The International Association of Contact Lens Educators’ (IACLE) has hosted its first virtual conference. Themed Back to contact lenses, the conference primarily discussed positive developments that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about for the contact lens industry.
Chaired by Professor Philip Morgan, IACLE Vice President, the panel, consisting of experts in the contact lens field – Cheryl Donnelly, Gary Osborn, John Meyler and Osbert Chan, expressed optimism about the future for contact lenses and identified major changes.
We need to look at how patients want to engage, and consider changes to our practice patient journey to allow for the imposed and required changes
Key developments outlined included the increased collaboration between industry, practitioners, scientists and educators that has helped to dispel contact lens wear myths and stress their importance; the rising demand, and hence increased efficiency, of telehealth services; as well as the general benefits of increased hygiene.
Cheryl Donnelly, Head of International Professional Affairs and International KOL Lead Vision Care at Alcon, described a change in patient purchasing habits and how and where they interacted with their contact lens practitioners. “We need to look at how patients want to engage, and consider changes to our practice patient journey to allow for the imposed and required changes. It’s not about doing things to a lesser extent clinically… but doing things differently.”
Similarly, Dr Gary Osborn, Vice President Global Professional, Medical & Clinical Affairs, CooperVision, predicted a permanent change in the wake of virtual aftercare appointments which will, “improve the situation we have in retaining patients in contact lenses and this should result in fewer dropouts, because of the effectiveness of improved virtual communications.”
Panellists also noted that the reasons for patients wearing contact lenses less has been attributed to the lack of partaking in activities where contacts lenses are needed, rather than safety concerns which often inhibit patients. At the same time, patients are opting for contact lenses to avoid spectacle fogging when wearing a face mask.
“Patient experience will improve,” said John Meyler, Global Head, Professional and Clinical Education, Johnson & Johnson Vision, “This has been a time to reflect on how we can do things more efficiently and better serve patients. I think the future’s very bright for the industry.’
The virtual conference was conducted live via Zoom and was attended by over 200 delegates. A recording of the conference is available to IACLE members on the learning management system – IACLETOP.