PALs are hot.
“Growth in ‘custom’ progressive and SV lenses leads the latest trends,” says Michael Vitale, The Vision Council’s senior technical director. In fact, according to The Vision Council’s third quarter 2017 VisionWatch report card, PALs represented 30.8% of all spectacle lens unit sales (for the 12 months ending in September). Additionally, the biggest increase of Rx lens unit sales was recorded in the free-form/digital PAL category—one that now represents a healthy 7.1% of all prescription lens unit sales.
Buyers + Sellers
Who’s the typical PAL buyer? According to the September VisionWatch Report, the vast majority of PALs (68%) were purchased by adults earning at least $60,000 a year.
But what factors influence ECPs’ PAL decisions? Participants in the September 2017 Eyecare Business Lens Virtual Focus Group reported that key considerations when selecting custom, free-form, and personalized lens product were the ability to explain them to patients, personal wearing experience, price, clinical data, and wholesale lab recommendations.
Whichever new PAL you bring into your practice, your success depends on if and how you and your staff communicate its features and benefits. According to the EB Lens Virtual Focus Group, 80% of the ECPs said they always discuss progressive lenses with potential wearers.
That conversation will become increasingly important, as according to Market Scope, the number of presbyopes in the U.S. is expected to reach a high of 123 million in 2020.
To round out the PAL picture, we asked three PAL-smart ECPs to detail their smartest buying strategies when it comes to selecting a PAL lens for their practice.
TIP #1: PICKING PALS
“We choose progressive lenses that offer premium technology and superior optics with the widest field of vision in all areas, plus the quickest adaptation for the wearer.”
—Amy Endo, master optician/practice administrator, Edwin Y. Endo and Associates, Aiea, HI
TIP #2: PRESENTING PALS
“It’s always best to start at the top. Human nature is such that we don’t like to lose things or, in this case, give up what’s already been given. Once a patient has been presented with the best, it requires a sacrifice on their part to give it up.”
—Michael A. Kling, O.D., president & CEO, Invision Optometry, San Diego, CA
TIP #3: VENDOR RELATIONS
“People continually run to the shiniest thing, but how long can you do that? Our approach is different. We have a long-term, close working relationship with one vendor. At the upper tier, you need the best. That can come down to that relationship, and if they are going to help when you need it.”
—Zach McLean, optician/manager, Dietz-McLean, San Antonio, TX
TIP #4: FITTING + TRAINING
“Clinically, we’re seeing much better adaptation to PAL designs. In the past, many patients struggled with adapting, partly to poor lens designs, but all too often to poorly trained opticians.”
TIP #5: HIGH END
“We’re charging full ahead in the digital world. You have to separate yourself. That is why we live at the high end of technology. The results are incredible.”
TIP #6: CONVERSION
“With improvements in the past few years, patients will soon not be able to tell the difference between PALs and single-vision lenses. So, soon, we should be able to convert all lined bifocal wearers.” —Amy Endo
TIP #7: VALUE
“With the downward pressures of online eyewear sales, it’s more important than ever to create value for our patients by offering them superior products.” —Dr. Kling
TIP #8: PERFORMANCE
“Progressives and other ophthalmic lenses have become quite expensive for the average consumer, so it’s important that what you offer provides exceptional performance.” —Dr. Kling
TIP #9: WHAT’S NEXT?
“Lenses will become fully customizable based on every variable that affects vision. They will be individualized to each and every patient based on their personal lifestyle.” —Amy Endo
AN INSIDE LOOK AT WHAT 7 SPECTACLE LENS MAKERS SAY ABOUT A NEW OR FAVORITE PAL—INCLUDING WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL
Varilux X Series is the newest, most innovative Varilux lens design. Designed to address presbyopes’ key visual challenges, they are the only PALs to feature Xtend technology, a revolutionary design calculation that significantly extends the area of sharp vision within arm’s reach. essilorusa.com
Standout Element: With Xtend technology, patients no longer have to tilt or angle their head to find ‘just the right spot.’
iD MyStyle 2 lenses combine patented technology and designs that offer un-rivaled optical clarity for any vision prescription. It’s the first and only technology to shape lens design on both the front and back surface, giving the most comfortable vision for every activity. hoyavision.com
Standout Element: These ‘personalized lenses just for you’ offer natural, stable vision, wider viewing zones, and unrivaled optical clarity.
SEIKO Superior Free-form PALs’ key features include ultra-personalization, variable inset, customizable preferred reading zone, and a profile that’s 25% flatter than other free-form designs. They come in three design options: Balanced, Near-Priority, and Far-Priority. seikovision.com
Standout Element: The variable inset makes it possible to achieve the optimum inset of the near zone for each individual wearer.
The Autograph III is Shamir’s most premium progressive lens, holistically adapted to every patient’s unique prescription. The Autograph III incorporates four technologies to ensure the best visual experience: EyePoint Technology III, IntelliCorridor, Natural Posture, and As-Worn Quadro. shamirlens.com
Standout Element: Autograph III ensures a clear, comfortable visual experience that is customized to a patient’s individual needs.
Everywhere+ Progressive Lenses feature a wide distance zone for unmatched comfort. Advanced digital fabrication technology provides flexibility to accommodate a broad range of frame heights and variable inset for optimal alignment on the progressive corridor. visionease.com
Standout Element: They combine an exceptionally smooth and soft design with a high level of customization for easy wearer adaption.
VSP OPTICS GROUP
Unity Via Progressive Lenses were introduced last year. Unlike other progressives, Via doesn’t have the swim effect and is customized for every patient so that they get comfortable vision from the moment they put on their glasses. unitylenses.com
Standout Element: Unity Via Progressive Lenses use advanced intelligent technology to make dispensing progressives easier.
ZEISS DriveSafe PALs feature new Zeiss technology that offers better vision and depth perception in low-light conditions and at night, dramatic reduction in glare, and improved fast focus between the road, dashboard, and mirrors. zeiss.com/vision-care
Standout Element: ZEISS DriveSafe PALs offer patients a unique all-day lens with advanced design features fine-tuned for driving.