Daily Disposables – Simply the Best
By Sara Frye, OD, MPH, FAAO May 03, 2021
The first soft contact lens came to market in 1972. Over a decade later, just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, the first single-use soft contact lens became available. The advent of daily disposables offered an entirely new contact lens experience. The comfort, convenience, cleanliness, and safety were unparalleled. The adoption of this modality has been slow, though this trajectory has been trending steadily upward. In 2020, 43% of new fits were into daily disposables. The next most popular replacement schedule was monthly, representing 37% of new fits.
Single-use contact lenses offer many patient benefits. First, they are incredibly convenient. Patients can keep lenses in their purse, gym bag, suitcase, or work desk, ensuring they have a fresh clean pair anytime they need them. Lose a lens? No worries, there’s a back-up. Tear a lens? There are many more. Going swimming? Take them out and put a new pair in when you’re done. Once a patient experiences the convenience of daily disposable lenses, it’s hard to go back.
Next, daily disposable lens wearers are some of the most compliant. Because no lens storage is involved, replacement is often not stretched like it is in planned replacement lenses. No thought process goes into lens replacement. Throwing out lenses when they’re removed becomes routine, as does putting a fresh pair in every time.
Comfort is less of an issue with daily disposable lenses. How many of your contact lens patients complain of discomfort? In response to these complaints, we play around with fit, solution, rewetting drops, etc. We consider the environment, recommending allergen avoidance or humidifier use. It can be challenging to ascertain exactly what is causing the discomfort for each particular patient. We’re often assuming compliance with the recommended lens replacement schedule. How about offering patients a fresh pair of contact lenses every day? Daily disposables remove many of the variables that we so often chase in trying to optimize comfort, solving most issues with just one change.
Hygiene is paramount when it comes to daily disposable lenses. In the era of COVID-19, we are all too aware of microbial threats. The single-use modality removes the human element from contact lens hygiene. No more rubbing, rinsing, changing solution, and replacing cases. The most hygienic way to wear contacts is to use a fresh pair every day.
Better hygiene translates to improved safety in contact lens wear. Planned replacement modalities are especially contributory to contact lens-related adverse events, from giant papillary keratitis to microbial keratitis. Patients increase their risk of complications by sleeping in their lenses, stretching replacement schedules, reusing solution, and not replacing their case. Single-use lenses remove these factors entirely, ultimately improving the safety of contact lens wear.
Presenting Daily Disposables
Ryan Gustus, OD, CEO of Lensquote, recommends opening the patient conversation with, “would you be interested in trying a fresh new lens every day?” When put that way, it’s an offer that’s hard to turn down. Patients know their lenses feel best when they’re fresh out of the package. Tell them they deserve that feeling every single day! Dr. Gustus often hears patients ask, “don’t they cost a lot more?”, and to this, he says, “not as much as you’d think going from 24 lenses per year to 720!” That provides some perspective on the value of daily disposables. For part-time wearers, it’s important to remind them that lenses should be disposed of according to their replacement schedule, regardless of how seldom they’re worn. Lisa Harp McAllister, OD, likes to use the analogy of old milk to illustrate this. She asks patients, “if you had a gallon of milk in your refrigerator that expired a month ago, but you only drank one or two glasses, would you still drink [the rest of] that milk?”
Selling an annual supply of any contact lens modality maximizes compliance. How often do you change your air filters when you have them on hand? How about when you run out? When contact lenses feel scarce, patients are more likely to stretch their replacement schedule.
New wearers don’t necessarily have any preconceived notions of contact lens pricing, so they may be more amenable to trying them. For established planned replacement wearers, they may want to see the difference in cost laid out. When presenting contact lens pricing, do the comparison using annual supplies, since that’s the way lenses should be purchased. Dr. Gustus reminds us to provide written pricing in a clear and concise manner, outlining insurance benefits, rebates, and other discounts. Many patients judge daily disposable contact lenses as a premium product, so scribbling notes on scratch paper doesn’t do this purchase justice. By selling an annual supply, the patient will return to you when they’re due for an exam. You can sell them their next set of lenses at that time. In contrast, sell them a couple of boxes and they’ll be on 1-800 Contacts looking for lenses within a few months.
Some patients may express environmental concerns when it comes to single-use lenses. The good news is that TerraCycle and Bausch + Lomb have partnered to offer a recycling program for contact lenses, and their blister packs and foil. They accept any brand of product and offer an online directory of drop-off locations. The cardboard packaging is recyclable through municipal facilities.
Shipping lenses to the patient is an important aspect of the patient experience. Once a patient has placed their order, they can rest assured that their lenses will be delivered to their home or office. Many contact lens manufacturers and distributors offer the option to ship directly to patients. This eliminates the time lag of lenses first being shipped to the practice and then to the patient. Busy patients will appreciate the efficiency. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, this also avoids unnecessary interaction. Overall, making the contact lens fitting and purchasing process as seamless as possible will ensure the best patient experience.
Daily disposables are the way of the future, for their exceptional convenience, comfort, cleanliness, and safety. Offer your patients what you know is best for them, and make the experience flawless. You may be surprised by how many of them are willing to treat their eyes to fresh clean lenses every day.