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Online course addresses key contact lens questions

February 13, 2012

Contact lenses can represent a way to provide enhanced vision correction for many patients and growth for optometric practices, notes Louise Sclafani, O.D., an associate professor in the ophthalmology section of the University of Chicago’s Department of Surgery and a past chair of the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section.  Practitioners may have been reluctant to try new lens materials or designs due to the perceived increase in chair time needed when refitting patients and the concern about appropriate compensation.

The percentage of American vision care patients in contact lenses has remained relatively “flat” over much of the past three decades, despite numerous advancements in lens material and design, Dr. Sclafani observes. 

“Contact lens dropouts” – patients dissatisfied with the vision quality, comfort, or care requirements for the lenses – are common. 

Many practitioners find contact lenses too time-consuming and troublesome to fit.

The interest in the treatment of ocular disease has increased; however, many forget that these patients also would enjoy the benefits of healthy contact lens wear, Dr. Sclafani acknowledges.

Because significant advancements in contact lens design and the addition of many new contact lens materials in recent years have made contact lenses more comfortable and easy-to-wear, have simplified fitting, and have provided for a broader range of patients, the problem may not be the lenses,” Dr. Sclafani suggests.

Instead, she believes that many eye care practitioners need to be reminded of the basic rules of contact lens patient assessment, lens selection, and fitting.
 For that reason, EyeLearn’s™ new online Contact Lens Board Certification Review Course is intended to provide more than just a refresher class for optometrists who are preparing to take American Board of Optometry (ABO) board certification examinations, Dr. Sclafani said.

“The course provides, in a little less than three hours, many of the technical tools  an optometrist needs to successfully develop a contact lens practice,” Dr. Sclafani said.

“In many cases, greater awareness of some key contact lens concepts and methodologies may be all a practitioner needs to begin seeing satisfied contact lens patients in the office,” she believes.

Like all EyeLearn™ courses, the Contact Lens Course is presented in a series of interactive learning modules that allow practitioners to log on and access the learning materials whenever they are ready. 

The electronic format allows them to pause at any point and return to the course later. They can immediately repeat a unit if they do not adequately understand the material covered.

Each unit comes with one or more self-assessment quizzes which appear periodically. Course handouts are provided on the Web site. Course takers can even follow the speaker word-for-word using course transcripts that are also provided on the site. 

An opening overview of contact lens materials and designs is intended to help practitioners identify appropriate contact lens patients as well as select the best contact lens options for them, Dr. Sclafani said.

The module covers contact lens modalities, common contact lens-related definitions, and a process for assessing and comparing general groups of soft lens and gas permeable materials and basic information.

A second course module outlines in detail a method for selecting the best soft lens or gas permeable lens designs for a patient. The module explains the differences between soft sphere, soft toric, hybrid lens, and rigid lenses as well as fitting techniques.

A third module goes into great detail about the optics of contact lenses (e.g., power calculations and base curves).

The course’s fourth module sets down a methodology for assessing, differentially diagnosing, treating and managing contact lens-related complications including corneal neovascularization, superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis (SLK), contact lens-induced acute red eye (CLARE), contact lens inflammatory events, sterile peripheral ulcer, microbial keratitis, giant papillary conjunctivitis, superior epithelial arcuate lesions (SEALS), dimple veiling, lens adhesions, and 3-9 staining.

The course’s fifth and final section details the indications and background of corneal topography for contact lens utilization.

In addition to interactive learning modules, practitioners can easily access supplemental resources such as AOA Optometric Clinical Practice Guidelines and articles from Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association as well as a range of pre-recorded audio or video lectures.

A Continuing Education (CE) Finder feature allows optometrists to find appropriate classroom continuing education programs on contact lenses and related subjects, offered by state optometric associations, regional optometric organizations, and the AOA.

The EyeLearn™ Contact Lens Course is designed to be appropriate for both optometrists and the contact lens staff in optometric practices, Dr. Sclafani said.

The EyeLearn™ online education portal is an exclusive AOA member benefit. AOA members can take courses and access materials free of charge. 

The optometric education portal can be accessed at www.aoa.org/eyelearn.

EyeLearn™ CL board certification review course

  • User rating: 5 Stars (Excellent)

Part 1 – Contact Lens Materials/Design (28 min.)

Part 2 – Soft/Gas Permeable Fitting Techniques (51 min.)

Part 3 – Optics of Contact Lenses (e.g., power calculations and base curves) (53 min.)

Part 4 – Assessment, Differential Diagnosis, Treatment and Management Options for Contact Lens Related Complications (45 min.)

Part 5 – Indications and Contraindications of Corneal Topography (16 min.)

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