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Engaging with younger patients

Optometrist and professional education and development manager for the UK and Ireland at Johnson & Johnson, Sheetal Patel, shares her top tips for engaging with the next generation on eye health

Sheetal Patel

The General Optical Council states in its Standards of Practice that eye care professionals should ‘communicate effectively’ with patients and that should be no different whichever generation we are trying to reach.

One of the challenges practitioners face today is how to better reach younger patients on eye health. The good news is that today’s youngest patients – Generation Z (aged between 18 and 24) – prioritise their health and wellbeing. A recent Johnson & Johnson Vision survey found that 81% of Generation Z feel that vitality and wellbeing are important, followed by leading a healthy lifestyle (76%).

However, in my experience this group can be challenging to reach. First, Generation Z patients are less likely to present for regular eye examinations and therefore are unlikely to hear about contact lenses early and often enough. In fact, Generation Z is the least likely to turn to doctors, nurses and pharmacists for health information, so they are often unaware of the options available to them. This lack of knowledge, coupled with apprehension on how to apply and remove lenses, present key barriers to trying contact lenses.

A recent Johnson & Johnson Vision survey found that 81% of Generation Z feel that vitality and wellbeing are important, followed by leading a healthy lifestyle (76%)


An unknown need

Our survey found that 94% of Generation Z consider their eyesight to be an important element of their general wellbeing. Generation Z patients are characterised as heavy social media users and they spend more of their time using screens than previous generations.

Coupled with their active lifestyles, contact lenses should be an obvious choice for these patients. Providing a form of vision correction and freedom to enhance their daily lives, contact lenses offer a solution for sports lovers, gym go-ers, and social butterflies to live life to the fullest, including those late-night concerts.

Developments in contact lenses now present a perfect opportunity to keep pace with these demanding lifestyles, helping to provide continued comfort throughout the day. For example, Acuvue Oasys 1-Day consists of tear-like properties that work with the natural tear film and can help alleviate that feeling of dry and tired eyes at the end of a long day.

Coupled with their active lifestyles, contact lenses should be an obvious choice for these patients


Engaging with Generation Z

While contact lenses present the obvious solution to many Generation Z patients, there remain barriers to fully engaging with this generation. Meanwhile, we know that in addition to serving patient needs there is a business benefit to securing patients when they are young. Independent research shows us that patients who adopt contact lenses early continue to enjoy the associated benefits for the longer term. Therefore, as well as happy patients, there is an obvious practice benefit in securing the life-long loyalty of these patients through proactive recommendation of contact lenses.

Sheetal’s five steps tips to maximise the opportunity of contact lens wear to Generation Z patients

  1. Prioritise getting to know the patients and their daily routine. This helps you understand how you can enhance the patient’s life through the visual correction recommendations you make. When you fully understand your patients, you can provide truly bespoke recommendations that can have an immediate impact on their quality of life
  2. Be positive about contact lens wear especially if your patient has barriers. Generation Z patients are facing many pivotal life changes and as eye care professionals we are well placed to communicate to patients the benefits of contact lenses and how they can help ease some of their pain points
  3. Ask the patient when they feel their spectacles may be getting in the way. This will help you identify areas where contact lenses would be particularly beneficial. For example, if the patient plays a lot of sport, you can recommend contact lenses that are more suitable for this activity
  4. Don’t underestimate how important confidence is to this generation. They are going through numerous life-changing moments where contact lenses would provide significant impact, notably to enhance their confidence during these pivotal points in their lives. A majority of Generation Z patients (60%) have negative emotions when they realise they need vision correction. This provides a real opportunity to offer a solution that will help them overcome this crisis in confidence and makes them a lot more open to trying contact lenses
  5. This generation overestimates the cost of contact lenses. It is incredibly important to ensure that they understand which product is best for them and how it will improve their daily life and justify the cost.


Share your suggestions for engaging with Generation Z by emailing OT.