The merging of cataract and refractive surgery

September 15, 2008

With the flattening of the LASIK market comes the need to diversify and one procedure in particular to accomplish this is cataract surgery with an IOL implant.

Key Points

With the flattening of the LASIK market comes the need to diversify and ensure that all your eggs are not sitting in one basket. Offering comprehensive eye care is imperative in serving a wide age range of patients and attracting their repeat business. With a comprehensive approach, you have the opportunity to draw patients who need vision correction back in your doors with ongoing care and regular vision maintenance while increasing your word-of-mouth referrals.

Beyond the LASIK horizon

It's no secret that LASIK growth has slowed since its upsurge earlier in the decade. With the adoption of procedures such as conductive keratoplasty, LASEK and epi-LASIK, LASIK is no longer the singular star of the vision correction show. LASIK-centered practices cannot sit back and wait for the tide to change. If you are proactive about the future of refractive care and adjust not only your scope but also your marketing persona, then you'll be better prepared to weather fickle consumer behavior. If you haven't yet considered how to complement your LASIK procedural volume, now is the time to give it some serious thought.

Target baby boomers

With 78 million baby boomers in this country battling the stigma of aging, you can't afford to ignore their vision needs.1 In terms of eye care, they are perfectly poised to help you increase your revenue-if you can attract them with strategic "anti-aging" marketing. You can education your boomer patients with cataracts about premium lenses and also get their children with presbyopia in the door for refractive lens exchange.

Grow along with IOLs

In terms of lifespan, IOLs can be compared with toddlers-they're quite immature but growing quickly and becoming more intriguing.2 The IOL market growth has disappointed thus far. IOLs, however, are expected to represent more than 30% of the world refractive market by next year.3 As director of refractive services for Associated Eye Care, Stillwater, MN, I strongly believe that premium IOLs are the future of refractive marketing. My practice is experiencing success with redirected cataract-related marketing efforts. By educating patients with cataracts about the benefits of the more advanced lens replacements, we are increasing revenue without increasing labor and other costs. And because we are marketing refractive lens exchange to our patients with presbyobia, we are answering the baby boomers' desire to look and feel young and avoid one of the most obvious symbols of aging: bifocals.

An accommodating lens (crystalens, Bausch & Lomb) and multifocal lenses such as the apodized diffractive IOL (AcrySof ReSTOR, Alcon Laboratories) and a refractive lens (ReZoom, Advanced Medical Optics) appeal to patients with cataract or presbyopia for their ability to focus between distances much like the eye's natural lens. But it's your job to inform patients about these upgrades and their benefits. Here is a golden opportunity to increase revenue without increasing your workload. Failing to do so may mean losing patients as awareness of these lenses increases.

Benefits trump cost

The price of IOLs can be double that of LASIK, which makes it an especially lucrative up-sell for you (and a great justification for advertising). But how do you inform your patients that the benefits are worth the cost? Teach them the advantages of advanced lenses and translate the technology upgrade in lifestyle terms they can relate to. For instance, let your patients know that many IOL recipients enjoy clear vision at any distance, without the help of bifocals.

The second element of addressing cost involves offering payment choices that patients easily can fit into their budgets. Candidates for IOLs may view flexible options, such as the CareCredit no-interest payment plans, as a way to have the elective upgrade they desire. Discuss financing in detail during the initial phone call and consultation to put patients at ease about cost.

Related Content:

News | Practice Management