A: In my practice, the majority of our patients are being fit with single use lenses. The reason is that it boils down to compliance. The compliance rate for traditional 2-week replacement lenses, depending on the study, is somewhere in the 35-40% range; it jumps up to about 70% for a monthly lens; and it’s about 92-95% for a single use lens. So based on that data alone, I strongly advocate putting people in single use lenses.
Q: What is a single use lens?
A: The FDA classifies soft contact lenses based on their replacement schedule, using a classification called “planned replacement” for what the average patient would call a disposable lens. This is because you plan on replacing a lens before a complication occurs. A single use lens refers to just that. You wear daily disposable contact lenses for a single use and start with a fresh pair the next day. This is the only category where you actually get a fresh, sterile lens every single time.
Q: What are the benefits of daily disposable contacts?
A: I think the benefits are obvious but the one of the biggest advantages is comfort. When I ask patients, “When do you find your lenses to be the most comfortable: On day 1 or on day 30?” Of course they’ll always say, “Day 1.” Why wouldn’t you want that same comfort every day?
Of course, dailies are more convenient too, because you don’t have to worry about cleaning or storing your contacts at the end of the day.
The last advantage is health. Since our office shifted to promoting single use contact lenses, we have seen a dramatic decrease in contact lens related red eye or infection visits, compared to 15-20 years ago when that type of red eye visit was a common occurrence. We used to see patients coming in to the office for contact lens related complications/infections almost on a daily basis. Now that we’ve put about 60% of our patients into the single use lenses, I very rarely see a red eye visit, or a contact lens complication.
Everybody, of course, in this day and age, is concerned with cost. However, since you don’t need contact lens solutions, the total cost of wearing daily lenses can actually be less than using other modalities. So, for the same cost, would you rather have 12 pairs of lenses to last you a year, or would you rather have 365? With the comfort and convenience that comes along with that, it really is a no-brainer.
Q: What type of feedback do you hear from those patients who have switched to daily contacts?
A: Those patients who are now using single use lenses are extremely happy with them and are some of our most satisfied patients. In fact, once a patient has started using daily disposable contacts, if we ask, “Would you like to go back in to those lenses that you have to clean and take care of and only get one pair per month?” they look at me like I’m crazy. They would never want to go back to anything other than the single use lens.