To determine the first-year retention rate for patients fitted with contact lenses (CLs) and identify factors associated with retention and dropout.
This multi-site study was a retrospective chart review of the status of neophyte CL wearers fitted in representative UK eye care practices.
Consecutive records for 524 patients at 29 sites were reviewed. Mean age at dispensing was 34 years (range 8–79), 68% were under 45 years and 61% female. Soft CLs were fitted to 98% of patients. After 12 months, 388 were still CL wearers, a retention rate of 74% (95% CI: 70.1–77.6). Of the 136 lapsed, 25% discontinued during the first month and 47% within 60 days. The main reasons cited for discontinuation included poor distance vision (26%; of whom, 37% were toric and 51% multifocal), poor near vision (16%), discomfort (14%) and handling problems (15%). In 32% of cases, the reasons for discontinuation were unknown. For 71% of dropouts, no alternative lens or management strategy had been tried. Significant factors associated with retention in univariate analysis were: age (younger), sphere power (higher), lens type (sphere vs multifocal) and purchase frequency (regular). Multivariate analysis showed lens sphere power, purchase frequency and lens material to be significant factors. There was a wide variation in retention rates between sites (40–100%).
During the first year of CL wear, the overall retention rate for neophyte CL wearers was 74% (spherical CLs 79%, torics 73%, multifocals 57%), with many lapsing during the first 2 months. Factors associated with retention and dropout in these patients include: lens power, material and type, and purchase frequency. While handling and comfort are the most commonly cited performance-related reasons for discontinuing in new spherical lens wearers, visual problems are the most common among new wearers of toric and, in particular, multifocal CLs.