Contact lenses beyond lockdown

Take part in an OT  insight survey to share your views on contact lens practice during COVID-19

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How has COVID-19 changed the way patients and eye care practitioners think about contact lenses? And how is the sector reacting to this shift in perception?

The reality of the moment, it seems, is challenging. In a recent survey by Johnson & Johnson Vision, 43% of patients said they are wearing contact lenses “less” than before lockdown.

Jakob Sveen, head of Northern Europe and general manager for UK and Ireland, told OT, “There is certainly a significant impact in the short-term.”

And OT has heard from optical practices that they have scaled back contact lens clinic time in order to focus on sight tests and spectacles dispensing.

The situation is fast-moving – and it is easy to forget that it was only last month that the College of Optometrists issued COVID-19 guidance to confirm non-medical contact lens fitting can now take place during the amber phase of the pandemic.

This followed earlier advice from the College that the fitting of non-medical contact lenses for new patients should not be carried out until the ‘green’ phase, except for ‘essential purposes.’

This clarification was important to address confusion and uncertainty in practice, contact lens manufacturers told OT. “Having had many discussions with optometrists, contact lens opticians and practice owners across the country, it was apparent that clarity was needed on this point,” Jonathon Bench, head of professional affairs for Alcon UK & Ireland, explained.

For Krupa Patel, CooperVision’s head of professional services, the decision was important as it enabled the profession to promote the message that contact lenses offer a safe way to correct vision, with no evidence to suggest contact lens wearers are at any greater risk from COVID-19.

“Practitioners can now better address the needs of their patients by fitting contact lenses again,” she told OT, highlighting the example of contact lens fittings to particularly benefit spectacle wearers wearing masks regularly.

To get a better understanding of the situation, OT is asking readers to share their views on contact lens practice during COVID-19 and how customer behaviours towards contact lenses have changed through the pandemic.

Conducted in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision, our OT reader insights survey is open to all practising optometrist AOP members in the UK, and should take around five to 10 minutes to complete.

All AOP members who complete the survey and provide an email address will also be entered into a prize draw to win one of three £100 vouchers.

Please do take part.