The Big Eyewear Coverup
By James Spina
Pssst. Hey! Looking to make some money on the side?
Having trouble closing those double eyewear/sunwear deals?
The answer could be a big cover up.
Sorry. We’re not talking about any big opti-scandle here but it could certainly prove to be an opti-opportunity. We’re talking sun shields — those oversized frame cover-ups that can fit right over a person’s eyeglasses. For years this category has been acknowledged as a viable but sometimes awkward alternative to Rx sunglasses and an essential in terms of offering sun and overall eye protection after certain medical procedures.
Those shield-like rigs still exist (usually at a low price points) and often associated with older consumers looking for a quick sun protection fix with small attention being given to cutting-edge lens tech or stylish looks.
Our interest here is the new generation of shields that border on looking like modern sport sunglasses loaded with tech kit such as polarization and often stylish enough to be worn alone as well as over Rx glasses. The most recent 20/20 Sunwear Survey of Independents showed interest in the category as low. But some calls to dispensers across the country found appeal that at times bordered on outright passion for a product that might just be the answer when an Rx sun sale is out of the question or where a sunclip is just not handily an option.
Here’s a range of what dispensers told 20/20 from nil to near fanatic:
Barbara Kelsey, Optician, Optical Warehouse, Rockwell, Texas “We just don’t carry that sort of product. I don’t have a reason… we just don’t carry them.”
“We call these wraparounds and they are perfect
for going over an Rx frame. Customers actually
come in looking for them.”
—Ceil Schuitz, Viewfinder Lowvision, Sun City, Ariz.
Martin Taylor, Optician, West Coast Optical, Philadelphia “It’s not our market—pretty much anybody who carries them around here doesn’t do well with them. We have a young, conservative, professional clientele. Our customers would rather have a pair of sunglasses or sunclips.”
Robert Rivera, Optician, Reingold Eye Center, North Hollywood “I sell shields to my cataract patients but there isn’t much need for anything more than that here. I know some people see potential growth for this category but we never really have anyone coming in asking for a nice pair that goes over glasses. People usually don’t like to put two pairs of glasses on their face.”
Ceil Schuitz, Optician/Manager, Viewfinder Low Vision, Sun City, Ariz. “I carry a full line of Fitovers and also carry Live Cocoons. We call these wraparounds and they are perfect for going over an Rx frame. Customers actually come in looking for them and others get interested just from the display. The product has multiple advantages—protecting the eyes from the top and the sides, no glare and even skin protection.”
Cheryl Schwartz, Manager/Optician, Middlesex Eye Physicians, Conn. “We used to give away generic shields after surgical procedures but the beauty of the new products such as Fitovers is that they are an affordable option in a range of different styles and colors. The polarized lenses get a great response from both older customers and also people looking for protection during sport activities. Getting people interested in a pair of Rx sunglasses is difficult in these economic times but a Fitover is cheaper and certainly does the trick.”