The current optical market is
ripe for new eyewear options. Almost half the U.S. population is over 45�the
patient base that buys more eyewear more frequently. While the general
marketplace replaces their eyewear about every three years, the 45 and older
age category changes eyewear every two years, according to Jobson Optical
Research. As a result, new options that provide better benefits are creating
more opportunities for eyecare professionals.
THE ONE BILLION DOLLAR
In a survey by Jobson Optical Research, when told of their benefits and cost,
35 percent of consumers suggested that they would purchase photochromics.
Yet according to Jobson/VCA's
VisionWatch, a consumer panel that reports on eyewear purchases and
experiences, only about 14 percent actually bought them. As a result, about 20
percent of eyewear consumers that showed intent to purchase photochromics
didn't actually buy them.
35% intent to purchase � 14% actual purchase = 21% missed opportunity
The opportunity lost is two fold. The value in sales is about $1 billion i.e.,
if there was 35 percent intent and 14 percent actual purchases, that's about 20
percent of the 75M eyewear purchasers per year (.20x75M) or about 15M potential
sales/year. At an average add-on of $65/pair, 15M purchases equal about $975M,
an incredible amount.
20% x 75 million purchases = 15
15 million purchases x $65 average add-on = $975 million
Aside from these lost dollars, the patient lost the benefits of convenience and
protection provided by photochromic lenses.
1 patient with unmet needs +
missed incremental sales $ = 1 incredible opportunity
To best target the opportunity, it's important to know how market dynamics
have changed. Photochromics have grown to >14 percent ('05) from 5.8 percent
('96). Polycarbonate and progressives have been the major drivers of this
growth. Polycarbonate has grown to 35 percent ('05) of all photochromics from
22 percent ('03). Progressives are nearly half of all photochromic sales. So
just who's wearing photochromics? 13.5 percent of 45 to 54 year olds and 16.1
percent of patients over 55 choose photochromic lenses.
What does it all mean? Add
photochromics to grow your practice and include new photochromics, especially
in polycarbonate multifocals because it has the capacity to grow the market. It
is important to focus on presbyopes because they are more sophisticated about
healthcare and more open to the optical options available to them. In addition,
ECPs should focus on polycarbonate because it is the number one growing lens
BABY BOOMERS WANT CHOICES
The 45 to 54 and 55 plus age
categories provide the most opportunity for ECPs to sell photochromics,
progressive lenses and AR mainly because of its size�nearly half the U.S.
population falls within this age group. So you can easily see the opportunity.
Beyond being numerous, this group
tends to be more educated and savvy. They seek out and want the best healthcare
solutions for themselves and their families. In fact, they often ask about
eyewear options they've read about and researched on the Internet. Sometimes
they know more about their choices than we do. Therefore, be prepared to
discuss new technologies and eyewear options. Consumers will pay more for
technology, especially when it delivers differentiating benefits.
Today, opportunities for both the
ECP and patients exist in new photochromics and polarized sunwear products.
FIRST POLYCARBONATE PHOTOCHROMIC
FLAT TOP 28
Recently, a new lens family was introduced that addresses the needs
of these baby boomers. Up until now, flat top photochromics were available in
only plastic and mid-index. With polycarbonate at about 35 percent of the lens
market, there is a demand for a traditional bifocal in both lightweight poly
and convenient photochromic. Now for the first time, patients can have both.
After 10 years in development, Vision-Ease Lens has launched a new photochromic
technology that resulted in the first and only photochromic polycarbonate FT28
and ultimately other bifocals and trifocals. This new photochromic, branded
LifeRx, is also available in a progressive design to provide a menu of options
for the baby boomer. With a more complete lens toolbox, more patients can be
better satisfied with their eyewear.
This is especially true when polycarbonate lenses are up to 30
percent thinner, lighter and flatter than comparable powered plastic lenses.
OVERVIEW � PHOTOCHROMIC
NEW PHOTOCHROMIC FILM TECHNOLOGY
Film technology is what
differentiates this new photochromic.
First a highly sensitized dye is dispersed in a special urethane
polymer film. This chemistry allows the initial dye to be clearer in the
absence of UV so that LifeRx photochromic lenses frequently cannot be
distinguished from clear polycarbonate lenses. The film is then encased in
polycarbonate and molded onto the front of a SF poly blank placing the
photochromic layer ~0.4mm below the front surface of the lens. This concept is
novel as well as being covered by five patents. This allows any lens style and
the base curve to be created on the front surface. The added backing of blank
thickness makes the lens suitable for any Rx. In addition, the front surface
can be made spherical, aspheric or multifocal.
The poly film covers are made from a special non-UV absorbing
polycarbonate so that the photochromic dyes can react completely in the
presence of UV. UV is absorbed by the rest of the lens blank so these lenses
are 100 percent UV protective. The lens remains transparent until exposed to UV
and then rapidly changes to a darker density. The speed is fast and meets the
expectations of wearers. Lenses also fade faster than other competitive
photochromics. This technology uses a single organic dye molecule to darken the
lens. This ensures that the color remains the same during activation and
fading. In the past, when dyes were made of multiple pigments, photochromic
lenses could pass through a number of different colors while darkening and
fading. Therefore, for the ECP, the benefits of this new film technology
include: the same color concentration in any prescription, any polycarbonate
lens style is possible, no possibility of peeling or crazing, and a lab or
manufacturer can use any scratch-resistant coating for durability or AR
compatibility. There is no risk of damaging photochromic coating and the AR can
be stripped if needed.
For the patient, assure them of superior performance, absolute
clarity in the clear state; faster fade back, more potential lens styles, 100
percent UV protection in a thin, light and highly impact and superior abrasion
IT'S THE PATIENT
BENEFITS THAT MAKE A
DIFFERENCE � EYEWEAR FOR EVERYWEAR
Clear and fast are patient benefits that sell photochromics. In the following
graphs, the patient performance benefits are displayed. Use them to describe
the way that a patient can expect their lenses to perform and meet the
expectation that was set at the dispensing table.
Clear as hard-coated poly lenses.
Here the measured transmission values of both clear poly and LifeRx are the
same. All data is from a Colts Laboratories evaluation; data is available from
Vision Ease Lens upon request. Lenses are dark and after 30 seconds can achieve
sunglass density (72 degrees F). Lenses that change rapidly better meet a
Lenses also fade back up to 30
percent faster. The graph below shows that in the first minute, lenses are 35
percent light or 65 percent dark; after two minutes over 50 percent light.
Patients will appreciate the faster fading characteristics and if better for
the harder to satisfy, then these lenses will likely please everyone else.
So, armed with this data, begin
to attack the billion dollar opportunity.
DURABILITY AND PROTECTION
While polycarbonate is known for
its high-impact strength, its abrasion resistance is enhanced by modern
chemistry hard coatings. Look for poly lenses with high Bayer test values.
Bayer is a relative measure of the abrasion resistance of lenses when compared
to uncoated plastic. Also, the harder the hard coat, the more durable and
abrasion resistant the AR.
Polycarbonate's benefits should
be explained to all patients. ECPs should discuss how important 100 percent UV
absorption is by explaining how unfiltered UVB rays can cause cataracts. They
should also explain how accumulated UVA is linked to age-related macula
degeneration (AMD); 80 percent of retinal damage can occur before age 18.
Polycarbonate and photochromic
lenses are a good choice for all patients because they absorb virtually all the
UV and protect the wearer from the above health risks as well as ensure the
best impact protection.
SELLING TIPS � EYEWEAR FOR ANYWEAR
Consumers seek good merchandisers
that provide more choices, so have fun dispensing eyewear. Know everything
about the products you sell, provide products that answers individual wants,
needs and demands.
Good dispensers translate and
uncover unknown needs. While photochromic lenses seem complex, know the
features and benefits perfectly. In this way, every dispenser can provide
expert advice and recommendations. Inform patients that they can be comfortable
in every light condition, by enjoying the convenience of lenses that change as
needed, provide 100 percent UV protection and are available in a lens style
perfectly suited for their lifestyle.
Photochromic lenses can be
suitable for everyone�from seniors to kids, contact lens wearers to
post-surgical patients. While some patients remember the drawbacks of early
photochromics and may be reluctant to invest in the technology again, explain
and demonstrate to them that photochromic lenses are vastly improved.
Provide a questionnaire or have a
Q&A session with the patient to determine their needs. This can help target
potential users in every demographic. It also helps patients realize there are
many options for eyewear. Individualized needs require more than one pair of
glasses, one of these might be photochromics, so tailor your presentation to
match the lifestyle of the wearer.
Make sure the entire office is
committed to photochromic dispensing and discussing photochromics with every
patient. Place photochromic lens literature in the reception area and in
optical. Describe and demonstrate lens performance. First, on a white
background, compare clear polycarbonate to a photochromic lens; demonstrate
that there is no difference in clarity. Then, go outside and activate the
lenses in normal sunlight (a lamp with a broad spectrum UV bulb is convenient
if outside conditions are not favorable).
Wear photochromic lenses
yourself. Show patients how your personal lenses darken and lighten. Patients
are impressed when the optician speaks from firsthand experience.
Of course, the doctor has the
greatest influence on the patient's decision to purchase ophthalmic products
and services. If the doctor recommends photochromics based on the patient's
examination outcomes, it's likely that the patient will purchase what has been
Most patients want to know the
latest, the hottest, and/or the most technologically advanced product they can
find. Position the latest technologies in photochromics as the best. Talk to
patients about the technology behind the lenses. Having a pair of glasses that
multi-task can be irresistible to your patients.
If eyecare professionals have
more selections to offer patients interested in light sensitive lenses, then
the portion of patients that had intended to buy photochromics actually can.
New photochromic technology offers substantially improved wearer benefits in a
broad range of availability. Patients have the choice of lenses that areclear
indoors, darken and fade quickly, adjusting to all light levels for comfort and
visual clarity, provide 100 percent UV protection, in an ultra
abrasion-resistant coated polycarbonate.
Ever had someone
say "Is Pepsi okay?" when you asked for a Coke?
Understanding and respecting trademarks is important so here are some
definitions and suggestions when talking photochromic trademarks.
Lenses that darken or change when exposed to sunlight.This term may be used
to describe any lens, in any material, sold by any manufacturer that has this
particular product attribute.
Photochromic Lenses: A trademarked name held by Vision-Ease Lens to be
used only to describe LifeRx photochromic branded lenses.
Photochromic Lenses: A registered trademark name held by Transitions
Optical and to be used only to describe Transitions branded products.
you can order a LifeRx polycarbonate photochromic flat top bifocal" "Do you
want that plastic changeable tint lens in brown or gray?"
you can order a polycarbonate Transitions flat top bifocal" "Do you want that
plastic lens in PhotoGray or PhotoBrown?"
inappropriate uses of a trademarked name.
lenses are the Transitions lenses that are available in a polycarbonate flat
New eyewear options and improved
technology better meet patient needs. Photochromics present an excellent way to
target and capitalize on that opportunity. New photochromic technology offers
substantially improved wearer benefits and the ability to better meet a real
patient's needs. This provides benefits for the optician, doctor, manufacturer
and practice, making a big part of the billion dollar opportunity yours. �