In the days before eye exams, the method for selling eyeglasses was very simple: the seller (often a jeweler) had a bunch of eyeglasses in various powers, and patients tried on one pair after another until they found the one that worked best. Clearly, it was an imprecise approach, and was limited to the inventory available in the store, or the travelling salesman’s wagon. On the other hand, it had one distinct advantage over the way we sell eyewear today: consumers knew exactly what kind of visual experience they were buying.
Today we can design and manufacture a lens based on specific individual parameters. Even so, patients don’t get the opportunity to try before they buy. They have to accept on faith that the new eyewear will work as well or better than what they’ve been wearing. That can cause anxiety, both for the patient and the dispenser, especially if the eyewear they are purchasing is more expensive. For that reason, many dispensers prefer to keep patients in the same lenses, however much they are surpassed by newer technology.
A true lens test-drive continues to be impossible, but new demonstration systems offer the next best thing, with animation and imagery that can bring the latest lens technology to life. Some of these systems are standalone, while others are bundled with try-on and measurement systems. Today, many are housed on tablet computers, which are both more flexible and less expensive than freestanding versions.
These systems can demonstrate aspects of lenses like the difference between standard and customized lenses, how AR reduces reflections and polarization reduces glare, and how photochromics work in various lighting conditions. These are all things lens manufacturers do with side-by-side photos on dispensing mats, but digital systems provide animation and interactivity that dramatize the demonstrations.
The most advanced systems, like ABS Smart Mirror, can show the wider visual field of a customized progressive using the patient’s own prescription. While this probably won’t be as dramatic as showing what the difference would be for a -4.00 Rx, it is much more realistic and avoids false expectations. Some systems use the tablet’s camera to show the difference as the patients looks around the exam room or the optical.
Most manufacturers and ECPs agree that these systems are best used as an enhancement to, rather than a replacement for, a consultation by a doctor or dispenser. Your word as an expert is always the most important element in helping the patient choose the best eyewear, but seeing is believing.
This blog entry was based on my cover story in the November issue of Vision Monday, called “Dynamic Demos.” For a rundown on the various types of demo systems available, and their use, check out the article at VisionMonday.com. I can’t honestly say the article is a masterpiece of journalism, but I bet my mom would.
According to patients, the most important factor in determining their satisfaction with an eye care practice is how long they have to wait for their exam. It somehow weighs more heavily than the thoroughness of the doctor’s exam, the care demonstrated by the staff, or the quality of the eyewear you sell. This tells us two things: first, life isn’t fair; and second, keeping wait times short is extremely important.
A Jobson Research survey shows that about two-thirds of patients think that a wait time of no more than 15 minutes is appropriate to see an Optometrist. The good news is that of all medical professions, Optometry has the shortest wait times – about 17 minutes on average. On the downside, patients don’t expect to wait as long for an eye doctor as they do for other types of doctors.
Every office tries to schedule appointments such that the exam chairs will always be full, but patients don’t have to wait long. But it’s not an exact science, and inevitably there will be delays. Patients who arrive early are content to wait until their scheduled appointment times, but once that time passes, they become increasingly impatient (there’s actually a name for this: appointment syndrome.) Here are a few of ways you can make long waits more tolerable.
Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is a masterpiece, and since I love it, I want everybody else to love it. Suppose I want to share it with you, and to do so I hand you a copy of the printed score. Would you get anything out of it? I certainly wouldn’t.
Now suppose I give you a download link to a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh played by a great orchestra under a brilliant conductor, and you listened to it. You still might not like it, but at least you would have the opportunity to appreciate it. The music exists only potentially in the score. It takes talented musicians to realize it – to make it come to life.
Why am I talking about this, apart from the fact that I have a nerdy love of Beethoven? Because the same relationship exists between a prescription and a pair of glasses. The prescription may be brilliantly done, but the piece of paper itself doesn’t help a patient see better. It has to be brought to life in the form of eyewear.
A prescription, like the Beethoven symphony that I just can’t shut up about, can be realized well or badly. Draggy tempos and poor playing correspond to narrow viewing zones and excessive peripheral swim. The wearer can come away with a bad impression of the prescription, and the doctor who wrote it, just like a listener can come away from a bad performance wondering why Beethoven is such a big deal. Is there any other type of prescription subject to such wide variations in quality?
Some doctors like to write prescriptions and leave the selection of lenses to somebody else. But in doing so, they allow the possibility that the patient will get a poor realization of the Rx. That doesn’t just make the patient unhappy – it reflects badly on the practice and the doctor.
This is an argument not just for understanding what’s going on in the optical, but for recommending specific lenses in the exam room, and making a firm hand-off to a dispenser. A recommendation from the doctor will be stronger than one from anyone else in the practice. Only the doctor can make the recommendation in the medical context of the exam room. And that’s entirely appropriate, because it’s the best way to ensure that the patient gets the most out of the recommendation.
Doctors, if you’re not involved, get involved. Talk to patients about their lens options, and why you think one is better than the other. A recommendation from you may keep them in your optical and away from the budget retailers. It’s good for your practice’s bottom line, and it’s good for your reputation.
(By the way, the Deutsche Grammophon recording of Beethoven’s 7th with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Carlos Kleiber is really, really good.)
Practices owned by private equity firms are now part of the optical landscape, just like big-box and online retailers. About 7% of U.S. Optometrists are now backed in some way by private equity, and new acquisitions are so frequently announced in Vision Monday that they’re becoming background noise. Why is this happening? Because health care is the fastest-growing segment of the economy, and PE firms know it. They’ve decided that there’s money to be made in creating a hybrid of private-practice and corporate optometry. And there are a lot of practice owners who are more than willing to sell part or all of their practice to investors. What do they see in it?
For practice owners who are nearing retirement, PE can be like a reverse mortgage – you get cash for your business, but you still get to practice as long as you want. For others, it’s an opportunity to get rid of all the headaches of running a business and focus on optometry. PE groups usually promise that they will preserve the culture of the practice, while installing their own business systems and controlling the optical. The bottom line is that the seller gets to control whatever goes on in the exam lane, and the investors take care of –or control, if you prefer – everything outside of it.
Whether selling to PE investors is right for a practice owner, or not, largely depends on two things: how soon the owner plans to retire, and his or her desire to control the practice. Selling provides the opportunity to reduce stress levels and get back to basics – the doctor controls what goes on in the exam lane, and the investors take care of the rest. But for those who like to control their own destiny, who relish the challenge of making their business run smoothly and profitably, staying independent is the way to go. One thing is certain, though: once you make the deal, there is no going back.
Sometimes the things we know the most about are the hardest to explain. I once spent some time talking to a sales VP for a company that made highly sophisticated medical devices, and he said something that struck me: “Our best salesperson is the one who knows the least about the product.” It seems strange, but there’s a good reason for it: the sales rep didn’t get buried in the technical explanations of how the equipment worked; instead, he focused on what it did better than other devices of its type.
The same rule applies when we talk about eyeglass lenses. We may know exactly why this one works better than others, but explaining it to patients may cause their eyes to roll into their heads, or make them feel like you’re just trying to intimidate them into buying a more expensive pair. It may be obvious to us that a wider distance zone with lower peripheral astigmatism is a good thing, but it probably isn’t to them.
Instead, focus on top-line benefits and keep them as simple as possible:
Every now and then, of course, you’ll encounter a patient who wants to know how the lens or coating delivers the benefit. In that case, it’s good to have a sentence or two about the technology in your back pocket. But unless the patient asks, just stick talk about the benefit that the patient will experience.
GSRx is proud to announce our new partnership with Armourx, the safety eyewear provider that is setting a new standard for comfort and style. And GSRx is offering their great products at the affordable prices you’ve come to expect from us!
Armourx offers a full line of lens designs, including single vision, bi-and trifocals, two styles of progressives and office lenses, in materials ranging from CR to 1.67*. Options include Infinity(R) Safety AR, PrevaBlue(R) Safety, and Transitions(R). Your patients can choose from 18 Armourx traditional and wraparound frame styles. We also offer safety frames from Titmus and Wiley X(R).
GSRx lets you jump-start your safety eyewear business. Your patients will love the style, and you’ll love our prices! For more information, contact your GSRx Account Manager or call us at 800-833-4779.
*Material availability varies by design
Blue light has long been suspected to contribute to Advanced Macular Degeneration. But as with a suspect still at large, there hasn’t been sufficient evidence to convict. A new study from the University of Toledo, recently reported in Vision Monday, may have found the smoking gun. The study found that excitation of the retinal by blue light ultimately leads to excessive shape change in the cell, and cell death.
According to Kasun Ratnayake, one of the researchers involved in the study, “If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signaling molecule on the membrane dissolves. Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”
The study has two key implications. One is to help confirm what we have suspected, which is that blue light exposure over time can lead to AMD. The other is that, by understanding the mechanism by which blue light leads to cell death, we can ultimately develop means to combat it.
The researchers are now studying the effects of indoor light sources on the retinal, to understand whether lower-intensity blue light exposure has similar detrimental effects. Some studies have indicated that blue light from these sources is not sufficient to cause harm, but the jury is still out. Whatever the conclusion, it’s now more urgent than ever to talk to patients about blue light, and to make sure they are aware of eyewear options available to protect them, like UVhpfrom GSRx.
You can read the study results here.
If you’re not familiar with ProperOptics.com, you should know that it’s not like any other optical retail site. It’s an extension of your practice that lets your patients and others buy Proper Optics eyewear from you with the convenience of internet shopping. You keep the patients, and you keep all of the profits. Except for a small shipping and handling fee (about $8.00), you make the same amount as you would from a sale in your optical. Plus, if any consumer from your market area buys eyewear on ProperOptics.com, you get the revenue even if they aren’t currently your patient.
ProperOptics.com offers the full selection of Proper Optics frames (over 260 styles), along with INIFINITY NON-GLARE coatings and a wide material selection. Because we care about the quality of your patient’s vision experience, we offer only standard single vision lenses on the site.
ProperOptics.com lets you capture optical sales from patients who would otherwise buy from another online retailer, with minimal effort. If you’re not currently partnering with GSRx on ProperOptics.com, maybe it’s time.
Read the full article from Vision Care Product News here: https://www.visioncareproducts.com/noteworthy.
But patients just want great vision, and they may not understand how all the “ingredients” of the lens contribute to that goal. At GSRx, we decided to create packages that are easy for patients to understand, without you having to “sell” each upgrade individually.
The Performance Lens packages are designed to be easy for patients to relate to. They include features that all wearers need, but don’t always buy if they are presented as upgrades.
Symmetry™ Lens Packages
Some people simply need the most effective balance of distance, intermediate, near and peripheral vision. Symmetry packages provide it for the full range of patients: epik Variable progressives, fully customized for prescription, wearing position and frame shape; and epik FFSV free-form customized single vision lenses. Each delivers the most natural vision experience available today.
Stress-Free Vision™ Packages
The Stress-Free Vision series is design for the huge population of frequent digital device users who have symptoms of Digital Eye Strain. The combination of UVhp blue light reduction, Infinity Clear Non-Glare and designs enhanced for digital devices reduces strain and keeps the eyes relaxed.
Three designs are used to meet a variety of needs:
DriveSport Lens Packages
Designed for frequent drivers and sports enthusiasts, DriveSport combine a distance emphasis with superior glare reduction and better contrast perception. The epik Variable Active progressive or customized epik FFSV single vision lenses provide the clearest distance and periphery for wearers of all ages.
Performance lens packages let you offer complete solution for patients who want the best for their vision needs and lifestyles, without the complexity often associated with lens options. That makes life easier for your patients – and for you.
We’re proud to announce the launch of UVhp in PolyTrue™ polycarbonate. A GSRx exclusive, UVhp PolyTrue joins UVhp 1.60 and 1.74 to create the broadest range of blue light absorbing materials available in the market today.
UVhp lens materials are embedded with blue light absorbers that provide the highest level of protection from harmful blue light while remaining virtually clear:
PolyTrue™: Way beyond ordinary poly
Manufactured using a unique, patented process, PolyTrue™ outperforms ordinary polycarbonate in all the key areas:
More and more patients are demanding blue light protection for themselves and their children, so you need options to meet every need. With UVhp and PrevaBlue AR, GSRx is proud to offer you the broadest range of blue light solutions in the market.