I have to admit, for a large chunk of my opticianry career, I did not devote enough attention to how ophthalmic eyeglass frames are designed, produced, their material make-up, or the company behind the product. My husband is an engineer by profession, and the way he would hold a frame and examine the hinges, the mechanics, the design, sparked an interest in me. To learn more, I took the CE Why You Should Know How Frames Are Made, where I discovered the complexity and artistry involved in making quality frames.
‘Eye Care Everywhere’ is the theme for World Sight Day, Thursday, October 11. World Sight Day is an advocacy and communications call to action from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) to promote universal access to vision health care. Based in London, the IAPB is the coordinating organization that leads international efforts in blindness prevention. More than 100 organizations dedicated to eye care make up their membership around the world.
Confession time: I can’t adjust my own glasses. That’s not to impugn my own abilities at fixing other people’s—I did just fine during many years of tinkering with temples and noodling nosepads. In all fairness, though, I never lived up to the Montgomery Scott-like abilities of my old colleague Dawn Gibbs at Texas State Optical in Magnolia, who could seemingly adjust a pair of frames that’d been run over by a semi and have them feeling even more comfortable than before the accident. When it comes to my own glasses, however, I’m rather like the master barber who can’t cut his own hair. They’re just too close, too personal, and I’m too finicky.
Over the years, I’ve run into patients who had eyewear issues I didn’t know how to resolve. I’ve been fortunate in always having known a colleague who had the answer, and gave it willingly. That kind of support has been invaluable to my patients and my own learning.
My nephew called the other night. Mark is a 36-year-old bachelor in a demanding profession, so I don’t hear from him often, and understandably so. This time he had an “eye question.” He’d just been to the eye doctor and got a mild minus prescription for night driving. “I think the salesperson was trying to upsell me,” he said. “He told me I needed some kind of trifocal lens for the computer, but I don’t need the glasses for the computer. The salesperson sounded like he was reading from a script and told me about blue blockers. Do I need blue blockers at night? I don’t think he knew what he was doing.” Mark left without purchasing glasses.
You’d have to have been hiding under a rock somewhere if you haven’t yet discovered that there are some companies offering glasses for your patients to purchase online. (And at prices that are hard to compete with.) So, it’s here, people. The apocalypse that has long been predicted. But, I don’t think it is as scary as the nay-sayers think. I actually think the advent of online creates opportunities for human opticians to become great. So, while the internet is trying to pass itself off as an optician, what can actual opticians do to distinguish themselves?
In an age when brick and mortar must compete not just with internet but big box and other opticals, presentation is key to not only differentiating yourself from the competition, but providing patients with a pleasing ambiance and atmosphere to encourage browsing and purchasing. Done well, good presentation can lend generous dividends. In-store visual presentation is accountable for the majority of retail purchases, according to Joseph Weishar, author of The Aesthetics of Merchandise Presentation (2005, stmediagroup.com/stbooks). How, then, does an optical retail—especially one attempting to compete by offering patients the boutique experience—succeed through presentation?