Transitions Optical, Inc., has announced that, for the second straight year, it will be the Official Sponsor of Sightseeing™ through a program focused on educating consumers about how they can enhance their visual experience.

The program features celebrity ambassadors from top consumer-identified passions: sports, food, music, and travel. Baseball legend Cal Ripken, Jr., country music artist Darius Rucker, celebrity chef Robert Irvine and National Geographic reporters Annie Griffiths and Andrew Evans will appear at events and use social media to educate fans about the importance of eye exams, eye health, and Transitions lenses.

Eyecare Business sat down with two of those ambassadors to discuss their plans for spreading the word about good vision, photochromic lenses, and the importance of eye exams.


EYECARE BUSINESS: When did your experience with Transitions lenses begin? DARIUS RUCKER: About 2010, I started needed glasses. The first thing my doctor recommended was Transitions lenses, because I’m so active and I do a lot of stuff outside with my kids.

I knew I was going to have to wear glasses all the time. I play basketball outside, and I golf, and I’m in the backyard running around with my daughters. And these lenses are perfect, because you don’t even realize you have them on. They darken, you’re not squinting.

Outside, it’s so great to have the polarized option, the Vantage lenses. They are so great to have outside.

EB: Which lenses do you wear?

DR: I wear all three of them. The other day I was driving and I looking in the mirror and I was excited because they were a little dark (XTRActive). I had been so used to that not happening.

EB: What are your goals with the Ambassador program?

DR: Really, it’s all about how important vision is. It’s so important to me. And so many people don’t get their eyes checked. And that’s one of the things I’m looking forward to doing, being able to connect to my fans and other people and say, “hey, you might want to get your eyes checked.”

It helps everything, especially your quality of life. I know how much better it got for me when I started wearing glasses. It was a crazy moment for me when I picked up my glasses and put them on and I could see! And I realized all that I had been missing. I want people to have that moment, too.

I’m big on Twitter and all that. I hope Transitions has a presence at my shows, a little booth or something. Anything that we can get people aware of what eyecare is.

EB: If you didn’t have music, what would your other passion be?

DR: If I didn’t have music, it would be sports journalism. That’s what I went to school for. ESPN was just starting then, but that was my dream to work for them, or local sports. I’m still passionate about it. I talk a lot of sports. One of the great moments of my life was being able to do College Game Day on ESPN.


EYECARE BUSINESS: Has eye health and good vision always been important to you?

ROBERT IRVINE: No, actually. I never thought about my eyes, really. I used to get major headaches, and I went to the doctor who referred me to an optometrist. When he told me I needed glasses, I said, “Glasses? I’m too young to need glasses.” You know, we have that stigma that glasses come with age and that’s not always true. Vision is now very important to me. We take it so much for granted, and I’ve come to realize that eyesight is so huge. Not everyone has realized that yet.

You don’t realize how important something is until you lose it. And as far as eyesight is concerned, you can’t replace it if you’ve lost it.

EB: What’s your experience like with your own eyecare professional?
RI: As she and I talked about my vision and things that were troubling me, the

squinting, the headaches. It wasn’t until she told me, ‘glasses are what you need,’ that we started talking about what else--the lenses and what not--that is available to me.

To me, education is a huge part of what I do, not only in food and fitness but in healthcare as well. We get one set of eyes, and when they start to deteriorate, you’ve got to take care of them, not only through nutrition but also the glasses that you wear and the lenses you choose. And if the eyecare professional doesn’t educate us about lenses and lifestyle, we can make poor choices.

EB: What lenses do you wear?

RI: On a daily basis, I wear everyday glasses (Transitions IV) that I can go on set with without any tint. But when I’m active, when I’m out with my daughters or jumping out of airplanes, I wear XTRActive. I’m very light sensitive, and for me they are right for my lifestyle.

You know, we can think about glasses like food. We can get a steak that’s cheaper, but it’s not as good. It’s the same thing with vision. If we get the wrong lenses, because they’re cheaper, it hurts us in the long run. Not only from an eye health standpoint, but it hurts us visually. It’s a beautiful world out there.

EB: Why did you choose to partner with Transitions?

RI: I want to truly believe in the product. Transitions is a natural for me, because I have worn them for so long. I believed in the product before I even met anybody from Transitions.

It’s great for me to be able to talk to people who haven’t had this kind of experience with their glasses. I can tell people, “I’m not here to sell you glasses. I’m here to sell you a lifestyle change, so that you can enjoy your life better. You’re going to see things more clearly than you ever have before.”

EB: What’s your goal with this program?

RI: Transitions has really gone out on a limb with this program, and it hitting different markets with a very different approach. And [the celebrity ambassadors] all have so many outlets to reach people, through social media, or through sports, or through music. Mine is through television and food.

EB: And you’re using social media to spread the word?

RI: I’ve gotten people to go try Transitions through Twitter. So it’s a very powerful media. I use Twitter every day. I do it myself. I love to spread uplifting messages and information. It’s “here, this will help you.”

It’s important for what [trade media] do, too. We have an obligation to use whatever platform we have to help people, to educate people, and to let them know they have options. And that the least expensive option isn’t necessarily going to be the best option. People will pay for that best option if they are told why.