With any patients who need help with accommodation, there’s really no reason not to start them with a multifocal soft contact lens, says Stephanie Lyons, OD, of Lyons Family Eye Care in Chicago, Illinois. “We have a practice that has a heavy pediatrics specialty, and in terms of contact lens trends, we are seeing both more daily disposable contact lenses and more advanced technologies. This can include contact lenses for myopia management and also multifocal contact lenses that help increase the young patients’ comfort,” she says.
Another trend that is distinctly related to the COVID-19 pandemic is the surging interest in contact lenses from patients of all ages who are wearing masks and are frustrated by the continuous fogging on their eyeglasses.
Fitting young patients with multifocal contact lenses as necessary is a good idea for a few reasons, she says. “Whether I’m dealing with an emerging presbyope or a younger patient with accommodative errors, many patients don’t do well with reading glasses.” They’re a nuisance to keep track of, and they fog up for mask-wearers. “It’s easier to adapt to multifocal contact lenses earlier, so I’d rather start patients sooner than later with multifocals,” she says.
She often prescribes NaturalVue (etafilcon A) Multifocal 1 Day Contact Lenses from Visioneering Technologies Inc. (VTI). “I’ve been using NaturalVue lenses since they were introduced. My patients don’t report any issues with comfort, and they like the full range of vision,” she says.
The lenses are easy for her to fit – and even more importantly for first-time wearers of any age, they’re easy to handle. “Some daily disposable lenses can be slippery or hard to handle, but NaturalVue handles very well. Even first-time contact lens wearers can be successful with insertion and removal quite quickly.”
RELIEF FROM FATIGUE
Emerging presbyopes come up with all kinds of behaviors to offset their decreasing accommodation, and digital devices have made some of those strategies easier. “They hold reading materials further away, they increase the font size or magnification on their screens and they enhance the lighting. They may not need to rely on readers for as much,” she says. Still, it’s a good idea to introduce the idea of accommodative fatigue and what she can do for them. “For people nowadays, convenience is so important.” Many will want to know that there’s a comfortable lens that will improve their visual comfort and also be comfortable and convenient to wear.
Younger wearers often adapt very quickly to multifocal soft contact lenses. “It doesn’t take long to adapt to any peripheral blur, if they experience it. First-time contact lens wearers don’t have anything to compare it to,” she says. “So If I find a patient who could benefit from a multifocal right now or in the very near future, I’ll suggest this lens.”
The center distance design provides superior vision and decreases the time to adapt, she says. With the aging population and the increase in digital device usage and accompany accommodative fatigue, multifocal contact lens fitting is “definitely a growth area. Any specialty services in optometry can be an important source for revenue and avenue of distinction. I attribute a lot of the growth we’ve seen to specialty services including specialty contact lenses, pediatric care and vision therapy.”
Dr. Lyons opened her first practice in 2011 and opened a second in 2019, just ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. She initially worried that her second location might draw patients from the original location, but with the pandemic protocols of having fewer people in the building, “the extra location has been a blessing. We split up our staff between the two locations; if there’s exposure in one team, we can operate the other office,” she says. Also patients can choose where they want to go, and this option has introduced the new location to many more people. “It has built up more quickly than I first anticipated,” she says.
Disclaimer: Dr. Lyons was compensated for her time in preparing this article.
Disclaimer: This information may describe uses for multifocal contact lenses that have not been approved or cleared by the FDA for use in the United States.