Optometrists have been urged to change their examination tactics when undertaking patient eye examinations.
Sheila Hickson-Curran, an optometrist and the Director, Global Strategic Medical Affairs at Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (J&VC) told her audience the way they pose questions when examining vision acuity could make a difference to the next year of their patient’s life.
“When using a Snellen chart, do you ask ‘which line can you see?’ or ‘which line can you see clearly?’ because the test method of using a high contrast Snellen chart isn’t really discriminating enough to simulate real world conditions. It would be better if you had low contrast charts, then you could really determine whether people can quickly read the changes,” she said.
Ms. Hickson-Curran said the percentage of toric daily contact lenses sold into the Australian and New Zealand market stands at 10 per cent (as of 2012), yet “47 per cent of vision corrected patients have astigmatism of 0.75 or more in one eye and 24 per cent of patients have astigmatism of 0.75 or more in both eyes”.
They worry about failing their patients – especially those who remember the bad old days of torics
“Even if just 30 per cent of those patients were prescribed toric contact lenses, that would be a vast improvement in their lives.”
Luke Cahill, Director, Professional Affairs Director at J&JVC said many optometrists may be reluctant to prescribe lower cyl toric contact lenses because they are not aware of the vision advantages and because the lenses are more expensive than a spheric lens.
“In America they call that ‘diagnosing the wallet’,” said Ms. Hickson-Curran. “But what optometrists should be doing is offering optimal vision correction – and ultimately, if a patient has to back out of that, that’s their decision.”
She said some optometrists, locked into the old ways of working, feel anxious about prescribing torics. “They worry about failing their patients – especially those who remember the bad old days of torics – when prescribing torics was risky, took a lot of chair time and often didn’t have a great outcome.”
She said the new generation of torics is far superior in terms of offering a greater comfort experience, offering more parameters for vision correction and taking far less time to fit.
The complexity attributed to prescribing toric lenses can also work in an optometrist’s favour by making it harder for patients to order lenses online, said Mr. Cahill.