Optometric Management Tip # 284   -   Wednesday, June 27, 2007
TV Glasses

I'm often amazed at how many of my presbyopic patients only have one pair of glasses. Don't any of these people watch TV? Do they really sit perfectly straight up when doing so? All I can do is project my own experience as a presbyope who enjoys wearing progressive lenses most of the time, but would be lost without my single vision TV glasses. They are kept on the table next to my recliner.

I'm proud to say, however, that I am rescuing many of these uninformed souls from distorted vision and stiff necks, one patient at a time. I've made it my professional quest. After all, that's what I do; help patients see clearly in a variety of ways. When I take the time to talk to my patients about how they use their eyes in everyday life, make recommendations about vision correction and share some aspects of my personal life, I can tell people love it.

Multiple Rxs

I'm not ashamed to say that dispensing multiple pairs of eyeglasses to the same patient has a very positive effect on my practice bottom line. I have a huge influence on the number of multiple eyeglass sales that occurs in my optical by bringing it up in the exam room. While we have excellent opticians employed in my practice, there is a certain authority that only the doctor has.

If the patient is a presbyope and wears progressives, I simply mention how most people recline a little bit when watching TV and how that head posture brings the near power of the lens quickly into view. Of course, one could pull the glasses down the nose, but that's not the best arrangement for comfortable TV viewing. First time progressive wearers appreciate the upfront advice while veteran progressive wearers know exactly what I'm talking about and are happy to have the problem acknowledged. I have the advantage of adding my own experience and how I love switching to my TV glasses. That usually does it; case closed.

Special purpose eyeglasses

I find it's an advantage to refer to any special purpose Rx as "______" glasses whenever possible. Putting the adjective in front of the word glasses gives a certain credibility to the device. For example, my practice offers TV glasses, golfing glasses, computer glasses, driving glasses, and jogging glasses, along with the more traditional reading glasses, safety glasses and sun glasses. When someone mentions an activity they love, like tennis, I respond with "Oh, you really should have a pair of tennis glasses". I go on to describe the benefits the patient would enjoy. We can all design a perfect lens to fit the need, once we know the need.

Cost obstacles

Sure, the cost of buying two or three pairs of glasses at once causes many people to pause, but it's so easy for my staff to process multiple pairs at the same time that I help patients overcome the cost obstacle. There is no point in trying to ignore the price issue when we all know it's on the patient's mind. It's far better to acknowledge it and take the position that you wish to help with that.

TV glasses are generally single vision and therefore are one of the lowest priced lenses available. Plain old CR-39 works perfectly. Since TV glasses are to be worn at home and not out in social circles, this special purpose Rx could easily be placed in the patient's old frame. And if you suggest that, you quickly win the patient over and he realizes you aren't just trying to sell glasses, but trying to help solve a problem in a practical way. Patients associate value with their old frames and helping them find a way to recycle them strikes a strong chord.

I really put multiple pair sales into high gear several years ago when I changed our office policy about second pair discounts. We offer a 50% discount off the second pair when two complete pairs of glasses are purchased at the same time. Pretty aggressive, but if you have strong optical pricing in the first place, the discounted pairs are still quite profitable. Selling two, three or four pairs of glasses at once is no longer a rarity in my practice. Every pair after the first pair gets the discount; the discounts are always applied to the lesser expensive pairs and we don't mind if the first pair is covered by a vision plan. One of the biggest factors for the success of the program is that my staff feels a duty to tell patients about our multiple pair discount, and just bringing up the idea sells additional glasses.

Embracing consumer electronics

A great deal of money is being spent on high definition flat screen televisions and the cable or satellite system that provides the signal. The picture quality is truly fantastic. This high def technology is a boom to eye care professionals who stand for clear vision; consumers are more aware than ever about the importance of a clear image. Many people spend thousands of dollars on a premium home theater setup and others simply watch television on a standard set, but in any case, most people watch some TV every day. Whether watching DVD movies, live sporting events or Deal or No Deal, TV glasses are great!

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management