By Marisol Rodriguez, ABO-AC, NCLEC

I see so many amazing sunglasses being proudly worn every day, which as an eye care professional makes me happy. For the majority of my life I’ve lived on Long Island in NY, choosing three years ago to move to the Southeast. Fitting a pair of sunglasses had always been difficult any time outside of the Spring/Summer back home in NY. In many scenarios if someone opted to purchase a pair of plano or prescription sunglasses, it was viewed more as a fashion accessory than a necessity by the client. I have had a completely different experience in my newer residence in the Carolinas. Sunglasses are almost a necessity since it's often sunny into the early evening, and most of the year. Reflecting on my experience, I recalled a continuing education seminar hosted by Essilor many years ago that changed my whole approach.

“Fit the second pair first”, was the general lesson. It was hard for me to absorb that at first, until I saw that I was trying to sell the second pair and provided only generic reasons why it's a great purchase, and in retrospect, I understood why it made it hard at times to justify the investment. Having a keen eye, direct questions, fine-tuned listening skills, and being armed with knowledge are essential for discussing that second pair first. Today was a perfect scenario with a fitting.

I had an individual come in and hand me their Rx and say, “I can see ok for distance, I sometimes need them for night driving, but today I just need reading glasses.” I noticed they walked in, and they weren’t wearing any eyewear at all, they had fair skin and bright somewhat bloodshot or tired-looking eyes. I asked them very specific questions which revealed I needed to have a conversation with them that extended beyond their request of “just needing reading glasses, and can you add a blue-light filter.” Once they finished voicing their requests, I asked them questions such as, “When you say reading, do you mean books, or monitors and multimedia devices?” “Do you commute to work?” “Any specific recreational activities they enjoy outdoors?” Once I gathered all the information, it revealed that they could use a dress pair of glasses, an occupational pair, and a pair of prescription sunglasses. I discussed the reasons why I felt they would greatly benefit from these other pairs first, including how I noticed they had light eyes, and individuals with light eyes tend to be light-sensitive. They enjoy taking long walks before their workday and a pair of sunglasses can make it a much more comfortable experience. I also followed up that not wearing proper sunglasses during the day can affect their scotopic vision, and they could feel more comfortable driving at night. After arming them with knowledge about how these additional pairs can add personal comfort to their day-to-day activities, they opted for a pair of occupational multifocal lenses and a pair of prescription sunglasses they had been admiring for a while.

The biggest lesson I learned that day was that it doesn't matter what part of the world I am in, individuals are subject to having compounding visual problems which may require multiple solutions. So, pay close attention, and if applicable always fit the second pair first.