The Silver Lining: Contact Lens Opportunities During COVID
By Kate Gettinger, OD February 03, 2021
Let’s face it: COVID-19 hasn’t directly helped many optometry businesses. Mandatory shutdowns meant numerous lost days of business, while new protocols likely resulted in less patients seen per day in order to keep staff and patients safe. While some might grumble over these missed potentials, you could also look at the new opportunities provided to your practice. For a good case in point, look no further than contact lenses.
There’s truly no time like the present to talk to patients about contact lenses, whether it be a new wearer or someone who has been in them for years. There’s plenty of opportunities to not only satisfy your patients but also give a boost to your business.
If you’re like me, you have a lot of patients coming in lamenting about their glasses fogging up due to wearing a mask. As a longstanding myope, I can sympathize with the frustration. I use this as an opportunity to start a conversation about contact lenses. Yes, if you’re wearing a mask for the majority of the day it is nearly inevitable that at some point your glasses are going to fog up. There is no secret solution to keep them fog-free 24-hours a day. This is where contact lenses can be an excellent option. For some patients, consistently fogging glasses is the last bit of necessary motivation to pursue trying contact lenses.
In addition to new wearers, COVID-19 provides an opportunity to review contact lens safety and compliance with current contact lens wearers, as well as discuss potential lens upgrades. It’s just as important as ever to remind contact lens wearers to always wash their hands before handling lenses, disinfect and regularly replace storage cases, always use fresh solution to store lenses, and to abide by replacement and wearing schedules.
This conversation can also include discussing daily disposable contact lenses. Daily disposable lenses can be especially appealing during a pandemic. Think about it: we wash our hands and change our clothes every day to reduce risk of COVID-transmission, so why shouldn’t we consider replacing our contact lenses every day? When considering the health and safety involved, a daily disposable lens is often a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to start with a fresh contact lens every morning rather than reusing the same lens day after day? By focusing on the improved health and safety profile, you may find many patients choosing to upgrade their contact lenses to daily disposables at this time.
In addition, many of us are now engaging with digital screens more than we ever have before. Shifting into work-from-home environments, virtual classrooms, and virtual meetings all result in more time spent staring at a screen. This dries out the eyes, and as such some previously satisfied contact lens wearers may suddenly find themselves struggling with dryness. Wearing masks also has been shown to potentially increase dry eye symptoms. Again, switching to a daily disposable contact lens might be the ideal solution for these patients and it merits a discussion.
Another opportunity waiting within contact lenses is the chance to make it easier for patients to obtain their contact lenses from you. Many businesses have had to adapt to curbside pickup and direct shipping during the pandemic, and your office should be no different. Many patients have now come to expect the convenience of direct shipping. Offering patients the option to have a contact lens supply shipped directly to them through your office means less in-person traffic but maintained revenue. It also means patients are less likely to turn to online retailers who already offer the convenience of home shipping. Patients who are able to obtain their contact lenses more easily will also be more likely to be compliant with replacement schedules, which is a win for both patients and practitioners.
COVID-19 has provided optometrists a unique opportunity to showcase the contact lens side of your practice. To make the most of it, don’t shy away from discussing contact lenses with both new wearers and previous wearers alike. We need to make sure patients are wearing contact lenses safely and it is our job to make them aware of all the resources we provide to keep their eyes healthy. Adapting to these practices regarding contact lenses will continue to benefit both your practice and your patients, even beyond the pandemic.