What you say versus what they hear: Talking contact lenses
Three, five—even seven times a charm?
Regardless of the number, conventional wisdom says people must hear a message multiple times before they act on it, and that’s particularly poignant for doctors of optometry with often an annual chance to share critical, healthy contact lens information.
In fact, as much as 80% of the medical information patients are told during office visits can be immediately forgotten with an inverse relationship between the amount of information shared versus correctly retained, one study suggests. Despite the observed deficit, it isn’t an anomaly unique to eye care, but it does put weight on the importance of doctor-patient chair time and the need to deliver an effective message.
“We as a profession need to take the opportunity to gently educate our patients on the risks contact lenses can present if not worn properly, while also balancing our message to the tremendous benefit they can have on quality of life,” Paul Velting, O.D., AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) past chair, shared with AOA Focus magazine.
“Educating our contact lens patients on this topic can take time, but just like educating on risks of disease, can pay dividends for their eye health down the road.
Over 45 million Americans wear contact lenses, a safe, effective vision correction option when worn and cared for properly. But therein lies the rub: poor-fitting or improperly used contact lenses can result in serious eye and vision harm. And by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) estimate, 99% of contact lens wearers report at least one risky behavior for contact lens-related eye infection.
To support doctor-patient conversations about contact lenses, the AOA offers a resource for optometrists and their contact lens fitting teams that emphasizes the “teach-back” method. Essentially a technique that asks patients and families to reiterate in their own words what the health care provider shared, the method ensures patients understand the core takeaways and can allow for intervention should a misunderstanding occur.
But bolstering opportunities for healthy contact lens wear and care beyond the patient visit is what the CDC and partnering organizations, such as the AOA, aim to achieve with this week’s health observance, Contact Lens Health Week. Observed every third full week of August, Contact Lens Health Week encourages increased awareness of appropriate contact lens hygiene and healthy habits that reduce contact lens wearers’ risk of getting an eye infection. The messaging covers:
- Healthy contact lens wear and care hygiene practices.
- Risks associated with improper contact lens use.
- Regular visits to an eye care provider.
Optometry practices are encouraged to get involved this week and share their own message of healthy contact lens wear and care.
Practice resources for CDC’s Contact Lens Health Week, Aug. 21-25
The CDC provides a resource library to help promote healthy contact lens wear and care not only during Contact Lens Health Week but also throughout the year. These tools and materials can help eye care professionals get ideas for their own promotion and outreach during the health observance week or can be leveraged directly with several resources, including:
In addition to CDC resources, the AOA also offers public education and awareness resources for contact lens wear and care, including:
- Healthy contact lens habits video
- Disposing of Contact Lenses Properly fact sheet
- Talking to Patients About Forever Chemicals
- Contact Lens Wear and Care pamphlets (in English and Spanish) in AOA Marketplace
Access the AOA’s Educate Your Community webpage for a calendar of upcoming health observances, as well as educational and promotional materials, including customizable news releases, social media posts, infographics and other tools to educate your patients and the public.
Learn more about the AOA’s contact lens advocacy and see how you can take action to prevent illegal contact lens sales.
Some doctors of optometry may see an increase in patients seeking care during the summer months, whether they’re playing sports or battling dry air conditions. Be prepared to share your expertise.