A positive trajectory for contact lenses
Johnson & Johnson Vision’s Sheetal Patel gives insight into the ways contact lens habits have changed and how locum optometrists can engage wearers in lifestyle discussions
27 January 2022
Lifestyles changed drastically over the past two years, as the pandemic and public health measures led people to spend more time indoors.
This has meant increased screen time while working from home, and restricted access to the activities people might typically have enjoyed on a more regular basis, such as socialising with friends, or taking part in sports or hobbies.
Reflecting last month on how the contact lens market has changed, Sheetal Patel, Johnson & Johnson Vision’s professional education and development manager for the UK and Ireland, highlighted that there was a “general reduction in contact lens use at the start of the pandemic due to the lack of occasions for wear.”
OT heard from Johnson & Johnson Vision’s Patel, for insight into the ways contact lens wearing behaviours have changed, how locum optometrists can be engaging patients in discussions about contact lenses and useful resources for fittings.
In what ways has the profession seen contact lens wearing behaviours change in the UK since the beginning of the pandemic?The main impact of COVID-19 on contact lens wearing behaviours has been an overall reduction in consumption of lenses (fewer lenses worn): around one third of pre-COVID-19 wearers say they are wearing their contact lenses less than before the pandemic. The primary reason given for this is having fewer occasions for wear linked to reduced socialising, and many working from home for extended periods. However, there have also been positives – around half of contact lens wearers say they’ve made no change to their wearing behaviour. Around one in 10 current wearers are new to contact lens wear since COVID-19. Potentially the inconvenience of mask wear with glasses may be a factor here.
What are the key areas of both challenge and opportunity in the contact lens market? How can locums draw on this knowledge in their contact lens fitting practice?The key areas of challenge in the contact lens market for optical practices and contact lens manufacturers have been both maintaining consumption by existing wearers, and balancing new wearer demand with reduced appointment capacity. JJV has, since the onset of the pandemic, invested heavily in consumer media and other consumer marketing channels to help reignite the category by bringing in new wearers, and encouraging existing wearers to maintain their consumption, by bringing to life the benefits of contact lens wear across a wide range of moments and lifestyles. We have also supported eye care professionals (ECPs) in managing capacity during COVID-19 through providing CET as well as staff training, materials on our website and support through our professional affairs consultants.
We expect a positive trajectory in category recovery as we move into 2022
As we move into 2022, we expect to see consumption return to pre-COVID-19 levels. We predict an increase in those who are considering becoming contact lens wearers, who want to try this mode of vision correction and are able to take action to make this happen. The emergence of a ‘new normal’ in terms of lifestyles, plus continued improvements in fitting capacity, will be key enablers of this. We expect a positive trajectory in category recovery as we move into 2022.
There is an opportunity available to meet patient needs through contact lenses and help improve wearers’ daily lives. We would encourage locums to consider this when seeing patients and support them to become successful contact lens wearers.
How can locums best engage patients where they might not follow them through their entire contact lens journey?Listening to patients and asking them about their lifestyle needs is a great opportunity to understand where contact lenses would be of benefit in helping them to get the best out of their vision and therefore their daily experiences. As a locum, there are opportunities to explore and offer contact lenses as part of an active recommendation during an eye examination. Also, seeing patients as part of a routine contact lens aftercare provides opportunities to discuss if they are getting the best out of their contact lenses and they are meeting their needs or if it is time to change the contact lenses to match their unique needs more closely.
Locums can also take the time to understand how they can play an active role in the contact lens patient journey that exists in the practice they work in, so that they can ensure they integrate themselves into this and can provide the best possible care to the patients they serve.
As a locum, there are opportunities to explore and offer contact lenses as part of an active recommendation during an eye examination
What tools do you recommend locum optometrists use in contact lens fittings and why?
Locum lifeFor more thoughts on key equipment for locums, why not read OT’s feature Locum life: the essential kit, which asks four locum optometrists what they carry in their kit bag?
The Johnson & Johnson Vision website has information available on all their ACUVUE® products and is kept up to date. The website also has access to fitting calculators for their multifocal and toric contact lens products. ACUVUE® product information can also be found on the online locum section of the AOP website.
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