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MANAGING OPTICIAN

AR: Just the Facts

We were all taught in school the importance of The Five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why.

Alternatively, some of us learned it was The Five Ws and One H (how). We were taught, especially in journalism, that every effective story had to answer those five or six questions. To be considered complete, factual answers to all those questions had to be reported. Notably, none of those questions could be answered with a simple yes or no.

Too often, I believe, we forget that we are not journalists. We are opticians – eye care professionals whose main reason for existence is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our clients with regard to eyeglasses and contact lenses. As such, I think we spend a bit too much time and energy explaining to our clients the who, when, where, why, and especially how. It seems to me that we need to emphasize “what” the products do. If interested or concerned, our patients will surely ask “how” the thing works or performs; then and only then should we provide the information.

For example, I think most first-time presbyopes need to be informed that a progressive lens is indeed preferable to a line bifocal because it provides focal points at an infinite number of distances, specifically at infinity, intermediate, and near. That is “what” it does. For the vast majority of patients, that’s enough information to make a decision. A small percentage of patients will want to know “how” that happens or “why” it’s so. In that case – tell them – but only if they ask.

I think this problem most often manifests itself in our quest to sell more AR (anti-reflective) lenses. We muddle the message – ironically making it less clear – by including too much ancillary, unnecessary, unwanted information. With that in mind, here are five “whats” that I think we should share with our clients in an effort to sell more AR. I will, of course, include the how and why of it…just in case they ask.

What #1: With an AR lens, you will experience less fatigue and eye strain. Seems to me that would be enough information for most clients, but if they ask you could inform them that without an AR treatment their lenses will not allow a good deal of light to go through the lens (8-16% depending on lens material). This information is most effectively shared with a visual aid that illustrates the phenomenon. Perhaps telling them that the AR treatment makes the lens more difficult to scratch also makes the point. Additionally, the fact that TV screens and computer monitors would be less obstructed also helps to make the point.

What #2: With AR, your vision is sharper…especially at night. If less fatigue and eye strain doesn’t sell them on the idea, the fact that vision is sharper, especially at night, ought to do the trick. On the outside chance they want an explanation, how about letting your patients know that the AR increases contrast, making color differentiation easier. The fact that halos around street lamps and headlights will be eliminated explains how driving at night would be safer, since more details would be discerned easier and sooner. 

There are also studies that show us that the reaction time of drivers wearing AR lenses is significantly faster than drivers who wear glasses without AR when driving at night. People 65 years of age or older generally need six times more light than an 18-year old to comfortably perform the same task. Especially here in Florida, where a significant portion of our population is retired, that information is important.

What #3: (With apologies to Billy Crystal): You’ll look marvelous! Surely, that would be enough for a lot of my patients, but if they wanted an explanation, I would be ready: Your friends and colleagues will be able to see your eyes more clearly if not distorted by the reflections of “standard” lenses. Again, this is best demonstrated with a visual aid. For example, at each of my dispensing tables I have a pair of glasses made up with one lens AR and the other not. While pointing out the difference, I explain that this makes communication more effective. For people with strong prescriptions, especially minus corrections, it should be demonstrated that the lenses will appear thinner and therefore be more cosmetically appealing.

What #4: AR is much better today than it was even a few years ago. While this “what” should suffice for most people, if they have had an unsatisfactory experience with AR in the past, a bit more of the how and why will probably be required. That’s when a simple explanation is best. What I do is simply explain that the new technology and advances in the adhesion process helps to ensure that the AR is more an actual “part of the lens” as opposed to simply a coating. Avoid using the word “coating” when talking about AR. This seems to ring true for most patients. The addition of hydrophobic and oleophobic (and I don’t know that I would use those “technical” words) means that fingerprints, smudges, and grease does not adhere to the lenses as much as they used to.

What #5: AR lenses are easier to clean and stay clean longer. The last time I said that to one of my patients, she replied with one word: “Sold!” If ever I learned a lesson in keeping it simple, that was it. Those who require an explanation could be told that the super hydrophobic and anti-particulate layers actually repel dust, dirt, and lint. The word “repel” is an effective word to use. It should also be shared that these new and improved outer layers mean that water and oil are easily wiped away. These new lenses need to be actually cleaned far less frequently than before.

The lesson? Less is more. Our clients will let us know if they need more information. In the absence of such requests, keep it simple.

Anthony Record
ABO/NCLE, RDO

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