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Present, Making Outdoor Eyewear Understood

By Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM; John Lahr, OD, and Gail Israel, ABOC

Release Date: August 1, 2012

Expiration Date: September 1, 2014

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to:

  1. Understand the component parts of a preventive discussion.
  2. Be able to clearly communicate and merchandise outdoor eyewear to patients.
  3. Be able to train new doctors, opticians or paraoptometric staff about Prescribe, Protect and Present.

Faculty/Editorial Board:

John LahrJohn Lahr, O.D., FAAO is vice president of provider relations and medical director of EyeMed Vision Care.

Mark Mattison-ShupnickMark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM is currently director of education for Jobson Medical Information LLC, has more than 40 years of experience as an optician, was senior staff member of SOLA International and is a frequent lecturer and trainer.

Mark Mattison-ShupnickGail Israel, ABOC, is a field sales trainer and regional sales manager for Luxottica.

Credit Statement:

This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Course SWJM255-1.
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the Commission on Paraoptometric Certification (CPC).
This course his supported by an educational grant from LUXOTTICA

We can all agree—UV exposure and high-energy visible (HEV) light is a clinical concern. In fact, a long and continued discussion of the effects of sunburn, cataracts and potential cancers with patients can become very "dark." However, if everyone in the office has already added his or her part, the next step is the fun part. It's time to wrap that protection and prevention in a fabulous looking pair of outdoor specs. What do we mean?

Eyecare involves treating a person for their medical and preventive needs. That person is called a patient, and they make an appointment for an exam because they need to see. Outdoor eyewear is the retail product where the patient becomes a consumer who wants to look as good as they are able to see... while they protect their eyes. This is the opportunity to beautifully finish what was started at that critical pivot point—reception. Patients visit when they need an exam or when there's a problem. In fact, many patients' attitudes show that they won't buy eyewear between exams; instead they wait for the exam and a new prescription.

How do we convert a patient to the fun side of retail optical while ensuring that all the clinical care is covered? Turn the Patient into a Client. Presentation therefore is the key to making this transition.


fig 1Patients are defined as having needs and most people would rather spend money on a want rather than a need. Fig. 1 defines the motivators that affect patients and the ways to turn them into a client, i.e., a satisfied purchaser.

Patients have needs. Parts 1 and 2, Protect and Prescribe addressed those needs and offered the research and medical expertise required to validate the need for outdoor eye-wear. As the patient moves to the retail optical side of the office, they are transitioning to a shopper and environment is key. As you are able to present (in print, online and visually) and define (verbally) how each product delivers protection wrapped in style, they become a purchaser. That requires a desirable number of products from which to select, and the customer service to back up your promise. If all this is virtually flawless, they become a client.


Why is it so important that the optical environment, after the exam, rival other retail experiences? Today's consumers choose the place of business they feel will best meet their individual needs and wants. Since all of us are better informed than in past years, we expect the entities we choose to do business with to be knowledgeable, able to answer questions and provide options that are best suited to enhance the quality of our lives. However, in eyewear, we are sought out for our expertise since the majority of the public knows little about eyewear, let alone the requirement for quality outdoor eyewear. Recommend products that treat all the visual needs of your customer, not just one aspect of their daily activities. Remember they chose your place of business because they perceive that you offer the best health care and eyewear.


Print: Set the stage for the customer. Have print documents on hand. Download material from the SUN Initiative website. Consider using SUN Facts with every patient. For example, SUN Facts tell patients to always wear outdoor eyewear with 100 percent UVA and UVB protection while outdoors, get kids into sunglasses when outdoors and choose frames that deliver the best protection like wraparound sunglasses. Then describe how plano or prescription lenses will eliminate UVA and UVB from the front, and how the coverage of the frame will reduce damaging rays from the side and top. Then be sure to tell everyone that this applies particularly for kids, starting with toddlers.

Consider handing the patient an Outdoor Eyewear checklist at reception check-in. It asks what eyewear patients use for their outside vision activities. It helps begin the transition from clinical to retail. For example, the chart below is a targeted lifestyle questionnaire that addresses the easiest "other pair" which patients can understand. In fact, some opticians are extremely successful in selling and dispensing driving glasses. Why? Driving in the bright sun is very uncomfortable and is immediately understood by the patient. The solution: Sunwear for driving turns them quickly into customers. The right sunwear for driving helps make them a client. Use this chart as an example, add other examples and remember to be specific.

Online: Consumers are online every day, so it's essential to add discussions about the outdoor effects of the sun's rays to your own online activities. Add the links from the SUN website for material directed at consumers to your office website. We have a list of links on

On your website, display the SUN logo and information about the initiative. Visit the website for a downloadable image and text.

If you have a blog, consider using some of the language from these three CE courses in your blog. List 20/20 in the credits and include links to the relevant material.

For those offices with Facebook and Twitter pages, consider posting: "Did you know that children's eyes receive up to three times the annual sun exposure of adults? Come in, try on these Ray-Ban Juniors and learn more." Or: "Kids' eyes are especially susceptible to UV-related harm because the crystalline lenses in their eyes are more transparent to UV than adults. You're sure to get 100 percent UVA and UVB protection for your kids with quality outdoor eyewear from our office."

Then add a variety of pictures about products that absorb 100 percent UV like photochro-mics and polycarbonate.

In addition to the Facebook posts and tweets, present outdoor eyewear options in an e-mail marketing campaign before and between appointments. If you don't already, request e-mail addresses from patients so you can communicate with them between exams about important eye health issues, new products and upcoming events in the office. Most importantly, be sure that you have a privacy policy in place, patients opt-in or are in agreement by furnishing their e-mail addresses to receive your communications, and the policy is available on your website and in print. The policy should describe how you use their private information. Next, consider an excerpt from SUN Facts with your own personal message in an e-mail to all patients (an example is on the SUN website).

Digital coupons like Groupon can be used to highlight your office as well as deliver an offer for new outdoor eyewear. The advantage of digital advertising is the audience that receives it is larger than your own records' database. As a result, the offers can attract new as well as existing customers for specific products.

Visual Merchandising: The art of displaying merchandise to communicate its availability and enhance its sales appeal is called visual merchandising. To communicate the opportunities of outdoor eyewear, make sunwear:

  1. Easily seen.
  2. Touchable and accessible.
  3. Available in enough choices but not too many and
  4. Visible with clear cues to their price and value.

In the previous course we described that almost a third of an office's eyewear inven tory that could be described as outdoor is required to achieve the targeted goal of 30 percent unit sales (20 percent prescription and 10 percent plano). Therefore displaying it well is an important part of presentation. Visit www. for a variety of ideas and a broader discussion of eyewear and sunwear display.

Add printed signage or point-of-purchase materials that describe the variety of products sold. Consider placing small cards with messages on frame displays or shelves to trigger the idea in the customer. For example, you might add, "Outdoor Eyewear is an Essential Part of Eyecare" or "Any Frame Can Be Made into Outdoor Eyewear, Ask Us How." This can trigger a discussion from the customer or act as a reminder to the optician.

The review of SUN Facts and a serious discussion puts you in a protective and preventive relationship with the patient. If the original intent of the office visit was a new prescription and a pair of glasses, the sun discussion implies purchasing more than one item. There's a difference in expectations now from "let's select a frame" to "let's go shopping." At the grocery store you use a cart; the drugstore, a basket; online, a virtual cart, so to shop for eyewear get a shopping tray and let the fun begin. For more information about multiple pairs, see www.opticianshandbook. com/multiple-pairs.aspx.

Verbal: To start an outdoor eyewear discussion, try these:

"What glasses do you use for driving? Daytime, nighttime?" Then provide counsel as to the optimal lens choices:

"The different colors of outdoor lenses filter light in different ways, and that's an important choice.

Colors should be chosen by activity and sport, and there are, in fact, preferences for color and density (darkness of lenses) by age. For example, dark gray is great on the ocean, browns for rivers and streams, dark gray for general use outdoors when you're young, but since brown lenses enhance contrast, they're usually preferred as we get older." Always offer, "Can I answer any questions?"

"For outdoors, we only use the most highly impact resistant lenses since we never know what might happen when performing activities outdoors. These lenses also are 100 percent UV (A and B) radiation absorbing while they also absorb most of the blue light (more recently HEV is linked to macular degeneration)."

Then for polarized lenses say, "Polarized lenses make the best outdoor eyewear, they eliminate glare, especially reflections off the road, and from car windshields, enhance contrast for sharper vision and their polarizing crystals make vision the most comfortable for all day wear. If you cycle, fish or boat, you know they're a must. For golf, it's personal preference but if you fly a plane, since the new instruments are LCD and also polarized, they can hide the numbers and scales on the gauges so they're not recommended. Do you have any questions?"

"We always add no glare AR to the backs of sun lenses, which eliminates reflections of objects behind you (even reflections of your eyes) which appear very big and bright. Adding no glare makes for the best vision in sunwear. Have I made the explanation clear?"

"We like the effects of various mirrors because they look cool, and a mirror also makes lenses about 10 percent darker when just a little darker is needed (ocean, beach). Mirrors also deflect bright reflections, like the intense sun glare when on the snow.

"We can do your prescription in _____ (Oakley, Maui Jim, Ray-Ban, Rudy Project, etc.) sport sunglasses. We use these authentic wrap prescription programs. Your prescription is digitally enhanced so that vision is the same in both your flatter eyewear and wrap sunwear. Then, your prescription lenses are edged into the frame to look just like this pair of nonprescription sunglasses. Shall I complete the order?"


Listening is an important skill of presenting. It engenders trust since it helps to validate what the customer is saying. Good listening skills use more than just your ears. They include good eye contact, leaning in a bit, folding your hands if necessary to keep from distracting the patient, maintaining a smile and paying attention. Try to avoid multitasking at this most important time. Positive first impressions are crucial. After reviewing their new prescription start with a simple question. Consider, "Your new prescription is clear to me, now tell me the ways that you use your glasses indoors and outdoors most. I'm especially interested in when they just don't seem to work as well as you'd like them to. For example, is driving clear and comfortable? Do you work outdoors?" Then, sit back and allow them to tell you their story, what they are looking for, what they believe their needs are and how you can help.


Counseling frame choice is an important aspect of outdoors—from both the coverage and safety point of view. As we described in Protect, coverage is key. Say, "This frame will make a great sunglass because it fits close and protects your eyes from light getting in on top and the sides as well as from the front."

Look for a selection of special fit frames for those customers with less of a nose bridge (Asian, African-American, kids) since the typically larger sun frames will otherwise rest on their cheeks, moving up and down when asked to smile. For seniors, when side glare is also a bigger problem, wider temples may help but also block peripheral vision. Make choices for temple size with the patient's abilities in mind.


Remember, mothers make the majority of health care decisions for kids, partners and often for an elderly parent. Be sure to take the time to talk to mom. She's a key to eyewear that will work for kids outdoors.


You might ask what MVC has to do with presenting sun, outdoor or any kind of complementary eyewear. Since almost all plans will cover prescription sunwear as a primary pair, they might be the best recommendation for the patient whose plan provides an eyewear benefit every year. I've had some patients use their benefit every other year for sun, the opposite for their clear. However, the opportunity exists for that "other first pai" ervery year. Most of the larger plans offer members reduced costs when buying additional pairs of eyewear at the same time or some allow additional eyewear at any time. Therefore, one of the advantages of a second pair purchase is that it is also covered by their plan's membership and as a complementary pair, provides a second financial benefit.

Many offices already offer discounts on multiple pairs to their private pay patients. A courtesy reduction that exceeds other offers in eyewear that is purchased at the same time as either the first pair was ordered or the day they were dispensed maximizes the opportunity for additional sales and provides a valuable clinical value for your patients. Remember it is typically more difficult and very expensive to get the patient back into the office. In fact, some offices make multiple pair discounts higher for eyewear purchased within 30 days of dispensing. Once patients understand the advantages of another pair of glasses, they will always be more open to having a variety of eyewear.

Here are two methods to suggest the use of the discount. First, as many of you already do, use the two-column comparison that shows the before and after MVC benefit. Highlight the savings to the customer and how their vision care benefit covered the basics allowing them to get the more style and lens technology than they might have. Then repeat the pricing again with the outdoor pair. In this case, at the subtotal, reduce the price by the plan's "additional material" discount. The other method is to take the plan's discount and bundle it into a two-pair price using the MVC benefit. Then compare the without benefit to the fully bundled pricing for two pairs.

Another approach that is often successful is to describe sunwear first and use the customer's MVC benefit. Then sell the clear pair. Whichever way, it's your patient who benefits.


Don't forget to accessorize sunwear. That means the branded case, a microfiber cloth, bottle of cleaner and anti-fog spray, promise of tune-ups and adjustments, and literature about the importance of sunwear, all in an office branded shopping bag.


Changing a patient to a client and a repeat customer can only happen when you repeatedly present options and dress them with printed, audible and visual messages. Outdoor eyewear is the retail product result of the ideas started in reception, pre-testing and in the exam room. The optician or paraoptometric brings it home. Learn and communicate the importance of Protect, Prescribe and Present. Everyone will benefit.