always follows good service.
What is it that Dentists, Manicurists, Hairstylists and Opticians
time to end the lecture-only training of Opticians.
Opticians are Eyewear Professionals. Opticianry
The expert handcrafting of eyewear involves more than just adjusting
Dentists, Manicurists and Hairstylists make direct, tactile, contact with
Serve Consumers Service
The opinions and conclusions that follow regarding the practice of dispensing prescription eyewear in America are based first, on our (Opticians For Change) direct observations and experience, and second, on the first hand testimonials of Patients with whom we have had the opportunity of serving. And they are presented optimistically with the belief that owners and managers, whether they are private practitioners or retailers, will resonate and be inspired and motivated to make appropriate changes to their business model in order to advance the status of Opticianry as a profession while enhancing their other objectives.
Restoring Balance Between Serving And Selling
are vision experts who serve Patients with
This Serving vs Selling course, in addition to offering an educational experience to Ophthalmic Dispensers, is intended to be a consumer advisory and industry critique, as well as a primer and a plea to Optical Retailers who have failed to recognize or who have chosen to ignore the need for a) the resurgence of Hands-on Assessment in the design and dispensing of prescription eyewear; b) the resurgence of the Lifestyle Interview in the training of Opticians, these elements being increasingly absent in today's Ophthalmic Health and Wellness delivery system; c) the resolution of the conflicted relationship, which has subsequently developed between Professional Opticians and many Retail Managers; d) the elimination of the retail practices, including online prescription eyeglass marketing, that have led to a steep and steady decline in the eyewear design process, and the delivery of handcrafted custom fitted eyewear; and e) practical remedies, including Handcrafted Frame Fitting Workshops. See OpticianryReview.com. See DispensingGuidelines.com. See OpticiansForThePeople.com.
of today's Retail Optical Execs and Managers have
In addition, Serving vs Selling is presented with the hope of stimulating meaningful dialogue among ophthalmic industry leaders, private practitioners, and retailers especially, with the idea of providing more comprehensive and ongoing practical training, especially for Managers and Opticians; training that goes beyond the usual on-the-job, learn-as-you-go training, reviewing testimonials and episodes of prowess in selling, or answering an array of test questions that have more to do with sales goals and policy issues than they do with everyday Practical Dispensing; quality-over-quantity training that focuses on one-on-one, Dispenser-Patient Interview exercises, and especially the practical application of hands-on, in-place, on the face prescription eyewear assessment, bias-free design, and handcrafted, form-fitted eyewear skills. Note:If you are a Practitioner who needs additional training or consultation, or you need assistance in order to regain market share and improve the profitability of your practice, please visit OpticalWorkshops.com and DispensingGuidelines.com, then click, or call Opticians For Change at 800-528-0413 Ext 354 to discuss and-or arrange a Workshop session for your staff.
"For most consumers today, the handcrafted form-fitting of
This discourse is also meant to encourage consumers to become more vocal in demanding higher standards of practice, and more personalized care in the delivery of prescription eyewear and services. See Guide to Optical Terms.
CHOOSE A OR B BEFORE PROCEEDING
(A) Serving vs Selling is an in-depth look at what many see as the decline of the ophthalmic dispensing industry over the past few decades and the remedies. Those who are interested in examining the conflicted relationship between Service and Sales, begin here.
Three Dimensional Dispensing
What is Three Dimensional Dispensing? Old fashioned craftsmanship, which includes:
happened to craftsmanship and
"Opticians are Eyewear Professionals.
Patients deserve form-fitted prescription eyewear.
"After many decades of failing to provide the public with
AMERICA'S GENERATION GAP
In an article appearing in the Orlando Sentinel, Harry Wessel reported that there's a generation gap in America's workplace that's serious enough to cause a big brain drain in coming years. According to Randstad USA, an Atlanta-based employment-services company:
"U.S. businesses risk a shortage of skilled labor -- not because of the lack of manpower in the wake of retiring baby boomers, but because of the limited transfer of knowledge.
It defined the four Generations as the Mature Generation (those born before 1945), the Baby Boomer Generation (born 1945-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980) and Generation Y (born 1981-2000).
The different Generations rarely interact with one another and often do not recognize each other's skills or work ethic.
Employers should help close the knowledge gap by instituting ways for each Generation to recognize the strengths and value of all colleagues."
The four Generations share the same objectives but not the same experience. Their respective perceptions have to do with diversities in background and life experience. Thus each of the Generations must simultaneously appreciate the skills, and tolerate the shortcomings of all colleagues in order to move forward successfully.
POINTS TO PONDER
as Hairstylists cannot practice without tactile contact with a consumer,
is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
OPTICIANRY'S GENERATION GAP
It is apparent to many of today's Seniors and other industry observers that there's a big gap between the applied dispensing skills, i.e., lifestyle assessment, design, handcrafted form-fitting frame adjustment techniques of "Mature Generation" Opticians (see example) and the practices of many of today's Retail Dispensers and Managers. See Opticians: Merchants or Healthcare Professionals.
Through no fault of their own and due to the absence of multi-generational connections, many of today's Dispensers, especially Retail Managers, are seen to provide and-or oversee only the most casual delivery of prescription eyewear as if it were ready-to-wear clothing or over-the-counter general merchandise, with little or no attention being given to the all-important Full Discovery Lifestyle Interview, or to the subtler frame-fitting details as practiced by their handcrafted form-fitting skilled predecessors. Unfortunately, their focus is now preoccupied almost entirely with quantity-over-quality issues, such as daily sales goals, sales reports and other marketing efforts to the detriment of vision healthcare and Patient satisfaction, which of course, adversely impacts sales as well as referrals. Consequently, many Ophthalmic Retailers are chronically struggling with high rates of returns and refunds, and the loss of market share to Internet merchants. See GlassesOnlineWarning.com. See Dispensing Guidelines. See 3DDispensing.com*.
most perfect of prescriptions can be compromised if the
And if any frame adjustment is applied, it may amount to no more than a slight adjustment of the nosepiece and-or a sharp and short ninety-degree bend of the frame's temples at the junction of the ears. In other words, no form-fitting reshaping of the temples to follow the lines of the skull occurs, in the belief that it is the temples-to-ears contact that holds the eyewear in place. Of course, it's the temples-to-skull contact, NOT THE EARS, that primarily holds the eyewear in place. See example here.
In fact, eyewear merchants only require the delivered eyewear to look straight or "cool" on a flat surface, never minding that it does not fit the asymmetric facial or cranial contours of the Patient. It's as if they are fitting a one-dimensional, flat-surfaced counter top instead of a multi-dimension human face and skull. Some unskilled Dispensers have been known to go so far as to 'fix', i.e., remove, any previously applied form-fitting configuration, albeit much more comfortable for the Patient.
order to excel as a Dispensing Optician, one must first have
Too many Dispensers are unaware of the decades-old decline of applied Hands on the Patient, handcrafted form-fitting skills. The industry has produced at least two generations of Opticians, "Generation X" and "Generation Y," including many latter generation Board Certified Opticians, who have never witnessed a demonstration of these skills. (See example.) Furthermore, it's uncertain how many of today's Schools of Opticianry are adequately teaching Hands on the Patient, handcrafted frame-fitting skills. As a result, many latter day Dispensers have come to believe, after practicing a couple of years with their method of 'dispensing' eyewear, that they are sufficiently skilled and are in need of no additional training in the art and craft of Opticianry, and worse, that they have little to learn from more skilled, Mature Generation colleagues.
QUESTION: WHY DO CONSUMERS BUY PRESCRIPTION EYEWEAR ONLINE?
"Merchandising is a necessary and important service,
however all too often the
optical outlets are 'ready-to-wear' stores where
More and more prescription eyewear is being purchased from online providers because consumers can no longer find real differences between services in brick and mortar dispensaries and Web-based providers. Therefore consumers have no compelling reason not to purchase online. Opticians can get their groove back only by serving the consumer with, a) the in-depth lifestyle interview; b) Optician-assisted frame-lens design and selection; c) handcrafted, hands on the Patient delivery of eyewear; and d) free lifetime adjustment and minor repair services. None of these services are available online.
number one complaint of brick-and-mortar store patrons...
opticians relate to consumers as Customers,
INDEPENDENT OPTICIANS PROVIDE REAL HEALTHCARE SERVICE
It is a Healthcare Facility where prescription eyewear is designed, custom fitted and serviced with skill and excellence. Today's retail optical model works very well for reaching sales goals and marketing one-size-fits-all merchandise. But Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient, not by the number of customers served. Skilled professionals use dispensing procedures whereby they can anticipate adverse visual and frame-fitting issues with direct hands on the patient eyewear design and handcrafted frame fitting skills before the Patient has to endure them, thereby avoiding the necessity and inconvenience of return visits and-or possible re-do's, or worse, refunds, and the adverse notoriety that comes thereafter. When the eye care industry as a whole returns to this yesteryears practice as their dominant paradigm, consumers will return to their brick-and-mortar dispensaries for their eyewear purchases. Unfortunately, as things stand, consumers have very little reason NOT to make their eyewear purchases online, and the eye care industry as a whole has nobody to blame but themselves.
Most Independent Eye Care Professionals tend to be more caring and experienced, are more flexible with their policies, and are inclined to put service ahead of sales. Click here to see Common Complaints and Causes. Click here to find a skilled Optician in your area. Click here if you want your name added to our mailing list.
expect Opticians to be more Health Care Providers than Merchants.
the last time you saw or heard a retail optical
WHERE ARE WE HEADING?
Do you see the forthcoming Google Glass in your future as an Optician? Are you prepared to personalize similar high-tech frame ware as prescription eyewear? Send us your thoughts here.
"Hands on the patient
dispensing is a soon-to-be-lost art. If the trend to
PLACING THE EYEWEAR DIRECTLY ON THE PATIENT IS A CRUCIAL STEP
placing the eyewear directly on the Patient, the Optician
mission is to humanize the delivery of
Some portion of the Opticians' Generation Gap is explicable due to the current focus on Dispenser training by way of on-the-job apprenticeship programs, some of which are devoid of adequate Full Discovery Lifestyle Interview training, and absent any Hands on the Patient assessment, design and adjustment of prescription eyewear as practiced by skilled Opticians. But this gap is equally a result of today's over-zealous emphasis on the retail paradigm whereby latter generation Dispensers especially tend to become more skilled at parroting slogans, giving testimonials about sales prowess, and answering questions about company policy, sales goals and promotions from company executives, all of which afford them no experience in conducting a lifestyle interview or effectively assessing, designing, and then fitting prescription eyewear directly on the Patient. Unfortunately some aspiring Dispensers tend to become merchants, peddling ready-made, over-the-counter merchandise, not skilled Opticians, dispensing customized prescription eyewear.
Surgeon must train for years in actual hands-on practice,
In the eyes of some consumers the up close and personal aspect of dispensing eyewear has become an exotic and unfamiliar craft, and the art has devolved to such an extent that many consumers (even many Dispensers) now actually think that a hand-fitted frame is inferior to an off-the-board frame. For example, some Patients, having never seen or experienced a hands on the Patient customized frame fitting, have been known to request that the form-fitting adjustments, having been applied by a skilled Optician of the hands-on-school, be removed from temple ends because "they don't look straight, flat and normal like other people's glasses." Unfortunately, the "other people's glasses" were more than likely never customized.
Board of Opticianry approved and Florida
State Board accredited hours for
HANDS ON THE PATIENT DELIVERY DEFINED
"Dentists, Manicurists and Hairstylists make direct, tactile contact with the
OPHTHALMIC DISPENSING is herein defined as those activities performed by a skilled Dispensing Optician, which include a) the fullest discovery and maximum consideration of the Patient's visual needs, b) the assistance and advice to the Patient regarding the appropriate choice of lens design and frame selection, c) the duplicating, measuring, inspecting, and verifying of prescription lenses, and d) any subsequent x-y-z plane alignment followed by the more personalized form-fitting adjustments of the frame, including the Final Fitting. See Optical Training Resources.
"Opticians are Eyewear Professionals. Opticianry
HANDS ON THE PATIENT DELIVERY is herein defined as those handcrafted procedures, which involve form-fitting eyewear adjustments performed by a skilled Dispensing Optician, which specifically include a) the visual and touch and feel, Hands on the Patient, direct assessment of the frame, while it is in-place, on-the-face of the Patient, in order to determine any misalignment, and b) any subsequent multi-dimension Hands on the Patient, touch and feel, handcrafted form-fitting that is required to refit, align, adjust, reshape, bend, stretch, twist and sculpt the components of the frame in order to personalize the eyewear for maximum visual comfort and wearability. See example.
POINTS TO PONDER
is no right or wrong way to dispense
Would it not be helpful to have Ophthalmologists and Optometrists
Handcrafted multi-dimensional adjustments, including direct, touch and feel,
Opticianry is an art and craft. The highest level of customized frame fitting, aligning, and sculpting, is achieved mostly with handcrafting skill and the trained eye, along with the aid of hand tools. Handcrafted multi-dimensional adjustments, including tactile, handcrafted, touch and feel procedures such as reshaping the temple ends to make direct and full, touching-without-pressing contact with the mastoid complex area behind the ears, while simultaneously avoiding direct contact with the pressure-sensitive ears, is the single most important consideration for long term comfort and wearability. Full contact, without pressure, on the bridge of the nose and the skull BEHIND THE EARS, NOT ON THE EARS, are the two primary means of frame support and restraint. The ears act only as a 'stop' or 'last resort' means of restraint and stability. See more 'Hands-on Handcrafting' details here.
COMMON COMPLAINTS AND CAUSES
"My glasses keep slipping."
"These are just some of the challenges that face dispensers every day on the front lines of ophthalmic dispensing. Ask yourself if you and all your dispensing staff members possess the ability to professionally and effectively “diagnose” the cause of these problems and effectively and efficiently correct them.
do not stay in place. (Temples spread too widely; temple adjustment
behind ears is too loose or incorrect; pads spread too far;
bridge too wide; doesn’t fit nose; eyeglasses are too
heavy.) See photo.
LET'S LOOK AT CUSTOM FRAME FITTING UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Furthermore, a successful multi-dimensional frame alignment and fitting can be achieved only when the Dispenser 1) visually assesses the eyewear in-place, on the face of the Patient, and 2) simultaneously uses the sense of touch to determine any anomalies between the frame's temples and the Patient's skull. In most cases, the Dispenser cannot remain seated to accomplish this. The Dispenser must get up, and get close to the face of the Patient, otherwise neither a proper evaluation or fitting can occur. In other words, the Dispenser must stand and lean over the seated Patient in order to make the required observations at different angles to the front and rear of the Patient's head. The fitting-adjustment procedure itself also requires the removal and re-placement of the eyewear directly on the Patient as many times as necessary, and the entire evaluation and fitting process requires sufficient time to execute properly. It should not be rushed.
OLD FASHIONED MULTI-DIMENSIONAL
there's no touch, there can be no hold.
Patient deserves a sufficiently handcrafted,
The manager of a nationwide retail optical dispensary
Ophthalmic Dispensing practices are too often
There are some industry observers who see the devolution of Ophthalmic Dispensing as the result of an over zealous retail strategy perpetrated by some industry members to eliminate any reliance on competent Opticians in order to better manage their labor costs and enhance their profits. But the Profession is mostly the victim of the perpetual tension and struggle between opposing market forces; the Company's need for control of inventory and labor costs, and the Patient's desire for choice and comfort. What many retailers don't understand is that giving the consumer more of what they want is best for everybody. The last century's most successful entrepreneur, Sam Walton, taught that the Company must always favor the consumer, first.
Ophthalmic Dispensing, within recent decades, has become so 'retail oriented' and subsequently dehumanized to the point that some Patients have been known to express a sense of surprise, even concern, at a skilled Optician's use of touch while fitting their eyewear. This has occurred to the extent that some 'old school' Opticians now feel required to request a Patient's permission before proceeding with any critical and necessary handcrafted form-fitting adjustments. See this, The Humanization of The American Economy and Business.
can order dentures from a mail-order source because the
Physicians and Dentists do not request permission to touch a Patient since it is an obvious necessity, and a long accepted practice to use their handcrafted form-fitting skills. Sadly, Ophthalmic Dispensing has devolved for such a period of time that the Dispenser's use of touch is now no longer acceptable or even associated with the dispensing of eyewear by some Patients. Unfortunately this has subsequently led some many Patients to turn to mail-order eyewear from the Internet, their experience and-or logic being that customized form-fitting of their prescription eyeglasses is unavailable, so why not get them from the mailbox? There's no difference!
Opticians are Eyewear Professionals.
READY-MADE VERSUS READY-TO-WEAR
Whereas corrective eyeglasses that are assembled in an optical laboratory are, as a final step in their inspection process, inverted on a flat surface and made to fit squarely at the four points of contact, ready-to-dispense, they are NOT ready-to-wear. Instead of assuming that newly made eyeglasses all require at least some minimal adjustment and realignment, today's unskilled eyewear merchants assume and-or hope, due to lack of adequate training and tools, that they need no additional alignment. They seem to apply the logic, "Well, the Patient has chosen this frame, so it must fit them comfortably, and the lab has already made their 'four point' adjustments, so the glasses are good to go." This hands-off approach is out-of-touch with the comfort needs of almost every Patient.
POINTS TO PONDER
What do we mean when we say dispensers are 'out-of-touch' regarding the
'Four pointing' eyewear on a table is never a substitute for
are fitting a person for comfort, not a table for square
customized fitting of eyewear involves more than just adjusting
DISCOVERY - DESIGN - DELIVERY
dispensing requires the careful and thoughtful
THE FULL DISCOVERY AND DISCLOSURE INTERVIEW
Some Refractionists, that is Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, make entries on their prescriptions such as "No-line Bifocals" or "Progressive Lenses," both of which refer to a Progressive Addition Lens or PAL. See below. Too many times this is a subjective entry on their part, which is made in the absence of any discussion with the Patient, and minus any explanation to the Patient as to why a Progressive Lens is better, or how the lens works, or what other options are available. Of course, these points are all better left to the Optician to give more complete coverage during a Lifestyle Interview, but which too often never occurs. See video.
See A Refraction Tutorial here.
But any suggestions on the Doctor's prescription notwithstanding, today's eyewear merchants promote No-line Bifocals without any notion of whether the Patient's visual circumstances require more practical alternatives. Too many Dispensers assume that a PAL is the Patient's informed choice since the reference appears on the Doctor's Rx. This scenario all too often results in an unsatisfactory outcome for all parties, and it manifests by way of many unhappy Patients as well as high rates of unnecessary remakes and-or refunds. See DispensingGuidelines.com. Also see 3DDispensing.com.
CASE IN POINT
order to adequately fulfill the needs of the Patient,
Each Patient is unique, and presents different visual and form-fitting needs. In order for the Dispenser to recognize and fulfill these needs an adequate lifestyle interview must occur whereby the Patient discloses any pertinent details. In other words, the successful design of eyewear requires that the Dispenser fully engage the Patient in a full discovery and disclosure interview, so that all aspects of the Patient's visual habits, vocational and avocational, are disclosed. For example, a presbyopic aircraft mechanic working under an aircraft engine or a presbyopic painter working on walls and ceilings, both of which require a fixed upward view for extended durations, will appreciate a Double D Multifocal (Double Bifocal) or even a Quadrafocal lens design. On the other hand, a Progressive Addition Lens, though preferred by a majority of Patients, or a regular bifocal, is most likely to be an inadequate lens design under such working conditions. NOTE: A picture is worth a thousand words. Using the Patient's Rx in a Trial Frame to demonstrate their visual experience at variable working distances is extremely helpful to the Patient in determining whether to acquire any one of several multifocal lens designs and-or extra pairs.
Only at the conclusion of a Comprehensive Lifestyle Interview, can the Optician advise the Patient of the widest range of lens designs, frame styles, and prices that most appropriately fit the Patient's needs. This needs to be done without bias concerning bonus income, sales quota, profit margin or other subjective considerations. This advice should also include the consideration of multiple pairs and may include special lens types such as extra-wide streetwear or occupational bifocals, trifocals, PALs, sunwear, safety eyewear, or golfing and other athletic designs.
Whenever a Patient goes to a Physician for medical treatment the Physician first interviews the Patient to discover all relevant issues before designing a treatment. Likewise, a Patient in need of prescription eyewear requires a 'discovery interview' to determine the design of their eyewear, i.e., their frame selection and especially the type of lenses.
proper and successful practice of the art and craft
MASTERFUL DESIGN AND TOUCH AND FEEL FRAME FITTING
Patients deserve a fully personalized design and handcrafted form-fitting of their eyewear. The fact that the frame lies on a flat surface squarely should never preclude fitting the frame directly on the Patient. This becomes obvious when after fitting a Patient with facial anomalies, the frame no longer fits squarely on a flat surface. Facial structure, the positioning of each eye and ear, the mastoid-contour (see photo) behind each ear, all of these differ with each person. The proper and successful practice of the art and craft of Ophthalmic Dispensing "lies in the details."
For example, some Patients have one EYE positioned higher than the other. Most of these Patients are unaware of this condition. How many Dispensers are aware of this somewhat common disparity? How many Dispensers compensate for this anomaly in their multi-focal lens design by vertically offsetting the respective reading segment along with an appropriate advisory to the Patient? By the way, the Dispenser should always inform the Patient that these anomalies are universally normal.
*SPECIAL NOTE: Multi-focal lenses are routinely ordered today with the reading portion placed at matching heights because vertically-equal eye symmetry is assumed to be the norm, and-or "it looks better" when the segments can be observed as vertically and horizontally equidistant, and because vertical eye asymmetry is not considered as a design factor, even though it is critically important for the Patient's visual balance and comfort at the near and intermediate points. In fact, eyewear merchants don't allow for any disparate bifocal segment height or seg inset in their lens design, even in their software. Skilled Opticians however, compensate for the Patient's structural disparities by way of frame and lens designs and-or handcrafted frame adjustments. By the way, the Patient should always be informed of the possible disparity in the design of their lenses in order to avoid failing to be transparent.
eyecare industry needs to strike a better
A Patient's eyewear can be considered to be successfully designed and dispensed only after, 1) an in-depth, Full Discovery Lifestyle Interview by the Optician occurs, 2) an in-place, on the face eyewear assessment is made, i.e., a comprehensive frame and lens design occurs without bias as to style and-or profit margin (honesty is always the best policy) by the Optician, 3) the laboratory processing of the eyewear is accurately completed, 4) all elements of the eyewear are inspected for accuracy and validated by the Optician, and 5) all relevant Gross Frame Alignment and any Subtle Form-fitting Frame Adjustments are applied by the Optician upon delivery of the eyewear using the sense of touch. See The Final Fitting.
Patient's face and head are NOT uniformly smooth, flat,
Together with the decades-long corporate expansion of retail outlets, the marriage of eyewear to fashion, the expanded marketing of multiple pairs, the proliferation of lens types, add-ons, and frame materials, the dawn of the computer age and the resultant visual issues, the unfortunate advent of mail order contact lenses and eyeglasses, the scarcity of experienced practitioner-teacher Professionals with hands-on, in-place, on-the-face handcrafted skills, together with more and more Dispenser training occurring online, and state licensing boards, some of which are absent adequately trained members, a steady decline in the art of form-fitting eyewear with applied Hands on the Patient assessment and handcrafted fitting skills has occurred almost to the point of its disappearance. These skills now reside mostly in the hands of a dwindling number of handcraft-skilled Opticians.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
'60 Minutes' looks at Sticker Shock Specs
During the first half of the 20th century the American Optical Company and Bausch and Lomb, dominated and actually monopolized almost all of the Ophthalmic Manufacturing, Wholesale Laboratory, and Retail Dispensing industry. Most dispensing skills were literally and figuratively in the hands of AO and B&L Laboratory-Dispensing Opticians who were known for their highly skilled design and delivery of prescription eyewear. The caliber of dispensing skills approached its zenith. After the government anti-trust break-up of AO and B&L in the early 1960's, which separated their manufacturing and laboratory operations from any dispensing activities, the Ophthalmic Industry began to take the form we see today.
Prior to their break-up, AO and B&L dispensed eyewear directly to the public in what the government ruled was a monopolistic business, which exclusively served their wholesale laboratory clients, i.e., Opticians, Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and other Eye Care Professionals. After the break-up, the retail dispensary business model-paradigm began to shift from one of Patient care with the focus on Health and Wellness, to that of merchandising with the focus on Sales and Marketing. This occurred due to the gradual appearance of more and more competing players and the inevitable erosion of the pool of hands-on-the-patient Opticians and their handcrafted, form fitting skills due to expanding competition. Thus, began the devolution from hands-on, healing related, handcrafted, form-fitted, eyewear dispensing to today's discounted, dehumanized, over-the-counter, ready-made, hands-off merchandising. As a result, latter day ECPs do not easily connect with the practice of hands-on, handcrafted form-fitted eyewear dispensing, nor does the retail optical industry as a whole, nor do most consumers, most of whom have never even observed the practice, let alone experienced the results. Now, unfortunately, some Patients even openly express surprise, even dismay, when old-school Opticians, what few remain, attempt to make direct-touch contact in order to form-fit their eyewear.
POINTS TO PONDER
optical dispensary is a health and wellness facility where
optical outlets are mere 'ready-to-wear' stores where
the over 67,000 Opticians designing, manufacturing
THE OPHTHALMIC INDUSTRY'S ROLE IN THE DECLINE OF SERVICES
The ophthalmic industry itself however, accelerated the decline in quality of services. For example, in the years preceding the 1970's, frames were made in a multitude of sizes, i.e., eye sizes, bridge sizes and numerous temple length combinations, in order to satisfy the diverse anatomical needs of Patients. (Some Patients even require disparate temple lengths, i.e., one temple longer than the other, for instance.) Since then, Ophthalmic Manufacturers have gradually eliminated multiple sizes. This has resulted in the decline of the quality of ophthalmic services. Now, most frame styles come in one or two sizes at most. As a consequence we see many Patients with ill-fitting prescription eyewear to wit it is now even more important for Opticians to be skilled in the art of hand craftsmanship, i.e., the customized form-fitting of frames in order to accommodate the absence of variable sizes. Instead, each succeeding generation of Opticians is under trained and less skilled, and the decline continues unabated. (Get custom made frames for hard-to-fit patients here.)
Furthermore, today's frame manufacturers, which are now based mostly overseas, produce frame materials that are inferior to the products of yesteryears when gold filled metal, for instance, was the dominant material. Many of the plastics and metals used today are too brittle and unresponsive to heat or bending. Many of today's frames are not capable of being reshaped or adjusted quickly and easily, e.g., changing the length of temples or applying form-fitting mastoid bends.
And ophthalmic lens manufacturers no longer provide experiential visual aids to Opticians such as Progressive Addition Lens Demonstrator Kits whereby a Patient can actually experience the advantages and disadvantages of advanced design PAL's as they apply to their specific needs before finalizing their choice of lenses, especially today with so many lens choices on the market.
Another indicator of the devolution of Dispensing Opticianry due mostly to the decline in hands-on, handcrafted, form-fitting dispensing skills, is the long-term trend in the design of dispensing tables to wit Opticians can just barely reach a Patient. The design seen in most dispensaries today actually discourages Optician-Patient contact since the proximity of the Patient to the Optician is well beyond arms length, e.g., taking a pupillometer reading can be a real challenge. Today's Opticians are unfamiliar with the Optician-friendly tables of yesteryears, which positioned the Optician and Patient within easy reach and which affords the easier performance of custom, handcrafted form-fitting of eyewear. Today, as a result, skilled Opticians must stretch and strain, or circumvent the use of the offending table altogether in order to do their thing.
NOTE: Optical industry sources claim today that there are approximately 148 million eyeglass wearers and 196 million sunglass wearers in the United States. Of course, some are part-time wearers, but many are all-day prescription wearers who are unable to acquire adequate sizing of frames and-or proper adjustments. And all of them deserve properly designed lenses and handcrafted, form-fitting eyewear.
overly zealous emphasis on sales goals has
HAND TOOL TRAINING AND OTHER SOLUTIONS
Important tools of the trade along with the knowledge of their use have disappeared due to the industry's shift away from sufficient emphasis on a lifestyle interview, relevant eyewear design, and hands-on, in-place, handcrafted, on-the-face, form-fitting skills. For instance, how many latter day Dispensers know how to lengthen or shorten and refit a plastic covered, metal temple end-piece? How many have seen or even heard of numerous dispensing aids such as the distometer, hot salt-bead frame warmers, zyl bridge stretching or shrinking pliers, specially designed self-closing tweezers, bridge stretching pliers, nose pad removal pliers, Progressive Addition Lens demo kits, and the trial frame and lenses used for the confirmation of the Rx and the demonstration of custom or occupational lens designs?
How many present-day Dispensers have any knowledge of, or experience with the custom designing of presbyopic golfers' glasses, which feature bifocal segments designed to the golfer's specifications, in either one or both lenses, which are placed anywhere the Patient prefers, for the purpose of avoiding interference while aiming their golf shots?
How many current Dispensers are aware of the round segment bifocal, which is scarcely used anymore, but remains a first choice transitional lens design for some first-time, hard-to-fit, prospective Progressive Addition Lens wearers due to its ease of adaptation along with its cosmetic advantage of having a nearly invisible segment? (Albeit the sales leader for today's presbyopic Patient, the PAL should NOT be the first or ONLY lens of choice for these Patients. Here's where the full discovery life style interview comes in.)
And what about the Trifocal Lens, which is no longer considered an alternative to the PAL by many latter-day Dispensers because of its visible segment? Even when Patients are less concerned with the vanity aspect of the 'no-line' feature as opposed to the superior functionality that a trifocal offers over the PAL or Computer Continuum lens, in some visually challenging environments especially, the PAL is too often the only option offered to consumers. (Essilor used to make a Progressive Lens Demonstrator kit years ago. This demonstrator kit was a significant aid to consumers, and a real advantage to all dispensers in the marketing of PALs. Lens manufacturers will hopefully make these kits available, again.)
Progressive Addition Lens (PAL)
UNSKILLED AND UNCHECKED MANAGERS
Unfortunately, today we see too many Retail Managers who are experienced in marketing but under-skilled in the art and science of Opticianry. Many of them are fixated on policies and procedures and-or overly zealous for sales to the point of obstructing the delivery of acceptable ophthalmic services. (Remember the AIG debacle where the overreach for profits and bonuses caused an eventual financial calamity?) For example, check out the subject of prescription wrap around eyewear and the expertise required to fit this type of eyewear. Click here.
always follows good service.
Furthermore, the untrained optical retail Manager who obsessively pushes a Dispenser for higher production of high-dollar sales, e.g., the universal promotion of high-end and more expensive Progressive, "No-line" Lenses, regardless of their demonstrable need, thereby affords less occasions for adequate eyewear design time and full consideration of the Patient's needs. At the same time inexperienced Managers unrealistically demand customer satisfaction be maintained along with minimal numbers of remakes or refunds.
As a result of these conflicted goals, Dispensers are discouraged from conducting the appropriate Patient interviews. This results in more Patients becoming dissatisfied, while generating more returns, remakes or refunds, which leads to more frustrated Managers and Dispensers. It's as if nobody can figure out that this unfortunate cycle, along with its adverse karmic impact on the bottom line, will end only when the Patient's genuine needs are considered and fulfilled. See The Humanization of The American Economy.
serve is to succeed. When it comes to dispensing eyewear,
Now, after several decades of dealing with this conflicted and downward spiral, with its resulting focus away from previous generations' people friendly, 'take your time,' hands-on practice of handcrafted form-fitting dispensing to today's ready-made, one-size-fits-all, 'get them in, and get them out' attitude, and with bottom-line sales the industries' main goal in spite of much hype to the contrary, a litany of complaints from Patients, such as the following, are being heard with ever increasing frequency.
They just handed me my glasses and asked me, "How do they feel?"
She didn't take the time to fit my glasses."
They just told me to bend down and shake my head to see if they fit okay, but they never adjusted my glasses."
I told him my new glasses looked crooked and then he asked me what I wanted him to do about it."
I was told that I needed a progressive no-line bifocal instead of a regular bifocal, but they didn't explain why, or what the difference would be. Now, at work, I have to raise my head and bend my neck way back in order to see my computer monitor. These progressive lenses don't work for me. I want my money back."
Sadly, optical dispensing has declined to the point that many consumers over the years have developed an attitude whereby they no longer have any expectation that their prescription eyewear can ever be fitted comfortably. Some consumers are even heard to express a sense of dread in making an eyewear purchase. And some consumers even describe their experience as akin to buying a new or used car, i.e., getting the big sales pitch, and then paying for the promised or implied high quality of service, none of which is received. Is it any wonder consumers are abandoning optical dispensaries for the convenience of the Internet for their prescription eyewear?
Special Comment: The following narrative* is from 'Your Money', in the December, 2011 issue of the monthly 'AARP Bulletin'. It demonstrates the success of today's online eyewear merchants in providing dehumanized delivery of eyewear, and the failure of today's ECPs to provide old fashioned, hands on the patient form-fitting dispensing services to the public as was practiced in yesteryears. And it explains why many of today's Opticians URGENTLY need remedial training in the fine art and craft of 'once-upon-a-time' handcrafted, customized frame-fitting techniques, without which we can say 'Goodbye!' to most of today's brick-and-mortar dispensaries, and relatively soon.
FOR LESS busting your budget on eyeglasses? Considering buying
your next pair online? Web-based merchants may offer substantial
discounts over real-world shops. And some sites let you do
virtual try-ons: You upload a photo of yourself, and the site
simulates what you'd look like in different frames. You'll
need your prescription and Pupillary Distance (PD) from an
eye exam, plus frame size (check the inside of an old pair).
Online opticians include ___________.com, ___________.com,
and ___________.com." --
"Man's purpose is to serve. Service is an intrinsic value, not a value
HANDS ON THE PATIENT
Books, lectures and tests can take an Optician's skills only so far.
It is time for direct, touch and feel, Hands on the Patient training to happen.
HANDS ON THE PATIENT
WORKSHOP TRAINING AVAILABLE
Board of Opticianry accredited and Florida
State Board approved CE hours
appreciation is hereby expressed to