A Seven Year Survey of the Contact Lens Prescribing Habits of Canadian Optometrists
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PURPOSE: Little is known about the contact lens prescribing habits of optometrists in North America. The purpose of this survey was to obtain data on the types of lenses and solutions prescribed by Canadian optometrists. METHODS: One thousand Canadian optometrists were surveyed annually over seven consecutive years (2000 to 2006; n = 7000) on their contact lens prescribing preferences. Each survey requested a range of information about the contact lenses prescribed to the first 10 patients after its receipt. RESULTS: Over this time period, 1008 (14.4%) of the surveys were returned, providing data on 9383 fits. During the seven-year period, the ratio of male:female fits was 1:2 (3123:6217, 43 not reported), with a mean age of 31.3 +/- 13.6 years (range 2 to 82 years). The ratio of new fits to refits was 2:3 (3780:5518, 85 not reported), with 91.3% of all fits being soft contact lenses (SCL). Of the SCL fits, 59.5% were spherical, 28.5% toric, 9.7% multifocal, and 2.3% cosmetic tints. Gas permeable (GP) fits were 46.6% spherical, 18.6% toric, 19.5% multifocal, and 6.6% were for orthokeratology (OK). Over the seven-year period, SCL prescribed for continuous wear (CW) increased from 3.2% to 14.3% between 2000 and 2004 and reduced to 8.1% in 2006, for all fits. The use of mid-water content (MWC) materials decreased from 34.6% to 2.7% and the use of silicone hydrogel (SH) lenses increased from 61.4% to 96.2%, for all CW fits. GP lens continuous wear increased from 0.7% to 30.6% of all GP lens fits by 2006. Daily wear (DW) of SH lenses decreased from 49.6% (2000) to 33.7% (2004) and then increased to 86.1% in 2006, for SH fits. MWC SCL fit on a monthly planned replacement (PR) basis reduced in popularity over the seven-year period (75.0% to 39.9%) and in 2006 more patients were fit overall with SH lenses (42.9%). The use of non-PR SCL declined from 20.5% to 4.5% of all fits. Fitting of low-water content lenses also declined (15.1% to 7.0%). High-water content (5.4% to10.2%) and SH lenses (5.4% to 42.9%) both increased. By 2006, the majority of GP lenses fit were with high Dk (HDK) materials (50.3%). CONCLUSIONS: The preferred contact lens modality for Canadian optometrists appears to be DW SCL, which are replaced monthly. The proportion of lenses used for CW peaked in 2004, with SH SCL being the preferred material. The market share for GP lenses remains relatively unchanged, with an increasing proportion used for OK and CW. The launch of DW SH lenses in 2004 resulted in a marked increase in their reported fits, with a similar effect following the launch of a HDK GP lens material for CW.
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