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    Patient awareness: Assumptions, expectations, and reality

    You, too, may be surprised by how little the Average Joe understands about lens care

    After writing about lens care for more than two years, I wondered if my well had run dry. So this morning while on a flight, I perused PubMed and waited patiently for a new idea. When it didn’t come, I decided to turn to the guy next to me in 1A for a fresh perspective.

    We often retweet large studies about how poorly patients comply with their lens routines. So, I thought I would find out firsthand through casual conversation what the typical consumer has to say. My motivation is this: many of us may read about noncompliance but are tempted to resist its high prevalence in our own practices because of the education level, status, or personality of our patients and how we assume they behave. Or, at the very least, we buy into the stereotypes and presume we know who’s behaving and who’s not.

    Recent news: 3 poor hygiene habits linked to contact lens case contamination

    Before we talk about patients being noncompliant, let’s take a step back to look at patient awareness. To do what’s right, you have to first know what’s right. How aware are patients of what lenses they wear and how to wear them, or what solutions they use and how to use it? 

    The hands-off wearer  

    My first target, in 1A, is a male in his early 50s and a national account manager for a company that sells suspension systems. He was on a business call before take off, but then he buried himself in a novel the entire flight. And though he is a frequent traveler, he took the 7:20 a.m. instead of the 9:30 a.m. to allow extra connection time. What does this tell us about him? 


    He’s a very successful professional, so we assume he’s meticulous on some level and knows how to follow a plan. He uses his time efficiently but understands the value of balance. And he’s a planner, willing to invest extra time to prevent being rushed or stressed. 


    He knows the brands he uses and knows how to use them. He sometimes cuts corners but still feels like he’s in control and doing the right thing, more or less.

    Related: Embracing new contact lens technology


    Contact lens brand: “I’m not sure.” Solution: “I don't know what I bought last.” He told me he wears his lenses one or two times per week and throws them away every five to six weeks, but he was pretty sure it’s a monthly lens. And his response to the final question, “Do you rub your lenses?” was, “Ummm, I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I try to touch them as little as possible!”

    Patient perception

    The lens will be cleaner the less it is touched.

    Next: The strategic late replacer

    Crystal M. Brimer, OD, FAAO
    Dr. Brimer is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Southern College of Optometry. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and ...


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