Jennifer A. Dattolo, OD, FCOVD, president-elect of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, is all about getting kids into contact lenses. Being able to put them into daily disposables is an important step in her Woodstock, Georgia, practice.
“Daily disposable lenses are a much bigger part of the contact lens industry today, and a much bigger part of my practice. Ten years ago, maybe 20 percent to 25 percent of the contact lens sales where I worked were daily disposables; now, in my three-year-old practice, it’s 60 percent and growing,” she says.
Not only is it a healthy modality, it’s ideal for kids and athletes, two categories of patients that comprise a large portion of her patient base, which includes vision therapy along with primary care optometry.
Having options for multifocal daily disposable lenses is going to help her increase her numbers and her patients’ satisfaction. “I use the NaturalVue® multifocal because it comes in 0.25D steps, all the way to -12.25D. With other contact lenses, once you go beyond -6.00D, there are only 0.50D steps. So the doctor has to decide whether to overcorrect or undercorrect by 0.25D,” she says. She appreciates not having to make that calculation here, she says. “My patients can get the best vision.”
Name recognition not a factor
While most of her patients have not heard the NaturalVue name before, that’s not a hindrance, she says. “It’s all in how you present the contact lenses. This lens is very comfortable because of the design of the lens. Plus the price point sets it as one of the less expensive daily contact lenses. We can offer this to patients at a lower cost and reinforce that it’s a high-quality lens.”
It’s effective, and that’s what counts. “I tell patients that I’ve found that distance vision with this lens design is sharp. Once patients put the lenses on and discover how well they can see, whether they know of the brand or not doesn’t really matter,” she says. There’s some regional pride, too. Visioneering Technologies, the NaturalVue manufacturer, is in Alpharetta, Georgia, quite nearby. “People like knowing that it’s a local company with a national reputation.”
The first patient that Dr. Dattolo fit with this lens nearly four years ago was a 15-year-old baseball player. She had seen him about five years earlier for convergence insufficiency. Vision therapy helped, but the convergence insufficiency returned and the young patient was experiencing some blur in the distance. The result was that he couldn’t catch the baseball. “I couldn’t correct him to 20/40 at near, no matter what,” she recalls. Since all his after-school and weekend hours were dedicated to baseball, vision therapy was not an immediate option. “I said, ‘Then we need to try this multifocal and see what happens.’” She recalls selecting this new lens because she wanted him in a daily disposable lens and he needed a multifocal. She was intrigued by the distance-center design. “Within five minutes of the lens being on his eye, he was reading 20/20 at near with no struggle. His mother was so shocked at the ease with which he was reading, because it had always been a struggle for him.” Dr. Dattolo says that his baseball skills have improved as have his binocular skills.
Her successes with these lenses have been dramatic enough that she has expanded her pool of candidates to try them. “There is no toric design yet, but I have successfully fit patients with up to 2.00D of astigmatism,” she says. Plus the assessment is quick. “The multifocal needs about 10 minutes to settle. Most patients say that the near vision is good immediately, but she also wants them to walk around and look outside.
One note of experience: use the fitting guide, she says. “I failed at first because I made assumptions about fitting this lens. There’s a handy fitting guide calculator for the computer or phone, and every time I use that, my first lens is very often what the patient ends up with.”