With hundreds of choices among progressive lenses and constant new product releases, it’s easy to forget not all patients are presbyopes and not all presbyopes wear only multifocals. Single-vision lenses account for about half of prescription eyewear sales.
Yet some dispensers treat single-vision lenses as second-class products, an approach that can significantly limit their bottom line. Incorporating premium choices into the single-vision sale greatly increases the profit margin. More importantly, not fitting a single-vision patient with premium lenses deprives them of the optical benefits, performance, clarity and cosmetics these features offer.
“Our single-vision patients deserve the same benefits we recommend to our presbyopes,” says Rich Baum, partner in The Eye Man, a New York-based practice. “There is every reason why their eyewear should be as technologically advanced as the multifocal wearers.”
A good single-vision lens should be a result of how the material, lens design and coating affect the finished product. Fortunately, all the most advanced lens materials, designs and treatments are available in single-vision.
Among lens materials, high-index plastics offer an upgrade from standard plastic and are a good choice for single-vision patients who want to reduce the thickness of their lenses. High-index material options continue to expand. Although 1.6 index remains a popular choice for single-vision, other options include 1.66/1.67, 1.70 and the newest release, 1.74 index from Essilor. Single-vision powers for 1.74 index lenses range from -18.00 to +10.00D, up to a 4.00 cylinder—broad enough to satisfy most patients’ needs.
When safety is a requirement for children, athletes and industrial workers, there are many single-vision lens options available in polycarbonate and PPG’s Trivex. Both materials have passed high-impact testing regulations and are the lightest available.
Many of these special lens materials incorporate aspheric and atoric features in their designs. Asphericity reduces or eliminates distortions, spherical aberrations and marginal astigmatism. It also adds to the cosmetics of a lens, because flatter-than-standard base curves can be selected without inducing these visual challenges. Atoricity optimizes clarity on both the spherical and cylindrical planes at once. Both aspheric and atoric lenses greatly contribute to patient comfort by providing clearer, sharper and more natural vision than spherical lenses. Carl Zeiss Vision offers a line of atoric single-vision lenses, called ViZio, in a large power range.
Creative curvature is also being used to address patient comfort in wrap frames. Shamir Insight’s new Attitude line includes an eight-base single-vision polarized polycarbonate product. The curves are designed so that up to a -4.00D Rx will function well even though it is not being ground on its traditional base curve. Carl Zeiss Vision’s Spazio eight-base is available in a large selection of colors and also takes into consideration the wrap angle of the frame.
Single-vision sales can also be improved by adding color to the lenses. Fashion tints are making a return, helping to make the lenses and frame an ensemble. Photochromics are certainly convenient. Positioning photochromics as comfort lenses rather than a sunglass alternative provides an opportunity to sell an additional task-specific sunglass.
In the sunlens category, polarized lenses are a good choice for single-vision wearers who want enhanced visual performance. The range of colors is extensive for both polarized lenses and standard tints, and the colors can be general purpose or task-enhancing. Sunlenses can be further embellished with the application of striking mirror coatings. If these lenses are not inherently ultra-violet absorptive, a UV coating or tint should be included.
Scratch-resistant coatings can improve even basic, plastic single-vision lenses. The performance of these coatings has been improved over the years and is consistent and reliable.
Anti-reflective treatments are also a must-have for single-vision wearers. Aside from the understandable cosmetic and driving benefits, AR eliminates the annoying reflections caused when using the flatter base curves of the high-index materials. It also compensates for the reduced light transmission of those materials. AR should also be applied to the rear of all sunlenses to reduce back surface reflections. The new premium anti-reflective coatings have eliminated the problems experienced with the original coatings. They are less susceptible to attracting dirt, easy to clean and are strong and scratch-resistant.
“We rarely present the cosmetic aspects of AR,” says The Eye Man’s Rich Baum. “Rather, we emphasize the ophthalmic benefits. Every high-index lens functions more efficiently with an anti-reflective coating.”
Single-vision patients are generally unaware that these premiums are available to them. They must be given the opportunity to make enlightened choices. “We do not sell, we educate,” notes Baum. “When the patients understand the value-added features of the lens premiums, they are more willing to select them.”
In addition to speaking with the patients, hands on demonstrators are beneficial tools. Displays such as the Optical Laboratories Association’s lens center show comparisons between high and low index, AR and non-AR coated lenses, polarized and non-polarized lenses, photochromics and so on. Office staff should wear premium product as well, acting as walking demonstrators. The staff should also be educated, in order to be effective communicators.
Consider the type of single-vision patient that frequents the office and formulate premium bundles that can be presented as packages. These would combine things such as high-index and anti-reflection, polarization and AR, scratch-resistance and ultra-violet absorption on standard plastic or photochromics and polycarbonate for kids. Contact lens packages should include a pair of spectacles and a pair of plano sunglasses. Including premiums with the initial presentation of how the prescription should be fabricated acts as a lure to the patients. They then will understand what they will be sacrificing if they select basic single-vision, as well as understanding that lens premiums complement each other and should be combined to maximize the effectiveness of the glasses. At The Eye Man, they “explain to the patient that the difference in price amounts to only a few cents a day over the life of the glasses,” says Baum.
The lesson remains, offer every single-vision patient the optimal choice for their eyewear. They are often younger in age and are in search of high-tech and good looks. When it is their priority, they will not question the choice and everyone benefits. LT
Vicki Masliah is director of professional education for Hirsch Optical, an independent wholesale laboratory in Farmingdale, N.Y.