Remember the famous scene in “Ghostbusters” when Bill Murray’s character encounters a bulbous green blob that “slimes” him and his team? Well, we in the optical industry got slimed in the July/August issue of Consumers Digest. An article with the provocative headline, “Optical Illusion” purports to have investigated us, but it is actually a poorly researched diatribe against our industry’s supposed faults and excesses. The writer, Linda Baker, asserts that the entire supply chain—manufacturers, labs, eyecare professionals and chain retailers—is ripping off consumers by encouraging them to “shift eyeglasses away from a need-based medical product to an overpriced want-based fashion item.” She attacks Barry Santini, a veteran optician, educator and L&T contributing editor (see his article “Super Powered Dispensing” on page 108) for promoting the idea of selling multiple pairs of eyeglasses to consumers and for saying that eyewear should be sold as a fashion accessory.
Baker hedges her bets by stating she doesn’t think it’s wrong for people to want stylish eyeglasses or for people to buy an extra pair of glasses for special occasions. But the thought of owning three pairs goes beyond her limited vision. Hey Linda, trying looking beyond streetwear and dresswear! What about glasses for occupational use, sports, safety, computer-use, prescription sunwear? It’s called lifestyle dispensing and the concept has been around for years. And yes, it is need-based.
Consumers Digest editor Rich Dzierwa is similarly myopic. In his column, he claims, “We would have no idea whether a certain type of lens for which we paid extra was used. The same goes if you ordered a special coating for the lenses.” Huh? What makes him think patients can’t tell if a lens is anti-reflective, photochromic or polarized? And what about the millions of dollars lens manufacturers spend on educational materials and in-store demo displays to educate consumers about the benefits of their products? What about the optometrists and opticians who present the patient with lens options that enhance their vision and help them look their best?
There are lots of other dubious and flat-out false statements in the article, which I encourage you to read. If you want to let these folks how you feel, write to Consumers Digest, 520 Lake Cook Rd., Suite 500, Deerfield, Ill. 60015, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.