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It brings value to our patients and to our practices. We also know that word-of-mouth is our best form of advertising, and that when we make patients happy and exceed their expectations, they return to us for care and refer others. This year marks our 25th anniversary and there have been many milestones in vision care during that time. Historically, the market for daily disposable contact lenses has been relatively flat, with some small fluctuations; but something changed in March Figure 1.
That is when we saw a dramatic increase in the utilization of daily disposable contact lenses. What is driving this aggressive growth? Well, you are. Eye care professionals are starting to embrace daily disposables, increasing utilization to almost 20 percent of new contact lens dispenses and making daily disposables the fastest growing segment within the contact lens category GfK; Figure 1. Daily disposables are the fastest growing segment within the contact lens category.
Between March and June , the percentage of new wearers wearing daily disposable lenses climbed from 8 to 19 percent. We've invited three practitioners who are on the leading edge of this wave to discuss why they are strong advocates for daily disposable contact lenses, how they use them in their practices, and how continued innovation in this category will advance contact lens practice.
First, let's take a look at the future of the daily disposable market. We have seen a significant uptick in utilization of daily disposable contact lenses in the United States. Will we continue to see growth? Mitchell Cassel, OD: I see this trend continuing, especially as more practitioners embrace daily disposables and become comfortable presenting them to patients.
I can foresee a time when the market share for daily disposables in the United States will approach the percent market share they have in Asia Nichols, The Japanese have a vibrant lifestyle and a tremendous interest in health and wellness. Once we eliminate cost — or perceived cost — from the equation, there is no question that the new technology is better, so we can anticipate the same acceptance here as in Japan.
Charissa Lee, OD: In the United States, we like to think we're technologically savvy and ahead of the curve, but in this particular market, we're behind. I believe we're at a tipping point, however, and in the realm of contact lenses, daily disposables will emerge at the forefront. Dr Cohen: Daily disposable lenses provide the best combination of comfort, convenience, health, and vision.
Once I got past my own hesitation, primarily around cost, daily disposables went from my logical first choice to my actual first choice. Issues such as end-of-day dryness, buildup on lenses, decreased comfort and vision over the lens life cycle, and solution sensitivities, can be addressed with a daily disposable lens. Dr Cassel: Daily disposable lenses are always my recommended first choice contact lens modality for many reasons. Besides the obvious health, comfort, convenience, profitability and so on, patients immediately recognize the differences of practices that are promoting the latest in technology.
Difficult oblique toric patients and high cylinder patients are amazed at the immediate visual acuity and comfort. Dr Lee: Daily disposable lenses are part of every conversation that I have with contact lens wearers. Dr Ball: Let's discuss the new daily disposable technology that will help practitioners continue the momentum. Dr Ball: Dr Cassel, you have a robust contact lens practice. How have daily disposables helped you build this successful practice? Dr Cassel: From a patient's perspective, I am prescribing a lens that will promote health and deliver comfort, convenience, and clarity of vision, and that is a winning formula.
What's more, working with innovative products keeps me in the forefront of the field and gives me a competitive edge. Dr Ball: How do you highlight the health benefits of daily disposables Figure 2 when discussing them with patients?
Figure 2. The Efron Grading Scales can be used as a teaching tool to show patients the importance of adhering to their contact lens wearing schedules. I explain how replacing contact lenses on a daily basis will help maintain healthy eyes, whereas, less frequent replacement can result in a buildup of oils and protein that can cause dryness, discomfort, and possibly some of the more serious complications illustrated on the Scales.
Promoting eye health and compliance with a lens replacement schedule are important. Dr Lee: I also use the Efron Scale to help explain to my patients why they should change their lenses as prescribed, and I often use an analogy to describe how proteins and lipids behave on the eye.
This can eventually lead to complications, but when lenses are replaced every day, that is not a concern. I also tell patients that when they replace their lenses every day, they do not have to worry about care solutions, solution interactions, lens cases, or case contamination. In one study, researchers found 76 percent to 92 percent of contact lens cases were contaminated with microbes Willcox et al, Daily disposable lenses eliminate that issue.
Dr Ball: If we believe daily disposables are the healthiest contact lens modality, why not prescribe them? Dr Cohen: It's not a matter of why someone wouldn't prescribe them — it's why we don't prescribe them. I believe there are two main factors. One is the perception that patients won't be interested in the daily disposable modality.
Studies seem to dispute that. In my practice, and in the practices of many of my peers, more than 7 of 10 patients are interested in a new contact lens that might be healthier for their eyes, and more than 60 percent would be willing to pay more for a contact lens that would provide that additional benefit. The second factor is our tendency to diagnose our patients' checkbooks; in other words, our perception of whether or not they can afford something. The key is to provide the best possible opportunity for healthy lens wear.
So, to answer your question, I don't know a good reason why we wouldn't prescribe daily disposables. I think we would all agree that replacing a contact lens more frequently is a healthier option.
Dr Lee: Another factor is availability. In the past, we may not have prescribed daily disposables for some patients because their lens parameters were not available. Dr Cassel: I have found that correcting just 0. Figure 3. At right, it's clear that correcting even just a small degree of astigmatism can make a big impact on a patient's clarity of vision. We now have a better opportunity to not only meet but exceed our patients' expectations. Dr Cohen: That is critical.
We have become a society of superlatives. You can't be a star. You have to be a superstar. You can't give percent. You have to give percent. We live in a high-definition world. By correcting that low amount of astigmatism — which we always hoped was masked with a spherical lens — and providing exceptional vision, we will make a big difference.
In addition, research confirms that nearly half of all patients who require vision correction have astigmatism in at least one eye Young et al, Figure 4.
Now, we can fit each eye with the appropriate daily disposable lens. Figure 4. I love educating patients about the benefits of this lens and its design. The thicker part of the lens sits in the open area of your eye. So when you blink, you're blinking the lens back into place. If the lens is misaligned, you just blink and it goes right into place. That's why your vision with these lenses is so stable. Figure 5. Our patients have active lives, and their eye movements are dynamic.
They are doing saccadic and versional movements when looking from the computer to their desks or from the road ahead to their side-view mirrors when driving. This lens fits their lifestyles Figure 6. Dr Cohen: Many people in Arizona play golf, and they appreciate a lens that stabilizes with each blink, particularly when they are addressing the ball and putting.
Many people like to watch golf on TV. If you're wearing a toric contact lens that's controlled more by gravity and you lie down on the couch to watch TV, your vision may become distorted. This lens adjusts for changing positions. You typically receive the same axis alignment; however, I still carefully fit each patient to ensure exacting findings.
Dr Cohen: We know the number one reason why patients stop wearing their contact lenses is dryness Rumpakis, ; Richdale et al, Thanks to this feature, the coefficient of friction is decreased to provide sustained comfort throughout the day with less irritation to the cornea and under the lids Sheardown et al, This leads to more stable vision throughout the day.
We have about as many contact lens dropouts in a year as we do new lens wearers, so in the contact lens industry, we're dealing with a zero-sum game. We need something that will help us retain patients in contact lens wear. By addressing the end-of-the-day comfort issue, which is primarily due to dryness, LACREON Technology can help us keep more patients in their contact lenses and grow the market not just maintain it.
How would you like to have that new-lens feeling every single day? Dr Ball: How has this new technology brought convenience to your patients and to you as a practitioner?
For the first time, I can select a lens from the fitting set, apply it and know quickly whether or not it will work for my patient.
Patients realize the value of that, and it translates to a conversion for them. It has been very effective. Dr Lee: This lens is absolutely the fastest settling lens that I have seen.
It just rotates right into place. Dr Cassel: In the past, when we would fit any type of specialty lens — toric lenses in particular — the patient has had to sit for 15 to 30 minutes before we could assess the vision and fit.
In addition, after a rapid stabilization, what the patients sees is what the patient will continuously see throughout the day.
25 refit rebate on your fitting fee
It brings value to our patients and to our practices. We also know that word-of-mouth is our best form of advertising, and that when we make patients happy and exceed their expectations, they return to us for care and refer others. This year marks our 25th anniversary and there have been many milestones in vision care during that time. Historically, the market for daily disposable contact lenses has been relatively flat, with some small fluctuations; but something changed in March Figure 1. That is when we saw a dramatic increase in the utilization of daily disposable contact lenses. What is driving this aggressive growth? Well, you are.
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Evolving Practice Trends & the Value of Building a Successful 1-Day Practice
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