By Carissa Dunphy, ABOC

Throughout my career as an optician, I've always placed a high value on listening to what my patients need and making sure they know that their requirements will be thoughtfully addressed rather than just 'selling' them something. Often, I helped solve the visual needs of new patients simply because the person who supplied their previous glasses didn't listen to them and failed to provide an adequate solution.

While all patients have varying optical needs, some also have tight budgets to respect. One piece of advice I have is never to assume a patient's budget. You cannot predict a person's current financial situation and how they choose to spend their money. Some are wealthy and want no out-of-pocket after insurance, while others may have a low budget, but see quality glasses as a long-term investment and will happily pay more.

The most important part of the eyeglass transaction centers around spectacle options available for the wearer, which leads me to my most recommended tip: explain the benefits behind the options offered. Here are a few examples:

  • Instead of saying, "You should get the 1.67 because it is thinner and lighter than the CR-39," try saying, "Because you have a strong prescription and you've selected a frame on the larger side, you will be more comfortable in a thinner, lighter lens material. The material we use will also provide excellent vision."
  • Rather than saying, "This progressive costs more because it's the newest design," try, "The newest progressives provide a wider view and a smoother blend between the different viewing zones in the lens. The top of this type of lens is for seeing in the distance, while the middle is for seeing the distance to your computer screen, and the bottom is the area of the lens you will use for close work, such as reading a book. These new designs provide a much more natural experience and are easy to adapt to."

Informing the wearer of their options and explaining the benefits they offer removes the mystery of a higher retail cost, providing an understanding of how the lenses will make them see better, look, and feel better. Once they understand how they will benefit from wearing the lenses, they will understand why they are worth the investment.

Another best practice is to restate or paraphrase the patient’s vision needs, and how you are solving them. For example, they initially stated that they work on a computer and read an iPad for ten hours a day, and their over-the-counter readers cause them eye strain and have a lot of glare. You see that they are a presbyope and could advise: "Your computer and iPad screens are different distances, which have different prescription needs. We will address that by using a multifocal lens design that allows you to see all ranges. In addition, the glare will be reduced with an anti-reflective treatment. These lens options are a great solution for how you're using your eyes for different tasks throughout the day!"

While we know that each patient, office, and optician is unique, every patient benefits when we adopt the habit of listening carefully and communicating the benefits of the product recommendations to meet their visual needs. This can lead to a positive experience for patients which equates to greater confidence in the new pair of glasses they receive.