Eyeglasses aren't trivial -- unless we make them so.
Neil B. Gailmard, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor
Good news! Good ol' refraction and glasses are back in vogue. After 2 decades of optometrists' keen interest in managing ocular disease, often at the expense of optical, we're seeing signs of the pendulum swinging back.
And just in time. I was concerned that others might take our coveted leadership role.
Who else is interested?
Part of the resurgence of optical dispensing within optometry stems from ophthalmology. Optical is the hot topic in ophthalmology. Sure, many M.D.s have had a stake in optical, but not as many and not as involved as they are these days. Now we're seeing the following:
- special dispensing conferences for M.D.s -- and optical tracks within their major meetings
- an unparalleled courtship between the optical industry and M.D.s, with industry providing M.D.-specific Web sites and more
- ophthalmological journals featuring columns on dispensing.
- an M.D. demand for consultants who have opticianry backgrounds to develop dispensaries in M.D. offices.
What's so interesting is that M.D.s are really embracing the field.
we should be.
Fortunately, we have a far better understanding of ophthalmic optics than ophthalmologists or the optician/consultants they hire. But ophthalmologists know how to make money, and when they rush to incorporate optical, we should take notice.
Why low status?
Many of us, including myself at one time, viewed optical dispensing with some distaste. This might stem from a desire to separate ourselves from a product, especially glasses, that has a retail perception. We want to show the world we offer much more. Ironically, the world views eyeglasses as important. It's only in our minds that they're trivial.
When you think about it, the ability for us to provide both health care and a fashion-oriented retail product is a great part of our profession.
Re-engineer your optical
So what can you do to strengthen your optical department?
- Pay more attention to it, and let patients and staff know that you care about it -- that it's not beneath you.
- Attend a major conference or trade show and study optical trends.
- Remodel and revitalize your inventory. Hire staff members who are savvy in sales and marketing.
- Meet with your frame sales reps, not to buy frames but to talk about trends and arrange for the rep to give your staff a sales training seminar.
To make our dispensaries better than ever, we simply need to add business skills to our already excellent optical skills.
You may contact Dr. Gailmard at
Optometric Management, Issue: March 2001