As we were wrapping up Barry Santini’s excellent cover story about high performance sun lenses for golfers, I picked up the phone and called Barry to review some last minute details. Over the course of our conversation, I remarked that he must be an avid golfer, since he wrote with such a deep understanding of the visual demands of the game. To my surprise, he told me he does not play golf and has rarely set foot on a golf course!

The fact that Barry can explain golf lenses in detail despite his lack of golfing experience illustrates an important point. A good optician must be able to recommend a multitude of lenses to their patients, even if they have not had firsthand experience wearing them. While it certainly helps to have worn a lens yourself when describing its features and benefits to a patient, it is not as important as knowing the lenses’ performance characteristics and being able to match them with patients’ visual needs. You don’t need to know how to fix a faucet to be able to recommend a quadrafocal to a plumber who needs to see objects close up at both the top and bottom of their field of vision. You don’t need to know how to fish in order to recommend polarized lenses to an angler. It’s all part of the art and science of lifestyle dispensing, a process that gets more interesting and complex as more task-specific lenses are developed to meet our increasingly specialized occupational and recreational needs.

Learning about the features and benefits of each new type of lens is a challenge. But you’ll be rewarded with the loyalty of patients who genuinely value your expert advice.

—Andrew Karp