As we age, it is normal to develop presbyopia— blurriness when doing near vision tasks like reading, using the computer, or checking your cellphone. For those who already have a prescription and wear glasses or contact lenses, it is likely that multifocal lenses will eventually be needed to keep seeing clearly at all distances.
Both contacts and glasses that are prescribed for multiple distances are a compromise, but one that works well for most people. The monovision and multifocal contact lenses of the past have garnered a bit of a bad reputation, but the quality and variety of today’s multifocal contact lenses is excellent. They can be a bit tricky to find the right prescription and take some getting used to, but the benefits and flexibility are well worth it.
Underutilizing multifocal contact lenses has more to do with lack of staff-patient communication than it has to do with the actual lens technology. Here are some tips for discussing multifocal lenses with your patients:
Probe for visual needs and record them. Be sure to recommend innovative products that meet those needs. Look for opportunities to initiate conversations about the benefits of multifocal contact lenses. There are opportunities in all presbyopic groups, including contact lens dropouts who express desire to try contacts again.
To be successful with multifocal contact lenses, you have to believe in them and recommend them. Your positivity will come across to the patient. Optometric staff have a tendency to use negative language when discussing multifocal lenses with phrases that manage patient’s expectations like compromise, trade-off, and not perfect.
Instead of talking about compromise, talk about function and flexibility. Tell your patients that it’s not going to be perfect, but communicate with them about prioritizing and adapting to their vision needs.
Talk Benefits, Technology
Patients hear about technology advances in other medical areas, and they expect it in Optometry as well. Try incorporating the process of recommending multifocals into the system. In the intake, staff asks questions about vision. (e.g., “Are you having any trouble seeing the computer?”) and notes the answer in the record. They present a near-reading card, which often highlights a patient’s struggle to see up close. The staff is trained to then suggest, “There is new technology in multifocal contact lenses that can help.”
Seize Opportunities for New Patients
A prime opportunity is with former contact lens wearers. Keep track of former wearers and communicate advancements. Proactively initiate discussions about multifocal contact lenses and their increased fits, including among former wearers.