Dr Shehzad A. Naroo
(BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, FIACLE, FAAO, FBCLA, FEAOO, FCOptom)
It is well reported by the contact industry that each year new patients are attracted to wearing contact lenses. Patients are attracted to the “more natural” vision correction or the cosmetic aspects of wearing contact lenses or practical element s related to their work or hobbies. Equally known is the fact that the number of dropouts or lapsed wearers is very high and almost equal to the number of new patients that are wearing contact lenses resulting in an almost static number of wearers in the UK. It does seem that as a profession we are doing something right by attracting new patients but doing something terribly wrong by losing so many too. Some practices even incorrectly consider contact lenses as being a loss leader and not beneficial to building a practice. There is some evidence to suggest that contact lens comfort has a vital role to play and as products get better we need to start to think about making our patients ready to wear contact lenses successfully and consider and maintain this at each patient visit. Studies have shown that patients drop out of contact lens wear for reasons such as dry eye, red eye, inconvenience and intolerance. If drill down a lot of these factors starts with the ocular surface physiology. This does not necessarily mean every patient wearing contact lenses for every waking hour or only fitting patients with a certain baseline of ocular health but rather treating each patient on an individual basis and assessing their needs. We also need to ensure that as practitioners we are ready to and skilled to maintain successful contact lens wearing patients.