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PHOTOCHROMIC PRESENTATION GUIDE

7 smart steps to increasing photochromic lens sales, from 3 ECPs who’ve done it

Photo courtesy of Transitions Optical

What do today’s photochromic lens treatments bring to your patients? They provide (depending on brand and type): faster activation and fade-back, darker darks and clearer clears, UV protection, blue light protection, comfortable vision for light-sensitive patients, activation in the car or in indirect sunlight, and tint colors (including a fashion-forward graphite green) that can complement any frame color and personal style.

Not all patients, it seems, understand that. According to The Vision Council, photochromic sales have been flat the past few years, hovering at between 15.6% and 15.8% since 2014. After seeing a rise in the early 2000s, average pricing has stayed even at $204 in both 2016 and 2017.

Are you looking to increase your percentage of photochromic lens sales in your practice? Follow in the footsteps of three successful ECPs who did just that. Here, they help lay out the path.

STEP 1: INCLUDE EVERYONE

Jennifer Lyerly, O.D., serves as the contact lens director at Triangle Visions Optometry in Cary, NC. She’s also the co-founder of Defocus Media and the creator of the popular Eyedolatry blog (eyedolatryblog.com ). Her practice has increased its photochromics sales from 17% to 21%, and it’s still climbing.

“The biggest difference is that I’ve been recommending photochromics lenses for all patients—not just kids, and not just people with cataracts or macular degeneration,” she says.

Every patient can benefit from photochromics—so don’t leave anyone out.

Kim Manthe, practice administrator of Clarus Eye Centre in Lacey, WA, (seven M.D.s, three O.D.s) agrees. She makes sure staff speaks “with every patient about the family of (photochromic) products that match the patient’s activities, lifestyle, and personal style.” It’s worked: she helped the center’s Clarus Optical division grow its photochromics sales to an impressive 43% of total lens sales.


JENNIFER LYERLY, O.D.
Triangle Visions Optometry, Cary, NC

Percentage of photochromic sales:
21%
(up from 17%, and still growing)


KIM MANTHE,
practice administrator
Clarus Optical, Lacey, WA

Percentage of photochromic sales:
43%

STEP 2: COMMIT IN THE CHAIR

This is a recurring theme because it works so well. Treating photochromics like part of your lens prescription in the exam sets the stage for a successful dispensing conversation in the optical.

“The doctor has to believe in it and prescribe it from the exam room,” says Eric White, O.D., of Complete Family Vision Care in San Diego.

He credits his practice’s higher-than-average 30%-35% photochromic sales percentage directly to the Doctor Driven Dispensing philosophy. “This is the power of the pen. Most of the time, what I prescribe is what they will get—if they see value and a need for it.”


ERIC WHITE, O.D.
Complete Family Vision Care, San Diego

Percentage of photochromic sales:
30%-35%

STEP 3: MAKE IT A GROUP EFFORT

All three of the ECPs interviewed here have their staff wear photochromics, and all have the same commitment to putting patients in photochromics.

“You have to have your staff 100% behind you,” says Dr. White.

That takes a consistency of staff education and messaging. And it means lots of educating patients about the benefits of photochromic lenses, demo kits, and even going outside to show patients how quickly the lens darkens.

STEP 4: CHANGE THE CONVERSATION

“I visibly cringe when I hear any person in my office ask, ‘Do you want your glasses to turn into sunglasses outside?’” Dr. Lyerly says. “That’s a limiting way of describing photochromic technology; I don’t want my patients to think this is a replacement for sunglasses because I want them to have sunglasses too.”

Instead, she prefers to describe photochromic lenses as “auto-tinting lenses that change to protect your eyes from glare, UV, and squinting when you enter different brightness levels—just like the headlights on your car auto-adjust.”

“It’s smart technology that changes for you to prevent all those fine lines we get from squinting in bright light,” she notes. “By changing the dialogue, my patients are rethinking what they think they know (and what they think they don’t like) about today’s photochromic lens technology.”

STEP 5: LOSE THE “EXTRA” MENTALITY

Stop thinking of photochromics as an add-on lens option. Such an approach may only set you up for failure, as patients often view it as upselling.

“The lens I’m prescribing for my patient is not ‘extra.’ It’s what they were looking through in the exam room when they were happy with their vision. To me, it’s fundamental for clear vision,” says Dr. Lyerly.

Instead, her practice gives the patient a price that includes all lens treatments as prescribed along with the frame the patient selected.

Photo courtesy of VSP Optics Group’s SunSync-Plus

STEP 6: LISTEN + SOLVE

Going hand in hand with Step 5, photochromics should be considered (by you and the patients) as part of the total vision solution.

“I ask my patients open-ended questions during the exam like, ‘How could your glasses be better?’ ‘What situations do you feel give you trouble in your glasses?’” says Dr. Lyerly.

She listens for glare and light sensitivity complaints from computer-using patients, dry eye sufferers, and migraine sufferers. She adds that since she prescribes Transitions lenses to her patients, they have the added benefit of blocking a portion of blue light without blue or purplish lens tints.

STEP 7: PROMOTE PHOTOCHROMICS EVERYWHERE

Manthe takes her message of the benefits of photochromics to the streets, literally. Clarus Eye Centre hosts many community events, including a golf tournament, kids safety events, and summer sales, and she uses each of those to bring attention to the role that photochromics can play in providing comfortable and clear vision.

Patient information, product demonstrations, and sometimes even a lens company rep are all on hand to inform attendees about vision care, eye protection, and clear, comfortable vision.

“We focus on a complete eye health experience, and we talk about UV and blue light protection, and being able to adapt (a lens) to every changing outdoor environment,” she says.

BY THE NUMBERS

A breakdown of the photochromic market in the past 12 months (as compared with percentage of total lens sales):

Male   18.1% Female   13.6%

AGE

18-34   8.6% 45-54   15.5%
35-44   13.3% 55+      22.1%

source: The Vision Council

Photo courtesy of Transitions Optical