Emergency Glasses

When considering backup glasses, terminology alone relegates the glasses to a place of lesser importance than that of contact lenses. With the advent of disposable contacts, many patients don’t see the need for an emergency pair of glasses. Their answer to backup glasses, throw out the old lens and pop on a new one. Frankly, contact lens patients consider themselves “Contact Lens Patients.” Think about it, do you have a backup car or cell phone? Most of the time your phone and car work just fine, no need for the additional expense of a backup. Many patients are fooled by the success of their contact lenses, they assume their contact lenses will allow them to see clearly every hour of every day.

Here are some ideas from a recent training presentation on the topic:

The driving force behind the purchase of emergency glasses has been and will always be the Doctor. Staff can assist when making an appointment, they can require the patient to bring in all their glasses for the new exam. Upon neutralization, we can assess the usefulness of their old prescription to their new RX. Their glasses need to provide the same general acuity as the counterpart contacts. This will also allow us to discuss sunglasses. The easiest two pair sale is always the patient who walks in the door with two pair.

One Doctor told me when he received his first contacts, the Optometrist required him to have a pair of backup glasses. He could only wear contacts if he gave his eyes a chance to “breathe”. Patients should also be advised that lens wear can be affected by medical situations such as infection, a corneal abrasion, dry eye or eyedrops. Climate can affect lens wear as well. Pollution, allergens or chemicals in the air, can force the patient to remove their lenses. Houston is notorious for having all these airborne contaminants.

Other reasons one might choose not to wear their contacts;

  • Long night
  • Lost lens
  • They only have lenses for one eye
  • Forgot to reorder
  • Eyes feel dry
  • CCL Rx is out of date, they need to wait for the appointment
  • Want a fashion pair
  • Sports or activity
  • Glasses to wear to the pool or beach (photochromic)
  • Extended air travel
  • Travel, anyone who travels internationally needs glasses for an emergency

Consider offering an inexpensive frame and lens package on the day of the exam. Let the patient use their insurance for contacts and offer them a second pair with insurance like pricing. Special pricing is today only, “Use it or lose it”. Don’t allow them to wait until they need them to order.

Has this ever happened?

A patient comes in regarding an infection (often an emergency). When told to wear their glasses, they replied: “They didn’t have any, and that’s why they kept the lenses in.”

Now a legal question:

  • If a practitioner fit someone with CCL who they know has no usable backup glasses and this patient is essentially helpless without vision correction. Willfully knowing that any CCL increases the risk for ocular infection and that if the patient does get an infection, they will assuredly be forced to keep the CCL in their eyes.
  • What kind of liability could the practitioner face, if the patient loses their eye due to an acanthamoeba?
  • If you can fire a patient for non-compliance, you can fire them for not having emergency glasses.

This is going to require a new mindset. Consider promoting at every level, “We correct your vision with contacts and glasses”. To be successful in selling emergency glasses to contact lens patients, one should not sell, but rather require.