“As clinicians, our primary responsibility is to care for the patients we see. As experts in eye care, it is imperative that we provide our patients with honest, open and transparent advice.” This is the message from opinion leaders in ophthalmology, brought together by Optical Express, and led by its chief executive and chairman, David Moulsdale.
In an open letter to the profession published in October 2019, the authors call for the profession to take stock. “For those who require vision correction to improve their vision, there are a number of different options. As we continue through this modern era of technological advances, the excellent surgical vision correction options that exist today will become even better and appeal to an even greater number of patients. It’s our responsibility to educate patients to make informed choices.”
In the open letter, the authors reiterate the importance of sustainability within the sector, taking the example of the impact of contact lens wear on the environment, and offering a new initiative.
The authors explain: “Evidence shows that almost 800 million plastic contact lenses are used by more than four million people in the UK each year.1 In a recent survey of over 3000 UK contact lens users, we found that 97% are throwing them down the drain or in the bin, with only 3% of people recycling their lenses. More than one in four people admitted to disposing of their lenses via the sink or toilet.2 As the UK’s only complete eye care provider, Optical Express has decided to take action itself. With every pack of contact lenses Optical Express sells, it will now give patients information on their environmental impact, and advice on how to properly dispose of used contact lenses and their packaging. Optical Express is today calling upon other eye care practices to do the same,” the authors add.
Giving patients the choice
In the open letter, the authors assert their belief that it is imperative that all optometrists and eye care providers educate patients on the full range of vision correction choices that are available. The authors explain: “Patients must understand what their surgical and non-surgical options are. Patients must be informed of the potential risks and range of outcomes of each vision correction solution in addition to the benefits. It’s well-evidenced in peer review publications that surgical vision correction options perform well in comparison to contact lenses.”3-5
The open letter also calls for a debate on the responsibility of optometrists, asking: “Can it be said that the principles of informed consent – that are well-established with the surgical vision correction solutions – are matched closely to those associated with non-surgical vision correction solutions, such as contact lenses?”
“As the UK’s only complete eye care provider, Optical Express has decided to take action itself”
The authors end the open letter by posing another question to the sector. “In the years ahead will it be socially unacceptable to wear contact lenses due to the threat they pose to the environment? All businesses have a responsibility to educate their patients and customers with information on the environmental impact of products. We contend that surgical vision correction solutions are safe, cost effective in the long term and environmentally friendly, and should be discussed with each and every patient who is a candidate, regardless of whether the examination setting provides or does not provide these solutions.”
Optical Express would like to hear from OT readers who have a view on the issues and questions raised in the advertorial. To get in touch, email Optical Express. To read Optical Express’ open letter in full, go to its website.
- Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers 2016
- Based on a survey of over 3000 Optical Express contact lens users across the UK between May and September 2019
- Three-Year Longitudinal Survey Comparing Visual Satisfaction with LASIK and Contact Lenses 2016, M. Price, D. Price, F. Bucci, D. Durrie, W. Bond, F. Price
- Infectious keratitis after laser vision correction: Incidence and risk factors 2017, J. Schallhorn, S. Schallhorn, K. Hettinger, S. Hannan
- Contact lens-related microbial keratitis: how have epidemiology and genetics helped us with pathogenesis and prophylaxis 2016 F. Stapleton, N. Carnt.