Current and Projected Growth of The Contact Lens Industry in Australia

Digital Look WebFG News | 07 Nov, 2017 12:33 - Updated: 12:58 | | |

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The contact lens industry has, in the recent years, witnessed a shift in the usage of contact lenses. Silicone hydrogel lenses, like those supplied by LensWorld, hold a promising future in improving the contact lens market, as more and more people opt to use them to correct their eye problems. Their development can be termed as one of the biggest technological advancement in the science of contact lenses, having changed the lives of millions of people worldwide.

However, the market for contact lenses appears to have stagnated despite the breakthrough in the development of these better lenses. Several studies and surveys have been conducted to explain the trend, and various reasons have been put forward. In one such study, it was found that their low profitability was a major hindrance to their recommendation to patients by physicians. Doctors felt they stood to gain little by suggesting contact lenses to their patients, opting for other treatments or letting the patients choose for themselves.

In another survey, it emerged that medical experts and practitioners held onto the notion that contact lenses were complex, and not as efficient. So they tended to ignore them when considering treatment options. They were more inclined to suggest-and use, what they perceived to be simpler techniques to correct eye problems of patients.

The solution to the dwindling business of contact lenses lies in creating awareness to both medical experts and patients. That way, doctors would be more willing to suggest the lenses to patients, and patients would, likewise, be willing to consider them. In a research study conducted in 1991 by Tony Hanks, 50 patients were grouped into two. The first group participants received contact lenses only if they asked for them, and in the second group, patients had contact lenses suggested to them by their optometrist.

Results showed a low number of patients who asked for contact lenses while in the other group, many contact lenses were dispensed at the doctor's suggestion. The findings showed the power of a doctor's recommendation and on top of it the need for knowledge of the options available on the part of the patient. The study also looked into the profitability of contact lenses and found it to be about 3 times in referrals, 2.2 times in terms of fees, and that it lessens patient erosion 4 times.

Australia continues to support the industry of contact lenses. Through the Contact Lens Industry Council of Australia, several programs have been undertaken. Activities have included training on skills in business management, sales, and communication. Research shows that these are the skills lacking amongst medics, and which has made the business of contact lenses not to be as robust as it should. Among the projects conducted by the contact lens council of Australia is a pilot program to train eye-care practitioners and other staff at healthcare facilities in Sydney. The number of institutions whose staff benefited from the program totaled 20, with more expected to follow. The eye experts were trained in business management and communication skills in a program designed to increase the sales of contact lenses and increase profitability.

The training aimed to train optometrists on the need how to find market for contact lenses from amongst their patients and how to do it. Practitioners were encouraged find offer suggestions to patients concerning special occasions they would need to wear contact lenses. Such occasions include social events or sports, with doctors can even giving coloured contact lenses at LensWorld. By having more and more people wearing these lenses, their profitability will scale up, improving the outlook of the contact lens business overall.

Other skills covered in the program included the keeping of records, sales language, fitting of lenses, and effective communication skills. The training involved eye-experts as well as their support staff. Ongoing support after the training was also offered, through email and phone. The program also facilitates for optometrists to share ideas on forums organized by the training staff.

The program bore fruits, with improvement registering on all fronts of the contact lens business. There was a 13 percent increase in contact lens prescriptions and a 50 percent sales growth in comparison with the Australian market value average.

The improvements can be attributed to the awareness that was created by the program. And the fact that it happened immediately after the training is proof enough that awareness is what's is needed in the contact lens industry. The optometrists are doing great, prescribing and recommending contact lenses to patients who come to them. Using the skills they gained from the program, they're able to persuade and educate patients on why contact lenses are the best for their eye conditions. And with this trend, the contact lens business is bound to take off, and the earlier notion of low profitability will likely disappear.

A change of attitude, both in patients and the medical fraternity concerning contact lenses, is what the industry needs to registrar growth. Patients need to understand that the lenses are not as hard to maintain, contrary to what the may have heard. They need to look at the long-term benefits of wearing lenses to correct their vision, and not focus on maintenance issues. Isolated cases of people who have had problems with wearing contact lenses may exist, but that shouldn't form the basis for judgment about their suitability. It's important that patients look at the bigger picture, and see the good aspects-which are many.

Overall, a good relationship between the patient and the optometrist is not only essential but comes with many benefits. It allows for the patient to get useful information on the treatment options, the different types of contact lenses available and the procedures for each. With such information, the patient, with the help of the optometrist, is then able to choose the most comfortable and effective treatment for their eye condition.

The change of attitude and awareness should occur at all levels, from the optometrist, support staff, facility management, to the patient. Eye experts should be eager to learn about new technological advancements in the science of contact lenses, and how they can apply them in their daily practice. By keeping abreast with new technology, they would be in a position to offer their patients the best of treatment. Doing so would help the contact lens industry to grow and become profitable.

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