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For Eyewear Professionals
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THE BOOMING EYE CARE INDUSTRY

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

The eye care industry in America is booming. The rapid growth, fueled by the ageing "Baby Boom" generation, and the dwindling number of hands-on skilled Opticians has created what is becoming a shortage of adequately trained Opticians nationwide. This large segment of the population, those born between 1946 and 1963, are entering their fortieth year and beyond. At approximately age 40, corrective lenses for reading and other near vision activities are commonly prescribed. This condition, known as presbyopia, is a normal function of the ageing process and affects nearly the entire population. See Before and After photos. The result: an increasing number of people are requiring the services of Eye Care Professionals each year, a trend that will continue well into this century. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of Opticianry jobs is predicted to increase by some 35% during this period of unprecedented growth. See before and after photos of Astigmatism, Hyperopia and Myopia corrections here.

SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The industry's challenge is to upgrade
its identity and bridge the knowledge gap.

Once the Retail Optical paradigm is upgraded to that of serving
Vision Care Patients, as opposed to just serving Retail Customers, an
Optician becomes a Health Care Provider, as opposed to an eyeglass merchant.*

FIRST, the Retail Optical Industry's attitude and business paradigm must be upgraded from its current Retail Merchant model to that of a true Health Care Provider. The reality and importance of the Skilled Optician's role in the health care delivery system must be more clearly defined and nurtured.

SECOND, Ophthalmic Industry Members must step up with their collective resources, to close the "knowledge gap" with the ways and means for each generation of Opticians to "recognize the strengths and value of all colleagues," to improve the quality of service at all levels, and to provide, protect, and preserve the increasingly rare Hands on the Patient skills of "Mature Generation" Opticians in the interest of serving the health and wellness of their current and future base.

NOTE: For a free consultation on ways to improve the conscientious delivery of prescription eyewear while maintaining profitability or to schedule a Training Session, please click or call 855-410-2700.

*American Board of Opticianry accredited and Florida State Board of Opticianry approved CE hours for Hands on the Patient frame fitting workshops are currently being conducted in Florida under the sponsorship of the POF, Professional Opticians of Florida. Any Eye Care Professionals interested in attending similar workshops should inquire here.

The Florida Board of Opticianry is an entity within the Florida Department of Health, which has jurisdiction over Florida Health Care Providers. See Florida Board of Opticianry Required Equipment and Tools.

"The conflicted relationship between Professional Opticians and
Retail Management can be likened to the current relationship
between Medical Practitioners and Insurance Industry HMO's."

HANDS-ON FRAME FITTING WORKSHOPS

A) Full Discovery Lifestyle Interview, i.e., an objective and unbiased assessment of the Patient's real needs, as well as a full Disclosure of lens and frame options, and costs.

B) Design and Delivery of Eyewear using in-place, on-the-face assessment and hands-on frame-fitting skills. See Intermediate Level and Advanced Level Workshop Overviews.

C) Managing an Optical Dispensary as a Health Care Facility.

D) Improving the Dispensary layout.

DISCOVERY, DESIGN AND DELIVERY

"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."

DispensingGuidelines.com

Workshop Attendees, in the presence of a skilled hands-on Optician, will participate in an alternating 'Dispenser' and 'Patient' role-playing episode in which the all-important Full Discovery and Disclosure Lifestyle Interview, is conducted. Full Discovery and Disclosure means that the Optician conducts a comprehensive and objectively unbiased interview of the Patient in order to discover ALL aspects of the Patient's visual habits and actual needs.

The 'Dispenser' will advise the 'Patient' of ALL the available lens-frame options and costs, and conclude the interview with specific recommendations, whereby the Patient can make a fully informed decision as to their purchase. Trial Frame and Lenses are to be used to demonstrate variables in lens designs. See Intermediate and Advanced workshop overviews.

NOTE: It is the absence of a) the Lifestyle Interview and its subsequent disclosures, and b) on-the-face, in place, hands on the patient, handcrafted frame fitting services, that has resulted in complaints, returns, remakes, refunds, the loss of the Patient's good-will referrals, and the subsequent proliferation of Internet merchants to wit, consumers find it more convenient to receive their eyewear in their mail box. See The Danger Independent Opticians Face. See GlassesOnlineWarning.com. See Is This The Reason Consumers Are Buying Glasses Online?

                                 DESIGN AND DELIVERY                                               
USING HANDS ON THE PATIENT SKILLS

"You are fitting a Patient for comfort,
not a mannequin for square or for pretty.
Every Patient has different anomalies and
the area behind the ears is not flat or straight."

 
Opticians fit human skulls, not mannequins.

If you do not touch the consumer at the time
you dispense their eyewear, you are acting
as an eyeglass merchant, not as an Optician.

It's time to end lecture-only venues for CE credit hours.
It's time for Opticians to get real, hands-on, tactile training
in order to '
humaneyes' the dispensing of prescription eyewear.

OpticalWorkshops.com

The Dispenser OBSERVES a demonstration of a comprehensive visual and tactile, 'touch and feel' ASSESSMENT of a frame while in-place, on-the-face of the Patient in order to determine the proper frame and temple size and its relationship to the face and skull, by a skilled Hands-on Optician.

The Dispenser OBSERVES a demonstrated DELIVERY of eyewear with the application of both the Gross Alignment, and Subtle Adjustments, i.e., reshaping, bending, stretching, twisting and sculpting of frame components in order to personalize the fitting of the eyewear for maximum visual comfort and wearability. See example.

The Dispenser APPLIES the previously demonstrated procedures after making an assessment directly in-place, on-the-face of the Patient under the guidance of a skilled Hands-on Optician.

The Dispenser and the Patient REVERSE their respective rolls and APPLY the procedures with direct, tactile, 'touch and feel' techniques under the guidance of a skilled Hands-on trained Optician.

Chronic discomfort issues can be eliminated or at least minimized.
Opticians must touch and feel the eyewear in-place, on the face.

A well executed hands-on, in-place, on-the-face assessment, as well as a touch and feel frame fitting procedure obviously requires some direct physical contact along with the appropriate communications between the Dispenser and the Patient. A proper hands-on frame fitting involves the repeated removal and re-placement of the frame on and off the Patient by the Dispenser until such time as the fitting is completed, which depends of course on the experience of the Dispenser, any asymmetric features of the Patient, and the type and design of the eyewear. See example. The Dispenser must not rush the procedure. Much time is saved in the long run when the fitting is done with sensitivity and patience, thereby reducing the necessity for return visits. Click here to discuss a hands-on dispensing demonstration.

NOTE: It is how well ophthalmic eyewear, whether it be eyeglasses or contact lenses, makes contact with the Patient that ultimately defines Ophthalmic Dispensing.

HOW TO MANAGE AN OPTICAL DISPENSARY
AS A VISION HEALTH CARE FACILITY

"Just about anybody can casually hand over a pair of
eyeglasses or contact lenses, and operate a cash register."

"Many of today's Retail Optical Executives are skilled Merchandisers
but they are unskilled in the practice of Opticianry and therefore they
adversely influence the delivery of qualitative eye care to Patients.
Some formulate policies that are not in the best interest of Patients."

"Once the Retail Optical paradigm is upgraded to that of serving
Health Care Patients, as opposed to serving just Retail Customers, an
Optician becomes a Health Care Provider, as opposed to a Merchant."

'Professional Egotism'

There are a number of conflicted forces at work within the ophthalmic dispensing industry, which keep us from making progress. The two biggest are:

.) We have not yet effectively dealt with the reality that the majority of current dispensers are woefully under trained and extremely challenged when it comes to handcrafting prescription eyewear. For instance, I know senior Opticians who attend Optical Workshops who are unable to adequately customize eyewear directly on a Patient. (The number one complaint by prescription eyewear consumers is they are unable to acquire well-fitting eyewear.)

.) There's also a lot of what I call professional egotism and shaktipad (see NOTES* below), whereby many 'Opticians' are unable to admit, either through ignorance or antipathy, that they really do not know how to adjust eyewear, i.e., handcraft eyewear directly on a patient. Many only think they know and take umbrage when challenged. They have convinced themselves that they need no more training because they've been adjusting frames for years, and they see no need to change.

Regarding this 'professional egoism' issue, we suggest that we ask this question of those dispensers who claim they already know how to fit eyewear, and those who claim that they have been working as an Optician for several years. "Have you had any formal training in handcrafting eyewear directly on the consumer?"

The problem is that many folks are self-taught, and most of those who came up as apprentices were taught by dispensers who have had no formalized hands-on the consumer, frame-adjustment training.

This decades-old history is the main reason, not price, that Opticianry as a profession has lost, and continues to lose market share.

Therefore it is incumbent on those who know to teach those who do not know. And it is incumbent on those who do not know to surrender their ego. OpticalGuidelines.com

*NOTES:

EGOTISM is the feeling or belief that one is better, more important, more talented, etc., than other people.

SHAKTIPAD is a state of egotism in which an optical dispenser is far less experienced, knows far less than they think they know, and who fails to acknowledge it. The worst case scenario is the optician who falls into the trap of convincing themselves and others that only they know the best way, and that the old ways need to change. Beware of the 'tiger's bite'! Shaktipad is a consequence of 'riding the tiger' of pride. One must ever be alert to the signs of shaktipad in order to take appropriate action. In the case of an optical dispenser in the state of shaktipad, the remedy is to seek out practical training with the attitude of a perpetual student, i.e., one who surrenders their ego, realizes that learning never stops, and that one can always improve their skills. See Ego Eradicator.

The dispensing of eyewear, which includes eyeglasses and contact lenses, involves numerous subjective experiences on the part of the Patient. The Patient's visual health and wellness, i.e., clearest vision, and well-fitting frame and contact lenses are primary issues, which require knowledge, sensitivity and a unique intimacy between a Dispenser and a Patient that also includes a skill set associated with healing on the part of the Dispenser. This places the business of dispensing eyewear in a special and more humanized class of commercial enterprise; a business that is unlike that of marketing groceries and-or general merchandise in several major respects. Therefore, it's important for Optical Retail Managers, especially those with no prior experience in the Ophthalmic Industry, to acquire adequate additional training. See 1Plus1Equals11.com.

"Due to their market share, some Optical Retailers are
in a unique position to lead the industry in the direction
of re-humanizing the delivery of prescription eyewear."

SPECIAL NOTE: The emphasis herein with respect to the importance of Hands on the Patient, in-place, and on-the-face, touch and feel delivery of ophthalmic services may seem somewhat overstated, but Patients who experience the results of such skilled service are known to make more referrals and give testimonials as to the improvement to their long-term visual comfort and frame wearability using words such as "significant," even "profound." This level of personal service has the power to transform any Ophthalmic Consumer into a life-long Patron. And complaints, remakes and refunds are significantly reduced, as well. Thought For Today: Opticians exist for the purpose of SERVING people, NOT SELLING things. See ToServeIsToSucceed.com.

"Serve people first, and more will follow."


Well trained, hands-on Health Care Providers
make for satisfied and happy Patients.

Whereas personal service can be defined as any human activity by which people's lives are made better, i.e., easier, happier and-or more comfortable, happy Customers are the very best way of advertising goods and services just as portrayed in the inspirational narrative of 'Johnny's Story.' Happy Patient's promote good will, and the serendipitous word-of-mouth-advertising is free! See More Specific Details.

IMPROVING THE DISPENSARY LAYOUT

"Inadequate equipment and tools contributes to
substandard practices and loss of efficiency."

The manner in which an Optical Dispensary is configured can have a direct impact on the quality and efficiency of service.

The floor plan and workspace of many of today's Dispensaries are laid out in such a way that they do not support or encourage qualitative dispensing practices or Patient comfort. We see too many Dispensaries in which the pace of activities is so fast, and the environment so noisy and unpleasant that it is difficult for us to associate them with the health and wellness industry. In this respect, the training of skilled Opticians, the functional performance of Dispensers, and especially the delivery of health care services to Patients, is adversely affected, even discouraged.

Today, as mentioned previously (click here), we see dispensing tables that are not made with much thought of enabling close, direct contact between the Dispenser and the Patient. See Custom Frame Fitting here.

FIRST, many of today's dispensing tables appear to be designed by traditional retail cabinet-counter makers in that little or no thought is given to the utility of the dispensing table as the point of direct contact between Dispenser and Patient and the subsequent delivery of rather expensive, high-tech, customized, handcrafted and personalized optical instruments, today's prescription eyewear. The kidney-shaped dispensing table of yesteryears is much superior and more accommodating.

SECOND, dispensing tools are far removed from the dispensing table itself. A conscientious Hands on the Patient skilled Optician is forced to spend much time running back and forth to get commonly used hand tools, some located in another room. And many workstations, which accommodate hand tools, are restricted in that the tools are of inadequate number, and-or hard to get to. NOTE: In some cases hand tools are adequate in number, but training in their use is absent.

THIRD, any Dispensary workstation design that impedes Hands-on dispensing tasks and delivery activities is counter productive. Adequate types of hand tools and instruments and sufficient training in their use, is an imperative. Some Dispensaries are absent proper hand tools and-or display broken and damaged tools due to misuse. This is directly related to inadequate management and substandard training of Dispensers, which of course, adversely impacts the standard of care that Patients deserve and expect.

                        THE CONSEQUENCES OF INACTION                                   

Hands on the Patient dispensing is a soon-to-be-lost art. If today's trends toward the narrow and strictly retail approach to ophthalmic services continue, the marketing of ready-to-wear, over-the-counter eyewear will continue to flourish, Internet sales will proliferate, hands-on dispensing skills and services will disappear, Patients will continue to suffer from substandard quality of service, eyewear will continue to be delivered by an increasing number of unskilled Dispensers, and everybody will lose something in the real value, quality and satisfaction of life. The current retail paradigm for dispensing prescription eyewear needs to be overhauled.

IN CONCLUSION

THE GOLDEN RULE OF COMMERCE
"When the interests of the Consumer come first,
it's always win-win. Otherwise, it's always lose-lose."

It is presumably the intention of all Ophthalmic Dispensers to conscientiously practice the art of dispensing and delivery of eyewear with the optimum of skill and service whereby both the gross and subtle aspects of fitting a frame are applied. But while the majority of today's Dispensers are familiar with Basic Frame Alignment, the subject of Subtle Frame Adjustments fails to resonate in conversations with many industry members to wit, a rather blank, even puzzled facial expression is often visible in response to the broaching of the issue.

Hopefully, the views presented in this discourse will resonate with industry members as a call-to-action with the result that they will work to avoid or discontinue today's all too common practice whereby a Dispenser casually, and absent any skillful attention to details, hands over prescription eyewear, and concludes the occasion with a statement such as, "How do they feel?" or "Shake your head and see if they're loose!"

Everybody deserves eyewear, which has been conscientiously personalized to their maximum benefit, comfort and satisfaction. Unless the industry makes upgrading the skilled delivery of services a top priority, Internet eyewear merchants will continue to proliferate. --

NOTE: It seems the term 'hands-on' has different meanings among members of the optical community. See our definition. For an example of what we call hands on the Patient, old-fashioned design and custom fitting of prescription eyewear, click here. And for those who are otherwise looking to improve the delivery of prescription eyewear in America, please contact us here.

About Hari S. Bird, Optician

Experience: Mr. Bird's career as an Optician began following his active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps and subsequent employment with an American Optical Company Branch Laboratory in 1958. He spent more than 2 years in all phases of AO Laboratory operations as a Lab Technician, including hand surfacing, hand stone and automatic edging, bench work, finishing, final inspection, and hands on the Patient custom fitting. (At that time AO and B&L, Bausch and Lomb, labs dispensed eyewear to the public at the behest of eye care providers, i.e., MD's and OD's. See more.)

He became the Manager of an AO Branch Laboratory, and later a Sales Rep for American Optical lenses, frames, and ophthalmic instruments. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Ophthalmic Dispensing with an MD-OD joint practice and later his own private practice. Although currently retired, he holds active Dispensing Optician licenses in Florida and Arizona. He is also American Board of Opticianry and National Contact Lens Examiners certified. His history includes experience as the owner of a private-practice Ophthalmic Dispensary, and more recently as a Licensed Optician for an optical retail chain.

Goals: Mr. Bird is a passionate advocate of a) a resurgence of the Optician as a Health Care Provider as opposed to today's Dispenser acting mostly as a purveyor of merchandise, b) a resurgence of the Full Discovery and Disclosure Lifestyle Interview and Design of prescription eyewear, c) the conscious Hands on the Patient design and delivery of prescription eyewear, and d) more practical training of aspiring Opticians in the art of custom designed lenses and the custom fitting of eyeglass frames.

See articles from fellow ECPs.

A SPECIAL NOTE
FROM OPTICIANS FOR CHANGE

As senior Ophthalmic Health Care Providers, we are interested in sharing our experience as Dispensers of prescription eyewear. If you are a practitioner who recognizes the decades-old decline in dispensing skills, and you wish to share your experience and-or you need guidance in order to improve the profitability of your practice, please visit OpticiansForChange.com for more details.

FRAME FITTING COURSE IS NEXT.

 

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FREE TRAINING COURSES
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Hands on the Patient Opticianry?

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About Professional Egos

Time For Craftsmanship

   

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 actual 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."

ABO, 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 855-410-2700 to arrange for Training Session.

ARE YOU A GENUINE OPTICIAN OR
JUST AN EYEGLASS MERCHANT?
CLICK GUIDELINES TO FIND OUT!

    

      

         

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