|While many articles in ophthalmic literature make a pretty convincing case why every American should have sunwear, sales figures indicate that this is not happening as much as we would like to increase our patients’ visual comfort. To find out how eyecare professionals (ECPs) view sunwear and what their feelings are about sunwear for everyone, I spoke to a few ECPs to get their opinions. |
|Maui Jim sun lenses in the Rainbow Falls style, shown here in white pearl, are available in Rx.
Janet Wolcott, Wolcott Optical Service, Salt Lake City, UT
Sherida Williams, Eye Care Associates of Kentucky, Paducah, KY
Robert Pinchman, ABOM, LDO, NCLC, Eye Care of La Jolla, La Jolla, CA
Is every patient actually getting a pair of sunglasses?
Wolcott: We don’t always see it happen. We primarily dispense polycarbonate lenses in the patient’s “first pair” of eyeglasses and that gives them good ultra-violet (UV) protection and impact resistance. Because of this, it makes it easier for the patient to reason that sunwear isn’t really a necessity since they have those protective features in their clear pair. That’s when we talk about the need for comfort.
Williams: When our patients leave without buying sunglasses, we believe that we have failed to present the sunwear option in an effective manner. We can become judgmental about what we think the patient can afford based on how they’re dressed when they come into the practice or when they’ve just committed to an expensive first pair.
Pinchman: Our practice sees primarily geriatric patients and we deal with a lot of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataract issues. Our doctors are very good at explaining the effects of UV radiation on the eye’s internal structures during the patient’s exam and the long-term potential for damage. We probably retain about 50% to 60% of our patients for sunwear purchases and it’s typically the older demographic who’s retained. We find that younger patients tend to have a different frame of mind about UV protection and leave more often without purchasing sunwear.
|Oakley can create prescription sunwear that has the same quality and look as their plano versions (Sweet Spot with bronze polarized lenses shown here).
What are popular sunwear products you sell?
Wolcott: We have success with manufacturer-patented Rx processing. We use companies like Maui Jim, Oakley Inc., and Rudy Project North America for their direct Rx programs to create prescription sunwear that has the same quality and look as their plano versions. We also like Essilor of America, Inc.’s Crizal® SunShield™ with its added UV protection as well as the benefit of a backside anti-reflective (AR) treatment with sunwear. In addition, we use a lot of polarized treatments when creating prescription sunwear.
Williams: We use a lot of the Maui Jim sun lenses processed by them. The optics are phenomenal and patients can have the same clarity of vision whether it’s a plano or a high prescription lens. We also do a lot of bi-gradient mirrors for our patients. Many dispensers like a flash mirror for a cosmetic effect, but we prefer a bi-gradient mirror that deflects glare from both the top and bottom of the lens. A lot of our patients also leave with polarized lenses with a backside AR treatment.
We also have success with Ray-Ban® (by Luxottica). The classic styling is a hit with our patients. We do very well with Wiley X Eyewear, particularly for hunters and motorcycle riders. Their designs offer the protection they need and the light adjusting lenses are great.
Pinchman: We pride ourselves on using the latest lens technologies. We have found a lot of success in using Trivex® material (from PPG Industries, Inc.) because of its great optical clarity, due to its low chromatic aberration as well as its wide variety of lens designs. Our patients are also concerned with reducing glare and enhancing contrast so the majority of our lenses are polarized.
|Luxottica’s Ray-Ban classic Wayfarer is a hit with patients (Style No. RB4105 shown here).
We try to help patients select frames with maximum coverage. The Carrera frames (from Safilo USA) tend to have the styles our patients like while providing better UV protection.
What techniques do you use to successfully sell sunwear?
Wolcott: Our practice believes in being customer service driven, that’s why we take the time to really interview our patients about their wants and needs and how we can best address those with products. We want them to leave with adequate protection and visual comfort, so even if the patient doesn’t leave with a complete new pair of sunwear, we make sure they leave with some type of solution like a clip-on or a fit-over.
Williams: Our greatest successes in selling sunwear occur when doctors take the time to discuss it with the patient during the exam. We also ask lifestyle questions of our patients such as what they do, what type of outdoor activities they participate in, etc. Once the clear pair has been decided on, we also ask them about sunwear so they understand they should be getting sunwear too. Once the patient leaves the exam room, we have purposefully placed a sunwear display in their walking path.
Pinchman: We utilize demonstrators in our dispensary, particularly when talking about polarization. This makes a big impact on the patient to see how polarization can enhance their vision. We make sure to keep a small hands-on demonstrator at the fitting table so it’s easily accessible. We also use a video system that plays in both our reception area and dispensary. It runs a video loop about sunwear and helps our patients become more knowledgeable about the need for sunwear protection.
|Frames from Safilo tend to have styles patients like such as the Carrera X-Cede collection.
What are the main objections you get?
Wolcott: Some patients are very income oriented and simply cannot afford it. That’s why we like to have a variety of solutions for them. We also find it frustrating that non-prescription sunwear is not allowed as a viable purchase using flex spending plans. It would be nice if the third-party payment companies had a better understanding about the need for sunwear, even if the patient doesn’t have a prescription.
Williams: Sticker shock from the patient. The patient will shy away if the insurance company doesn’t pay for more than one pair. We also find it frustrating that an insurance company will pay for a plano pair of sunglasses after LASIK surgery, but will not cover them without a LASIK procedure. It would be nice if insurance companies would recognize that eye damage will occur without sunwear protection and that they will be paying more for it in the end.
Pinchman: We find that our younger patients just don’t understand the need for quality sunwear protection. They tend to either not purchase sunwear or want a very inexpensive over-the-counter pair.
Dispensing sunwear can be a rewarding experience—you not only make your patients’ visual lives better, but you increase your bottom line as well.
Joy L. Gibb is the owner of Eyes of Joy Mobile Optical Service in Woods Cross, UT.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Essilor of America, Inc.
800-542-5668 • essilorusa.com
800-422-2020 • luxottica.com
Maui Jim, Inc.
888-MAUI JIM • mauijim.com
800-733-6255 • oakley.com
Rudy Project North America
888-860-7597 • rudyprojectusa.com
800-631-1188 • safilo.com
PPG Industries, Inc.
800-323-2487 • ppgtrivex.com
Wiley X Eyewear
800-776-7842 • wileyx.com