The Healthy Contact Lens (CL) wear Australian Roadshow was initiated by Scientia Associate Professor Nicole Carnt as part of an ongoing project to raise awareness of modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for contact lens associated corneal infection and to design strategies for communicating healthy contact lens wear. The roadshow was conducted in October 2022 across five states in Australia over six days, attracting 68 attendees who comprise a mix of optometry students, dispensing team members, and experienced contact lens practitioners. A similar format was adopted in all five states.
The program used short videos to demonstrate how different lifestyles and perceptions can impact contact lens wear health, hygiene routine, and the potential impact on eye health and quality of life. Using the short clips were aimed at encouraging contact lens practitioners to be more aware of the poor hygiene habits of contact lens wearers that can lead to serious eye infections. Group discussions were focused on common behavioural changes that can be adopted by practitioners to enhance their communication of healthy contact lens wear to patients.
The key suggestion from the attendees to improve healthy contact lens wear is that contact lenses should be promoted as medical devices which can only be prescribed by qualified practitioners for wearers to receive proper practice guidelines. Other suggestions from attendees are to discourage online contact lens purchases, engage in social media campaigns on better contact lens hygiene, no sleeping in contact lenses, no water on contact lenses, storing contact lenses in appropriate cases and solutions, replace lens cases and solutions regularly as per manufacturers instruction, use stickers such as no water sticker, date of opening and discard due date stickers, and maintain hand hygiene during handling. Concentrating on gain framing but also balancing the loss framing approach, acknowledging beliefs, values, and social norms, and emphasising the need for regular eye checks are considered crucial for behavioural change to be achieved.
A feedback survey from the attendees using the Perceived Utility Learning Activities Scale (PULAS, developed by UNSW Faculty of Medicine & Health) was very positive. The majority of the attendees after the roadshow program reported improved understanding, enhanced motivation, and identification of learning priorities about contact lens wear healthy practices. An overall survey on what the participants liked most about the contact lens roadshow revealed the perceived novelty of the education event and the high value of the interactive small group discussions nature of the program, which yielded good engagement. Although the attendees were mainly experts in the field, their perception of improved understanding suggests a potential greater improvement when applied to a broader population of optometrists and other eye care practitioners. The key recommendations by attendees were to extend the roadshow to a broader audience at annual scientific optometry-related conferences, encourage optometric franchises to come on board for the roadshow in the future and to develop online versions of the program.
A modified version of the Healthy Contact Lens Roadshow will be held at the Australian Vision Convention (AVC) 2023 on 1 & 2 April 2023 and the message is being supported by Optometry Australia and CCLSA. Keep an eye out for registrations.
Scientia Associate Professor Nicole Carnt