Effect of Topical Anesthetic Use on Initial Patient Satisfaction and Overall Success with Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses

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Background. Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses have numerous benefits; however, RGP lens use is not increasing in the United States. An important factor for this trend has been initial comfort. Studies have demonstrated that how RGPs are presented to patients, in addition to lens design, can play an important role in the initial comfort process. Another important factor could be the use of a topical anesthetic during the fitting and dispensing visits. The purpose of this study was to use a multicenter format to determine if topical anesthetic use increased the likelihood of patient satisfaction and success. Methods. A total of 80 subjects, with no previous rigid lens wear experience, was entered into this 1 -month study, including 20 subjects from each of 4 institutions. Subjects were randomly divided into the following two groups: (A) anesthetic or (B) placebo, with the former group receiving one drop of a topical anesthetic before lens insertion at both the diagnostic fitting and dispensing visits, whereas the latter group received a placebo. Subjects completed a questionnaire on their perception of rigid lens wear both immediately before fitting and at the 1-month visit. After diagnostic fitting with rigid lenses, subjects completed an adaptation questionnaire after 15 min, 1 week, 2 weeks, and 1 month of lens wear. Results. Seventy of the 80 subjects completed the study and, of the 10 subjects who discontinued, 8 were in the placebo group. In all categories evaluated, the anesthetic group experienced a more optimum adaptation experience at each visit vs. the placebo group. Specifically, overall comfort was rated significantly higher at both dispensing and 2 weeks. In addition, the anesthetic group exhibited significantly greater overall satisfaction with rigid lens wear at 2 and 4 weeks. Also, the anesthetic group perceived their adaptation, sensitivity, and adaptation time to be significantly better at the 1 -month visit. There was no significant difference in corneal staining between these two groups at each visit, with the exception of a greater amount of staining in the central quadrant for the placebo group at the 1 -month visit. Conclusions. The use of a topical anesthetic at the fitting and dispensing visits for first-time wearers of RGP lenses resulted in significantly fewer dropouts, improved initial comfort, an enhanced perception of the adaptation process, and greater overall satisfaction after 1 month of lens wear as compared to the use of a nonanesthetizing placebo at those visits. This result, in combination with both presenting RGP lenses in a nonthreatening manner and optimizing the lens design and fitting relationship, should result in a positive adaptation process and successful wear of RGP contact lenses.

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