by Molly Otworth
If you’ve ever done a training for a new toric contact lens wearer, you may already recognize that the application and removal of toric lenses can present a challenge to patients who are new to this type of lens. A competent technician armed with the right tools and tips can create a pleasant experience for the patient. Listed below are my top five tips for successful application and removal.
1. Remind patients to wear their glasses while handling the lens. Patients instinctively remove their glasses in anticipation of applying the lens, resulting in the inability to correctly manipulate and orient it.
2. The patient should only open one side of the contact lens case at a time. This will ensure the correct lens is applied to the correct eye. This is especially important for the patient to remember for multi-use lenses.
3. A toric lens should never be folded, pinched hard, or bent in half because in some cases, this may cause splitting down the ballast line depending on the lens’s design. It’s important to remind patients about this for proper handling and to avoid frustrations about “lenses that rip too easily”.
4. Compared to spherical lenses, a toric lens has greater instability when sitting on the tip of the finger because of the prism ballast, thin zones, or other stabilization techniques used in their design. Those techniques make it stable on the eye, but unstable on the fingertip. It is helpful for the patient to lay the mirror flat on the dispensing table in front of them. While staring directly down at the mirror, the patient can then lift the lens to the eye to avoid having it tumble off the finger when brought to the eye from other angles.
5. Toric lenses have a marking line that can improve settling time when positioned correctly upfront. Advising the patient to line the marking up at the 6 o’clock position in relation to their eye is optimal positioning. If a patient is unable to visualize the marking, this will not preclude them from wearing the lens, it will just result in a slightly longer settling time. But if that’s the case, assure them that their lens will find its way to the correct position on its own!
Toric contact lenses may present more of an initial challenge over a spherical lens, but be assured the simple tips above can ease the stress of this process for both the technician and the new wearer for more efficient contact lens trainings. A confident technician can improve their patients’ lens application technique and help obtain their visual goals - resulting in a rewarding experience for everyone.
Molly Otworth is an ABO-NCLE certified optician based in Ohio.