Building Your Practice With Colored Lenses

Here's a peek at what your colleagues and practice management consultants offer for advice about growing your practice with colored lenses.

Colored Lenses
Building Your Practice With Colored Lenses
Here's a peek at what your colleagues and practice management consultants offer for advice about growing your practice with colored lenses. You'll also learn how doctors present this lens option to their patients and what specific populations some of them target.

Q How do you use colored contact lenses to build your practice?

Have patients narrow the color choices to two lenses. Don't have them try each and every color because that's time consuming, confusing and not fiscally sound. Let them cover one eye to see the effect or let patients compare the color change to their normal eye color.

Jan Jurkus, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O.
Chicago, Ill.

Price these lenses competitively and offer free plano color trial lenses or free prescription trial pairs to all patients if available. If a patient can't decide on a color, recommend that she purchase multiple colors.

Loretta B. Szczotka, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.
Cleveland, Ohio

Overall, I wouldn't say we've had huge success with cosmetic contact lenses, but they're one more weapon in an armamentarium of products that help to distinguish our practice, and the market for these lenses has been growing.

Alan N. Glazier, O.D., F.A.A.O.
 Rockville, Md.

During the history, we ask nearly all patients if they're interested in getting new glasses, trying contact lenses, trying color lenses or undergoing laser vision correction. We also display posters and brochures. We have a PowerPoint program that highlights our services and materials. It's hooked to a T.V. in the reception room and continuously runs.

Daniel Bintz, O.D.
 Elk City, Okla.

There's a process in promoting any product or service in a practice. The method I recommend is measurable in terms of revenue, new patient additions, retention and loyalty.

  • Display patient education materials about colored lenses in the reception area, optical, contact lens room and exam room(s). Use the same display so the message is consistently repeated to the patient.
  • Hold a staff meeting to demonstrate how to work patient trials of colored lenses into the patient flow. My experience has been that the biggest problem for the sell-through of any lens product is getting the staff on board with how to fit it into the patient flow because they're concerned about staying on time.
  • Train your staff about the patient benefits of the lenses, the cost to the patient, care and cleaning of diagnostics, etc. Provide a simple script for the presentation of the lenses. Example: "Some of our patients who have blue eyes like to enhance the color with colored lenses. They find them comfortable, convenient, nice looking and reasonably priced."
    Once your staff knows what to say to patients, you may find that you need scripting as well. Try this: "We have a number of patients who want to change or enhance their eye color. The shape of your cornea and your eye color make you a good candidate for these lenses." This approach is educational. If the patient wants more information, he'll respond at this point without a prompt.
  • Implement a spiff program to reinforce the previous training and the marketing strategy mission. For every patient who buys the colored lenses, put $3 to $5 in a general fund and divide it equally among all staff members at the end of each month.
  • Verify how many colored lenses you sold last year during the same period. Track how many were sold during the marketing campaign this period. Make sure to note how many patients who wear clear lenses took the opportunity. Track referrals relevant to colored lenses from the welcome-to-our-office questionnaire.

Annette Juneau
Lake Worth, Fla.

How do you present colored lenses to patients? Do you target specific patients?

Because we now have a colored lens for astigmatism, we're starting to target that group more. Generally, I'll put a trial lens on the patient (over her non-astigmatic lens) to simulate what a toric lens would do for her vision. If it seems to help, we'll order a trial pair. I try to explain that upgrading to a toric may enhance night vision and reduce eye strain.

Daniel Bintz, O.D.

W hen colored lenses first became "regularly available" in the 1980s, I started wearing a green right lens and a brown left lens over my blue eyes. When people stared at me, I stared back, then gave them my business card, which had my photo with the two colored lenses visible on my eyes. When Wesley Jessen came out with quarterly replacement cosmetic tinted soft lenses, I instructed patients that the best way to keep track of 3-month intervals for lens replacement was to change them the first day of each season. Some patients even changed colors each season. You know how the seasons change on the 21st of March, June, September and December? That's when I remind them that they have a "contact lens for each season."

Mark R. Sukoenig, O.D.
 Syracuse, N.Y.

In the past, cosmetic contact lenses were a difficult subject to approach with my patients without my appearing to be too much of a salesman. When patients asked me about colored lenses, I'd be more than happy to fit them, but I never brought the subject up first.

I had a stock of plano trial lenses that were difficult for moderate and high myopes to visualize when trying them. Occasionally, as a demonstration, I'd piggy-back them on 1-day lenses.

The recent advent of disposable cosmetic lenses has allowed me to work with them more frequently, as the trials are readily available and come in prescriptions that allow my patients to try them. I can give them to people as a trial, and they can take several colors home to try. In many cases, they return wanting to be fit.

Alan N. Glazier, O.D., F.A.A.O.

Never decide which color the patient should buy. Always let her make the choice because what you think looks strange may be the effect she really wants. When asked which color I like better, if I really don't like either color, I'll say, "Each gives you a unique look, which are you more comfortable with?" Another useful phrase is, "Oh, what a dramatic effect!"

If the patient can't decide what to do, suggest that she get both colors and change them as she desires. The cost issue is often minimal with the frequent replacement lenses. Patients often want the fitter to suggest what they should do. Getting a minimum number of lenses in different colors will allow the patient to experience which effect she finds most desirable over a period of time. I'll also suggest that the patient get a supply of non-cosmetic tinted lenses so she can appreciate the natural color of her eyes on occasion.

Have patients store different-colored lenses in different-colored cases. This way, the patient can identify the lens color without opening the case and causing potential lens contamination.

Advise the patient that she may experience a peripheral haze while wearing the clear-pupil lens designs and that colors may be different when wearing the enhancing tint that covers the pupil. Once warned, she can either accept this or use non-tinted lenses.

Jan Jurkus, O.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.O.

I've found that mostly patients who have dark irises (e.g., Hispanic, African-American, etc.) are interested in colored lenses, so I mostly approach them about this option.

Loretta B. Szczotka, O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.

How do you display colored lenses in your office?

I always "suggestively sell" these lenses, usually just by asking if the patient is interested first in contact lenses, then in tinted lenses, either for cosmetics or for handling help. With some presbyopic patients, the tint also helps them handle the lens. Colored contact lenses are an easy sell with teens -- they sometimes even want more than one color!

In the office, we have the traditional poster of the model wearing all the lens shades. We also use the mats with the photos in the contact lens instruction area and the flyers in the waiting area. Mary Jo Stiegemeier, O.D., F.A.A.O., Beachwood, Ohio

We have so many trial lenses in our office that it looks like an unorganized warehouse. Every company has a different-size blister pack and a different type of display cabinet. It's the one thing that drives me batty. In addition, with CIBA Vision/Wesley Jessen, they don't allow us to have colored trial lenses that have power in stock, so they take up the least room of any lens. As I said, we just don't have room to make a "pretty" display to put lenses in -- we have them sitting on counter tops, hanging on the wall and even hooked to the backs of closet doors using those cheap, ugly, metal hanging shoe racks!

Daniel Bintz, O.D.

We have a number of easels in high-traffic areas of our office with displays furnished by the contact lens companies. We also use light boxes, which work particularly well with colored lenses, although we don't actually display the lenses themselves.

R. Whit Lord, O.D.
Statesboro, Ga.