By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

As an Optician, how do you see yourself? Are you the one who takes the order, or are you the one who chooses the best lens, selects the frame that best suits and fits the patient and helps craft both your patient’s look as well as their vision? I don’t know about you, but I am firmly the latter choice. If you don’t see yourself in that manner, then neither do your patients. Want to change the perception? Read on, my friend.

As I see it, Opticians are in a constant battle for credibility. Not only do we need the public to see us as professionals, but wouldn’t it be great if the public could see us at all. By that I mean that John Q. Public has no idea what the word Optician even means, and they certainly don’t know what we do.

So, what can be done? For starters, let’s use the word Optician as often as possible. Let’s put it in print, let’s say it out loud. Let’s see if we can get others to recognize what it is we do. How? Start by evaluating how we see ourselves. If you look at yourself as a professional, you will naturally want to elevate your skills; you will work to find answers for things you don’t fully understand in order to better teach your patients about them. If you see yourself as a professional, it is much easier for you to present yourself that way in front of your patient, who will in turn, see you as a professional too. Katniss Everdeen would call that “catching fire.”

Next, let’s make sure we are looking at our interactions with clients differently from the way we are now. If you are one who lets the patient choose their own frame, I’d start right there and re-evaluate. Remember, a professional evaluates the patient’s bridge fit, facial features, temple length, and prescriptive needs, and then makes recommendations based on these factors. If you’re not doing that, you ought to be.

Then, we need to see how things are going with lens selection. Are you driving the conversation? Are you asking how the patient is using their eyes? Are you asking questions at all? Things that we need to know about will be near versus intermediate usage, whether they are a candidate for a near variable focus lens or progressive lens design. Have you discussed sunwear or the need to protect the eyes from blue light and/or Ultra Violet Radiation? If you’re only asking about whether or not they want a “no-line” lens, I’d venture to say you’re missing the boat, and you’re not presenting yourself as a professional.

Remember, the patient wants to be cared for by a professional, and if you’re not a professional, they will go where they can find one. Perceptions change slowly, but rest assured, they do change. So start where you are with what you can, and if you present yourself as a professional, you will see that shift begin to happen!