By Selina R. McGee, OD, FAAO
Jan. 26, 2022
The first presbyopia drops, VUITY, from Allergan, are now available by prescription in pharmacies throughout the U.S. The drops, which were approved by the FDA in November, have the potential to improve many of your patients’ lives and help you build a more profitable practice. The patients who come into your office expressing interest in presbyopia drops have many other vision and medical eyecare needs that you will be able to address.
Here is how I am making sure current and prospective patients know these transformative drops are now available, and that I’m the doctor to provide it to them.
Tell Patients About It Before they Ask–& Avoid “Age” in the Conversation
As one of the optometrists who participated in the educational development of VUITY, I have been talking about presbyopia drops to my patients for over a year, even before the drops were approved by the FDA. I let patients know these drops were in development, and would likely be available to them in the near future. Now that the drops have been approved by the FDA, and are currently available by prescription in pharmacies throughout the U.S., this conversation has gotten even easier.
“Aging” and “getting older” are topics that turn off many patients, who would rather not think about those things. For that reason, I speak of presbyopia as a “natural process” that “comes with birthdays.”
Many patients do not know what “presbyopia” means. Rather than tell them the Greek translation of that term, which is basically “old eye,” I use the term “presbyopia,” and then describe the condition, including difficulties many patients will quickly recognize, like reading a menu with small type in a dimly lit restaurant.
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The Opportunity for Practice Growth Powered by Presbyopia Drops May Warrant Significant Marketing Investment
Some 52 million pairs of over-the-counter reading glasses are sold in the U.S. every year, with a large segment of our population requiring help seeing up close. Those already of typical presbyopic age include not just the huge Baby Boomer population, but 65 million from Generation X and a significant percentage of the country’s 72 million Millennials. The oldest Millennials are nearing 40, with many doubtless already starting to notice subtle changes in near vision.
These patients, firmly in middle age, or fast approaching it, are not just at an age when they begin to experience presbyopia; they are at an age when they become more likely to experience dry eye and other eye conditions and diseases. An eye drop, like VUITY, which will be in ever-greater demand as the public learns about it, will bring many into your office for the annual exam required to attain a prescription for it.
During the exam, how many patients will you diagnose with dry eye, which you can treat by prescribing services and products from your office? And how many will be diagnosed with diseases like glaucoma or macular degeneration, giving you the chance to preserve sight by monitoring the conditions and offering treatment?
With such a substantial opportunity to serve patients and grow my practice, I made the decision to invest in the services of a public relations firm to promote the availability of presbyopia drops in my office, including by promoting my expertise to local media outlets. Click HERE to see a recent interview I did with a local television station, detailing both the availability of the drops and my participation in their development.
Fees for the services of public relations firms will vary depending on the part of the country where you are located. In Oklahoma, where my practice is based, I was able to spend no more than around $3,000 for six months of services. In addition to promoting the availability of the presbyopia drops, I am letting my community know about all of our services, and that presbyopia drops are just one pillar of a practice with services that include primary eyecare, specialty contact lenses, dry eye treatment, a high-end optical and aesthetic optometry. Presbyopia drops will represent the sixth major pillar of my practice.
Digitally Marketing the Availability of Presbyopia Drops
With many patients likely searching online for where they can get presbyopia drops, I made sure I had search optimized my practice website, featuring “presbyopia” and related words prominently, so when terms like “presbyopia” or “blurry near vision” are searched for online in my geographic area, a link to my practice appears close to the top of the search listings.
We prominently feature information about the new drops on our practice homepage:
When you click on “Learn More,” you are taken to this page within our site, which is devoted to presbyopia:
In addition, we are posting frequently to our social media pages with news of the new drops, including what presbyopia is and why it causes difficulty seeing up close:
Presbyopia drops are both a great help to many patients and a great spur to new appointments, opening opportunities to offer additional treatments and services that improve people’s lives. It’s worth getting the word out!
Selina R. McGee, OD, FAAO, is the founder of BeSpoke Vision in Oklahoma and is also vice-president of Intrepid Eye Society and past-president of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians. To contact her:firstname.lastname@example.org