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    Making contact with kids

    Pearls aim to make pediatric contact lens fitting rewarding for all involved

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    Dr. Myung Lee
    Fullerton, CA—You might be reluctant to fit more children in contact lenses into your optical dispensary because you think it's difficult and time-consuming. However, the extra chair time is minimal, and the final rewards for the patient, the family, and you can be great, especially when contact lenses are medically necessary.

    Eunice Myung Lee, OD, FAAO, presented some strategies for streamlining the task.

    "Although the chair time needed with the eye-care [professional] (ECP) varies depending on the child's age, it is about an extra hour at most," said Dr. Myung Lee, assistant professor and chief, Stein Family Cornea and Contact Lens Service, Southern California College of Optometry, Fullerton.

    "Training on lens application, removal, and care are the more time-intensive components of pediatric contact lens fitting, especially with infants or special needs patients," she said. "However, these are tasks that can be handled by other well-trained office staff, and all of the added time and energy spent with these patients should be reflected in an appropriate professional fee."

    Teens, tweens, toddlers, infants

    If you're just getting started with pediatric contact lens fitting, you might consider starting with elementary school-age children and then working with younger patients as your comfort level grows, Dr. Myung Lee said.

    She drew on results of the Contact Lenses in Pediatrics Study that showed the chair time was similar for 8- to 11-year-olds and 13- to 17-year-olds. (Optom Vis Sci. 2007;84:896–892).

    However, working with babies is usually easier than toddlers, because fitting infants is based purely on objective evaluations with no subjective patient feedback, she added.

    "Infants also tend to fight less than toddlers," Dr. Myung Lee said.

    Parents, however, can present additional challenges. They might be anxious because they are concerned that what they're doing benefits the child and that the child is getting the best possible care. Once the lenses are in, pointing out how the child is now focusing on the parent's face or other objects can be reassuring.

    "I like to give a lot of positive reinforcement in ways that will bring immediate gratification to the parents," Dr. Myung Lee said.

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