"The whole practice team has a role to play"

As CooperVision prepares for the 2019 BCLA Clinical Conference and Exhibition, country manager of the UK and Ireland, Debbie Olive, celebrates the impact of contact lenses on patients’ lives, and explains how the industry can do more to reverse the dropout rate

Debbie Olive

What is CooperVision’s headline message at BCLA 2019?

At this year’s event (30 May–1 June, Manchester) CooperVision is taking the opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work that eye care practitioners (ECPs) and front of house teams do all around the country day in day out that can go unnoticed. For CooperVision, they are contact lens heroes.

Since 2018, the company has been collecting stories from ECPs, who have shared examples of how they have changed patients’ lives. What has been fascinating is that every ECP I meet has always got something amazing to tell – a story about how they have changed someone’s life.

On our stand during BCLA 2019 we will be inviting ECPs to record their personal memories about changing the lives of their patients with contact lenses. It is important to take the chance to record and share these stories.

How does the contact lens heroes theme inspire you?

Contact lenses are a fundamental part of life for wearers, with the potential to affect their confidence levels. CooperVision recognises the emotional impact contact lenses have on the wearer. We chose the theme because the number of people whose lives would be poorer than they are today without ECPs would be significant – and these practitioners make a huge difference.

Speaking personally, my mother has a range of eye conditions and her ECPs have really supported her through her journey. Equally, my daughter is a high hyperope and she was fitted with contact lenses at seven-years-old. The impact of the contact lenses transformed her personality. I still see that ECP and thank him for the impact he has had on our lives.

CooperVision is working with ECPs to take on the challenge of myopia. What does this involve?

Myopia is a global challenge from a healthcare perspective and it is a key challenge for CooperVision to address. CooperVision’s senior manager of clinical research, Paul Chamberlain, will be presenting the five-year results of our myopia study at a podium presentation at the BCLA 2019, plus there is a poster and education session. To date, what we have seen is a consistent slowing down of the progression of myopia. That is a fantastic achievement.

We are also sharing new research from the UK and Australia, which looks at the patient and ECP relationship. We know that MiSight works and is incredibly easy to fit as a lens but getting the communication right between the parent and the ECP is critical.

What our research reveals is that parents are extremely interested and want to hear about the options available for their child, with our research showing nine in 10 are keen to hear the options available to reduce the burden of increasing myopia. When parents hear about the options, eight in 10 want to learn more, which is a great sign. What this tells us is that it is important to educate parents.

The number of people whose lives would be poorer than they are today without ECPs would be significant


The CooperVision brand promise is to ‘help change the way people see,’ and our work with MiSight is all about changing people’s lives. MiSight may not become the biggest product for us, but it should make the biggest change in people’s lives and that’s really important to us. Supporting the ECP in that journey is critical.

I recognise that the change in thinking about myopia is a big one for ECPs too, but the door is open. Parents are really interested, and when they know about the benefits of the MiSight lens, around two in three are keen for their child to try it. We know from a health care perspective they are doing the right thing.

What tools and resources has CooperVision developed to support the practice team?

It’s clear that practices are most successful when the patient journey between clinical and front of house team is seamless. As such, we have a raft of tools, many of which are housed under our CooperVision Advantage programme to support practices.

To help build confidence in store, we train both front of house and ECPs via workshops, webinars and CET lectures, as well as instore training events that will focus on the part of the patient journey that maybe isn’t working optimally in that store – for instance, patient retention, communication or dispelling the myths about contact lenses.

We research the category heavily and share some of the learnings with practitioners through our white papers and conferences. In our recent Unlock the potential series of events we showed what patients really want and expect from their optician.

To drive patient interest, we also produce a wide range of product and generic point-of-sale materials, including posters, leaflets and 3D materials. Digital assets are also available for use on practice digital screen website and social media. For those who are somewhat nervous of social media, we have recently launched a ‘how to’ guide on setting up, using and promoting your practice on Facebook. Watch this space for the Twitter guide coming soon too.

We know there are some ECPs who can sometimes feel they need a tool to help them navigate the wide array of products and fitting tools, or perhaps one to help them when moving a patient onto newer materials to make that patient journey more effective. As such, many ECPs use our OptiExpert app that has four functions in one: a digital version of the Efron grading scale, easy-to-use multifocal and toric calculators, and oxygen profile maps.

We know our product MiSight works and is incredibly easy to fit as a lens, but getting the communication right between the parent and the ECP is critical


Is the profession doing enough to tackle dropout rates?

Wearer dropout has been the single biggest frustration for me since I started working in the industry and I think it remains the single biggest challenge for the sector. Simply put, we lose as many contact lens wearers as we bring in. In particular, we need to focus on dropout in the first two to three months of wear.

The biggest reason for dropout is handling and it is critical that we overcome this. Research shows that of those that drop out, six in 10 feel lack confidence when they leave the practice.

The whole practice team has a role to play; they are responsible for the patient journey and need to finesse the training on offer for patients. It is important to set parameters for patients and let them know that things change once they get used to handling contact lenses.

When I go out into different practices around the country, it is great when you see a practice working in harmony. I see handovers that are amazing and people that are passionate about the contact lens teach. These members of the clinical and front of house team bring a level of time, care, enthusiasm, recognising that some patients get the handling quickly and others need more time. Using this approach can dramatically change the number of patients we keep in contact lenses.