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You may have noticed some increased national advertising by manufacturers of photochromic lenses. As you know, I generally don't mention product brand names in this column, so I'll use the generic term (photochromic) but feel free to substitute your brand of choice as you read this.
As a practitioner, I welcome the major marketing push that is appearing in all kinds of media, from television to magazines to the Internet. It gets people thinking about eye care and drives them into our offices. Here are a few ideas you can apply in your office to build on the momentum.
The optician's duty
I train my staff of technicians and opticians that it is their duty to educate every patient who is selecting eyeglasses about the major lens options available. At our staff meetings, we discuss how they should never prejudge a patient's interest and never apply their own personal like or dislike of a product. It is the optician's job to explain the lens options and it does not depend on incentives (we don't offer any). If we simply present the products, we sell them.
I use the real world example of the patient who spends a lot of money on new glasses, picks them up and calls back a few days later to complain that no one offered them a photochromic lens (or anti-reflective, or any other any special lens feature). Typically the patient will tell us that a spouse or friend noticed his new glasses and asked if they were photochromic and he had to say no because the idea was never brought up when he placed the order. How embarrassing for us! How bad do we look if we didn't take the time to review the options? How inconvenient and wasteful if we now have to proceed with a remake.
We make it easy for our opticians to demonstrate the major lens options by having a convenient laminated checklist at every dispensing table and by having plenty of demo lenses on hand for show and tell.
Children and photochromics
One of my associate optometrists brought this idea up at a recent staff meeting and it really hit home with me. She has a seven year-old son who is very active in sports, and when she is at a game it is common for another parent to remark about how nice it is for Zach to have prescription sunglasses. She replies that they are photochromic lenses and how nice it is for her son to have protection from the sun without having to worry about two pairs of glasses.
My staff makes a special point of recommending photochromic lenses for all our children patients and parents generally love the idea.
Photochromic and AR together
It took a little extra effort but we are finally dispensing quite a few lenses that are photochromic and have an anti-reflective coating. Patients, and even staff members, may initially feel there is no need for two lens features that cut glare, but it makes perfect sense. Remember that today's photochromics are virtually clear when indoors, so the benefits of AR are the same. And the very best sunglass lenses also have AR, so even in the dark state patients look better and see better.
Here is the text of a handout we are using to educate patients about the need for both lens options.
Combining Anti-reflective and Photochromics
The best lens is obtained when both of these features are combined and we have a special package price if you choose both.
Many people wonder: why should I buy both AR and photochromics since both cut glare? The answer is that the two features work quite differently and both offer major benefits.
Photochromics are tinted lenses that work like a sunglass to reduce the amount of light passing through the lens, but the tint does nothing to reduce light reflected off the surface like a mirror.
Anti-reflective lenses (AR) reduce reflected light by about 98% so the wearer is not bothered by reflections and the lenses seem to disappear when viewed by others. AR greatly improves your cosmetic appearance because people see your eyes, not lens reflections. An AR coating is not a tint but a chemical process that cuts reflections.
Whether a photochromics lens is in the clear or tinted state, reflections off the surface appear unattractive and annoying.
All high quality sunglass lenses have an anti-reflective coating. Look at some on our displays.
To encourage you to obtain both features, we offer special package pricing when you order glasses that are photochromic and anti-reflective.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.