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LEADING OFF: Create Awareness in Your Practice

Optometrists Provide Sports Eyewear Tips

With the spring sports season underway and summer just around the corner, do you have an action plan to make patients aware of sports eyewear? Three optometrists who specialize in sports vision do!

1. Educate. “Have staff ask patients to bring their sports eyewear to their appointment, and if patients don’t have this eyewear, yet their patient history form says they participate in sports, ask them, ‘what do you wear when playing sports’ when they’re in your exam chair,” explains Jennifer Stewart, O.D. “This opens up the dialog, and you can dispel a lot of incorrect pre-conceived notions.

These false notions: that glasses are needed just for work and/or school, that a standard pair will work for sports and that the sports eyewear available is clunky, heavy and obtrusive, Dr. Stewart adds.

“I always tell patients, ‘If you’re wearing glasses at school or work to enable you to see and, therefore, perform at your best, doesn’t it make sense to have a pair during play when you want to be performing at your best? Also, the glasses you’re wearing to school are your dress eyewear. Safety-wise, they’re not appropriate for sports. Think of it this way: Would you wear your day-to-day shoes to play baseball or soccer? Sports eyewear is like cleats for your eyes. Additionally, an array of sleek and athletic styles are available.’”

“Sports eyewear is like cleats for your eyes,” says Dr. Stewart.

Keith Smithson, O.D., suggests you discuss the science of tints and how certain tints are beneficial for certain sports, such as golf.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for athletes who play multiple sports to match the tint with that sport, and you can also discuss polarization and photochromic eyewear,” he says.

Further, Dr. Smithson recommends using your online channels to educate by, for example, posting photos of professional athletes wearing the same products you offer. Doing so gets the conversation started, he says.

2. Offer a variety of sports eyewear styles in a themed area. To dispel the falsehood that sports eyewear is a hindrance vs. a help to performance, offer a variety of styles, Dr. Smithson says.

“Go a step further, and invite patients to bring in their helmets, face masks, etc. to try on the different sports eyewear, and do it in the optical to draw attention to the fact that you not only offer it, but athletes think it’s important,” he adds.

Amanda Nanasy, O.D., recommends placing sports eyewear in a separate display, and to make it pop with sports equipment, such as soccer balls, and point-of-purchase posters and pamphlets.

“At my practice, we also have photos of athletes wearing the sports eyewear we offer to show patients and parents of young athletes that sports eyewear is important, and their heroes think it’s important too,” she explains.

3. Provide plano eyewear. If a patient doesn’t have a prescription, but participates in a sport, such as basketball, in which elbows, fingers and balls, are likely to come in contact with the eyes, discuss the safety benefits of sports eyewear, recommends Dr. Nanasy. OM