Article

Close Up on Contacts

Ahh-Choo! Managing Allergies

close up on contacts

Ahh-Choo!

Managing Allergies

Karlen McLean, ABOC, NCLC

One out of five Americans is affected by allergies. That means patients with “allergy eyes” are in your practice looking for solutions to maintain their contact lens wear.

Here are tips from two optometrists who offer one-day lenses to help patients deal with allergies.

BE A MENTOR

“I prescribe one-day disposable lenses so patients can wear a new, deposit-free lens every day,” explains Arti Shah, OD, FAAO, Elander Eye Care in Santa Monica, Calif. “Taking patients who wear lenses with a two-week regimen to one-week wear, such as with multifocals and torics, can also help. So can peroxide disinfecting and allergy eye drops.”

Dr. Shah adds: “I ask if allergies are a bother even when glasses are worn. In that case, it may be time to refer to an allergist and for specialized eye drops. I always present the one-day disposable, single-use option. This sets me apart from the 74 percent of practitioners who don't offer this option. Twenty-five percent of my patients already wear one-day lenses.”

PROACTIVE APPROACH

“We proactively pursue allergy management by positioning allergy-based questions on our lifestyle questionnaire,” explains Chris Cooper, OD, senior managing partner at West Tennessee Eye in Memphis. “If allergies are moderate and irritants build up on the lenses, I go to a one-day disposable modality. Contact lens care solutions may also be compounding the situation, so again, single-use lenses—which require no-care solutions—are the answer.

“At all three of our locations,” adds Dr. Cooper, “everyone recommends ‘solution-free contact lenses.' This surround-sound approach helps patients understand why we're recommending single use. And the repetition helps build patient retention.” EB

SPREAD THE WORD
With studies indicating half of all contact lens patients drop out of contacts by the age of 35—typically because of discomfort issues—it's important to reach out to this group and help keep your allergy management expertise in the spotlight. A few top tips:

SOCIAL MEDIA: West Tennessee Eye uses social media to keep the practice top-of-mind with patients, consistently refreshing content, including helpful allergy information updates.

WEBSITE: In addition to featuring typical vision condition information (astigmatism, presbyopia, etc.), include an allergy section.

EMAIL: Updating patients with an “eyes and allergies” tip of the month, or every week during allergy season, may help drive appointments and contact lens replacement orders. At the very least it will be a helpful patient resource.

CONTACT: Meet with an allergist in your area to see if you can work together to build an “allergy plan” for referrals and discuss joint advertising and marketing ventures.

BROCHURE: The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's brochure, “Eye Health and Allergies,” supported by 1-DAY ACUVUE MOIST, provides information on how allergies occur, common signs and symptoms, and practical advice. To request a PDF for website use or to order a complimentary packet of 50 brochures for in-office use, email: eyeallergybrochure@rprmc.com.