Patients need reminding about contact lens care
medwireNews: Researchers have identified factors that are associated with contact lens wear and care and which predict patients' compliance with the manufacturers' recommended replacement frequency (MRRF).
Writing in Optometry and Vision Science, they suggest that encouraging patients to purchase an annual supply of lenses might result in better compliance with lens replacement and more frequent attendance for eye examinations.
"[T]hese factors can only enhance compliance of their contact lens patients, with the overall aim of helping patients to have a better lens-wearing experience and retaining successful contact lens wearers in their offices," write Kathy Dumbleton (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) and colleagues.
The team conducted a questionnaire survey of 2147 patients and their practitioners in 141 eye-care offices in the USA. Lenses worn by patients included spherical silicone hydrogel (SiHy; 63.5%), toric SiHy (20.5%), daily disposables (9.0%), and multifocal SiHy (7.0%).
Seventy percent of patients purchased their contact lenses from their eye-care practitioner, 43% purchased the recommended amount for a 1-year supply, and 75% reported wearing their lenses every day, with an average daily wearing time of 14.3 hours.
Despite practitioners universally recommending that patients attend annually for a full eye examination, the actual mean interval between examinations was 16 months. Factors that predicted a shorter interval included female gender, higher household income, health insurance cover, and buying lenses from the eye care practitioners.
Additionally, some patients reported wearing their lenses for longer than the MRRF. For instance, wearers of 2-week replacement lenses were significantly less compliant (34%) with the MRRF than wearers of daily disposables (74%) and 1-month replacement lenses (67%).
Also, patients who bought an annual supply were more compliant than those who bought less than this (55 vs 45%).
Reasons given by patients for wearing their lenses for longer than the MRRF included having forgotten to buy or reorder lenses, wanting to save money, believing that wearing them for longer was not harmful, and that their practitioner had said it was okay.
"The findings from this study support the concept that practitioners need to continually remind patients about the importance of replacing their lenses on a regular basis and that cases must be cleaned and replaced regularly, if they are to maintain optimum and safe performance with their lenses," Dumbleton and co-authors suggest.
"Eye care practitioners may be able to improve patient compliance with lens replacement by encouraging their patients to purchase an annual supply of lenses. This may, in turn, result in shorter intervals between eye examinations."
By Joanna Lyford, Senior medwireNews Reporter