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Patricia Basile | 12/23/2019

As their eye doctor, your patients rely on you to keep them informed about products that improve their vision, preserve the health of their eyes, and may save them time and money. While some of this information can be provided by the optician, this can leave the patient with the impression that the optician is upselling or trying to get them to purchase extras that they really don’t need. Think about this in contrast to having the optician merely ensuring that the patient understands why you have prescribed specific features or multiple sets of eyeglasses for different situations. The optician then is not selling something unnecessary, but simply ensuring that the patient is following your recommendations – something you would expect with any prescription you write.

Some doctors are reluctant to suggest, let alone insist, that patients fill this prescription that will reduce their eyestrain, reduce their risk of eye damage, and mitigate a factor that contributes to neck, head and back aches. When you think of it, if eyeglasses were a drug with all of these benefits and zero side effects, you would be excited to tell them all about it, and eager to be sure they are compliant. Think of your premium products and make specific lens recommendations; encourage the patient to fill the prescription at your shop, allowing you to verify that what they get is exactly as prescribed and provides the intended results.

What happens when you don’t make these strong statements to your patient? What happens when we fail to provide excellent service and education? What happens when we forget to find out what our patient does for a living? What happens if we assume that because their vision plan does not cover it that they would not be interested?

The following are real-life situations I have seen that highlight the consequences of not prescribing eyeglasses and features in the exam room. The most difficult aspect about this is that you will not hear these questions from your patients, but they will likely be answered by competitors.

“Why didn’t you tell me I’d look awful on camera?” There is a news anchor in our area whose eyeglass lenses are not AR coated, creating a distraction and detracting from his appearance. When my curiosity goes to, ‘where did he purchase them from?’, it is not for a positive reason. I have seen other TV personalities wearing beautiful, well-made and well-fit frames and wonder where they purchased them. I will watch the credits to see if the vendor is mentioned and would definitely visit their shop. Consider contacting your local news organization and offer to fit their TV personalities in exchange for such a credit. If the retailer he purchased these glasses from knew that he would be on television how could they not ensure that he have features that are critical for his occupation?

“Why didn’t you tell me that I could order photosensitive lenses?” I have had the experience of dispensing one pair of glasses, explaining how wonderful the photo-sensitive lenses are that they chose, only to have another customer over-hear this and become upset and ask, why wasn’t I given that option. Instant remake!

“Why didn’t you tell me I could have computer lenses for work? My friends at work have told me that they wear special lenses designed for extended computer use, are they new? Do you carry them?” The solution here is simple. Make sure your patients are aware of all the options that would be beneficial to them, along with your recommendation for which are important for their situation.

“Why didn’t you tell me how critical it was to wear sun protection?” This patient may have been yours for decades, but if it was never discussed, or only mentioned in passing, or only brought up by the optician, it has been interpreted as a sales pitch, rather than a safety feature. Again, be sure the patient is aware of what they truly need to maintain their eye health.

Pat Basile


Patricia Basile
Optical Management Consultant
Pat Basile has extensive experience in sales, customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has had great success in developing and implementing growth plans, providing training and leadership to achieve greater sales and productivity results. She believes that the consumer is much better served by the personal care provided by small, independent and caring optometric practices. Pat will listen to your concerns and help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include training and setting goals for sales and customer service, inventory management and frame board management.
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