Article Date: 3/1/2002

lessons learned
A Salty Example
Feel good about "selling" to patients when they need it.
By Jack Runniger, O.D.

"You must sell a lot of salt," said a customer to the country grocer, as he noted shelf after shelf filled with boxes of salt.

"Nah, I don't sell much salt a'tall," replied the grocer. "But the guy who sells me salt -- he can really sell salt!"

When I was in practice, I bent over backward to not give the appearance of being a super salesman like the salt salesman. I felt it was unprofessional, for example, to try to "sell" progressive addition lenses to the patient who only wanted reading glasses.

Thanks to cataract and implant surgery, I've become an emmotropic pseudophake, and I've discovered that I was doing such patients a disservice. I should've been trying to sell them on the fact that they're better off getting glasses to keep on their noses, rather than in their pockets.


Like a big shot?

After my surgery I figured I could now get along with just half-eye reading glasses, and look important like all the big shot executives who wear them. (Or, as a lady librarian patient of mine called them, "half-assed" glasses.)

It didn't take long for me to become convinced that this was for the birds. The final straw was when I leaned over to flush the commode, and out fell the specs from my pocket before the flush. I immediately went back to wearing progressive addition lenses, keeping them on my nose full time, for this and a number of other reasons.

The reasons

Convenience. I discovered that the bridge of my nose was the handiest carrying case. I no longer had to search for my half-eyes every time I needed to look at phone numbers, reading material, etc.

One solution to this problem of keeping up with reading glasses has been to carry them on a chain around the neck. I think this looks sort of stupid and effeminate, but it does have one advantage -- it's a great gravy catcher at the dinner table!

Better vision. Wearing progressive add lenses, even with almost no correction for distance, artificially restores accommodation for me. It's like being able to see the way I did when I was a teenager. I can see the computer screen without the specs, but I do it a lot more comfortably with them on.

Eye protection. We all know about eye injuries that could've been prevented if the person had worn hard resin or treated lenses.

"Why are you wearing glasses," a tennis-playing friend asked me during a recent match. "I thought you didn't need them for distance seeing after your cataract surgery."

"Four reasons," I told him. "With progressive add lenses, I can focus on the ball better at the distance where I hit it. Secondly, with this photosensitive tint, I can see better in the sun glare.

"Thirdly, it's for eye protection. A number of years ago, when I wasn't wearing glasses, I received a serious injury when I was hit in the eye with a tennis ball."

"Fourthly, when I wore my glasses part time, I usually forgot to take them to the tennis courts. Now that they reside on my nose, I no longer forget them."


I've seen many cases (of men and women) in the past where the vanity of maintaining a youthful appearance was the chief motivating factor of a patient trying to get by without wearing glasses. Instead, they squinted and strained to see things without correction, which made them look a whole lot older than if they'd simply worn a fashionable pair of glasses.

Do your presbyopic and pseudophakic patients a favor: "Sell" them on the benefits of progressive add glasses over simple reading glasses. 



Optometric Management, Issue: March 2002