Article Date: 8/1/2004

high-index, AR lenses
High-Index, AR Lenses: Is Your Practice Ready?
When it comes to eyeglasses, don't miss this opportunity to help your patients and your practice.
BY KAREN RODEMICH, Managing Editor

A good number of optometrists miss out on a great opportunity to grow their practices with high-index, anti-reflective (AR) lenses.

How large is the opportunity? According to the AR Council, if you sell one additional ophthalmic lens prescription each day that includes AR lenses, at an average price of $55, you can earn up to $14,000 in new business over one year. Consider that only 19% of eye wear dispensed in the United States has AR lenses, compared to 40% in Canada, 75% in Europe and 95% in Japan.

Although only 19% of eyewear dispensed in the United States have AR lenses, the AR industry still produces $176 million annually. This untapped potential presents incredible opportunity for the entrepreneurial eyecare professional who follows the lead of Europe and Japan.
CHART RECREATED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE AR COUNCIL.

Reason for being

Why is the United States bringing up the rear in AR treatment for ophthalmic lenses?

Says Nick Mileti, president of the AR Council, Europe and Asia deliver options to the patient in a more vertically integrated fashion. The manufacturers of ophthalmic lenses complete orders for all options, including AR treatment, from one facility. Now, he says, "consumers in Europe and Asia don't even ask if AR is an option -- they expect it."

Conversely, in the United States, the AR industry has AR coaters, laboratories and suppliers -- all separate entities. And, as Mr. Mileti points out, some dispensaries in the United States regard AR treatment as an option, giving patients an excuse to "opt out" of AR.

A match made in heaven

Laboratories can apply AR treatment to standard-index, mid-index or high-index lenses, but we'll focus on high-index, because as Richard Clompus, O.D., F.A.A.O., vice president professional affairs for The Spectacle Lens Group Division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., says, "High index and AR go together like peanut butter and jelly. A lens works much better when you put these two together."

Plus, high-index ophthalmic lenses have slightly less light transmission than standard-index ophthalmic lenses, so AR treatment is advisable. As Bernadette Hiskey, SOLA's Teflon brand director, explains, "AR is even more important for high-index lenses because of their higher reflectance and lower light transmittance. AR treatment is also a natural fit with higher-index lenses because individuals who wear high index ophthalmic lenses are likely to be more conscious of the appearance of their lenses and are predisposed to invest in premium eyewear."

Keeping it in the exam room

Aside from the fashion conscious, why aren't more patients purchasing AR treatments for their eyeglasses? In Dr. Clompus's opinion, too many patients first learn about AR treatment from the optician, which leads the patient to think that if his optometrist really thought it was important, he would have brought it up himself. "The discussion should begin with the patient in the privacy of the exam room," he says.

Talk to patients about their ophthalmic lens options, advises Dr. Clompus, whose personal motto is, "Fifteen seconds in the exam room can save 15 minutes in the optical/dispensary."

He suggests that in the exam room, O.D.s say to patients, "I'm going to recommend a progressive lens and an AR treatment." This way, the optical staff doesn't have to sell the "option." Instead it's something that you (the doctor) prescribed.

Mr. Mileti contends that eyecare practitioners need to obtain confidence with the product. Practitioners should use that confidence to offer the product (high-index lens with AR treatment) to patients and to explain the features and the benefits (fashion benefit = the lens is nearly invisible, health benefit = the AR treatment reduces reflections and glare).

Ms. Hiskey says that practitioners should consider using a new-generation AR treatment that offers superior scratch resistance and easier cleaning. This way, they can recommend AR with more confidence and therefore more frequently. "Because AR offers benefits to every patient, practitioners can and should make it a standard recommendation," she adds.

 

FYI

 

The AR Council currently has more than 70 members ranging from retailers, manufacturers of lenses, wholesale providers, suppliers of equipment and independent eyecare practitioners. Practitioners can make up the annual dues with just five sales of AR. To learn more about this organization, visit the Web site at www.arcouncil.org.

Says Jim Schafer, technical customer service team leader for Transitions Optical, "Discussing the different types of glare with patients can aid eyecare professionals in reinforcing the benefits of premium lens features such as AR [treatments] and photochromics. AR, for example, eliminates distracting glare from reflections and ghost images on the lens, while photochromics block discomforting glare from everyday bright light and reduce disabling glare from intense light outdoors."

Mr. Schafer claims that the combination of photochromic lenses and AR remove more kinds of glare than any other type of lens that patients can wear both indoors and outdoors, day and night, making them the ideal lenses for everyday wear.

Clearly demonstrating to patients the importance of pairing their high-index ophthalmic lenses with AR treatment will benefit both your patients and your practice.

It's in your court

Let patients know the three main benefits of AR treatment:

1. AR lenses have a harder surface and thus, enhanced scratch resistance

2. Patients can see better because more light is getting to their eyes

3. Patients look better.

With only 19% penetration into the U.S. market, there appears to be a substantial upside to recommending high-index, AR lenses. You owe it to your patients and your practice to investigate this opportunity.

 


Optometric Management, Issue: August 2004