Baby boomers used to rule the roost, with retailers crediting half their revenue to boomer spending as recently as 2015. As the nation’s 77 million millennials move into their peak spending years, however, the focus has moved toward meeting this younger demographic’s evolving needs.
Vision care is no exception as skyrocketing digital device usage has inspired a whole new category of lenses that mostly targets millennials. Until recently, though, the growth of a new single-vision lens for those digital device users had remained somewhat of a secret.
Not anymore, however, as there are now four spectacle lens companies that are currently marketing single-vision lenses that feature a small add in this new digital reading zone. There are, of course, a lot of other viable solutions for digital eye strain as well—from tints and coatings to specialty PALs and other digital-friendly designs.
BUMP IT UP
What’s different about this category is that slight bump in the add in the new reading zone that mostly targets younger single vision wearers.
How big is the need? According to new research from The Vision Council, 91.6% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 use their digital devices for more than two hours a day. While users of all ages experience symptoms, 73% of adult users under age 30 report symptoms of digital eye strain. And nearly 90% of 20-somethings check their devices within an hour of going to sleep.
This explosive growth in digital device usage represents new problems for users, but also new opportunities for eyecare professionals.
To find out more about those opportunities, we asked several optometrists to share some tips for simultaneously meeting those wearer needs while also building their business. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Pre-Appointment Education
“Vision Optique takes a proactive approach. When an appointment is made, staff emails patients the direct link into our website to learn more about digital eye strain and Eyezen+ lenses.” (visionoptique.com/eye-health-library/digital-eye-strain/ ).
—Bridgitte Shen Lee, O.D., Vision Optique, Houston, TX
2. From the Chair
“The patient I prescribe the ZEISS Digital Lens for could be a child who is fascinated by hand-held game devices or an adult who uses their phone for business communication. And I always start my discussion in the exam chair.”
—Tina Reeves, O.D., Downtown’s Vision Care, Rochester, NY
3. Multiple Markets
“I suggest the lenses for those who complain of blurry vision at the end of the day due to accommodative lock-up. Also for pre-presbyopes who are noticing signs of presbyopia because of the small print and close working distance of smart phones.”
—Anne-Marie Lahr, O.D., director of education, HOYA Vision Care
4. Start to Finish
“Patients’ digital device usage habits are obtained while getting their case history in our practice, and then our doctors will ask about digital eye strain symptoms and prescribe solutions in the exam.”
—Bridgitte Shen Lee, O.D.
5. Kid Talk
“With my child patients, I ask parents about the child’s habits with hand-held devices and, with some feedback during the exam, the parents evaluate the demands being placed on their children’s eyes.”
—Tina Reeves, O.D.
6. Primary vs. Secondary
“I see many ECPs prescribing lenses like the HOYA Sync as the patient’s primary eyewear design. Glasses they wear for digital use are now often actually their primary eyewear design since they wear them most of the day. In other words, the patient’s ‘everyday glasses’ are now becoming the secondary eyewear for those who spend a good part of their day on digital devices.”
—Greg Hicks, O.D., Family Eye Care Centers, Sandusky, OH
Looking ahead, Anne-Marie Lahr, O.D., predicts new directions: “Ever-advancing lens design innovations will begin to address a host of patient visual conditions and needs. Personalization will be the hallmark of future designs.”
There is an ever-growing list of solutions for digital eye strain. Here’s a look at the four lens products currently in the fast-growing category of single-vision DES lenses with that bit of a bump in the new digital device reading zone.
Essilor Eyezen+ lenses are an enhanced, everyday single-vision solution with embedded protection from harmful blue light. Designed to provide a small amount of accommodative relief to alleviate eye strain from heavy use of digital devices, they also contain the Smart Blue Filter feature, which is embedded and designed to block 20% of harmful blue light. The lenses are offered in a range of prescriptions and materials, and in three age-determined designs.
As HOYA explains the need for HOYA Lens of America’s SYNC, “Viewing ranges have gone from distant horizons to intermediate zones and now to primarily focusing on near tasks.” HOYA Sync lenses are a modern single-vision lens for wearers who have dynamic visual demands from the use of digital devices such as smart phones, tablets, and computers. The design component is placed across the entire surface of the lens, providing a wide, edge-to-edge functional area.
Shamir Relax has 0.65D add power in the lower part of the lens. It’s a small enough amount to allow for clear distance vision, but enough power to relieve eye strain. Because the power is so slight, it is a good replacement for patients’ standard single-vision lenses. Because it’s a Freeform lens, Shamir Relax provides a fatigue-relief solution without distortion or swim—all wrapped up in a Freeform design.
ZEISS Digital Lens is designed primarily for patients ages 25-45 who use mobile phones and tablets throughout the day. It provides a wide, clear distance zone and comfortable near zone for stress-free viewing. Features include: optimized lens design to support close-up device vision; a large distance zone to match the visual profile of single-vision wearers or patients who do not wear glasses; variable near power based on patient needs; and rapid transition to the near power for natural eye movement.