Why Choosing The Right Contact Lens Starts With Identifying Patient Need - Part I

Nov 25, 2016
7 min read

This is a sponsored post by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., a supporter of NewGradOptometry & new graduate optometrists!

As all practitioners know, there is no single contact lens to meet the needs of every patient.

Patients have different lifestyles and different ocular physiology that influence what we as clinicians prescribe.

Many times, I find myself faced with the question:

What contact lens should I prescribe for this patient?

The answer to that question depends drastically on understanding several things about your patient:

  • How they wear their contact lenses.
  • What environments they are immersed in.
  • What is their occupation or what hobbies do they engage in.
  • What are the shortcomings of their current contact lenses.
  • What they hope to achieve from contact lens wear.

How can you determine patient need?

Understanding the needs of your patient all depends on communication. I always ask patients the following questions:

  1. How often do you wear your contact lenses?
  2. Can you wear them all day long without feelings of discomfort or tired feeling eyes?
  3. Do you suffer from allergies?
  4. When do you wear your contact lenses?
  5. What kind of work do you do?
  6. What do the lenses feel like when you first put them on? After 4 hours of wear? After 8 hours of wear?
  7. Do you ever sleep in your contact lenses?
  8. Do you ever wear glasses at all?
  9. How comfortable are your current contact lenses? Do you really like them?

By asking these questions, I get a better understanding as to what kind of contact lens wearer my patient is and whether or not his/her needs are being met adequately, or what type of contact lens I would recommend for someone considering contact lens wear.

These questions also help me determine what kind of lens might not only meet, but exceed the expectations of my patient whether an existing or new wearer.

If I know my patient does not own a pair of glasses, I already begin to surmise that he or she is likely wearing their lenses very intensely all day and maybe even all night long.

If my patient suffers from seasonal allergies, has sensitive feeling eyes, and works in dusty environments, I immediately begin to think about choosing or recommending the right daily disposable lens.

If there are current issues with my patient's current contact lenses, then I ask very detailed questions to pinpoint where and how they are failing.

This is only one component of understanding and determining patient need. The other depends largely on clinical findings and ocular physiology needs.

Clinical findings are equally as critical in choosing the best contact lens for a patient.

Close inspection of the ocular surface is warranted before placing any contact lens on the eye.

Does my patient have signs of allergic conjunctivitis? Are there any signs of dry eye syndrome or ocular surface disease? Does my patient have scaring from previous infection? Are there current signs of contact lens abuse or overwear?

Only after I've answered these questions, do I carefully communicate to my patient what I believe to be his or her specific need and current obstacles to having the best overall contact lens wearing experience.

In summary, need depends on two main factors: lifestyle need and ocular physiology need.

What has research shown to be the most common areas of patient need?

Research was conducted to investigate the top areas of patient need.

This research:

  • involved 3 in-depth studies conducted from 2011 -2015
  • included over 15,000 contact lens wearers
  • spanned over 7 countries

Summary of Research:

Research and insight studies suggest the following conclusions:

  • contact lens wearers desire common needs
  • patients can be differentiated by the importance they place on certain need
  • contact lens usage can be impacted if needs are not being met
  • based on lifestyle and ocular physiology, four large segments of differentiated predominant patient needs exist

Segmentation of key and different patient need can be classified accordingly:

  1. Eyes with Sensitivity – patients who feel their eyes are prone to allergies, irritation, or other sensitivities.
  2. Challenging Environments – patients working in intense environments that may compromise comfort and challenge their eyes and ocular surface such as heavy digital screen use.
  3. Maximized Wear – patients who want to get the most out of their lenses and have a comfortable wearing experience for long days of wear or over and throughout the month.
  4. Eye Enhancement – patients who desire to enhance the appearance of their eyes in a natural-looking way without compromising health or comfort.

Choosing a lens to meet and exceed patient need and expectations.

To provide the best contact lens wearing experience, it is important to select a lens you believe may perform the best for your patient based upon identifying their needs, and examining and understanding the needs of their ocular physiology.

Communication throughout this process is vital. Talk to your patient, make sure that they know identifying their needs is a top priority of yours.

What is the fall out of failing to meet expectations?

Failure to provide the best contact lens wearing experience can have significant ramifications for your practice, your patient, and your business.

If you fail to identify and meet the needs of your patients, they may begin to lose confidence in you as their eyecare provider, especially if they find a different eyecare provider that can meet and exceed expectations. This can decrease loyalty, and result in patients leaving your practice.

Once patients begin to leave your practice, you also begin to lose word-of-mouth referrals, further threatening practice growth.

These things combined inherently can negatively affect your business.

Even more importantly, a negative contact lens wearing experience may lead to patients seeking compensating behaviors, or contact lens drop out all together.

Important Safety Information:

ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses are indicated for vision correction. As with any contact lens, eye problems, including corneal ulcers, can develop. Some wearers may experience mild irritation, itching or discomfort. Lenses should not be prescribed if patients have any eye infection, or experience eye discomfort, excessive tearing, vision changes, redness or other eye problems. Consult the package insert for complete information, available from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. by calling 1-800-843-2020 or by visiting www.acuvueprofessional.com.

†Helps protect against transmission of harmful UV radiation to the cornea and into the eye.

*WARNING: UV-absorbing contact lenses are NOT substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area. You should continue to use UV-absorbing eyewear as directed. NOTE: Long-term exposure to UV radiation is one of the risk factors associated with cataracts. Exposure is based on a number of factors such as environmental conditions (altitude, geography, cloud cover) and personal factors (extent and nature of outdoor activities). UV-blocking contact lenses help provide protection against harmful UV radiation. However, clinical studies have not been done to demonstrate that wearing UV-blocking contact lenses reduces the risk of developing cataracts or other eye disorders. Consult your eye care practitioner for more information.


  1. 2015 Global Consumer Survey, N = 3,232 consumers 16 - 45 yrs old USA, UK, Russia, CN, Korea, & Japan. Base size varies: Data represents those CL wearers not completely satisfied with need. Understanding how wear time/dropout is affected by not meeting patient needs ; Predominant needs refer to the top 10 self-selected needs.
About Antonio Chirumbolo, OD

Antonio works in Client Marketing at CovalentCareers. His passions are everything and anything digital media.

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