Communicating compliance messages to monthly contact lens wearers
Ahead of Love Your Lenses week, OT explores safety and compliance messages around reusable contact lenses
28 August 2023
When it comes to the safe wearing and storage of monthly contact lenses, sharing messages around not using water to clean contact lenses, and avoiding swimming, showering, or sleeping in contact lenses are key, and ensuring patients remember this guidance requires a variety of regular reminders.
Creating habitsThe additional steps required to appropriately store reusable contact lenses, can make it “all the more important for compliance to be at the forefront of the patient’s mind,” Buki Anthony, professional education and development lead, UK & Ireland for Alcon, said.
Acknowledging that the experience of trying contact lenses for the first time can be “full of emotions,” making it difficult to retain all of the information provided in the practice, Anthony recommended providing simple reminders after every aftercare appointment on the importance of compliance.
“I think we need to hear things over and over again for it to stick,” she said.
A subscription model for contact lenses can provide an additional opportunity to share helpful reminders with patients to ensure their contact lenses are changed regularly.
Supporting patients to create systems such as calendar notifications can also help contact lens wearers to establish good habits and routines.
“We’re all moving towards having a smartphone in our hands. We need to lean into that digital space to make sure patients have something at their fingertips,” she shared.
This should, however, be balanced with having information available in a range of formats to reflect patient preferences.
Alcon is working with the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) on a set of guidelines around contact lens practice, which is expected to be released later in 2023.
Sharing the latestSharing the latest in research is a key part of how Alcon seeks to support practitioners in this area.
Anthony said: “We have a microbiology team within the research and development department who study and report the efficacy of solutions and report what these findings really encompass, and this is funnelled down to practitioners and on to consumers.”
AOP patient leaflets
Leaflets and posters with contact lens advice can be found on the AOP website.
Balancing risksSamantha Armstrong, professional services consultant at CooperVision, said: “Safe handling falls into several categories; wearing and replacement schedules, cleaning and storing, hygiene and water.”
“Patients need to know the risks associated with monthly contact lens wear but in a balanced way,” Armstrong shared. “I believe that it is important for them to know the reasons why they need to follow the compliance steps, yet in a manner that doesn’t scare them so much that they discontinue contact lenses.”
When communicating these messages, she suggested that an approach that “shows you care about the patient, rather than giving them a sensation of being checked up on or ‘told off,’ is ideal.”
“Using phrases such as, ‘tell me about your lens care routine,’ is a good way of opening up and avoiding suggesting the correct response to the patient,” Armstrong shared.
Safety messages for patients are available in a variety of forms, and CooperVision’s interactive website provides patients with hints and tips, application and removal videos, and compliance messages.
Using phrases such as, ‘Tell me about your lens care routine,’ is a good way of opening up
Discovering pitfallsFor practitioners, the Learning Academy hosts resources for practitioners, front of house colleagues, and students, with compliance featured in CPD, as well as in-person training.
Armstrong said: “We are working hard to listen to practitioners and patients with regards to the contact lens journey, including compliance, to understand the barriers and potential pitfalls with the aim of developing further tools and supporting the manner in which patients and practitioners wish to have them.”
Misconceptions in monthly contact lens wearers
“This can mean that lenses are kept for well over a month, often not even having the solution changed except on the days they are worn,” she noted.
When advising patients on the necessary steps to take if they experience discomfort, it is also helpful to discuss how to arrange a replacement.
Armstrong explained: “Monthly wearers, in my experience, are more prone to continuing to wear lenses that are slightly uncomfortable, especially if they are on their last pair of lenses.”
Repeating the messageSafety messages are important to “highlight and repeat,” Serena Dunwoody, professional affairs UK and Ireland for Bausch + Lomb, said, whether a patient is new to contact lenses or an existing wearer.
Lack of handwashing, not including the rub-and-rinse step, and poor contact lens case hygiene can be issues associated with compliance and increased infection risk.
She continued: “The 2021 CLEAR report on evidence-based contact lens practice further indicates the risks associated with improper use of the solution, for example, ‘topping up’ cases with fresh solution or using expired lens care products.”
Dunwoody identified several ways that safe handling can be communicated: “Initially, they start in the consulting room with the eye care practitioner verbally communicating the importance of compliance at every contact lens appointment.”
This message continues through the practice and is reinforced by members of the practice team, including with demonstrations of areas like lens care.
Along with written information, identifying an individual who the patient can call if they experience issues or require emergency advice can also be helpful, Dunwoody said, adding: “Incorporating a ‘buddy system’ in practice can personalise the experience for the wearer.”
Patient kitsThe company has a range of resources available for practice teams educating patients on the correct handling of contact lenses.
This includes a visual aid tool, the soft lens care guide, which is available online as well as in a hard copy format, that “practitioners can give away during patient check-ups with a free Biotrue Multi-Purpose Solution starter kit to take away,” Dunwoody said.
This is available as part of the Bausch + Lomb free lens care compliance kit, which also includes videos for applying and removing soft lenses.
In brief: what understanding of contact lenses compliance do you want patients to leave the practice with?
Armstrong: “Contact lenses offer the chance to experience the freedom to be without glasses and are very safe and easy to wear. It is important for patients to follow their optician’s advice and use the contact lenses as recommended, to ensure a continual healthy and comfortable wearing experience.”
Anthony: “Compliance makes complications rare. In university I learned that, if a patient finds themselves confused about their eyes, they need to ask themselves: can I see right? Do my eyes feel right? Do my eyes look white? If they can’t answer yes to any of those questions, they should take the lenses out and seek advice from their practitioner.”
Love Your Lenses: safety and compliance all year round
The BCLA Love Your Lenses week will take place 4-10 September.
The BCLA shared: “Contact lens safety and compliance is a key theme of all Love Your Lenses activity and we would urge all ECPs to stress the point that if they are looked after properly and good hygiene practice is followed, contact lenses are safe.”
Ready-to-go, clear and consistent messaging can help practitioners to illustrate the benefits of contact lenses for all patients, while easy to follow aftercare advice is a key tool, with the BCLA recommending practices maintain a range of information leaflets and graphics, as well as the association’s ‘No Water’ stickers.
“We want to raise awareness of the importance of contact lens safety by highlighting potential risks and consequences while stressing the benefits and comfort they can bring,” the BCLA outlined.
A primary objective of the campaign is to encourage patients to speak to eye care practitioners, promoting the level of expertise and reassurance available, “rather than simply buying lenses online for the cheapest price,” the BCLA outlined.
The association emphasised: “We know that contact lenses are enjoyed safely and loved by millions of people. Most wearers won’t ever experience problems, however, if contact lenses are not treated with the love and respect they need, there is a small risk of developing potentially serious problems.”
Three questions for patients
The Love Your Lenses Week campaign encourages wearers to ask themselves three questions, and consult an eye care practitioner if they cannot answer yes:
- Do my eyes feel good all day long with my contact lenses in?
- Do my eyes look healthy?
- Do I see well?
Practices can sign up to participate in the campaign at: www.loveyourlensesweek.com