Let’s help patients stay healthy and look stylish
Polarized sunwear, prescription or non, is something I believe every single one of my patients can benefit from, so I prescribe it. To everyone. Okay, yes. There are occasionally patients who have specific hobbies or occupations, like a pilot, who may require non-polarized sunwear. But, this column is focused on those who can benefit from polarized sunwear: the majority of patients.
Here, I explain how recent graduates can achieve patient buy-in to polarized sunwear at the outset.
REQUEST PATIENTS BRING ALL EYEWEAR
When staff schedules a patient for a comprehensive eye health exam, my team is trained to ask every patient to bring all their eyewear, including prescription sunwear, to the appointment. This request sends the message to patients that their choice of eyewear plays a significant role in their ocular health.
It’s not uncommon for patients to say, “Oh, I don’t have any!” When this occurs, my team responds with something similar to, “That’s not a problem. You’ve come to the right place! I’ll make a special note for your doctor to review this with you. Everyone needs sunglasses!” Seed planted!
EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF EYE PROTECTION
When the patient is in my chair, I explain that I’m prescribing polarized sunwear for them because overexposure to UVB rays can cause cancer on one’s eyelids, wrinkles to the ocular adnexa, promote signs of premature aging, cause pinguecula/pterygium, etc. Additionally, I educate patients that UVA light can easily pass through the cornea and cause retinal damage, cataract formation, and it may even play a role in the development of AMD.
EDUCATE ON QUALITY
I educate patients that the OTC frames and non-prescription lenses often found at gas stations and the like should not be confused with a 100% UVA/UVB-filtered polarized prescription (or non) sunwear. To strengthen my point, I explain that buying quality sunwear is the difference between tanning with SPF 50 vs. baby oil.
I find the conversation about quality tends to come up a lot regarding sunwear in children. I get it. Children can be destructive and irresponsible, so the idea of investing money in quality sunwear for their offspring doesn’t seem logical. When faced with this, I gently educate parents that data suggest that roughly 40% to 50% of total UV to age 60 occurs before age 20.1
MAKE IT FUN!
When completing the exam and my educational process regarding polarized sunwear, I let patients know that my trained opticians are ready to provide eyewear style consultations, so patients can get their ideal frame. Reminding patients about the fashion component of prescription polarized sunwear can make a trip to the optometrist a positive experience to remember.
BE THE SOLUTION
From the start of an O.D.’s career, it makes sense from both an ocular health and business perspective to educate patients from the outset on the benefits of polarized sunwear. Additionally, by doing so, fewer patients will present clueless about polarized prescription eyewear, which will free up clinic time to educate them on other services/products that can enhance their visual lives. OM
- Green AC, Wallingford SC, McBride P. Childhood exposure to ultraviolet radiation and harmful skin effects. Epidemiological evidence. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2011 107: 349-55.
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