The contact lens patient knows best

There I was, Friday afternoon, reflecting on a week comprising of mainly routine refractions but with the few interesting cases that kept my brain active. However, one area of clinical practice that I had observed during the week worried me:

Contact lens wearers seem to know best!

Imagine my disbelief when on asking to remove their contact lenses during a contact lens check, two thirds of my patients just “pulled” them out without washing their hands. A small point, I know, but if this is happening, then is the patient really keeping to the advised wearing times? Are they really not sleeping in their conventional hydrogel lenses?

Is it poor communication on my part that causes this?

I asked one of the patients (a contact lens trial) after he had committed the aforesaid crime, “When we saw you last week, did we go through care and handling of your soft lenses; how to rub and rinse the lenses when cleaning; the importance of washing and drying your hands before you touch the lenses and your eye, and how not to go near tap water with the lenses?

The reply – “Oh yes you did all that.”

My next patient had the option to wash their hands. “Could you take your lenses out for me, there’s a sink with soap over there if you want to wash your hands and I have a case and solution in case you have forgotten your own?”

“Oh no, I’ve got a case in here somewhere” was the reply as the patient went furrowing through her Mary Poppins handbag and pulled out a grubby contact lens case into which she put the lenses without washing her hands.

Here I am, trying to keep eyes healthy, but sometimes it feels like an uphill battle, when hearing comments like “Young man, I’ve not had an eye infection in 20 years of lens wear.” But I am sure I would be the first to know if she did have an infection,

The final patient of the week restored my faith in the public. A young lapsed wearer asked for a case as she forgot hers and whilst I found her one, washed her hands and dried them. As I was writing my notes, thinking at least one person follows our advice, she pointed to a poster on my wall of contact lens complications due to dirty lenses, asking “Is that what happens if you over wear the lenses?… Yuk!”

We all have times when we don’t follow advice or best practice. We cannot force our patients to comply, but we can, using different communication styles, reinforce key points and ideas to benefit everyone.

Our days are happiest when instructions are followed; just speak to a lens solution manufacturer!

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