By Matt Esperon, OD,
and Vlad Cordero, licensed optician
Our eyes are under more strain than ever, thanks to heavy digital device use. With eyes fixed to computer, tablet and phone screens–sometimes within minutes of each other–it is common for people as early as their late thirties to require extra visual help. Fortunately, these young presbyopes have a surefire solution which we can provide them: Varilux® progressive lenses.
Identifying Your Practice’s Young Presbyopes in the Exam Room
We have a significant population of young professionals in our practice who can benefit from a dependable progressive like Varilux. These patients often come to us with symptoms like headaches, rather than direct complaints of eye strain. They often don’t realize that the culprit behind their frequent headaches around the eyes is budding presbyopia. Some say their vision is good all day, but when they drive home at night, they notice a slight blurring.
These patients also sometimes complain of dry eye symptoms. It is harder for them to see, so they are staring more intently than they used to at their computer screen, and not blinking as much as they should.
Trouble keeping their place when reading and difficulty concentrating on their work are additional symptoms that a person in their late thirties or early forties probably would not identify as the start of presbyopia.
Some patients want to tough it out, rather than go into a progressive. That’s where patient education comes in. We start by explaining to patients that there is nothing to be gained by continuing to strain their eyes, and that we can provide them with glasses which offer a simple solution that will greatly improve their quality of life.
It’s not unusual for even optometrists to believe that a young presbyope should be prescribed computer glasses rather than progressives–that there’s some minimum, imagined age, such as 45, that a patient should reach before they are given progressive lenses. I encourage my fellow doctors to consider: there is no reason to limit your thinking that way and delay providing a visual solution that can significantly improve a patient’s life today.
To emphasize the benefits of a lens like Varilux, we speak in terms of the brand name, rather than necessarily talking about a “progressive” or “bifocal.” That way, you avoid some patients’ hesitancy of moving into a category of lenses associated with aging. In fact, we never speak in terms of “aging” or “old eyes.” We want to put the focus on the many ways a progressive lens like Varilux can make their life better.
Handing-Off to Optical with the Whole Team Onboard to Educate on the Real-life Benefits of Progressives
After the doctor finishes educating the patient in the exam room on how their symptoms may be tied to the start of presbyopia, and how Varilux can provide a solution, we hand it off to our optical team. We trained our whole optical team on the benefits of Varilux, and how to reinforce our exam-room messaging with patients.
When the whole team is engaged in the benefits of a specific lens, the patient is more likely to get excited about trying it.
We train our sales staff to get additional information from patients in the optical. We ask patients what their work environment is like, so we can meet the patient where they are. We then can provide a visual solution that works specifically for their unique needs, rather than expecting them to find ways to adapt to a lens that may not be optimal for them. We take a consultative approach that emphasizes the benefits, rather than the technical features of the lens.
If the patient spends time looking at a computer monitor that sits at eye level, we often discuss computer progressives as a possible solution. Often, a young hyperopic-presbyope is more likely to benefit from using computer progressives part-time before they can appreciate the benefits of a full-time progressive solution. The ultimate goal is to start early in order to set young presbyopes up for success with their long-term progressive lens solutions, like Varilux.
In addition, our optical team educates the patient on the importance of wearing their new progressive glasses all the time, so they can experience the maximum benefit to their vision and lifestyle.
Finding the Ideal Lens for Young Presbyopes
With Varilux, the big advantage is the ease of transition between distance and near. The Varilux® X Series™ lens, especially, has a lot of overlap between intermediate and near, so it’s easy for someone to wear a Varilux lens at the computer all day. They don’t have to constantly adjust their neck to get clear, crisp vision. This makes Varilux a much easier transition than other lenses for people who have never worn progressives.
In fact, Varilux lenses are usually such a good fit for young presbyopes that we often don’t see them again until it’s time for their next comprehensive exam a year later. It isn’t so much what they tell us about the Varilux lens, as what they don’t tell us. They aren’t complaining about headaches, neck strain and dry eye, for example. We sometimes have to remind them about the complaints from a year ago, at which point they marvel that those problems have disappeared since wearing their new glasses. The transition to Varilux lenses is so smooth that they don’t realize those old complaints are gone until you ask them.
A Lens that Delivers an Easy Transition
Progressive lenses are well known to cause challenges with adaption. With a lens like Varilux, however, the adaption process is typically without discomfort. This is a lens that offers little-to-no peripheral distortion and such a gentle change between distance and near that it’s usually unnoticeable.
We always offer complimentary adjustments and remakes if there is a non-adapt issue, but with Varilux lenses that is rarely a problem.
A Unique Progressive Meeting the Needs of Young Professionals
The Essential Blue Series® Technology, which is a part of the Varilux lenses we make for many of our patients, protects eyes from potentially harmful blue light*, and it also minimizes digital eye strain and helps with driving at night.
The ability to add a feature like Essential Blue to this progressive creates a lens that is exactly what a person needs for doing detailed work on their computer, while providing excellent vision when they leave the office at night. Before patients step into our optical, they have already heard and read about the term ‘blue light,’ whether from an in-office poster or from other marketing material. Speaking about Essential Blue Series brings them peace of mind because we are addressing something that they may have forgotten to mention during their visit. This also reinforces their decision to use the Varilux brand.
A Lens Patients Can’t Get from Online & Big-Box Retailers
With independent practices fighting to keep eyewear sales in-house, a lens like Varilux gives you an edge. A progressive lens of this quality is not something patients will be able to find online. It also can be a challenge for the patient to take their progressive prescription and get a lens of such high quality at a big-box retailer.
They are unlikely to find the same ease-of-use, ease-of-transition and sharp vision in a progressive lens purchased online or from some big-box retailers versus what they will find in our office with Varilux. Patients who try other progressives, do it once, and then come back to us asking for something better.
Last year we shifted to prescribing a Varilux lens for most of our presbyopic patients, and we had far fewer returns and remakes than in previous years. Both our patients and employees are spoiled because we’re using a top-shelf lens. We introduce them to the best, so the best is all they come to expect from us.
The greatest sign of success, however, is that patients want to wear this lens, and often tell us they can’t see themselves wearing anything else.
Matt Esperon, OD, is the owner of Focus Eye Care PC in Hackensack, N.J., and Vlad Cordero licensed optician, is his partner in the optical dispensary. To contact them: email@example.com
*Essential Blue Series® lens feature filters at least 20% of harmful blue-violet light (up to 455nm, with the greatest toxicity between 415- 455nm). For Polycarbonate concave lenses, the Harmful Blue Light filtering percentage might be slightly lower.