A national survey of ECPs reveals daily disposables and multifocal contact lenses are on the rise
Contact lens wearer preferences are changing, according to the 2019 Spring Contact Lens Preferences Survey from Baird Financial. The survey of ECPs—conducted by PentaVision to independent practitioners in a mix of retail and nonretail locations—tracked their contact lens sales, patient preferences, and fitting trends.
The results? Daily disposables (mostly silicone hydrogels) are rising in popularity (see charts), as is the use of multifocal and toric lenses. ECPs are currently fitting an average of 13.5% of their CL patients (dailies) into multifocals, with that number expected to jump to 18% in two years.
EB asked Jeff Johnson, O.D., MBA, a senior research analyst for Baird Financial covering medical technology, to lend some insight. Prior to joining Baird, Johnson was an optometrist and associate director of Refractive Surgery Services at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
WHAT TRENDS ARE SURPRISING YOU THE MOST?
JEFF JOHNSON: We tend to be surprised every six months by how consistent the demand for daily disposable lenses has been in our biennial surveys…as well as the continued penetration for daily disposable toric and multifocal lenses, which represented 17% and 8%, respectively, of all daily lens sales in our Fall 2014 survey, but 23% and 13%, respectively, of all daily sales as of our Spring 2019 survey.
WHAT IS MOTIVATING THESE TRENDS?
JJ: We believe this steady move higher in both toric and multifocal daily lens penetration speaks to improving technology from the contact lens manufacturers and increased willingness on the part of patients to pay a premium for better vision and increased convenience.
I believe technology has improved to the point that even those patients with astigmatism and/or presbyopia now have good options in daily disposable designs. Today’s patients also demand more convenience, which feeds this growing demand for dailies.
And, we’ve seen practitioners increasingly buy into the need to talk to every contact lens patient about the benefits of dailies, given better compliance from daily wearers.
HOW CAN ECPs BEST POSITION THEMSELVES TO RETAIN CONTACT LENS PATIENTS?
JJ: I feel like the more practices are willing to discuss the realities of these alternate models with patients and make a case for why their office charges a modest (but not 50%+) premium to these online discounters for contact lenses, the more successful those offices are in retaining those patients.
My sense is those practitioners who fully admit to themselves that times are changing and are proactively changing their fee structure to get more in line with the reality of today’s world will ultimately be rewarded with better customer/contact lens retention.
WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR EXISTING SOFT CONTACT LENS WEARER BASE WEARS THE FOLLOWING LENSES?
1-2 YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR EXISTING SOFT CONTACT LENS WEARER BASE WILL BE WEARING THE FOLLOWING LENSES?