Have you said, “That patient’s JUST here for a contact lens fit,” or “That’s JUST a contact lens check,” then turned your attention elsewhere? Saying “just” means we’re missing opportunities to do what’s best for our patients and our practices.

While most patients get contact lenses because they don’t want to wear glasses, backup glasses are important. Contact lens prescriptions usually expire after a year, so those patients come back annually for an exam and contact lens evaluation. Usually there is a change in prescription. Patients order new contacts and go on their way with an old prescription in their glasses, and “old” can mean any number of prescription changes. They’re JUST a backup.

Patients can be JUST people, too. “I JUST wear my glasses at night,” or “I JUST use them in an emergency.” That JUST doesn’t make sense. We often get a panicky phone call from a patient who tore their last pair of contacts and tells us they can’t see out of their old glasses. We have a pair of trial lenses they can use, but why wouldn’t we have helped prevent the emergency by talking about upgrading their glasses?

It’s not just about prescription change. If the glasses are a couple years old (or more!) there are new lens technologies that can make vision with glasses more comfortable and cosmetically appealing. They can ease the transition from contacts to spectacles. Frame styles have changed, too. If the patient doesn’t like the way glasses look, they just won’t wear them. Seeing new frames can be more convincing than a new prescription.

Cost for the contact lens fit plus the supply of lenses is a point of resistance patients raise. The additional expense for glasses can seem too much. Many insurance plans have coverage toward either glasses or contacts. We can calculate on a dollars-to-value basis whether using the insurance benefit for glasses provides better value for dollars spent. When patients understand that they can make their insurance dollars go further with a pair of glasses, they are more likely to use the insurance for glasses and purchase the contact lenses, too.

Talk to patients at follow-up visits. Patients may be more comfortable with an additional purchase after a week or two. Offering discounts on glasses with a contact lens purchase reinforces the need for an up-to-date pair of glasses.

Don’t forget plano sunglasses. Many patients are thrilled that they can wear oversized, stylish sunglasses over contacts. Contact lens patients need to know about UV protection, polarization and protective coatings, too. So you see, patients never come to us JUST for contact lenses.

Linda Conlin