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    Contact lenses alter landscape

    Orlando—A review of the current landscape and look to the future identifies multiple reasons why contact lenses are an important component in a comprehensive ophthalmology practice, said Michael H. Goldstein, MD, MBA.

    “The short answer as to why contact lenses are important in a comprehensive practice is that our patients are asking for them, but we should not ignore that the contact lens market is large, growing, and is an area with many important developments on the horizon,” said Dr. Goldstein, co-director, cornea and external disease service, New England Eye Center, Tufts Medical Center, Boston.

    According to recent statistics for the United States, there are 3 million new contact lens wearers per year, total sales are in the $2 billion to $3 billion dollar range, and the annual growth rate in this market is 5% to 6%, Dr. Goldstein noted.

    In the current environment where refractive surgery volume is decreasing, he said, providing contact lens services is a good way to build a practice, and the benefit is derived in two directions. Not only are contact lens patients a good source of future refractive surgery patients, but there are a number of individuals seeking refractive surgery who are not good candidates, but that may be served with contact lens fitting.

    Expertise with contact lenses is also important in a variety of other practice situations. Contact lenses are used for diagnosing different corneal pathologies, needed to do a monovision trial before offering this approach as a refractive surgery option, and have various therapeutic applications.

    Furthermore, lens technology and lens care products continue to improve and the uses for contact lenses are also expanding. For example, contact lenses are being used or developed as a platform for amniotic membrane placement, monitoring of blood glucose and IOP, and as a drug delivery system.

    “Clearly, there are many exciting reasons for ophthalmologists to be involved with contact lenses,” Dr. Goldstein concluded.

    For more articles in this issue of Ophthalmology Times Conference Brief click here.

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