Article Date: 3/1/2013

Provide Premium Progressive Lenses
progressive lenses

Provide Premium Progressive Lenses

The needed equipment, ideal candidates and marketing tips for these lenses

CRYSTAL BRIMER, O.D., WILMINGTON, N.C.

For presbyopic patient success, we must provide a progressive lens that feels natural and offers maximum clarity and binocularity. Premium progressive lenses (e.g. freeform and high-definition, or personalized lenses) can meet these needs. Further, the current average retail price for freeform progressive lenses is $353, says The Vision Council.1 A total of almost 50% of the 76.4 million glasses sold from July 2011 through June 2012 were multifocal or progressive lenses. Fitting these lenses requires additional equipment and time, which increases their price by roughly 25% to 35%. So, these lenses can significantly impact your bottom line.

Here, I discuss the needed equipment, ideal patients and how to market these lenses.

The necessary equipment

Freeform is a surfacing method. So, it does not change the innate design of the lens and is therefore meaningless in the absence of a good design. That said, improving the precision by which a good design is manufactured optimizes that design and thereby enhances the visual performance. 1 Thus, consider the lens design technology and reliability of the lab in addition to the precision of your lab’s surfacing process prior to offering a freeform lens.

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A premium progressive can greatly benefit those who spend a lot of time at the computer.

Most freeform labs require monocular PDs, fitting height, vertex distance, wrap and pantoscopic tilt measurements. Certain universal devices and select apps are available to collect these sensitive measurements, but to sell high-definition, or personalized, progressive lenses you must have manufacturer-specific equipment. Additional analysis required by the specific manufacturer may include: 3D position of the eye’s rotation center, natural head posture analysis, wearing and lifestyle preferences, auto-refraction, wavefront analysis and topography.2 This equipment varies from $500 for a universal freeform app to tens of thousands for manufacturer-specific devices.

Much of this equipment aids in patient education, as it demonstrates visual performance differences among lens materials and treatments. Many systems also allow the patient to see how he/she looks from multiple angles in the selected frame. (See www.optometricmanagement.com/articleviewer.aspx?articleID=106834.)

Ideal patient candidates

While freeform and high-definition progressive lenses are likely an asset for any patient, certain patients may notice greater benefits:

Patients who have high visual demands or expectations.

Patients with large prescriptions: higher aberrations or more glare.

Patients who are emmetropic, or close to it, and not accustomed to any distance aberrations. (See, “Premium Progressive Lens Manufacturers,” below.)

Patients with a history of vague complaints or non-adapt issues.

Other patients to keep in mind:

The head tilters. A premium progressive lens allows for greater downward head posture and enables patients to view the entire page at once by limiting the downward eye gaze requirements.

Those with posture problems/trouble acclimating to the gaze requirements of traditional progressive lenses.

Premium Progressive Lens Manufacturers
• Carl Zeiss Vision
• Essilor of America
• ETOS
• Hoya Vision Care
• ILT Optics
• Indo
• Kaenon
• Kodak
• Maui Jim
• Nikon
• Omega Optix
• Ophthonix
• ProFit Optix
• Rodenstock
• Rudy Project
• Seiko/Pentax
• Shamir
• Signet Armorlite
• WaveForm
• Zeiss

Marketing premium progressive lenses

The eight ways to successfully integrate these lenses into your practice:

Display product-related information. Having premium progressive lens education throughout your practice not only informs patients about its availability, but also differentiates you as being able to provide them with such technology. Consider framing patient success stories to inspire other patients.

Include lifestyle questions in your patient history form. The selling point of premium progressive lenses is their ability to be customized and thereby provide the best vision possible. To open this conversation, include lifestyle questions related to the patient’s occupation and indoor/outdoor hobbies. For example, a patient who writes that he/she spends most of his/her time at the computer allows you to discuss the benefits of a premium design that has an extra wide intermediate zone. Also, ask patients to bring in all their glasses. This allows you to discuss different tasks and the prospect for customized eyewear.

Provide the lenses to staff. Offer premium progressive lenses to your staff so they can experience the benefits first-hand, and share them with patients. If both you and your staff believe in the lenses, your patients will too. Many opportunities during the work up (lensometry, patient history, chief complaint) exist for the technician to introduce the new technology and offer personal testimony.

Present the lenses as a solution. In the exam room, present lens options as a solution to a visual complaint, such as glare, or an ocular diagnosis, such as cataracts or AMD. And repeat it to the optician in front of your patient:

“Ms. Smith’s cataracts are causing her glare with nighttime driving and computer work. Please show her our high-definition progressive lens and our best glare coating. I think it will make a real difference for her.”

This sets the stage for continuity of care, as opposed to a sales pitch from the optician.

Use patient-accessible analogies. Compare the difference in technology to a tailor made suit vs. one off the rack, or an analogue tube TV vs. a HD LCD TV. This way, patients have a better understanding of the technology.

Create patient education demos. Partner with your lab to create compelling demos that show patients how different lenses affect visual performance. Offer options in a “good-better-best” format to simplify the choices. An example: Show a freeform progressive lens that has a more basic AR, a free-form progressive lens with your best AR and a high-definition progressive lens with your best AR.

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Address cost using other common purchases. To prevent patient sticker shock, break down the cost by comparing it with other common purchases.

An example patient script:

“These lenses are roughly $60 more than the ones you have now. That’s $5 a month. So, if you give up two sodas, one mocha or one Big Mac per month, or just one nice dinner per year, you can have a pair of glasses that will make you see better every day.”

By providing such a script, the patient is able to appreciate the small relative difference.

Manage patient expectations. Have your optician explain how to use the lenses, and let the patient react, as opposed to immediately discussing potential adaptation issues or non-adapt guarantees:

“Ms. Smith, these lenses will let you see all distances while maintaining pretty natural head and eye movements. Give it a try: I want to see you look out the window and then look down to read your cell phone.”

It is important that our dispensers show their excitement for the new technology, and transfer that excitement to the patient.

The benefits

By offering premium progressive lenses in your practice, you’ll become the go-to practitioner for presbyopic patients. As this is a continuously growing group, some of whom have disposable incomes, you have the potential to greatly increase your profitability. OM

1. Walker, C. Lens Stats and Facts. Lens Logic, Digital Supplement to 20/20 Magazine. http://bt.e-ditionsbyfry.com/publication/?i=130630 (Accessed 01/11/13)

2. Leonard, S. The 2012 Free-Form Hand Book, Supplement to Vision Care Product News. August 2012: 4-7.

images Dr. Brimer owns Crystal Vision Services, an ophthalmic equipment and practice management consulting company. She practices in Wilmington, NC and has a special interest in contact lenses and dry eye management. Send comments to optometricmanagement@gmail.com.


Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: March 2013, page(s): 25 26 27