Ophthalmic Lenses

Ask Patients Detailed Lifestyle Questions…Then Select Best Lens Options

By Stuart J. Thomas, OD, and Ellen Byrum-Goad, LDO

Your success in providing patients with the ideal spectacle lenses—and second-pair sales–depends on your understanding of patients’ lifestyle needs. The key: Ask detailed questions.

Doctors and staff concern themselves with the technical aspects of refraction and hopefully double-check the prescription when it is delivered from the lab. But often we fail to consider an equally important task–fully understanding the patient’s lifestyle to provide the vision each patient needs to live a comfortable life. The vision solution you match to the patient’s lifestyle often involves the prescription of a second pair of eyeglasses. Here is how our office approaches this process.

Match Lifestyle to Ideal Lens

Long hours of close computer work
Computer eyewear with lenses to mitigate digital eye fatigue.

Avid Golfer

Lens specially made for golf such as Shamir Golf.

Often reads at the beach
Progressive lenses with polarized Transitions Vantage

Loves boating in summer and skiing in winter
Polarized prescription sunwear

Consider Where Patient Is in Their Life

You can tell by a person’s age the vision challenges they are likely to be experiencing. You see presbyopia in middle age patients, the beginning of cataracts in older patients, and dry eyes in menopausal women. But to understand what the patient needs from their eyeglasses, both the doctor and optical staff must ask detailed questions.

For example, if an older patient mentions that she is retired, don’t just say, “That’s nice.” Instead, ask about the hobbies the patient has taken up. Doing so may reveal that even though the patient has a pair of eyeglasses for up-close work indoors, they have nothing for outdoors and are having trouble reading on their frequent trips to their beach house and require eyeglasses with sun protection such as Transitions. Or you may find that even though the patient has a pair of Transitions eyeglasses, they are still in need of an ideal pair of sun protecting eyewear when boating due to the glare off the water and could use a pair of polarized lenses.

Fine Tune Prescription Based on Work and Hobby Particulars

Once you have learned the patient’s work and hobby activities, don’t stop there. For instance, if the patient mentions that they are a movie buff who spends a lot of time at home in front of the TV, ask how their vision is when they recline in their chair and how it is after more than an hour or two, and how it is if they happen to also be thumbing through a magazine or book while watching.

Lifestyle Lens for Specific Sports
= Second-Pair Sales Opportunity

Shamir Golf is an example of a lifestyle-oriented lens that can enhance your patient’s leisure time activities such as their favorite sport.

If the patient golfs, ask about how their game is going. Is there some aspect of it they have been struggling to improve? It may turn out that on days with a particular kind of weather such as very sunny or gray with glare they are having trouble seeing far on the green. Or it may turn out that though they can make a long shot, they have trouble putting short distances. Several frame manufacturers have golfing packages that enhance the ability to “read the greens.” Introduce them to this technology!

If a patient (like many, if not most) sit in front of a computer all day at work, ask how their eyes feel at the end of the day and whether they struggle to read on the computer screen easily after the first few hours at the office. It is likely that many could benefit from a pair of computer eyeglasses.

The key is not just asking about work and hobbies, but taking the time to drill down into how the particulars of their work or leisure activities are going. It often turns out that the patient never knew a discomfort they were experiencing could be due to their vision–and that you have the solution for them.

Educate the Patient About Lens Options

In our practice, once the doctor has determined each visual need of the patient, the doctor reviews, along with reporting the health of their eyes, those specific needs. The doctor will tell them: “I have prescribed X,” and then will say, “I have also prescribed X, that you need for your “computer eyewear,” “TV eyewear,” “driving eyewear,” “shooting eyewear,” “piano eyewear,” “golf eyewear,” “safety eyewear,” “sunwear,” etc.

It is easy to see how each patient is going to present multiple areas where we not only have the opportunity to discuss lifestyle need, and thus develop relationships with our patients, but where we also have the honor of increasing their ability to function well in all areas of their life.

ROB Bottom Line
Second-Pair Sales Revenue Boost

11 Percent Second-Pair Sales

One more pair of eyeglasses sold per day

= 1 x 5 days x 48 weeks/year x $250 = $60,000/year.

Have Opticians Reinforce Lifestyle Spectacle Needs

In our office, the doctor escorts the patients to the optical gallery and then hands off to the opticians. The doctor introduces the patient to the optician and repeats the same verbiage that they heard in the exam room–but this time it is directed to the optician–and then the doctor gets out of the way. This process of asking detailed lifestyle questions followed consistently by a hand-off from OD to optician has represented a 10 percent increase in capturing second-pair sales.

We take hand-offs seriously in our office and are always looking for ways to improve. Opticians have permission to bring it to the doctor’s attention when he becomes less-than-stellar with his hand-offs to them. After all, they are well trained, conscientious employees who know the level at which the practice expects them to work and they just love holding the doctor up to his own standards.

Give Opticians Authority to Pick Up Where You Leave Off

Once the patient has been handed off to the optician, and the optician has been told what was prescribed, the optician is automatically granted the authority to do what is needed for the patient. We first discuss and select materials for the primary pair of eyeglasses and then immediately start talking about the secondary pair.

Offer Discounts to Make it Easy to Follow Through on Doctor’s Prescription

We offer a 50 percent discount on second pairs, and we mention that opportunity upfront. We proceed in our verbiage as if we just expect the patient to follow the doctor’s prescriptions. If you needed two heart medications you would get both, right? This is the same logic behind how we speak to patients about second pairs prescribed by the doctor. If the patient expresses price concerns, we educate them about financing via CareCredit, which we offer. If that is not an option, we then ask the patient to go ahead and choose all the specifics of the lenses and frames and we keep their selections on file for 30 days. We wait 10 days and then send them a card reminding them that they have two more weeks to place the order with the 50 percent off the second pair.

We keep evolving the programs we have in place to best suit the needs of each individual patient. We are motivated to find new ways of making it easier for our patients to receive the eyewear the doctor has prescribed to enhance their vision and life.

Related ROB Articles

Prescribe Spectacle Lenses by Lifestyle

Protect Patients from Eye Strain with Glare-Free Reading Eyewear

Personalized Lenses: A Measurement System Makes It Work

Stuart J. Thomas, OD, is the owner of Thomas Eye Center in Athens, Ga. Ellen B. Goad, LDO, is practice manager. To contact: Ellen.Goad@thomaseyecenter.com

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