DON’T MISS THE (BIG) BOAT ON COMPUTER LENS TRAINING

By Judith Lee

If your lab isn’t helping your ECP customers sell more computer lenses, it may be missing the boat—and a very big boat it is.
Who do you know who uses a computer, smartphone or tablet on a daily basis? Nearly everyone.

We could be more conservative, and consider the most likely candidates: presbyopes who use computers for several hours a day.
It’s still a cruise ship full of prospects. If just half of the 135 million Americans over age 40 stare at a digital screen for significant periods of time per day, the market for computer lenses would be nearly 70 million people.

“An ideal candidate would be a 48-year-old presbyope with an office job, who is suffering from neck strain after looking at their computer monitor all day long, or a college student suffering from eye fatigue because they are bouncing between their computer monitor and books for hours at a time,” noted Jen Cofield, training and development coordinator for Signet Armorlite.

As our kids grow up in the age of video games and digital connections, there’s growing concern that their visual systems will be impacted.
“Many children keep performing an enjoyable task with great concentration until near exhaustion (e.g., playing video games for hours with little, if any, breaks). Prolonged activity without a significant break can cause eye focusing (accommodative) problems and eye irritation,” said the American Optometric Association Web site.

Yet computer lenses currently represent a tiny percentage of the current lens market. That means plenty of opportunities for your lab to help customers be a hero to their patients. If the sheer size of the opportunity doesn’t move you, here are five other great reasons to get on board.

1. They don’t know what they don’t know

“Many dispensers think of computer lenses as ‘specialty lenses’ and just haven’t learned about the visual issues or the new products out there,” said Maria Perez, a rep for Essilor Labs of America.
Perez teaches dispensers about Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a recognized diagnosis. CVS is a combination of eye and vision problems related to computer use, not a trumped up reason for a second pair of glasses.
Perez said many dispensers don’t know how much they can help patients, especially presbyopes who look at a computer screen for three or more hours a day.
Samantha Coon, marketing coordinator for Shamir Insight, agreed: “Most dispensers are younger and do not recognize the needs of the older wearers.”

2. New products and lens category

As lens manufacturers have recognized the opportunity, and as lens technology has advanced, a number of new computer lenses have come on the market. Dispensers may be hard-pressed to keep up with single vision and multifocal lens offerings, and may have skipped over the ads about the great choices in computer lenses.

“Which computer lens is best for which patient? We needed to sort this out with training, and we invite the reps in to keep us up-to-date on our knowledge,” said Richard Rubin, managing optician at The Eye Center, Pembroke Pines, Fl.

Here’s a quick overview:

• GUNNAR Advanced Computer Eyewear from Carl Zeiss Vision addresses CVS symptoms with a steep wrap (eyes stay moister), a proprietary tint (improves contrast), proprietary coatings (filter specific wavelengths to selectively neutralize harsh parts of the color spectrum), and a slight power add (enhances screen detail).
• Essilor Computer Lens addresses different diagnoses by the OD and a broad range of patient types. Based on ergonomic factors of screen and keyboard viewing, the Essilor Computer lens provides a wide, clear intermediate area for viewing at computer distance—great for heavy computer users.
• Shamir Office Lens is the occupational lens for a wide range of professionals: doctors, chefs, musicians, artists, accountants, car mechanics and other workers requiring concentrated vision for up to 13 feet.
• Kodak Unique MonitorView from Signet Armorlite offers a large full add and an intermediate distance set at 24 inches, and a limited-distance zone with primary viewing in the 15-foot range. The design is extremely usable in the intermediate and ergonomically set for computer monitors.

3. Simple setup

 
Creating an optical environment that promotes computer lenses is simple. It’s best to have a laptop handy so the dispenser can simulate an office workspace for the patient. Rubin’s practice places a lorgnette over the patient’s progressive lenses to demonstrate the wide intermediate visual field and improved optics.
“The patient’s eyes light up,” he said. “We also place the lorgnette over reading glasses, and this will convert patients who think they are seeing the screen okay – but they’re not.”

Perez said her favorite demo tool from Essilor is a card with a hologram that shows the difference. Several experts noted that the most important part of the setup is the knowledge you impart to the dispensers.
 
“The most beneficial dispenser training for successfully fitting computer lenses centers around how to present computer lenses to a patient, describe a near variable-focal lens to the patient in a clear and concise manner, and address how these lenses are going to help the patient in their daily life,” Cofield said.

4. Free help

 
The lens manufacturers offer free help for any lab who is creating a training program. Shamir Insight has an ABO-approved seminar on occupational lenses that labs can provide to dispensing staffs (call 877-514-8330). Signet Armorlite will send a sales consultant to train lab personnel, or will partner with a lab to provide training directly to an ECP (contact your KODAK lens consultant or call 800-759-4630 x1220). All four computer lens manufacturers offer patient product literature and dispenser fitting guides that your labs can obtain at no charge.

5. Great results

The best part of promoting and explaining computer lenses is if your lab equips the dispenser properly, there’s almost no chance he or she won’t be able to increase their computer lens sales.

“We recommend computer lenses to everyone who sits at a computer for one hour a day or more,” noted Rubin. As a result, their computer lens sales have gone from one to two percent of lenses sold to 12 to 15 percent.
He adds that even a presbyope who can’t tolerate progressive lenses will succeed with computer lenses: “Once the patient experiences computer lenses, there’s really no going back. They will be very happy with the outcome.”


CURRENT ISSUE


September/October 2014