offering daily disposables gives patients a convenience that they may not know exists. We utilize manufacturers’ rebates as another way to give our patients value in their purchases.

Tip No. 5: Give them some samples!

If patients are not interested in wearing contact lenses, offer them the chance to wear contract lenses while they browse the dispensary. This gives them the chance to try the contact lenses out, as well as to see the frames they are trying on. When I do this, patients often say, “I had no idea these were so comfortable.” We also offer a no-risk trial of multifocal contact lenses to patients. Letting them wear these contact lenses for a week in their world is a great way to show patients how far multifocal contact lens technology has come.

Instruct patients to look at a near-vision device (such as their phone) with only their distance correction. Then have them look at it again while wearing multifocal contact lenses. The difference will be striking.

TECHNOLOGIES IN YOUR OFFICE

Today, we have very good contact lenses to offer our presbyopic patients. Bausch + Lomb and Alcon have each come out with new multifocal designs recently, and we are getting excellent results with their three-zone progressive designs. Products from Bausch + Lomb (Bausch + Lomb Ultra for Presbyopia and Biotrue ONEday for Presbyopia) and Alcon (Dailies Total 1 Multifocal and Dailies Aquacomfort Plus Multifocal) have become our workhorses.

David I. Geffen, OD, FAAO
• partner, Gordon Schanzlin New Vision, TLC, San Diego
• financial disclosure: consultant/advisor/speaker, Accufocus, Alcon, Annidis, Bausch + Lomb, Bruder Healthcare, EyeBrain, J&J Vision, Optovue, Revision Optics, Shire, TearLab, TearScience, TLC Vision
• 858-455-9950; dig2020@aol.com