Why aren’t you fitting patients into multifocal contacts?

With the increasing amount of presbyopes each year, we as optometrists have a great opportunity to help patients meet their needs of vision correction. We know multifocal contact lenses exist – some OD’s fit virtually none while others have a huge population of wearers. Many other OD’s fit in between the two spectrums. I was actually surprised to find out from one of my contact lens representatives that there are only about 7,000 practitioners in the U.S. who fit more than one patient per month with soft multifocal lenses.

Are patients interested in multifocal contacts?

A good way to gauge patient interest is to have a patient fill out a questionnaire during their comprehensive exam. It can have questions such as:

  • Do you wish to reduce dependency on your reading glasses?
  • Would you be interested in contact lenses today?
  • Would you be interested in a contact lens that can help you see distance, intermediate, and near?

If you do not choose to use a questionnaire, you can always ask the patient in the exam room the same questions. Many patients do not even know multifocal contact lenses exist! It is our duty to inform patients of all their options and help them make an appropriate choice for vision correction. You would be surprised at how many patients are interested in this new technology.

I always tell patients, “The vision may not be perfect, but it does give you the ability to see all distances. It can reduce your dependency on reading glasses too, but you still might need them for situations like the end of the day when your eyes are tired or when reading fine print.” I always like to outline real life expectations so the patient can decide whether or not they want to try a multifocal.

Follow up care is important!

Make sure to see the patient back about 1-2 weeks after the lens dispense to ensure neuroadaptation of the lenses. If they have complaints about distance or near vision, follow the fitting guide to make the appropriate changes. Also ask them, “are there any tasks you are able to do without glasses now that you were not able to do before?” Sometimes when patients are able to point out the areas they are happy, it helps encourage them.

Limit the amount of follow up care. If you can’t get the patient happy within 3-4 visits, even when making the appropriate adjustments to the lens, it may be time to pull the plug. I say something like, “We have made all the changes we can to these multifocal lenses. If you are happy with your vision, I can finalize this prescription. If not, we can go back to your old contact lenses. Which would you prefer?” Sometimes the pickiest patient will still opt for the multifocal because they enjoy the freedom they have without glasses.