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About a year after I opened my practice, I remember attending a wedding reception. I was standing among a group of friends and family members, making conversation. My father was quite proud that his son had become a doctor and had a practice in the community, and he was saying what great work I did. As if to prove his point, he pulled his new eyeglasses from his jacket pocket - only to have one of the lenses fly out of the frame and clatter to the floor. Embarrassed, I bent down and picked it up and tried to make some humorous remark - but there was really no way to recover.
I'll bet a story like this story has happened to every optometrist. You may not be present when it happens - but the effect is the same. The owner of the glasses, and the people around him at the time, assume the glasses were not well made.
As advanced as we have become in the technology of vision correction, we still have the problem of spectacle lenses coming loose. Sure, the patient may be responsible sometimes, by mishandling the frame, but that really doesn't matter when he goes to use the glasses and the lens falls out. Your reputation suffers. And, really, many times it is not the patient's fault, but rather an eyewire screw that does not hold tight, or a lens that was edged too small in the first place.
This seemingly minor inconvenience has a big effect on the practice image, which is why I declared a zero-tolerance policy on loose lenses in my practice. Our staff have been trained and re-trained on this topic. If a patient walks in and says a lens is loose or has fallen out, we must completely solve the problem. If the patient says this has happened twice - that should raise a red flag! We are probably going to re-cut the lenses or order a new frame. The expense does not matter.
Here are some important staff training points:
Opticians should never simply tighten the existing eyewire screw with a screwdriver and assume the problem will be solved. This is the easiest way to get the patient out the door, but if it loosened once, it will loosen again!
We try to prevent the problem in the first place by using special locking screws with a polymer coating, which bite into the threads of the barrels. It costs more, but some manufacturers screws are not high enough quality.
We also use lock-tight cement when assembling the screws.
We perform a quality control check on every pair of glasses to see if lenses are snug and cut large enough.
Still, some lenses get loose, so be ready to trouble shoot and solve the problem. We may never eliminate all loose lenses, but we can reduce them greatly.
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.