By Samantha Ramcharran

When it’s time to find new glasses, patients either are ecstatic or dread the journey. I’ve compiled a few basic tips to help your shoppers find their perfect pair. I found that it’s better to sit with patients first and discuss the nature of their lenses prior to letting them choose frames. Without any optical insight, they are simply choosing based on cosmetic appeal. You want your patients to come back and pick up their new pair with enthusiasm when they put them on.

Be realistic and transparent with patients and they will respect your professional opinion. When I first began working in the field, I assumed people who wore glasses for most of their lives knew the type of their prescriptions and the cosmetics of their lenses. Over time I realized that most people don’t know how thick their lenses can get with the wrong frames. Familiarize your patient with the characteristics of their prescription lenses. Also, speaking about their prescriptions captures your patients’ attention if you’re demonstrating the differences in thickness and coatings.

Cat eye and round shapes are in fashion, however I’m careful considering material with respect to the A and B measurements. Some dramatic cat eyes can look beautiful with a high-index lens and antireflective coating because this material thins the prescription and is cosmetically appealing. You will notice some edge thickness on cat eye and rectangular frames with minus prescriptions if the inward decentration is more than about 3 millimeters. That’s why it’s our responsibility to help patients with high prescriptions choose the lenses they want first and then choose a frame. This allows us to accurately explain the thickness of the lenses, illustrating the width and height of their selections. Some customers need budget friendly options and that means their lenses may be thicker than with high index lenses. Use stock lenses or POP displays to demonstrate lens thickness. I borrow their current frames and explain the center and edge thicknesses, so they aren’t surprised when getting their new pair. Aspheric lenses are excellent for minimizing thickness and enhancing the beauty of the frame, and they can be less expensive than high-index. Frames should fit the width of your patient’s face. If the frames are too small, they are likely to be uncomfortable and difficult to adjust. If the frames are too large, the lenses show outside the frame and higher minus lenses can have a concentric ring effect caused by internal reflections from the thicker edges. For high minus patients, I fit them in frames that are not only properly sized, but without harsh angles.

Fit higher prescription patients in sturdy frames that help mask thicker lenses. In the end, they will be in for fewer adjustments and repairs. Make patients aware that sunglass lenses may be thicker than clear lenses because sunglass frames run larger than regular glasses to cover eyelids, skin around the eyes, and under eyes and eyebrows. Adding a polish to the lenses can make a significant difference in lens appearance but be careful because it can cause the patient to see rainbows and internal reflections. If your patient has never had polish before, discuss the pros and cons. The goal is to shop smart with your patients and have them eager to pick up their high quality, attractive, and comfortable pairs of eyeglasses. Assure your patients that you only want them to have the clearest vision possible and you can provide that for them!

Learn more about how to communicate the performance benefits of ophthalmic lens materials to patients with our CE, The Mystery, the Magic and the Science Behind the Ophthalmic Lens Blank, at This course is free, supported by an educational grant from PPG Industries.