EyeWitness

Winter 2017

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A good contact lens fitter is a very special person – smart, obser- vant, patient, a negotiator, a salesperson, a confidant, a comforter, a seer of the future, knowledgeable, and a problem-solver. And that's just for the first patient of the day! A contact lens fitter is a person who works with contact lenses, and works to help others see. Vision is key to so much of a person's life. We need good vision to read, to watch TV, to see a movie, to drive, to witness nature, to watch a foot- ball game, to notice colors, and much more. The right contact lenses can help people do all that and more. And the contact lens fitter knows how to expertly do just that. It isn't always easy. Patients may come in with issues about their vision and their contact lenses, yet they really don't know what the problem might be. A contact lens fitter is a good listener – able to figure out the issue even if the patient doesn't know. A contact lens fitter has to have a sense of humor. Sometimes those vision issues are very frustrating to a patient. They may come in confused, angry or with other emotions that are neither friendly nor helpful. Yet, by having that sense of humor, a contact lens fitter can keep this in perspective and laugh know- ing that the world can be a crazy place. A contact lens fitter is a bit of a sci- entist – knowing about the differences in solution chemistry; the optics of flu- orescein; the flow patterns of liquids in and around the eye and contact lens; the physics of curves; and many details of the eye that the average person may never know. A contact lens fitter is an engineer and must know how to measure and specify curves and diameters to keep a small plastic lens at an efficient size without causing irritation and/or trou- ble to the eye. Materials have to be care- By Vicky Sheppard, FCLSA Anatomy of a Contact Lens Fitter CLSA EyeWitness Winter 2017 12 fully specified so as to get the most from a lens for any given patient. A contact lens fitter must have a bit of a computer in his/her brain. A large database of important information must be stored there as to remember all the different manufacturers, contact lens designs and parameters, and how to apply each to different situations. A contact lens fitter is a negotiator, negotiating between what patients may want compared to what they actually need. Having the ability to steer patients towards contact lenses that will make them see and feel their best, especially if it goes against what others might think would be "best," differentiates the good contact lens fitter. A contact lens fitter is indeed a very special person helping patients to get rid of their glasses, while helping others to change their lives. Recently, I saw a pa- tient who now wears scleral lenses. He told me that being able to wear contact lenses has allowed him to not only see a lot better, but he is now able to have a job that pays him much more. It is sto- ries like that which make me proud to be a contact lens fitter! EW Vicky Sheppard, FCLSA, has been working as a contact lens specialist for over 30 years, helping others learn about contact lenses. She is currently the Contact Lens Program manager for Vision Essentials by Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. She is responsible for 33 locations to increase knowledge, awareness and promote usage of contact lenses. Vicky was named one of Optical's most influential Women in 2008 and honored to be again in 2011. Vicky is a Fellow (FCLSA) and past President of the Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA). She has served as a director on the MN Contact Lens Society, Pacific Coast Contact Lens Society and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) board of directors.

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