No7 Contact Lenses launches student education website
The new website provides education and information on fitting gas permeable lenses. OT spoke to Ian Sexton to find out more
04 March 2022
The site features product information and educational video courses presented by industry experts.
No7 professional services manager, Ian Sexton, said the website “aims to help students through their educational and professional development, by providing them with the most recent and relevant information around gas permeable lenses.”
The website, which launches this month, is free to access. Students will be able to register online to receive login details via email.
“The primary aim of this site is to help students gain the critical skills needed to become fully rounded eye care practitioners. But it’s also more than that,” Sexton said. “We believe that specialist lenses are a modern, dynamic area of optometry. So we hope that for many students, this site could be the spark that lights a career in specialist contact lenses for years to come.”
OT heard from Sexton about the key goals of the new website, addressing misconceptions of corneal gas permeable lenses (GPs) and engaging optometrists in specialist contact lenses.
What led No7 Contact Lenses to launch the new website?We had great success with the irregular cornea specialist website that we launched last year, and it identified an area for us that perhaps newly-qualified practitioners and pre-registration students were struggling with, in rigid gas permeable lens fitting. When they had their visits in practice, some found they were not confident and would like to know more.
We decided to create a website that will take the practitioner from start to finish in terms of how to assess the patient for a corneal GP, what measurements to take, how to assess that lens on the eye, what it looks like, and what to do if it doesn’t look as expected.
I know for some practitioners, and having spoken to a lot of students, they are wary of corneal GP lenses. That will be the appointment in the diary where they think: “Oh my gosh, what do I do with this patient?” We’re trying to familiarise them with how easy it is now using the empirically fitting model that we and other manufacturers tend to use.
Are there any key topics, or misconceptions, around RGP lenses that the site seeks to address?
Generally the student experience of corneal GPs is, on the whole, fairly poor. They remember back to second year when they were putting corneal GPs into each other's eyes and how ghastly it was. Then they may have to repeat that in the third year, so their own personal experience of corneal GPs is not great.
That makes it very easy to extrapolate that to the patients, because in a discussion, they might say: “Well, you can have these lenses, but they can be uncomfortable and they take a long time to get used to.” Why would any patient want uncomfortable lenses?
Soft lenses aren't always a solution to every patient's needs. There are some instances – not only for irregular corneas – but for some average patients coming into the practice, where corneal GPs will be the best option. The website aims to help them understand why that is and how they can then look for those patients within their own clinics.
What does that ultimately mean for patients?
The dropout in soft contact lenses is still quite high. Often it's because either the vision is not crisp enough, or the end of day comfort is not great. We know that RGPs will outperform most soft lenses in terms of visual achievement. Because of the non-porous nature of the lens material, end of day comfort is much less of an issue once adaptation has occurred. We’re trying to get across the point that while they may be slightly uncomfortable in the beginning, in the long-term, patients are happier to stay in the lenses for longer and all the benefits are very real for corneal GPs.
Will the website be an evolving platform?
We hope to introduce an aftercare section by the end of April or early May. I do want it to be evolving, just to create discussion around the topic. We may even create a blog or a question and answer section as well, for practitioners to be able to jump in and ask questions, as we've done with the specialist website previously.
Who else will benefit from the new website?
The website isn’t solely for students and pre-registration optometrists. We feel it will also benefit practitioners who have perhaps been away from the profession for a number of years, and might be a bit wary about coming back to contact lens work again. Or for practitioners who have not fitted corneal GPs for years and then move to a practice where they have a larger corneal GP patient base and they need a refresher of that knowledge.
Igniting interest in specialist lenses
No7 Contact Lenses highlighted the opportunity to spark professional interest in specialist contact lenses. What proportion of optometrists do you see fitting specialist contact lenses currently?It is an opportunity. I think, certainly in some NHS trusts, the devolution of care from hospitals out into the practice means that a lot more optometrists may be in the position where they're seeing specialist lenses for irregular corneas. So I think having an understanding of how standard lenses works will be very useful in terms of looking at the irregular work that they may come across.
We get a lot of training requests from optometrists who have moved to a practice that does specialist lenses and want help understanding how to fit them, and that seems to be occurring slightly more now. It makes professional life more interesting if you've got some slightly different things coming through the door.