By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

Parts 1 and 2 addressed the importance of conversation with patients to gather information that’s important in designing their eyewear. Part 3 guides you through the questions to ask during those conversations.

Ask About Computers

Computer use is a great start. If the patient uses a computer, is their work done on a PC, tablet, laptop, or handheld device? This tells you how much intermediate to near the patient needs. I use the shoe analogy. Can you wear high heeled shoes to run a marathon? Sure you can, but there is a more comfortable option. Finding specifics about computer use gives you a basis for recommending a progressive lens with more intermediate if the patient spends most of their time at a stationary PC, or more near if the patient spends most of their time on a tablet, laptop, or cell phone. You might recommend small environment lenses based on dissatisfaction with their current progressive lenses and the number of hours of near work. Knowing their habits, number of hours worked, type of device, and even the set-up of their office tells you which type of lens will work best, and gives you the tools to make that product. Solving your patient’s visual problems makes you a true professional in your patient’s view. Taking the time to understand your patient’s needs pays off!

Ask About Hobbies

Asking about hobbies is another critical question, certainly for golfers, boaters, shooting enthusiasts, etc. We can fine-tune sun solutions for everyone, and when people understand that vision correction is not one-size-fits-all and there are specific products just for them, they are open to the value. If you offer these products and the patient says no, at least it shows that you are aware of the products and they understand that you are on top of your game. Remember, “no” doesn’t mean no forever, it just means no for now, so it never hurts to ask.

Ask About Problems

Sometimes we don’t want to ask questions about things that could be unpleasant. I like to know the problems the patient is currently having with their glasses so I know what to do differently with the new pair. Are your glasses comfortable? Do you like how you see? Do you like how they look? Did you have any problems with them? Asking these questions shows that you care about doing things correctly and you are concerned with their experience. If they tell you the frame was heavy, take this time to choose a lighter one, or a more durable one, or whatever you need to do based on the information the patient shared.

Ask About Wishes

I ask, “If you could make any pair of glasses for yourself, what would you do or not do?” The answers to this question can be wide ranging, but it’s interesting to see what people’s expectations are of eyewear, specifically for someone who wears a progressive lens. This is a great opportunity to tell patients how lenses work, which expectations are realistic and which are not. It tells you if you’re looking at the right product for them. We professionals understand the limitations of lens design, but our patients don’t, so we need to have these conversations to make sure we give our patients a realistic picture of what we offer.

Summarize What You’ve Learned

After you’ve had the conversation with your patient, summarize what you’ve learned from them. Tell them what you heard, then base your recommendations on that information. This tells them you were paying attention and want to do your best to solve their visual problems by choosing products that will benefit them. This reinforces that you are not a one-size-fits-all dispensary, and you are not a one-size-fits-all professional. Your patients will thank you for your time and attention!