Contact lens guide

Stepping stones

OT  hears how to refine the contact lens journey for a practice’s youngest patients

contact lens animation
Getty/filo; Shutterstock

Contact lenses can offer many opportunities to young wearers – the freedom to play sport free of spectacles and the chance to reduce the progression of myopia.

Optometrist and director of Earlam and Christopher, Sarah Farrant, shared that wearing contact lenses can be a defining moment for children.

“For children who feel self-conscious in their spectacles, I think contact lenses can really be transformative,” she said.

“They have been in glasses and hidden behind them all their lives, and it can be liberating to go into contact lenses,” Farrant observed.

Keeping a child’s eye view of your practice in mind can be key to ensuring that this group of wearers remain engaged during their contact lens wear journey.

OT talks with optometrists for their tips on providing a personalised contact lens journey for children.

A tailored approach

At Earlam and Christopher, Farrant’s practice team is trained to perform application and removal training. She shared that they adapt their approach to the patient who is in the chair.

Sarah Farrant
Optometrist Sarah Farrant
“If the patient is a child, then you tailor your approach to their capabilities. This flows through to the language you use, the tips that you highlight and how much you get the parents involved,” Farrant shared with OT.

Farrant highlighted that the approach will not only be informed by the patient’s age, but by their confidence and competence.

“You gauge that on an individual level and that is how you get the best for each individual patient,” she said.

It can be liberating to go into contact lenses

Sarah Farrant, optometrist and director of Earlam and Christopher

Optometrist Dr Keyur Patel shared that a positive attitude is key when fitting children with contact lenses at Tompkins, Knight & Son.

“You need to be enthusiastic and make the child enthusiastic about how contact lenses will benefit them and enhance the activities they enjoy,” he said.

He highlighted the importance of engaging with the child as well as the parent or carer.

Headshot of Keyur Patel wearing a black t-shirt
Optometrist Dr Keyur Patel
“You want to really make them feel they are part of the decision-making process, which may not happen in other elements of their healthcare,” Patel shared.

Staff who complete application and removal sessions with children will ensure that the station where they are training has a lower desk and chair that is more suited to their size. Digital resources are provided to the patient and their parents or carer to support them in contact lens wear.

Patel shared that the whole practice team needs to understand the benefits of contact lenses, including why they are important for the patient and for the business.

“Often, they can be the first point of contact and are the team members who can offer contact lenses as an option,” Patel shared.

“The whole team needs to be positive about the process and product, and this is achieved with appropriate training,” he highlighted.

The practice team can also play a role in answering any questions that the patient did not think to address with the eye care professional.

“They can help address any initial reservations, give hints and advice, but also understand when it is appropriate to ask for guidance from another member of the team,” he said.

Open conversations

Optometrist and director of Peter Ivins Eyecare, Craig McArthur, shared that transparent conversations are important when it comes to fitting children with contact lenses.

He added that parents, who can naturally be risk-averse when it comes to their children, should be presented with all the relevant information so they can make an informed choice.

“If framed properly we can highlight the fact that the risk of a complication, particularly in daily disposable lens wear, is small and that children have been shown repeatedly by studies to be as safe in contact lens wear as adults if not safer,” McArthur highlighted.

You need to be enthusiastic and make the child enthusiastic about how contact lenses will benefit them

Dr Keyur Patel, optometrist at Tompkins, Knight & Son

The message around the importance of compliance is repeated throughout the contact lens journey at Peter Ivins Eyecare.

“During our routine aftercares we share an animation about contact lens compliance to ensure the child forms good habits and sticks with them as their experience of lens wear grows,” McArthur said.

Within his practice, McArthur has observed the positive effects that contact lens wear can have on the confidence of children.

He shared that some of his most rewarding professional moments have involved fitting children with contact lenses.

“You see children smiling ear to ear. Never underestimate the positive impact that contact lens wear can have on a child,” he said.