By Marisol Rodriguez, ABO-AC, NCLEC

Have you ever had a new or established patient in your office, and when you ask them how they felt about their existing eyewear they reply with, “I didn't really love them. They were too, “X”, or not “X” enough”? I think we all have. Whether it was you who had fit them or not, you want to do your best to unveil what it was that made them feel this way, and you have to be prepared with the right questions, to get your desired answers.

The frame styling process can be just as challenging as selecting the appropriate ophthalmic lens. Being as expressive, and descriptive as possible, and knowing your audience, is essential to discovering what a person is searching for, and with knowing how playful you can be with the selection you are curating for them. Think about how you’ll leave a positive impact as their eye care professional.

Communication is extremely important. While language is known to be a lateralized human brain function, it is predominantly processed in the left hemisphere. The right hemisphere of our brains processes information intuitively — including spatial recognition and seeing possibilities in situations, such as a whole picture or evaluating the details. So, in essence, seeing is a right brain function, and language is a left brain function. When we are able to put a frame on someone and show them how becoming or flattering it is, as well as provide at least 3-4 descriptive words on why, this is an “ah-ha” moment; a meeting of the minds, if you will.

I make mental notes of specific adjectives the patient uses in their responses so I can incorporate these words harmoniously into our conversation. If they use words like bright, happy, flattering, etc., it makes it easier for them to identify with these characteristics and how they want to feel with their selected frame. We all envision things a little differently, I will encourage you to have a large word-bank of adjectives. For example, saying “those are great looking glasses” is fine, but rephrasing it as “those frames are very flattering. They really make your eyes smile, and they beautifully complement your facial features.” This language is more descriptive and can reveal to them why you feel this way, and they can have an easier time drawing a conclusion.

A frame should reflect and compliment that individual's personality, and lifestyle. They shouldn't feel like they are wearing someone else’s frames, but never shy away from showing them they can have fun with their eyewear wardrobe, either. Your frame reps are an INVALUABLE resource in your optical toolbox. They will gladly share their insights with you, provide suggestions, and of course the story behind the brand Just ask! We engulf ourselves in the newest technologies of ophthalmic lenses, we should also do so with style and fit. Understanding which demographic your frame line is catering to will also help home in on what brands will best celebrate that person's personality.

Today’s consumer has the privilege of having so many different eyewear styles to express their personalities, accentuate their attire, and cater to their daily visual needs. There are many different vendors they can choose to purchase their eye wear, including the opinions of their friends and family. However, self-help online merchants are just that, self-help. With all the different moving parts of fabricating eyewear, it's essential for an optician to professionally guide them to make sure they have the best fitting and styled eyewear. With the option to go to any other local office or retailer, what are you doing to make yourself stand out? What kind of impact are you leaving on your community? Are you a ‘generalist' or a ‘specialist'?