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Opticianry
Today.com

Whatever happened to craftsmanship,
i.e., old-fashioned hands-on Opticianry,
including three dimensional dispensing?

        

Discovery-Design-Delivery
Three Dimensional Dispensing


. Why do we so often consider Consumers mere customers
when they present us with a doctor's prescription for eyewear?
. Why not consider consumers Patients requiring vision care?
. Wouldn't this change the way we relate in terms of time and kind of
service we render them? (Maybe this is why we relate to them merely as
customers. We want to be simply merchants. Too much responsibility, otherwise.)
. Aren't optical dispensaries supposed to be genuine healthcare facilities where we
provide Three Dimensional Dispensing, i.e., Discovery, Design, and Delivery of
prescription eyewear, and where the Patient's health and wellness needs are served?

What is Three Dimensional Dispensing? It's old fashioned craftsmanship, which includes:
. Discovery of the real needs of the Patient by way of an in-depth Lifestyle Interview,
. An unbiased Design of frame and lenses that fulfill the Patient's vision needs, and
. Delivery of handcrafted eyewear, which creates a multi-dimensional balance in
relation to the visual axis, the head and face, and results in a skull-conforming
frame-fitting that precisely matches the topography of the Patient's features.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Opticianry is defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the patient.
Eyeglass consumers need and deserve the following:
a) Optician-assisted, in-depth lifestyle interview;
b) Optician-assisted, design and selection;
c) Handcrafted, form-fitting eyewear;
d) Free lifetime adjustments and
minor repair services, none of
which are available online."
Dispensing Guidelines

"More than half of all people in the United States use some type of lens
to correct their vision. How many of these have been able to acquire
handcrafted, form-fitted eyewear?" -- OpticiansForChange.com

"When Opticians relate to Consumers as customers, it often has an adverse
impact on the relationship. When Consumers purchase prescription eyewear
they should invariably be served as Patients, never as customers. Patients
receive healthcare. Customers receive merchandise." -- 3DDispensing.com

"If you will recall, Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well
the eyewear fits the Patient. So, the real issue for Opticians and
Consumers to consider, is not whether prescription eyewear can be
purchased in stores or online. The real issue is the current deficiency
in the delivery of eyewear due to the absence of the craftsmanship
and skills required to dispense form-fitting eyewear to the Consumer.
The answer is: hands-on training, hands-on training, hands-on training.
It's time for those Opticians who know to teach those who do not know.

And it is time for any Opticians who do not know to surrender their egos."

"It's time for Craftsmanship. It's time for Eye Care Professionals to be
agents of change going forward. It's time for Eyewear Professionals to
improve their form-fitting eyewear skills." -- TimeForCraftsmanship.com

"Opticians are Eyewear Professionals.
Opticianry is defined by how well the eyewear
makes contact with the Patient, not by the number
of customers served." -- DispensingGuidelines.com

"After many decades of failing to provide the public with
hands on the patient handcrafted services, retailers
have suddenly discovered that consumers are flocking
to the Internet for their eyewear, where likewise, they
are unable to acquire handcrafted frame fitting services.
Refusing to admit culpability, these same retailers now
blame cheap online prices and unethical practices for the
erosion of market share and the steep decline of revenues."
See AARP's 'Your Money,' December, 2011, as example.

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.

According to a Harris Interactive survey, there is little interaction among the four Generations of U.S. employees.

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.


*
TBD: This group has not spent much time in the workforce.
This characteristic has yet to be determined.

POINTS TO PONDER

"Just as Hairstylists cannot practice without tactile contact with a Customer,
Opticians cannot dispense eyewear without tactile contact with the Patient.
Unskilled eyeglass merchants routinely hand over prescription glasses without
a lifestyle assessment, nor any of the appropriate touch and feel required for
form-fitting the eyewear, e.g., when skilled Opticians dispense eyewear, they
determine for themselves how the eyewear feels even in lieu of asking the Patient."

"Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
contact
with the Patient, not by the number of customers served.
For the truly skilled Optician, the standard of care must include a
customized design and handcrafted form-fitting of eyewear
on each Patient. Our mission is to humanize the dispensing
of prescription eyewear." -- OpticalWorkshops.com

Our Sense

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, and 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.*

*3D DISPENSING AKA
THREE DIMENSIONAL DISPENSING

   
The temples are too short in both photos, and the temple-end, right,
makes contact with the skull only at the very tip. See form-fitted temple.

What is Three Dimensional Dispensing? It's old fashioned craftsmanship, which includes:
. Discovery of the real needs of the Patient by way of an in-depth Lifestyle Interview,
. An unbiased Design of frame and lenses that fulfill the Patient's vision needs, and
. Delivery of handcrafted eyewear, which creates a multi-dimensional balance in
relation to the visual axis, the face and skull, and results in a skull conforming,
frame-fitting that precisely matches the topography of the Patient's features.

"The most perfect of prescriptions can be compromised if the
eyewear does not provide comfort and long term wearability."

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.

"In order to excel as a Dispensing Optician, one must first have
the attitude of a
healer, and then, the sense of a merchant."

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 form 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?
ANSWER: BRICK AND MORTAR DISPENSARIES ARE NOT SERVING THEIR NEEDS.

"Merchandising is a necessary and important service, however all too often the
health care component of the Optician-Patient equation becomes secondary
to the act of selling. In too many cases over zealous sales goals override our
mission of providing vision health care, whereby the personalized, custom
fitting of eyewear gets only minor consideration, if any. This reality is clearly
demonstrated by the unfortunate and steady number of unhappy Patients
and the subsequent loss of their revenue and referrals to the Internet."

"Opticianry is ultimately defined by how
well the eyewear makes contact with the
Patient, not by the number of customers served.

Many optical outlets are 'ready-to-wear' stores where
eyewear merchants sell 'one-size-fits-all' merchandise,
and where numbers of sales and customers is paramount.
This environment has prostituted the practice of Opticianry.
"

"Optical dispensaries are healthcare facilities where Opticians practice
Three Dimensional Dispensing, the Discovery, Design, and Delivery of
prescription eyewear, and where the Patient's needs always comes first."

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.

   

The number one complaint of brick-and-mortar store patrons...
"Nobody adjusted my glasses. They just handed them to me."

When opticians relate to consumers as Customers,
it often has an adverse impact on their relationship.
When consumers purchase their prescription eyewear they
should invariably be served as Patients, never Customers.
Patients receive Healthcare. Customers receive merchandise.

TESTIMONIALS

Our Sense 

ALL TOO COMMON TESTIMONIALS

A consumer recently reported their experience whereby they were handed their new eyeglasses at a large retail optical store by a Dispenser (not an Optician) with some 20 years of experience, whereupon no adjustments to the frame were made and the Patient was forced to seek the appropriate service elsewhere. The Patient subsequently reported that she felt fortunate to find an Independent Optician like us, having the skills to relieve her discomfort, after spending a considerable amount of time searching. (Question: Is there a difference anymore between buying prescription eyewear in a brick-and-mortar store and buying online? See GlassesOnlineWarning.com.)

Here's a recent e-mail from a long time Patient, now living out-of-state.

Having you fit my glasses on my face, ears, nose and under my turban with care and attention to detail, making minute but essential adjustments, was the best experience I have ever had of having glasses fitted to my face during my lifetime of wearing glasses. The first time you did my glasses, and your wife suggested to me that I also have my lenses tinted to gently soften the lines around my eyes, was a memorable experience. I have shared the story of that day, in your Optical Shop very often, whenever I get ‘new’ glasses. Most Opticians are surprised to hear the story and also amazed that having that care and attention to detail as a part of having glasses fit properly made such a difference in my life. Having my glasses not hurt, and having them fit properly was an incredible blessing. Having my glasses fit gracefully and painlessly under my turban was nothing short of a Godsend. I can honestly say that no other Optician ever did such an impeccable job as you did. I once tried to get new lenses in the glasses that you had adjusted for me. I came back to pick up the glasses and someone said to me that the Optician had straightened out the bent side pieces! I was so upset! I made the Optician come out and I explained what you had done for me, why you had done it and what a terrible disservice he had done by ‘straightening’ my side pieces and that he had to re-bend the side pieces back to where they had been. Needless to say, those glasses never fit the same again! After that I never changed lenses without speaking directly to the person making the lenses and making sure they knew not to change or adjust the side pieces. If you lived where I could get my glasses adjusted properly that is where I would go...

A consumer who found our Web site.

Sir, I salute you! I quite agree about the loss of experience in fitting eye wear to client. I currently don't know a qualified Optician, one who carefully fits the frame to the head. I'm currently working on adjusting my new pair of glasses. It's an on-going project. I'd pay just for the professional fitting. In time, I may review both your sales and your fitting courses.

A recent e-mail from a Massachusetts friend upon visiting our Web site.

I was 9 (*cough,cough!* an eon ago!) - I can't remember actually being "fitted" with my glasses in years and years. Thank you for this reminder that it SHOULD be done this way. Perhaps if dispensaries had continued these practices I wouldn't have felt so aggrieved at the continually and gasp-inducing rising prices of eyewear. To such an extent, in fact, that the last pairs of glasses I've gotten, I purchased online. (Hope you were sitting down for that! I wouldn't want to be the cause of a heart attack :-) ) No, I didn't get fitted, obviously, but I got exactly the same product - AND service - I would have gotten at any local shop, for so much less money that I was able to buy three pairs of glasses for about a third of the price I'd have paid in person. Anyway, thanks for sharing this.

Here's our 'two sense.' So, this consumer's experience suggests the reason for the proliferation of online prescription eyewear sales is not so much about lower prices as it is about adequate personalized, handcrafted, hands on the Patient services. There are only three things the optical industry can offer the prescription eyewear consumer, SERVICE, QUALITY and PRICE. But most latter-years dispensaries currently ever offer ONLY TWO of these, simultaneously. Why can’t we offer SERVICE, i.e., 1) HANDS-ON THREE DIMENSION DISPENSING, 2) QUALITY PRODUCTS, and 3) FAIR PRICING, all three simultaneously, like we used to do? This leaves the online providers with only their cheaper prices with no custom fitting skills for that segment of the market, and leave the remaining market (we’re talking mostly about full-time-wear prescription-wearing consumers, not those looking for plano sunwear or readers) to Eyewear Professionals. A big challenge now, is that the industry has devolved to the point of being extremely short on Multi-Dimensional Dispensing Technicians.

Speaking of Price...

BTW: A colleague recently asked...

What does it say about the "soul" of our profession when the first "selling point" that comes out of a frame rep's mouth is, "Your cost is $9.95, but it's listed in Frame Facts for $79.95...so you can bill insurance higher?

From a fellow Optician:

Coming from the old-fashioned world of Opticianry, it really saddens me that today is all about the sales. Gone are the days of one on one, fitting and guiding the patients through the process. I have even come across people who never even knew they were wearing progressives!! This is totally outrageous. They tell me they were told they will now be able to see up close with their new glasses but never explained what they were getting. This has happened more than once. I can see why the visitor to your site felt no difference buying online rather than at a brick and mortar location. It angers me that the word "fitting" is not even recognizable to him. As Opticians, we need to man up and go back to basics before the Internet takes over what we are trained to do. Thanks for the eye opening. I will take it as a encouragement to keep doing my old fashion fitting and dispensing and hope it does make a difference.

Currently 8 percent of all US retail sales are made on the Internet,
a market share that is increasing rapidly. The rising penetration of
smartphones and tablet computers will only accelerate the trend.
Across every consumer product category, the Internet is bringing
a greater pricing transparency. The recent upsurge in activity by
low–cost, Internet–based eyewear retailers raises the specter of
significant revenue loss for independents. In a recent study 16
percent of patients surveyed indicate they use the Internet
during some phase of their eyewear purchase process.

See The reason some folks buy their glasses online.

Our 'two sense.'

Any ophthalmic dispenser who is not practicing basic dispensing guidelines as described here is a mere eyeglass merchant, not an Optician. And this is the major reason why many of today's PRESCRIPTION eyewear consumers purchase their eyewear online.

If you are not practicing Opticianry with the application of 3D Dispensing, Discovery-Design-Delivery, skills, i.e., 1) DISCOVERY of the consumers real eyewear needs in an unbiased Comprehensive Lifestyle Interview, 2) user friendly DESIGN of the eyewear, and 3) Touch and Feel, Hands on the Consumer DELIVERY of the eyewear, let’s be honest, you are a big part of today’s proliferation of online sales. And only you can restore market share to the industry, more skillful professional services for consumers, and the lost art of handcrafted form-fitting skills to this profession.

To this point, we recommend charging Web-based consumers realistic across-the-board-fees for follow-up servicing of ill-fitting eyewear. (This is addressed in some detail here.) Of course, we must see to it that we have the handcrafting skills that warrant charging these fees. Opticians have historically offered free lifetime service, but with the advent of online eyeglass merchants, free lifetime services can only be realistically offered to full-fee consumers. Again, we must have the hands on the patient handcrafting skills in order to warrant the fees. Unfortunately, for most latter-day Opticians, even many senior Opticians, this could pose a real challenge. See Facial Asymmetry.

Where there is NO DIFFERENCE between the service offerings of a brick-and-mortar merchant and an online vendor, other than price, many consumers understandably choose the online source. They are 7/24 accessible, cheaper, and offer the same absence of direct human contact as many of today’s dispensaries. What’s not to like? And keep in mind that 7-11 stores are successful even though their prices are higher. Why? Because consumers mostly get the Service and Quality they want.

According to the Wall Street Journal, McDonald's franchisees
are taking several actions to improve service, including adding staff
at peak hours and trying a new system to take orders. Surveys show that
customers consider customer service as important as price, The Journal noted.

Our 'two sense.' There are only three things the optical industry can offer the prescription eyewear consumer, SERVICE, QUALITY and PRICE. But most latter-years dispensaries currently ever offer ONLY TWO of these, simultaneously. Why can’t we offer SERVICE, i.e., 1) HANDS-ON THREE DIMENSION DISPENSING, 2) QUALITY PRODUCTS, and 3) FAIR PRICING, all three simultaneously, like we used to do? This leaves the online providers with only their cheaper prices with no custom fitting skills for that segment of the market, and leave the remaining market (we’re talking mostly about full-time-wear prescription-wearing consumers, not those looking for plano sunwear or readers) to Eyewear Professionals. A big challenge now, is that the industry has devolved to the point of being extremely short on Multi-Dimensional Dispensing Technicians.

The majority of prescription eyewear consumers relates to and seeks customized Discovery, Design, Delivery, and Quality Products IF and WHEN these are available. What created the online merchant-sellers is that Multi-Dimensional Dispensing skills are more the exception than the rule. We have personally served consumers in recent years that were literally shocked to experience a tactile, hands-on, touch and feel, handcrafted frame fitting, having never seen nor experienced such service. Sad! -- See GlassesOnlineWarning.com.

From another Optician:

Hari, thank you for helping those that haven't yet figured out this lost art. Once a week I will get somebody in my shop, complaining of their eyewear just not feeling right. I cringe when I see optics up around their eyebrows, pads off kilter, and temples that look like their made to fit a watermelon. Thanks for leading this crusade. Best of luck.

Our 'two sense.'

Thank you for your feedback! Here are some additional thoughts i can share.

If State Boards would give this issue some attention, I think some significant change could occur. I think we must start at the top as well as the bottom in order to turn things around.

State Boards and other industry leaders need to prohibit eyeglass merchant chains from hiring and then PROHIBITING skilled Opticians from dispensing eyewear. At one point I found myself employed in just such circumstances. The national chain hired my license only in order to operate lawfully, and then assigned/restricted me to their lab where I had to endure witnessing young and unskilled sales people dispensing eyewear, some of whom simply handed over new eyewear to consumers and then asked them to bend over in order to see if the eyewear fit well. I also witnessed the frequent 4-pointing of eyewear, a pointless procedure at the dispensing table, which indicated the extremely unskilled status of their unlicensed sales staff. Of course, having only one licensed Optician on the premises at any one time allowed management to employ cheaper entry level albeit incompetent labor. Needless to say, I terminated my employment in fairly short order after vocally expressing my concern and dissatisfaction at the delivery of eyewear with such incompetence. These are the kinds of practices that have caused the steep and steady decline and the dehumanization of Opticianry, and it's the major reason why consumers are abandoning ophthalmic dispensaries in favor of Web providers. When consumers can get their unfitted eyewear more conveniently and more cheaply from their mailbox, why should they patronize a brick and mortar store for the same incompetent service, where nobody ever lays a hand on them in order to fit their eyewear? -- See OpticianryToday.com.

Another Optician:

I agree with every word of this! Fitting glasses has become a "Lost Art" in our profession. It seems that most New Opticians believe the correct way to adjust glasses is to bend the temples at a sharp right angle at an approximate location of the back of the ear and tell the patient to "have a nice (though somewhat painful) life." No attention is being paid to pantoscopic or retroscopic tilt, proper nose pad adjustment or widening temples on the smaller frames that people (for fashion reasons) insist on buying. Keep on pushing for more fitting classes in CEC fulfillment. -- See ReachOutAndTouchSomebody.com.

From an Optician re Certification:

My state is in need of change, as well. One can obtain a job in a dispensary and not even have Certification. I am so disgusted. I still attend all the CE classes every year, but I refuse to renew due to the fact that the certificate is not worth the paper it's printed on. This is not a licensed state, certification only. I happen to be employed by a practice that collectively knows everything there is to know about optics. We take pride in this and we value our patients. We take the time to educate them, which promotes word of mouth referrals. But we are a dying breed. One day we will all retire and have to close down because trying to hire a true optician is like looking for a needle in a hay stack.

Our 'two sense.'

Over the past 58 years that I have been an Optician I've seen many forces at work in the prescription ophthalmic market. A big contributor to where we are now is the professional territorial factor. There are those in this industry who have shortsightedly worked to diminish the role of the Optician. Now to the regret of the today's entire prescription eyewear market these same entities are whining about the fact that consumers are leaving them for the Internet. (Who can blame the consumer?)

You can't have it both ways. Opticians can't remain unlicensed and uncertified, thereby insufficiently trained in the science and craft, and cast as simple eyeglass merchants on one hand, but be expected to perform at the level of skilled healthcare providers on the other. Since the majority of eyewear is dispensed by those assuming at the very least the role of the 'optician' the optical industry must collectively stop casting Opticians as anything less than respectively skilled partners along with the other Os.

Only then can the dispensing of prescription eyewear regain the humanized professionalism and market footing it had when I began my career.

BTW: I spent several years in a medical/ophthalmic office working alongside two Ophthalmologists and an Optometrist, some of the most fulfilling years of my career. Fulfilling because I saw patients served with the very best of eye healthcare services. Each of the Os practiced their respective expertise, and the patients received the most excellent of care.

And again, I do not see Opticianry advancing to where many industry leaders want to go until we return to serving people instead of serving numbers.

Opticians are Eyewear Professionals. Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient, not by the number of Customers served. Service is an intrinsic value, not a value to be added. Opticians need to be service-to-Patient driven, not sales-to-Customer driven. When service comes first, sales inevitably follow. OpticiansForChange.com

Two Opticians re the Certification of Opticians:

Not all states have licensing requirements. But at least with a Certified Optician, the patient is reasonably assured that the person who is helping them with a very personal, very technical and medically ordered item has some idea of how it is supposed to work. Becoming Certified is not all that hard but it does assure minimal education requirements have been met.

If a haircut goes bad, it can grow out. If a massage goes bad...but not too badly as to cause injury, its a bad experience. If a pair of spectacles do not work correctly and you are driving, not only are you at risk so is the rest of the people on the road with you. Opticians must be certified, preferably licensed, to protect all of us from those who wear inaccurately produced or adjusted glasses.

And

I like that comment. I think that ABO Certification should be a minimum mandatory requirement in every state. Consumers move around nowadays and when they move from a state that has no requirements to a licensed state, it's quite a shock for them. Florida is a tourism state, so we get a lot of vacationers coming in with eyecare needs. They get upset when we cannot fulfill certain requests here. Back home, they get away with a lot more, because there is no minimum certification. Not to say the people there are incompetent; they simply do not know, because they were not required to complete education at national standards. Also as you stated, the renewal hours are not that hard to obtain. There are so many professional magazines with CE hours in them, simply by reading the article and filling out a simple questionnaire. Most professional Internet sites have CE hours online.

Here's our 'two sense.'

I agree with the previous comments re Certification. However, certification, though important, is not the primary issue for today's Opticians. The primary issue is the absence of 'time in place' or 'residency training' in the handcrafting of eyewear directly on the Patient for the purpose of the visual comfort and long-term wearability of their eyewear. And this deficiency, more than any other factor has led to the proliferation of prescription ophthalmic sales on the Internet.

There's been too much emphasis for decades on lectures and seminars, i.e., virtual training, and no where near adequate time spent, even for many senior Opticians, in the practical art form and craft of handcrafting and fitting eyewear directly on the Patient, along with the associated training in the proper use of hand tools.

Examples: Temples must be handcrafted to follow the contours of the skull in order to avoid direct contact with the ears, while resting evenly against the skull with minimum pressure, whereby the temples act to hold the eyewear comfortably in place with all gaps and space removed while simultaneously making full and caressing-without-pressing, form-fitting contact with the skull, NOT THE EARS.

And then there is the issue of taking into account physical anomalies, i.e., the disparate cranial and facial features that all Patients present to some greater or lesser degree, that are ignored by many virtually trained, even experienced Opticians.

This, what I call 'Hands on the Patient Handcrafted Eyewear' training, is absent in the experience of so many Opticianry applicants in Florida that the Florida Board of Opticianry has now adopted a rule requiring all applicants to attend a 2 hour minimum, handcrafted, hands on the Patient Frame Fitting workshop before licensure can occur.

So, with or without Certification, "Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient, not by the number of Customers served." For the truly skilled Optician, the standard of care must always include customized design and handcrafted fitting of eyewear.

If you're interested in more on this subject, I urge you to visit OpticalCourse.com, DispensingGuidelines.com and OpticalWorkshops.com for photos and additional points of interest.

From another Optician concerning big optical corporations:

We, as Opticians, need to reduce reliance on buying products from Big Optical giants such as Luxottica. Personally I stopped dealing with them years ago out of frustration with the high costs of the branded eye wear and extremely poor service (in my case anyway...waiting up to 6 months for a full order to come in). We also need to think about why it is that the public values our skills so little? -- See Sticker Shock Specs on '60 Minutes'.

Our 'two sense.'

The absence of customized, personalized, handcrafted, hands on the Patient, eyewear fitting, which is practiced by too few of today's Opticians is the reason you're seeing the emergence of corporate behemoths like Luxottica.

What happened over the last 55 years is that our markup used to cover our frames-lenses-lab costs, PLUS our professional service fees, including in-depth lifestyle interview; Optician-assisted frame-lens design and selection; HANDCRAFTED, hands on the Patient delivery of eyewear; and free lifetime adjustment and minor repair services.

And while organized Opticianry, what there was of it at the time including the Guild, were fast asleep along with the other two Os, corporate interests seized on the marketing of fashion-only, unrelated-to-vision-healthcare, merchandi$ing aspects of the industry. Bigger and bigger corporate interests began promoting the selling of merchandise-only, i.e., minus most or all of the all-important vision care services. They pocketed the margins that we used to receive for our professional services, i.e., in-depth lifestyle interview; Optician-assisted frame-lens design and selection; HANDCRAFTED, hands on the Patient delivery of eyewear; and free lifetime adjustment and minor repair services. (What a ripe $ plum!)

The downward spiral continued because larger and larger corporations, with bottom-line only considerations, would hire entry level only sales clerks to dispense their merchandise, while lowering their costs. With these actions coporations began replacing experienced Opticians, i.e., skilled Eyewear Healthcare Professionals, whereby they pocketed the margins that Opticians historically made as their income. Now, we have the phased and rapid movement of the industry into the Internet. (For me, this is deja vu all over, again! Nice effective corporate strategy, huh?)

My point is that we have met the enemy and the enemy is us! The 3 O's have COLLECTIVELY created this market by becoming apathetic and by not taking care of business, i.e., the Patient always comes first. We lost our groove. We got too focused on things other than our primary mission, which is to serve the public, not to make lots of money. Not that making a good living is wrong, but that our mission of service must come first, and our income comes second. THIS IS OUR GROOVE. We got it backwards, and lost our groove.

Now we face a long, painful road, but very simple truth, to get our groove back. It all starts with making the Patient king; in-depth lifestyle interview; Optician-assisted frame-lens design and selection; HANDCRAFTED, hands on the Patient delivery of eyewear; and free lifetime adjustment and minor repair services. Stay tuned. See DispensingGuidelines.com. See OpticianryToday.com.

From an Opticianry student:

I am perplexed by the animosity between opticians in licensed vs. unlicensed states. Regardless of how each of us became an optician, we are all using that same designation. Regardless of what our states require of us, we are all using that designation. So if we are all going to continue using that designation, don't you think we ought to be able to agree on what an optician is, and what we do? Along that line, we also need to be able to guarantee to our patients that we ALL have at least a certain amount of knowledge regarding optics, lens types, etc., and that we are trying to keep up with the ever-changing technology by continuing education in our field. The lack of continuity across state lines, and the mentality that if it gets me nothing financially, I shouldn't sit for unrequired boards, is crippling our profession. I am a 41 year old recent graduate of a Virginia Community College's Opticianry program. I have interned for the last year at a large retail chain and also at an independent optical shop that has been in business for 33 years. Virginia is a licensed state, and I have taken my written ABO and NCLE, and will be sitting for my state's practical for my license in 20 days. Not because it will help me get a better job with better pay, but because I want to be a great optician. I do not have a job lined up. But that isn't keeping me from taking these exams, nor is it keeping me from attending any symposium, leadership conference, or seizing any opportunity that comes along to make me a better optician. Because my patients that I WILL serve deserve that. I am excited every day to learn more, help more, and do more. I want to learn. I want to be part of a group of professionals who take an immense amount of pride in their ability to provide patients with the best vision possible. I want to elevate the field of opticianry, promote our value to the public, and be a part of a respected industry. I think these goals are pretty common to most of us. We need to come together and work toward a common goal. There is power in numbers. Together, we can change the path of our profession. We should strive for excellence. Quit tearing each other down, quit making excuses, quit being lazy and complacent. Work together to provide great service and make our slice of the pie just as important as the other 2 "Os"- in the eyes of the public. We are all necessary in the eye care environment, and it is our duty to educate, provide outstanding service, and raise the bar!

Our 'two sense.'

Here, here! Thank you for your optimism and enthusiastic expressions! I want to hear from you again, after you've been working in this profession for a couple of years.

Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient, not by the number of customers served.

Use this as your guide and follow the guidelines as described at Dispensing Guidelines.

And do not let anybody or any employer/corporation steer you away for any reason.

From another Optician:

I really think that it is important for Ophthalmologists and Optometrists to support our field in anyway they can, because if we should disappear, the Optometrists are next. It is important that Optometrists make sure that the company they work for or if they are independent, hire LDO's to work in their optical shop or lab section of their office. I am from Washington State which requires Opticians be licensed.

Our 'two sense.'

Speaking of Ophthalmologists and Optometrists, would it not be helpful to get them to enter a corrected VA (Visual Acuity) value on all their Rx's? Can you imagine trying to design eyewear without this important data? Can you imagine the time and effort this action would save for all parties?

An Optician's follow up response to our comment:

Indeed it would. If you had that information, as well as any other relating to acuity, it would save a lot of aggravation for both parties. That used to be a pretty standard thing 30 years ago.

And then there's this from a senior Optician:

There is a simple answer as to why Opticians are not licensed in every State. Money! In unlicensed States the Optometrists and Ophthalmologists have a very strong lobby. They dump a lot of money into preventing the licensing of Opticians. They do this because they see their business and profits at risk. They are then now able to hire people at $8.50 to $10.00 per hour, and require no training or education costs in order to maintain a license. While in licensed States, these doctors would have to pay $18.00 to $28.00 per hour plus annual fees for CEC's and license fees. As you can see, doctors can keep approximately $500.00 or more in their pockets, every week of the year for every non-licensed dispenser they have. As Opticians, we need more national representation to advance quality eyecare after the patient gets out of the chair, and this requires money we don't have. Maybe some day the Congress will see a need for the protection of the American consumer, and require all Eye Care Professionals to be licensed.

From a recent UK visitor at our Web site:

Hi, I'm an independent management consultant from the UK working with UK opticians and optical businesses. I stumbled across your site whilst researching a 'professional selling' course I am writing for _____________ Opticians. I just wanted to say what a pleasure it has been to read your views and opinions on the challenges faced by professional opticians in light of the burgeoning Internet and 'butcher shop' optical market. We suffer the same problems in the UK as you report: devaluation of the profession, commercialisation for its own sake, a focus on cost rather than value etc., I wish you the very best in disseminating your professional viewpoint, and hope that you are enjoying ever-increasing support from US professional opticians who truly understand the nature of opticianry. Kind regards, I. S.

From an East Coast Optician.

The good news is that this issue was addressed at the webinar, was it last week? To what I remember, the plan is to promote (for lack of better word) Opticians... I got really excited about the possibility, now we just need to see it come to pass and I hope sooner rather than later.

  Thank you, for your feedback!

We agree. However, we face an apparent daunting task. I mean, these issues have been 'discussed' at many levels of the industry for years with no real action taken.

Our view: There are a number of conflicted forces at work, which keep us from making progress. The two biggest are:

1) We have not yet effectively dealt with the reality that the majority of current dispensers are woefully undertrained and extremely challenged when it comes to handcrafting prescription eyewear. For instance, I know senior Opticians who come to my workshops who are unable to adequately customize eyewear directly on a patient. (There's also a lot of what I call 'professional ego' involved in that many 'Opticians' are unable to admit, either through ignorance or antipathy, that they really do not know (some only think they know) how to fit handcrafted eyewear on a Patient. See DispensingGuidelines.com.

Learning does not stop
with what you know.

It is incumbent on those who know,
to teach those who do not know.

2) And even if we had plenty of experienced, skilled Opticians at the ready, corporate retail interests and their unskilled, inexperienced managers will not allow adequate time and space for appropriate handcrafted skills to be applied at the dispensing table. (As you well know, it takes sufficient time to handcraft eyewear directly on the Patient. Of course, this can be done fairly quickly, but only by skilled and experienced Opticians.) They are too interested in numbers of sales and serving their stockholders interests ($) at the expense of the consumer, their real base. Serving their Consumer-base is when their stockholders are best served. Too many optical retailers don't get it, in that we are a genuine healthcare industry, and Opticians are Healthcare Professionals dispensing prosthetic devices, not ready-to-wear eyeglass merchants. (I could tell you some really interesting albeit disturbing stories based on my experiences since 1958.)

The task is not impossible and I remain an optimist, but I have not seen anything to indicate we've stopped the rhetoric to the point where we're really getting our 'edge and groove' back. Time is short!

This is the principle, which must be the industry's universal, personal and corporate theme. "Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient, not by the number of customers served.” Once adopted, the industry will once again excel in the art form and craft of humanized Opticianry. -- See The Danger Independent Opticians Face.

And here's a follow up from a senior Optician.

One thing I have run into is today's optical world only works at the top of the bell curve only being interested in or capable of serving 60% of the eyeglass wearing public. With the rest, it is hit or miss at best. I would say that the new optical people need to understand what an Ultex is and why someone might be wearing one today, how to build a Numount, a Balgrip, or fit an aphakic lenticular. In our one size fits all world, one size really fits about half. You fit a person with an ophthalmic prosthetic so that they can function in their day to day life. That requires a human touch, not a used car salesperson.

And this question from another Optician:

Why does it seem this field is always hiring? Are there not enough opticians here locally? Personally, I think the field is always hiring because of turnover and lack of significant professional development opportunities. Any profession that is entered by way of on-the-job training for low pay does not offer a great future to many individuals. I think the pay is often too low for the amount of knowledge required to take care of the patient. I also think burn out plays a factor.

Our 'two sense.'

You are correct re the training issue. Wages are proportionate to the quality and quantity of the services rendered. The low wages paid to today's Opticians is due to the steep and steady decline of sufficient application and-or training in the art form and craft of hands on the patient skills, ergo the inability of most dispensers to deliver adequate services. One-size-fits-all and dehumanized service reigns supreme in almost all retail optical venues except for a few independent, senior Opticians who are fast disappearing. So much so that consumers now no longer expect or even remember that hands on the patient service used to be the norm, whereas their Hairdressers, Manicurists, Dentists, Massage Therapists, etc., still provide hands-on, touch and feel service, to wit the optical market has now shifted to the Internet where consumers suffer from the same dehumanized service, i.e., the absence of hands on the patient personalized design and customized fitting of their eyewear, but for less cost. Unfortunately, the consumer has to then search out old-time, hands on the patient, touch and feel Opticians for a comfort fitting and-or the replacement and expense of properly designed and custom fitted eyewear. Most to no avail.

As we have indicated in previous discussions, the entire industry from State Boards, to optical retailers, to ophthalmic refractionists, i.e., to schools, to frame and lens manufacturers, to optical labs, to dispensing furniture manufacturers, to even the consumers themselves, have all played a part in today's lack of Service. Mostly because we have all failed to demand and require excellence in the manufacturing, fabricating, design and delivery of handcrafted prescription eyewear. Just as in our country's politics, only when we collectively decide the status quo is unacceptable and begin demanding excellence in services will much improvement occur. The causes of the decline in services, and some remedies are addressed more completely at OpticianryToday.com and OpticalWorkshops.com. See The Danger Independent Opticians Face. See also Service, One-On-One.

Note: Most, if not all States, require Hairstylists, Manicurists, Massage Therapists, etc., to be licensed and regulated.

From an optical retail chain operator:

Having operated over 2200 optical stores in 28 nations, I can state unequivocally that precious few clinicians (Opticians) make good optical store managers. Like it or not, optical retailing is primarily a retail business. There is almost no such thing as a clinician that makes a really effective retailer. Optical retailing is not a hospital. There are no meaningful parallels.

Our 'two sense.' This statement simply proves our long held point that a profit-driven corporate mindset is at the heart of the steady and steep decline of prescription eyewear delivery skills over the last five decades, i.e., it's just not possible for most corporations, especially those operating 2200 international retail optical outlets, to aptly oversee the Health and Wellness aspects of Opticianry that are necessary for the conscientious dispensing of precision handcrafted prescription eyewear. They have to give their attention to too many economic considerations and other distractions, which obscure their attention to the Health and Wellness elements that define Opticianry. To coin a phrase, selling adversely impacts serving.

Again: "Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient, not by the number of customers served."

Optical dispensaries, like pharmacies, like it or not, are primarily Health and Wellness facilities. And Opticians, like Pharmacists, like it or not, are primarily Healthcare Providers. In fact, here in Florida, Opticianry falls under the control of the State Department of Health just as does Ophthalmology and Optometry.

Many of today's Retail Optical Execs and Managers have no experience in Opticianry, Ophthalmic Dispensing or even Healthcare. In one national optical outlet, only 1 of 43 Regional Managers is an Optician. You can imagine the adverse impact this practice alone has on the delivery of prescription eyewear. In which region do you think your chances exist of receiving the attention of a skilled Optician? In contrast, the CEO of Walgreens Drugs is a Registered Pharmacist.

There's a long standing conflicted relationship between Professional Opticians and Retail Management, which can be likened to the current relationship between Medical Practitioners and Insurance Industry HMO's. Over the last few decades the dominance of the retail optical paradigm as opposed to the healthcare paradigm has prostituted the practice of Opticianry to the point that independent skilled Opticians have become increasingly difficult to find. And this has contributed greatly to the migration of prescription eyewear consumers to the Internet where the same absence of skilled Eyewear Professionals exists. See More.

Today's Retail Optical paradigm needs to be upgraded to that of serving
Healthcare Patients, as opposed to only serving Retail Customers. Only then
can
Opticians be seen as Healthcare Professionals, instead of mere merchants.

OUR VIEWS ON HEALTHCARE IN AMERICA

Check out this news link, first. Then, check our views.

NEWS: Medical Care: Nurses, Optometrists Should Not Act As Doctors

VIEWS: For me, the point of this article is silly and conjures up the professional egotism of physicians along with the long standing debate regarding the unacceptably high cost of healthcare in the US, which a) is a fee-based system mostly controlled by physicians and big pharma, and b) limits our current healthcare system to the failed and too costly medicine-practiced-by-doctors-only-fiat paradigm.

How is this working for us? Well, if we saw 200 deaths everyday by way of jetliner crashes for instance, we would unanimously demand changes immediately, but these numbers do not in anyway equal the number of deaths each year due to medical errors under our present MD-controlled healthcare system. Yet, 400,000 annual deaths as of September 2013 (up from 100,000 in 1998) at the hands of this physician-supervised, healthcare-for-profit system gets scant attention by either the public or the media. Why?

I think consumers will benefit greatly when we have more transparency, not less, in our healthcare system. This will foster many more checks and balances. Malpractice and malfeasance will not escape our attention and go unpunished as is so often the current case.

Our healthcare system is under the control of a relatively small and too powerful interest group. Expanding the delivery-of-service base in ophthalmic refracting for instance, will benefit consumers in many ways. After 55 years in my profession, I could tell you some interesting stories.

How about this? Why is it that when a doctor-refractionist or his staff make an error in producing an eyeglass or contact lens Rx, which is not uncommon, the Optician has to deal with the subsequent consumer negativity, plus cover the cost of the remake? Do you know of any other service where a similar inequity exists? Given the net profit of their practices in comparison with that of most Opticians I know, at the very least the remake COST should be covered by the responsible party. (Change is coming. Want to be a part of it? Contact us here.)

BTW: Whenever we make an error, we are the only accountable party. --

LUXOTTICA LOOKS AT DISPENSING EYEWEAR ONLINE

Check out this headline, then follow the comments we've received.

NEWS: Luxottica setting eye on the online market

This is certainly an interesting move by Luxottica. The uneasy relationship with independent online retailers may well change given their entry into this marketplace. Whilst the purchase of eyewear will ultimately remain a bricks and mortar proposition in the main, Luxottica have insight into the growth of this market/channel as their brands including Ray Ban Oakley and others are online stars. Its also interesting that they have chosen Glasses.com in part due to their development of a very impressive virtual try on smart phone application. There is much controversy over the genesis of this tool as Ditto.com claims Glasses.com have purchased patents in a 'patent troll' fashion and have essentially copied their technology. Watch this space...

Our 'two sense.' This is not surprising. It continues the decades-old and ever-increasing prostitution of Opticianry. As an Optician of 56 years, and one of only a few remaining 'old school' hands-on the patient Opticians who teaches the art, this is my advice to any Optician, and especially those who are considering Opticianry as a career.
Eyewear consumers need and deserve the following:
a) Optician-assisted, in-depth lifestyle interview;
b) Optician-assisted, design and selection;
c) HANDCRAFTED, FORM-FITTING EYEWEAR;
d) Free lifetime adjustments and minor repair services...NONE OF WHICH ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE. See 3DDispensing.com and DispensingGuidelines.com.
Until our industry acts collectively to get back to putting Hands-on-the-Consumer Service first there's no certification or licensure that can save us. PRACTICAL HANDS-ON TRAINING IS OUR ONLY JOB SECURITY.

Questions:
1) Do you consider prescription eyewear to be medical devices, which require precisely crafted fit and finish for your long term comfort and wearability?
2) Do you consider dentures to be medical devices, which require precisely crafted fit and finish for your long term comfort and wearability?
3) Would you consider purchasing such devices online?
4) If so, how or where will you acquire replacement, repair and-or adjustment services? See Glasses Online Warning. Stay tuned. --

The question is whether they will finally rule the eyewear industry through their continuous purchasing of companies, frame designers and manufacturers etc. If we really do understand the importance and value of independent eyewear professionals whose approach and selection are far different than the big box folks, and certainly the on-line crazies,and if we try and support these people in all that they do, including opticians of longstanding (you for 56 years - wow!) and offer something different and exciting, will we not be certain of a place in this industry for a long time in to the future? Small towns in Canada rued the day Walmart and expanded grocery stores took over the community and put small businesses to flight. Yet now see the reverse happening as small stores or small franchises like Cobbs bread stores come back in and find a niche and a living in these towns, because people want something special and different, and I really think they want a warm body to relate to when it comes to making their purchases.

...you are correct on so many levels. There was no move to stop this in Canada either. I had discussions on blogs with prominent international chain owners in the past, who said that this was in fact an oligopoly and so escapes government ridicule. Whatever the semantics, the fact is, they have a huge piece of the pie. However, their modus operandi could be their worst enemy. Making cheap frames in Weng Zhou, lacking on so many fronts in retail (read blogs) and being hard to deal with from the perspective of the few stores that continue to "have to have their brands" on a wholesale purchase level.

I think it's just another reason any right-minded Optician would never order from Luxottica, much less work for them.

I also agree. I will continue to do the very best I can for every single patient, including selling the best possible products at prices that are reasonable for the consumer. I've been at this for 37 years, because I like the personal contact and ability to make people happy. And I'll avoid any cpmpany that gets in bed with Luxottica, especially a European lens company.

I do believe that Luxottica will continue to gain market share. The FTC is responsible for policing monopolies, and has done a horrible job the last 20 years. My understanding is that monopoly exists when a company has more than 51% of a market. I recently read that Luxottica has over 70% in the U.S. Our government has betrayed us on this and other monopoly businesses. It's a sad day, but it's the reality.

70% sounds incredibly high. I do think that one reason they will avoid any sanctions irrespective of share of wholesale market is that they will not be crossing over to optical lens or contact lens manufacture.

The natural evolutionary development of the optical retail market continues. Luxottica moving into on-line is just natural -- should not surprise anyone. Traditionalists in the optical retail market are not going to change any of this. The smart players will find a way to move with the evolutionary development, not moan and groan about it.

Indeed, though what exactly is traditional any more. Some would say that 1-hour service is traditional and that click and collect is the future. Perhaps Luxottica will integrate glasses.com with Lenscrafters and produce some synergy in that way.

Our 'two sense' to the two uninformed and obviously unskilled authors above: Either you do not wear prescription eyewear, and-or know nothing about the art form and craft of dispensing eyewear, and-or are untrained Luxottica merchants-distributors. Again, Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the Patient... Many optical outlets, including online merchants, employ unskilled dispensers. This environment has prostituted the practice of Opticianry.

Questions:
1) Do you consider prescription eyewear to be medical devices, which require precisely crafted fit and finish for your long term comfort and wearability?
2) Do you consider dentures to be medical devices, which require precisely crafted fit and finish for your long term comfort and wearability?
3) Would you consider purchasing such devices online?
4) If so, how or where will you acquire replacement, repair and-or adjustment services? See Glasses Online Warning. --

More comments re Luxottica dispensing online.


INDEPENDENT OPTICIANS PROVIDE REAL HEALTHCARE SERVICE
An Independent Optical Dispensary is like a Neighborhood Pharmacy or Health Clinic.

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.

Consumers expect Opticians to be more Health Care Providers than Merchants.
What professional health care delivery would you expect to find at this online store?

When's the last time you saw or heard a retail optical
store promote the custom fitting of eyewear? Could this
be because they don't know how to custom-fit eyewear?
Could it be that the staff only knows how to sell glasses?

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.

GOOGLE BIOPTICS

   

   


Google's Smart Specs...Prescription Eyewear

"Hands on the patient dispensing is a soon-to-be-lost art. If the trend to
the narrower and strictly retail approach to ophthalmic services continues, a)
The marketing of ready-to-wear, over-the-counter and Web sourced eyewear
will continue to flourish; b) Handcrafted, form-fitting eyewear skills and services
will disappear; c) Patients will continue to suffer from substandard quality of
service; and d) Prescription eyewear will continue to be delivered by an ever
increasing number of unskilled dispensers. The fact is that many of today's
eyewear professionals require major improvements in their skills through training,
without which they will become increasingly irrelevant in the eyecare industry.
While Independent Optician's are focused mostly on doing everything to serve
the consumer, too many retailers are rigidly fixated on profits and reducing costs.
As a consumer, by whom would you rather be served?"
See Code of Ethics.
Also see this, The Coming Humanization of The American Economy.

PLACING THE EYEWEAR DIRECTLY ON THE PATIENT IS A CRUCIAL STEP
IF YOU DON'T, YOU'RE MISSING IMPORTANT CUES ABOUT FORM-FITTING

"By placing the eyewear directly on the Patient, the Optician
can imprint a better sense of how the frame fits the Patient,
whether too tight or loose, and what adjustments are needed.
The Optician then knows in lieu of asking how the frame fits."

Our mission is to humanize the delivery of
prescription eyewear. --
OpticiansForChange.com

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.

"A Surgeon must train for years in actual hands-on practice,
in residency, before being considered to be a qualified Surgeon.
Why don't we require residency for those dispensing eyewear?"

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.

SPECIAL NOTICE

American Board of Opticianry approved and Florida State Board accredited hours for
Intermediate and Advanced Level Opticians in Hands on the Patient Frame Fitting
are currently being offered under the sponsorship of POF, the Professional Opticians of
Florida. Click or Call
800-528-0413 Ext 354 to arrange for a Training Session.

HANDS ON THE PATIENT DELIVERY DEFINED

"Dentists, Manicurists and Hairstylists make direct, tactile contact with the
consumer. Likewise, Opticians must make direct contact with the Patient.
Hands on the Patient Opticians, can determine by sense of touch how a
frame feels even in lieu of asking the Patient. Only an eyeglass merchant
routinely hands over prescription glasses with no hands-on assessment,
nor the appropriate touch and feel required to form-fit the eyewear."

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
is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
contact with the Patient, not by the number of Customers served.
For the truly skilled Optician, the standard of care must include a
customized design with handcrafted fitting of eyewear on each Patient."

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

There is no right or wrong way to dispense
eyewear. There is only the Patient's way.
Using the sense of touch the Optician can
know what the Patient is unable to express.

What are the chances of eyewear consumers getting a
customized fitting of their prescription eyewear? If you
answer this question correctly, you know why they buy online.

Would it not be helpful to have Ophthalmologists and Optometrists
enter a corrected VA (Visual Acuity) value on all their prescriptions?
Can you imagine trying to design eyewear without this important data?
Can you imagine the time and effort this action would save for all parties?

Handcrafted multi-dimensional adjustments, including direct, touch and feel,
handcrafted 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.

Opticianry is an art form 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
THAT ARE MOSTLY AVOIDABLE


By Anthony Record, Optician
From an article appearing in
Eye Care Professional Magazine

"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.

The glasses 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.

The frame sits too high. (Bridge is too narrow; distance between nose pads too small; pad arms too low; poor overall fitting.)

The frame sits too low. (Bridge is too wide; distance between nose pads too far; pad arms adjusted incorrectly; angle incorrect.)

The frame touches the eyebrows. (Temple angle is too retroscopic; poor overall fit.)

The outer ear hurts. (Temple rides too high on ear; temple touches ear cleft; temple touches lobe of upper ear; temple tip touches outer lobe of ear at the bottom of the lobe.) See photo.

The head hurts behind the ear. (Contact area is too narrow or small; temple tips “dig in”; temples too narrow or tight against head; temples are too short.) See photo.

Temples wobble or flop open. (Patient has a screw loose (:-); rivets loose; rivets broken; internal spring mechanism broken or about to break.)

The temples are too long or short. (Poor fit; lazy fitter.) See photo.

Vision seems “off,” but was acceptable at initial dispensing. (Prescription filled incorrectly; prescription ordered incorrectly; error in vertex fitting in strong prescriptions; base curve incorrect; defective and-or warped lenses; pantoscopic tilt is incorrect; face form is incorrect; unwanted waves present in lenses; scratches.)

Vision problems occur at near – especially with progressives. (Prescription incorrect; frame too high or low; O. C. placement incorrect vertically or horizontally; reading area is too small; fitting height incorrect; incorrect brand was chosen for Patient; objects “swim” or move when wearer turns head.)

Wearer is having problems in adapting to the prescription (Incorrect prescription; fit does not match old eyewear.)

Wearer is having problems adapting to the frame-adjustment. (Wearer is switching back and forth between the new glasses and the old; not wearing the glasses long enough to adapt; bifocals located in different place than old pair.)

Vision is unclear at specific working distances. (Patient needs bifocal, trifocal, or progressive lenses; wearer’s visual needs have changed; glasses not being used for prescribed purpose; segment or fitting height is incorrect; the near addition power is incorrect.)

Wearer is experiencing unwanted reflections and-or ghost images. (Glasses need more or less pantoscopic or retroscopic tilt; base curve needs to be changed; lenses are uncoated (AR), especially in polycarbonate and high-index lenses.)

Wearer is experiencing “vague” problems and has unclear complaints. (Optical cause; wearer has changed his or her mind about frame selection; family members or friends do not like glasses; after finally seeing the glasses, the wearer does not like them anymore; Patient is experiencing buyer’s remorse because of the high cost of the eyewear.)

See published articles by fellow ECPs.

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
HANDCRAFTED ON THE PATIENT CRAFTSMANSHIP

   
Note big gap between skull and temple-end.

"Where there's no touch, there can be no hold.
Temple-ends must fully contact the mastoid complex.
Temple-ends cannot hold eyewear in place for long-term
comfort if they do not make full contact with the mastoid.
Full contact does not mean pressure. Touch only is necessary."

Form-fitting the Mastoid Complex
With Handcrafted Mastoid Dip and Wrap

Every Patient deserves sufficiently handcrafted,
multi-dimension, form-fitting frame adjustments, e.g.,
gaps and spaces are removed from between the frame's
temples and the skull behind the ears, in order to enhance
comfort, stability, and long term wearability. Full contact with
a light touch of the skull, NOT THE EARS, is the primary means
by which the frame should be held in place for long-term comfort.

Note: If you're able to teach this skill, contact me at LinkedIn.com.

    

BEFORE temple-end is in out-of-the-box condition,
i.e., it doesn't make contact with the Patient's skull,
whereas the AFTER temple has been form-fitted with
an added handcrafted mastoid dip and mastoid wrap.
It now fits the mastoid bone like a glove since it has been
shaped to make full, direct contact with this Patient's skull.
The customized temple-ends become invisible when worn
and the resultant fit avoids pressure and is extremely comfortable.
Note: This skill cannot be learned virtually, i.e., via lecture or online.
This skill is acquired only by handcrafting the eyewear using direct, face
to face, on the Patient, tactile, touch and feel contact with the Patient. The
availability, knowledge and skilled use of related handcrafting tools is essential.
Also, keep in mind that online merchants are incapable of providing this service.

The manager of a nationwide retail optical dispensary
once advised a staff member who attempted to customize a
frame as seen above that they would be fired if they tried to
fit "another 'customer' with such an 'ugly looking' adjustment."
Never mind that the temple ends look, feel, and fit like a glove.

"Today's Ophthalmic Dispensing practices are too often
'out-of-touch' with the comfort needs of the Patient."

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.

Nobody can order dentures from a mail-order source because the
required precision and comfort is impossible without a handcrafted fitting.
Handcrafted form-fitting skills are equally required to fit prescription eyewear.

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.
Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
contact with the Patient, not by the number of Customers served.
For the truly skilled Optician, the standard of care must include a
customized design and handcrafted fitting of eyewear on each Patient.

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
degradation of consumer services within the prescription eyewear industry?
We mean that the farther we keep ourselves away from person-to-person, hands
on the patient contact, the less we are likely to deliver true service. A case in point
is a university study at Duke, which finds that golfers are much less likely to say it's
okay to physically move a ball four inches with their hands (hands-on) than they are
likely to say it's okay to nudge it with their club (out of touch)." Without appearing to
make too outrageous an extrapolation, our read is that the closer opticians get to a
patient, i.e., laying their hands directly on the patient, the more responsibly they
will act in the interest of serving the patient's needs, i.e., the more removed they
are from point of service, the less likely they are to perform well. In other words,
successful dispensing of eyewear is directly related to the proximity of service.

'Four pointing' eyewear on a table is never a substitute for
form-fitting the frame directly on a person. For too many
ECPs the table has become the point of service, not the Patient.

"You are fitting a person for comfort, not a table for square
or for pretty. Every person has different anomalies, and the area
behind their ears is not flat or straight."
-- OpticiansForChange.com

"The customized fitting of eyewear involves more than just adjusting a nose
piece or bending a temple. It has to include the reshaping, bending, stretching,
twisting and artful sculpting of the frame components in order to personalize the
eyewear. Anything less will most likely compromise the Patient's visual comfort
and long term wearability. The difference between adjusting and form-fitting is
what's different between today's eyewear merchants and yesterday's Opticians."

QUANTUM OPTICIANRY
AKA MULTI-DIMENSION DISPENSING

"Opticians must exercise multi-dimension opticianry,
i.e., full Discovery, masterful Design, and touch
and feel Delivery of prescription eyewear."
See more at 3DDispensing.com.

DISCOVERY - DESIGN - DELIVERY

"Successful dispensing requires the careful and thoughtful
process of Discovery, Design, and Delivery of eyewear
without bias concerning sales quotas, profit margin or
other subjective and unrelated considerations."

THE FULL DISCOVERY AND DISCLOSURE INTERVIEW

Each Patient needs to undergo an adequate lifestyle interview in order to establish their primary and secondary needs whether they be for work or play. Many times their vision needs require multiple pairs of eyewear. Therefore the interview must include the appropriate amount of time and dialogue for the Optician to discover the true needs of the Patient. (Note: This interview must take place absent bias on the part of the interviewer with regard to profit incentives in order to be successful.) The absence of this interview is a primary reason for unhappy Patients to return for remakes or to request refunds. Here's an example. Many times Refractionists, i.e., Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, will make an entry on their prescriptions such as "No-line Bifocals" or "Progressive Lenses," both of which refer to a Progressive Addition Lens or PAL. 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 better left to the Optician to give more complete coverage during an in-depth 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.

A CASE IN POINT
This lens guide promotes ONLY
Progressive Addition Lenses for ALL bifocal wearers.

OPTICIANS MUST TAKE THEIR TIME SERVING THE CONSUMER
CONSUMERS DESERVE AS MUCH TIME AS NEEDED

In order to adequately fulfill the needs of the Patient,
the Optician must ask appropriate questions and be
forthcoming with sufficient details and explanations.

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.

        

    

    
Extra-wide Bifocal          Extra-wide Trifocal

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.

"The proper and successful practice of the art form and craft
of Ophthalmic Eyewear Dispensing lies in the details."

MASTERFUL DESIGN AND TOUCH AND FEEL FRAME FITTING
WILL KEEP CONSUMERS COMING BACK FOR MORE

CONSUMERS...
Deserve a pleasant experience.
Deserve as much time as they need.
Deserve form-fitted prescription eyewear.

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 form 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.

No two heads or faces have the same dimensions, so the delivery
of eyewear 'as is' or as if it's one-size-fits-all, is NOT an option.

"Patients deserve custom-fitted prescription eyewear.
When adjusting glasses, you're fitting a human being
for comfort, not an inanimate table for square or for pretty.
Opticians must observe and feel glasses in-place on the Patient
and then take the time to align and handcraft the eyewear to fit."

Can you spot asymmetries in these photos?*



Anomalies can affect the design of the frame and lenses.*
Facial asymmetries often translate into ear and skull anomalies about
which a skilled Optician should advise the patient, and design their eyewear.

*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.

"The eyecare industry needs to strike a better
balance between sales goals and healthcare delivery.
The industry needs to practice giving more and taking less."

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.

FACTOID

A Patient's face and head are NOT uniformly smooth, flat,
one-dimensional surfaces. See Facial Asymmetry.

PERSPECTIVE

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?
Here are some Contributing Factors

'60 Minutes' looks at Sticker Shock Specs

A HISTORICAL PERSEPECTIVE

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, one-size-fits-all, 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. Read on.

See published articles by fellow ECPs.

POINTS TO PONDER

An optical dispensary is a health and wellness facility where Opticians
practice
3D Dispensing, conscientious Discovery, Design, and Delivery of
prescription eyewear, and where the Patient's healthcare always comes first.

Opticianry is ultimately defined by how
well the eyewear makes contact with the
Patient, not by the number of customers served.

Many optical outlets are 'ready-to-wear' stores where
eyewear merchants sell 'one-size-fits-all' merchandise,
and where numbers of sales and customers is paramount.
This environment has prostituted the practice of Opticianry.

"Of the over 67,000 Opticians designing, manufacturing
and dispensing eyewear - less than half have formal
certification or licensure."
U.S. Department of Labor

            Welcome to             
ServingVersusSelling.com

Online Training Course
For Eyewear Professionals

"Eyewear consumers need and deserve the following:
a) Optician-assisted, in-depth lifestyle interview;
b) Optician-assisted, design and selection;
c) Handcrafted, form-fitting eyewear;
d) Free lifetime adjustments and
minor repair services, none of
which are available online."

Dispensing Guidelines

Success always follows good service.
Any action, which genuinely favors the
Patient, always improves the bottom line.
We need to focus on caring for our Patients.
See The Humanization of Our Economy.

Opticians only provide healthcare, i.e., eyewear.
Eyeglass merchants only sell eye apparel.

Patients deserve a pleasant experience.
Patient
s deserve as much time as they need.
Patients deserve handcrafted prescription eyewear.

Brick-and-mortar store eyewear purchases are down.
Internet purchases are up. How did this happen?
(See AARP's 'Your Money,' December, 2011.)

What is it that Dentists, Manicurists, Hairstylists and Opticians
all have in common? They all have to make personal, direct,
tactile, contact with consumers while dispensing services.
When Opticians do not touch the consumer at the time
they dispense their eyewear, they're acting more as
unskilled eyeglass merchants than as Opticians.

It's time to end the lecture-only training of Opticians.
It's time for Opticians to get handcrafted eyewear training
in order to re-
humanize the dispensing of prescription eyewear,
thereby reducing the outsourcing of the Rx to Web-based providers.

Capitalism as practiced in this the Age of Aquarius is hopelessly flawed.
Today's capitalists have it all backwards. The new paradigm is: Serve
consumers and profit will follow, i.e., service trumps the dollar. Those
who fail to put serving consumers first will become irrelevant.

Opticians are Eyewear Professionals. Opticianry
is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
contact with the Patient, not by the number of Customers served.
Therefore, a conscious, precise, and personalized process of frame
selection, lens design, and handcrafted form-fitting is required. In
too many cases an obsession with sales goals overrides the Optician's
mission of providing professional healthcare, whereby the personalized,
handcrafting of eyewear is given only the most minor consideration, if any.

The expert handcrafting of eyewear involves more than just adjusting a nose
piece or bending a temple. It has to include the reshaping, bending, stretching,
twisting and artful sculpting of the frame components in order to personalize the
eyewear. Anything less will most likely compromise the Patient's visual comfort
and long term wearability. The difference between adjusting and form-fitting is
what's different between today's eyewear merchants and yesterday's Opticians.

Dentists, Manicurists and Hairstylists make direct, tactile, contact with
the consumer. Likewise, Opticians must make direct contact with the Patient.
Hands on the Patient Opticians, can determine by sense of touch how a frame
feels even in lieu of ever asking the Patient. Only unskilled eyeglass merchants
routinely hand over prescription eyewear with little or no hands-on assessment,
nor the appropriate touch and feel required to handcraft and form-fit the eyewear.

Opticians Serve Service First
Service is an intrinsic value, not a value to be added.
Opticians need to be service driven, not sales driven.
When service comes first, sales inevitably follow.

PREFACE

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.

Serving Selling

Restoring Balance Between Serving And Selling


This is the Age of Service.
When we serve first, profit follows.
Service is those human actions, which
contribute to the well-being of others, i.e.,
anything we do to lighten somebody's load.

"Opticians are vision experts who serve Patients with
comprehensive vision solutions, not mere merchants
who sell glasses and contact lenses to Customers."

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.

FACTOID

Many of today's Retail Optical Execs and Managers have
no experience in Opticianry or Ophthalmic Dispensing. In one
organization, only 1 of 43 Regional Managers is an Optician. You
can imagine what adverse impact this practice alone must have. In
contrast, the CEO of Walgreens Drugs is a Registered Pharmacist.

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 eyewear by
a skilled, Hands on the Patient Optician is an unfamiliar experience."

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 Serving and Selling, begin here.

(B) Handcrafted Frame Fitting is more of a challenge and includes a 50-Question Knowledge Test. If you wish to move on to a back-to-basics and more technical course, begin here.

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.

"An overly zealous emphasis on sales goals has
caused the current touch-free, dehumanized delivery of
eyewear, and the subsequent demise of old fashioned
handcrafted, in-place, on-the-face, form-fitting skills."
See The Humanization of The American Economy.

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.)

    


The Progressive Addition Lens (PAL)
A multifocal lens whose corrective powers change
progressively throughout the lens. Each area of correction
is blended invisibly to the next, so these lenses do not have
the lines typically associated with bifocals or trifocals and afford
the most “natural” vision at all distances: near, far, and intermediate.

                                                                                          

UNSKILLED AND UNCHECKED MANAGERS

Unfortunately, today we see too many Retail Managers who are experienced in marketing but under-skilled in the art form and craft 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.

"Success always follows good service.
Any action, which genuinely favors the
Patient, always improves the bottom line.
Opticians need to focus on caring for Patients."

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.

"Pushing consumers into Progressive Addition Lenses without
full discovery is akin to the now criticized and over zealous
medical practices of circumcision and tonsillectomy."

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.

"To serve is to succeed. When it comes to dispensing eyewear,
it is not possible to provide the consumer with too much service."

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 form 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.

*"GLASSES 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." --

WARNING: Before buying glasses online, see GlassesOnlineWarning.com.

"Man's purpose is to serve. Service is an intrinsic value, not a value
to be added. Those institutions that are of the Piscean Age whereby
their success has been measured by
money must now adopt the
Aquarian Age paradigm, 'To serve is to succeed,' or soon disappear."

HANDS ON THE PATIENT
COURSES AVAILABLE HERE

   

Books, lectures and tests can take an Optician's skills only so far.

It is time for touch-and-feel, Hands on the Patient training.
Only one on one craftsmanship training provides this.
Craftsmanship cannot be learned virtually.

"Handcrafted frame fitting, i.e., touch and feel, hands-on dispensing,
cannot be outsourced to lectures or virtual sources. It is an art form,
which requires direct and multi-dimensional contact with the patient."

HANDS ON THE PATIENT WORKSHOP TRAINING AVAILABLE HERE
"It is incumbent on those who know to teach those who do not know.
It is incumbent on those who do not know to surrender their ego."

American Board of Opticianry accredited and Florida State Board approved CE hours
for Intermediate and Advanced Level Opticians in Handcrafted Frame Fitting are
currently offered under the sponsorship of POF, the Professional Opticians of
Florida. Click or Call
800-528-0413 Ext. 354 to arrange for Training Session.

ARE YOU A GENUINE OPTICIAN
OR AN EYEGLASS MERCHANT?




Whatever happened to old-fashioned
Hands on the Patient Opticianry?

Contact Lens Care and Compliance

Eyewear For Hard-To-Fit Patients

NCLE No Fee CEs For Opticians

The Rap on Wrap-arounds

Sunwear Is Not An Option

Time For Craftsmanship

      

         

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