Focus Series: The Unique Point of View of One OD Focused on Contact Lenses

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NEW YORK—Contact lenses continue to be one of the market’s more dynamic vision correction categories, with a range of new materials, designs and modalities that are propelling more premium product solutions for patients.

The Trenton, N.J.-based office of Michael Newman, OD, FAAO, is an eyecare practice limited to the fields of contact lens and low vision care. The practice leverages Newman’s extensive background, from his experience as an Air Force captain, a researcher, academic professor and practitioner. This Diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry Contact Lens Section provides an extensive array of choices for his patients.

 
Said Newman, “Since my practice is limited to contact lenses, my contact lens patients have remained at 100 percent of our practice revenues. Since I care for those patients as primary care also—I do refer glaucoma cases to another OD, and retina to a specialty group—those patients who become pseudophakic may not be continuing with contact lenses, although they continue in my practice for continued primary care. Also post-LASIK patients continue with me. The total number of patients and practice revenue continues to increase for us, probably due to population growth and refitting of dropouts, who are still interested in wearing contact lenses and have heard, either by advertising or word of mouth, about new contact lens modalities.”



Read all the stories in this Vision Monday/Review of Optometric Business Focus Series,
“The Long-Term Value of the Contact Lens Patient.”
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That said, Newman observed that there is high interest today in bifocal and multifocal lenses and fittings as the population ages. He also noted keen interest in hybrid lenses and many more patients intrigued by daily disposables, “especially where comfort has been an issue.” The big challenge, he said, “is keeping patients compliant. We track all patients who wear disposable lenses making sure they receive their lenses in a timely manner and do not overwear them.”

 
Newman also pointed out, “Keep in mind that refitting an existing patient will bring in revenue, however, the practice will ‘lose’ the revenue from the previously fit lenses. There might not be as big a gain from materials as expected. Also, a non-compliant patient who is overwearing lenses is a revenue loss compared to a compliant patient.”

In that regard, Newman advised, “Do not overlook the value of manufacturer’s lens rebates when dispensing a lens supply. Patients who have an annual supply are not only more compliant, but the annual supply acts as an effective recall system. We use both a recall and precall system and an annual supply trumps both.”

Newman also pointed out another value of his type of approach, noting, “For most patients and especially those ‘difficult fits’ that you solve, you can form a very long term relationship, as long as you really are an advocate for the patient’s best interests, which most ODs are.

“Obviously, if you do dispense eyewear, that is an economic plus. Other important values to the practice of contact lenses are the referrals you receive (people love to brag about how good ‘their’ eye doc is), the medical ophthalmic care you provide, dry eye treatment when necessary, the dispensing of nutraceuticals (if you do this), annual exams, additional testing that you may offer, and whatever else optometry advances into in the future.”

Newman concluded, “If you present a contact lens as a medical device and not a commodity, that will go a long way toward cementing a lasting
OD/patient relationship.”

This is the fifth and final VM article in our editorial series, a collaboration between Vision Monday and Review of Optometric Business, that explores the ways that contact lenses are contributing top and bottom line to modern optical practices. Visit VisionMonday.com to read the FOCUS series. To explore the content exclusive to Review of Optometric Business, visit www.reviewob.com and look for the Contact Lens Profitability series. ■

maxelrad@jobson.com