- Kelly Kerksick, OD
Doctors who are successful at upgrading patients into multifocal lenses will say the key to their success is how they, along with their staff, communicate and position the upgrade to their patients.
I make my recommendation for multifocal contact lenses upon completion of the examination. I always like to validate my recommendation with an example of why it will be better for the patient. For instance, patients who have been wearing monovision really get excited to learn that there are technologies available that will allow them to see clearly with not just one eye, but with both eyes in the distance and up close. One of the points that I like to mention is that multifocals provide the patient with a much more natural way of seeing. Even though many monovision wearers claim that they are satisfied with their vision, I have never encountered a monovision wearer that didn't want to at least try multifocal lenses and see for themselves.
Other key talking points include less adaptation and more flexibility with multifocal contact lenses versus traditional spectacles. With regard to lens adaptation, many patients are concerned that a multifocal contact lens requires a lot of adaptation like traditional spectacles. Another concern from patients surfaces when patients have had a negative experience with progressive bifocals. Patients are always delighted to hear that they don't have to find the "sweet spot" in the bifocal portion of the multifocal contact lens. The ease of adaptation is a key factor that motivates patients into trying this new technology.
Unlike traditional spectacles, multifocal contact lenses also offer the patient clear vision over the top of their head in addition to down below their eye level. This is a great opportunity to tap into the flexibility of the multifocal technology and mention to the patient specific examples of when they may need clear vision up close, over the top of their head. Such examples include hanging Christmas tree decorations, hanging draperies, or painting. It is also beneficial to mention this specifically to individuals who may have occupations requiring clear vision up over the top of their head at near such as pilots or electricians.
Not all patients are keen on trying something new. It has been my experience that the most common reason for reluctance in trying contact lenses is the fear of inserting and removing the contact lens. For these individuals, I find it helpful to stress the benefits of the silicone hydrogel material and mention the improved durability and flexibility of the lens material. Patients find comfort knowing that the lens material is stronger and more durable than its predecessors. The new material really does make a big difference in decreasing the likelihood of tearing lenses. It has been my experience that new wearers and men (who typically are less comfortable touching their eye) do extremely well with the silicone hydrogel material.