New Research Reveals Significant Gaps in Consumer Contact Lenses Knowledge

Contact lenses on surface

New research commissioned by the Contact Lens Institute (CLI) reveals that U.S. eye care practitioners are missing an opportunity to talk about contact lens options with two out of three patients, among other eye-popping findings. The nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. adults who require vision correction is part of the organization’s See Tomorrow initiative, which is designed to help practices understand and thrive as consumer beliefs and behaviors evolve.

Tomorrow, four leading optometrists—all 2022 CLI Visionaries—will discuss the new data, divulge additional findings, make peer recommendations, and take questions during two online learning events. Revealed! New Consumer Data Shows What’s Holding Back Your Contact Lens Practice will be offered as live webinars at 6 pm EST and 9 pm EST. Free registration is available for the earlier session at https://bit.ly/Revealed-EastCoast and the later session at https://bit.ly/Revealed-WestCoast.

“Consumers don’t know as much about contact lenses as the eye care community may assume. We found both troubling misinformation and a startling lack of information—areas that can be directly and effectively addressed by prescribers and staff. Incorporating these into conversation during an exam, which requires only seconds of additional time, presents a massive opportunity to increase patient knowledge, trust, and satisfaction, as well as grow their practice,” said Stan Rogaski, executive director for the Contact Lens Institute.

Educating the Uninformed

When asked about their two most recent practice visits, only a fraction of adults remembered contact lenses being discussed as an occasional alternative for glasses (11%), a replacement for glasses (8%) or to replace reading glasses (4%). Despite widespread attention about the issue in the past two years, just 6% recall their practitioner having talked about contact lenses to eliminate fogging. And a meager 7% remembered being told about new advancements in contact lenses. 66% stated that none of these opportunities were raised.

About one in two Americans aren’t necessarily aware that contact lenses can be different from each other—a recipe for unadvisable switching. Nearly half aren’t sure if all contact lens brands are essentially the same (44%) or if it’s ok to swap their prescribed brand for another (47%). Another 57% aren’t sure if all contact lenses are made from the same type of plastic and 46% don’t know if they all use the same general design.

Reaching the Misinformed

Misinformation may affect consumer contact lens purchasing decisions, placing their eye health and vision at risk. False beliefs may lead to patient-initiated brand swaps, as approximately one in five adults definitively stated that contact lens brands are interchangeable. The CLI research also showed that about three out of five adults may not check with their eye doctor before switching brands.

Urban legends can also be an issue, with about one in two adults who require vision correction believing myths that may prevent them from wearing contact lenses. This includes 10% who stated that contact lenses are dangerous. Another 11% believe contact lenses can permanently stick to the eye and 14% think contact lenses can get lost behind the eye.

Good News: Patients Turn to Their Doctor

The doctor-patient relationship is essential to healthy contact lens wear and a healthy contact lens practice. The CLI findings show that nearly seven out of 10 (68%) of people turn to their eye doctor for contact lens information.

Practitioners can strengthen connections by being a source for eye health facts, directly with patients and through supplemental means. Approximately three in five adults (60%) also seek out alternative information sources for contact lens wear—including friends and online searches. People ages 18-34 are three times more likely to rely on social media for information about contact lens wear versus the total population, highlighting why a social presence is more crucial than ever for practices.

Top ODs Offer Insights in Revealed! Webinars

Contact Lens Institute Board Members Charissa Lee, OD, MBA, FAAO and Rick Weisbarth, OD, FAAO will moderate the May 3rd live discussion. The panelists represent a broad spectrum of practice types, specialties, and experiences, which will allow a conversation to be valuable to any eye care practitioner that fits contact lenses. They include:

  • Klaus Ito, OD, who is the ocular disease and cornea and contact lens resident at the University of Virginia Department of Ophthalmology where he treats a wide array of anterior segment conditions, including corneal ectasia, corneal scarring and ocular surface disease with various types contact lenses.
  • Essence Johnson, OD, FAAO, who is an “HBCU made,” residency trained specialist in ocular disease. Dr. Johnson graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. She serves as a mentor, preceptor, facilitator and speaker, inspiring girls and women in every phase of education to visualize their goals and reach their potential.
  • Elise Kramer, OD, FAAO, FBCLA, FSLES, who practices at Miami Contact Lens Institute, specializes in ocular surface disease and specialty contact lenses. She earned her doctorate from the Université de Montréal and completed her residency at the Miami VA Medical Center, including training at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
  • Jennifer Lyerly, OD, who practices at TrueVision Eye Care in Raleigh, North Carolina where she specializes in contact lenses and myopia management. She’s the co-founder of Defocus Media, the optometry livestream and podcast platform and author of Eyedolatry, an educational blog that focuses on patient communication.

“Everyone exposed to our new data has expressed surprise—not only in how little consumers know about contact lenses but also in how much progress the eye care community could make with only a few simple and quick adjustments to patient conversations. We are excited by the potential this research holds, once it’s understood and embraced by practitioners,” said Rogaski.

The Contact Lens Institute advances the latest innovations in safe and effective contact lens and lens care products and services that provide unique benefits to patients while satisfying the evolving needs of eye care professionals. CLI undertakes activities that properly assess, enhance, promote, and balance contact lens and lens care industry welfare and growth, including the safe use of products in the marketplace. Its members include Alcon, Bausch + Lomb, CooperVision, and Johnson & Johnson Vision. For more information, visit contactlensinstitute.org.

 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1,214 adults, 959 of whom require vision correction. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th and 9th of March 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US vison corrected adults (aged 18+) unless otherwise stated.

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