Computer eyewear sales provide eyecare
professionals with one of the greatest opportunities
for practice growth today. According
to the U.S. Census, 143 million adults use a
computer every day and an estimated 54 million
children use a computer at home and/or
school. The American Optometric Association
estimates that 70 to 75 percent of all
computer users experience Computer Vision
Syndrome (CVS) symptoms including
headaches and eyestrain.
Although many computer users can benefit
from computer eyewear, presbyopic Baby
Boomers are an obvious target. Baby Boomers
now comprise approximately 35 percent of
the American population and are a large percentage
of the American population experiencing
blurred vision in the near and intermediate
vision zones with the onset of
presbyopia. The oldest Boomers are entering
their 60s, and the youngest are at least 43
years old, which means most are already presbyopes
or are about to become presbyopic.
While the majority of CVS complaints
seem to come from presbyopes, hyperopes
can also have accommodative issues with the
intermediate zone that a regular prescription
will not correct.
Also, a growing number
of children are using
computers and could benefit
from computer eyewear.
According to the National Center
for Education Statistics (NCES) in
2004, about 90 percent of children and
adolescents ages five to 17 use computers
at school or at home. The NCES also reports
that computer use begins at a very early age.
About three-quarters of five-year-olds now
The combination of the intermediate zone
and the monitors cause what appears to be
unique accommodative issues to children.
When they stop looking at the screen, they
will often have problems focusing. Children
may not be able to articulate their CVS
symptoms, but parents will notice some
changes in behavior such as a drop in grades.
The optical solution for CVS, known clinically
as asthenopia, is Near-Variable Focus
(NVF) lenses, a specialized progressive lens
design featuring a wide intermediate corridor
to optimize vision for computer use.
Computer users who require a prescription
can have more problems accommodating in
the intermediate. Computer lenses can be a
solution for these patients.
Special eyewear prescribed for computer
work and other near tasks can help these
patients maintain proper focus on the computer
screen with less eye fatigue. The lens
power in these near variable focus (NVF)
lenses will make the computer screen clear
and more comfortable to read for prolonged
periods of time. Also, NVF lenses typically
feature a wide intermediate corridor. Since
computer users who require a prescription
can have more problems accommodating in
the intermediate, this is a particularly helpful
Unfortunately, many patients believe that
because they already own one pair of eyewear
they do not need a separate pair of
computer glasses. This assumption can be
corrected by implementing the total vision
care approach with the patient.
In most practices, initial contact with the
patient begins on the phone. The staff member
scheduling the appointment should
request the patient brings their computer
eyewear with them to their appointment. If
the patient says they do not have a pair to
bring, the staff member should make a note
in the file so the doctor and dispensing optician
are aware of this.
The total vision care approach continues
with the intake of the patient. The staff
member checking in the patient should ask
if they brought their computer eyewear
with them. If they did, that eyewear should
be secured for professional review. It should
be inspected and neutralized to assure the
prescription is optimal for near and intermediate
zones of vision.
Also during this review the patient should
be asked to complete a visual needs analysis
(VNA) form including questions about the
patient’s lifestyle, hobbies and previous pair
of eyewear to identify the patient as a candidate
for computer eyewear. This form should
be quick and easy to fill-out using mostly
objective check boxes. The completed form
should then be reviewed by the doctor.
While the patient is in the reception area, it
is important to have information and signage
available illustrating the importance of computer
eyewear. Short videos are available
focusing on the features and benefits of computer
eyewear. Waiting-room information
often leads to questions the patient can then
ask the doctor during their examination.
During the actual eye examination, it is
important for the doctor to review the VNA
form with the patient to determine whether
or not they would be a candidate for computer
eyewear or another form of supplemental
eyewear. By asking questions and
establishing a dialogue with the patient about
their lifestyle and hobbies, the doctor shows
a genuine concern for the patient and can
better identify vision needs not currently
being met by their primary pair of eyewear.
When applicable, the doctor should translate
the visual needs expressed by the patient into
the recommendation of computer eyewear.
This component of the total vision care
approach is vital as 25 percent of patients
reported to the Vision Council of America
(VCA) in 2006 that they purchased their lenses
based on the doctor’s recommendation.
This total vision care approach continues in
the dispensary incorporating both the
patient’s primary pair of eyewear, computer
eyewear and other vision care product and
service needs. Since computer eyewear has
already been discussed, the patient is unlikely
to feel surprised with the “sticker shock”
sometimes associated with supplementary
pairs of eyewear. This enables the patient to
learn about the best products available to
meet their vision requirements.
Once the patient has picked-up their primary
eyewear and computer eyewear, following
up with the patient reinforces the
total vision care approach. Calling the patient
or sending a letter within one week lets them
know there is help for them if they have any
questions about their new eyewear. This follow-
up assures them your concern is for
more than just “the sale.” In addition, it provides
a great opportunity to ask for referrals
of friends or co-workers who may also have a
need for computer eyewear.
It is important to explain to all patients that
specialized computer eyewear can be worn
to optimize vision in the near and intermediate distance and allow for a more natural
head position. Standard progressive lenses
only have a small portion of the lens that corrects
for the intermediate and reading zone.
Without proper computer eyewear, many
standard progressive lens wearers experience
the symptoms of CVS. Even worse, many try
to compensate for blurred vision by leaning
or tipping their head back in an effort to see
the computer screen clearly. This poor
ergonomic posture can result in a sore neck,
sore shoulders and a sore back.
In addition to allowing for better ergonomic
posture, computer lenses also provide a
more comfortable viewing area that is longer
and wider in the intermediate and near zones
of vision. Many patients are receptive to
purchasing computer eyewear when they
fully understand the features and benefits
they will experience that are not present in
their primary pair of eyewear.
All computer eyewear should include an
anti-reflective (AR) coating. Premium AR
coatings keep light from reflecting off the lens
surfaces, thereby preventing an additional
source of glare. Studies show that people who
work for prolonged periods at a computer
find their eyes are more comfortable if they
wear lenses with AR coating (compared to
wearing the same lenses without the coating).
AR coatings also make the lenses easier to
clean and more resistant to scratching. Utilizing
the total vision care approach, offices can
be more effective in presenting the features
and benefits of computer eyewear to patients,
while enjoying an increase in practice growth
and patient satisfaction.
With over 12 years of experience in the optical
industry, Samantha Toth, president of Innereactive
Media in Grand Rapids, Mich., provides
optical marketing lectures and seminars. Her
eight years of dispensing experience as an
ABO-certified optician coupled with a marketing
degree provide a unique perspective on
marketing private practices and optical labs. For
more information call Innereactive Media at