By Clint Taylor, OD
Feb. 3, 2021
Glasses remakes can be expensive for practices and frustrating for patients. The current remake percentage at our office, which includes lenses that need to remade due to prescription, material or measurement changes and also progressive or premium lens non-adapts, is just over 4 percent. That compares to a national remake rate that varies from 5 percent to 15 percent.1,2
Here are keys to reducing remakes, so happier patients and higher practice profits are created.
Pinpoint the Most Common Complaints About New Glasses
In our office, when patients complain after picking up their new glasses, it is usually due to one of two reasons: size/shape change or weight. As styles change, sometimes patients want to go from a small to large lens size or vice versa. This can obviously wreak havoc with the optics of the lens. Our optical team does their best to accommodate our patients’ style change preferences while maintaining the optical integrity of their prescription, but this issue can still result in remakes at times.
Similarly, sometimes patients want to make a style change that results in a heavier pair of glasses than the patient is used to. This can result in patient complaints, especially if they are coming from an ultralight frame like a Silhouette or Stepper and are going into a heavier frame. Again, our optical staff tries to head these problems off during the frame selection process, but it can still result in a few remakes.
Encourage the Patient to Give the New Glasses a Fair Chance
Getting the patient to take the new glasses home and try them is key. Every office has had a patient try on their new glasses for three seconds and then take them off, throw them on the table, and say they “can’t see” out of them. Getting these patients to actually wear their new glasses for a week or more to allow themselves to adjust is important. Even if we’ve made only a small change in prescription or lens size, this is still showing their brain something they’re not used to and it can take time for them to adapt.
If One Remake is Necessary, Make Sure Yet Another Won’t Be Requested
When our optical team has helped the patient troubleshoot their complaints, and when we’ve ruled out problems with the adjustment of the frame, we turn our focus to the other variables that can cause patient complaints before remaking the lenses. These variables include:
- Lens material
- Measurements (seg height, pd)
- Frame characteristics (size, wrap)
- Prescription (especially cylinder, prism and anisometropia)
These variables are checked and double-checked before placing a remake order. The exact reason for the patient’s complaints must be identified and addressed. After all, the last thing we want to do is remake the glasses without fixing the problem.
Train Staff to Address Patients’ Concerns About their Glasses
It all starts with training. The optical staff must be trained on frame adjustments, materials and measurements, and they must be made aware of the importance of each of these aspects. We have frequent optical training sessions in our office. Some of these are led by our optical manager, and others are led by lab and frame representatives. Pre-COVID, we took our staff to the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA) annual convention, where they took courses on optical troubleshooting. Also pre-COVID, we took our staff on a “field trip” to our lab for onsite training. We plan to resume these trips as soon as we safely can.
In addition, our opticians are encouraged to take their time with patients in the optical. A great deal of time, effort and energy have been invested to get the patient to that point. We don’t want to rush through frame/material selection or measurements, as doing so may lead to a dissatisfied patient.
Listen for Red Flags
Prism can be tricky to measure by lensometry, so our staff’s ears always perk up when patients mention having prism in their old glasses. Some patients who say they have prism don’t actually have it, and most who do have it, don’t know it. So, when patients mention prism at all, it at least warrants a double-check on the lensometer.
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We also pay attention when patients tell us they’ve had trouble with scratched lenses in the past. We do our best to put these patients in lens materials and treatments that are difficult to scratch and have scratch warranties.
Check to See If Patients Are Happy With Their Glasses
A member of our optical staff personally calls each patient 1-2 weeks after new glasses are dispensed. The purpose of this call is to check in with the patient and see if they are doing OK with their new glasses. It’s important to find out about any problems they’re having early, so they can be fixed. The worst-case scenario would be for a patient to get glasses at our office, have problems with them, and not tell us about the problems. Not only will that patient be unhappy, but odds are that they’ll tell other people how unhappy they are. By snuffing out complaints early on, we can address any problems and turn an unhappy patient into a happy one.
Bottom Line: Make Sure the Patient’s Expectations Have Been Exceeded
We honor the warranties provided by our lab and our frame vendors, but we don’t have an in-house warranty. We built our practice on being easy to do business with. If patients have a problem with one of our products, we usually take care of the problem – regardless of warranty. In some situations, we lose money. But we feel that this short-term loss of revenue is more than offset by the patient loyalty that is built by taking care of people.
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Clint Taylor, OD, is the owner of Taylor Eye Care in Carmi, Ill., a one-OD, one-location practice with nine support-staff members that delivered about 3,000 comprehensive eye exams in 2019. To contact him: email@example.com