How Do You Find The One?
When we, as eyecare professionals, want to fight the big machine, we first need to understand the world that we’re in. We aren’t in a world of level playing fields, where everything is just ‘perfect’ and fair. No. We’re in the harsh world where reality is what is created by everyone following the mold of Big Optical, and everyone falling into place behind that mandate.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently ‘wrong’ with that. If you want to live in that world, by all means, don’t let me stop you. I’m not here to force you to do anything, I am only here to offer you a choice. I’m trying to free your mind, but I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.
Far too often I’ve seen professionals ask what the “best” lens design is, or the “go to” lens. This mentality is what leads us down the path of apathy. When we get to the point of being able to have a ‘go to’ option without considering any other criteria, what good are we, as a professional? At that point, are we just replaceable batteries in the machine of eyewear? If we don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of lens options, what is the point? Even worse is when the question is “What is your go-to Big Optical lens?”.
This world is becoming more about personal service, and proving that you’re worth something. You aren’t just selling a thing – your know-how is the thing now. If they want cheap glasses, they don’t need you to get that. But the places that have these cheap glasses aren’t going to give people the option of the exact right lens design for them. They get whatever lens design is the cheapest, and that’s it. They’ll get used to it. What kind of professional pride is in there? Not a whole lot. As a professional, you have a choice. You can choose the blue pill, and keep selling the one-size-fits-all options. Or you can take the red pill. The red pill is going to take us down the path of countless lens designs for all possible options – letting you pick the best option for your patient and exactly what they do.
The Red Pill
I’m going to assume that if you’re still reading that you actually want to go down into the depths with me. Either that, or you really, really like the Matrix. Either way, the whole idea behind this is that free-form technology has made possible all kinds of things that were never feasible before, because they would just cost too darn much. Now you can think out of the box, and really get a customized lens experience for your patients. This isn’t the normal ‘second pair sale’ type approach, it’s about being able to really improve how people view your service, as we aren’t focused on the eyewear as much as we are on how we get there.
Part of the Machine
You know how easy it is for someone to order a pair of progressive lenses online. If you’ve read some of the other things in this issue, then you know that our normal defenses aren’t going to hold out much longer. They can get an online refraction and they can get their PD and seg height from a selfie. The machines are learning and getting smarter, so we need to be able to stay one step ahead of them. We need to grow and evolve faster than they do, otherwise we mark ourselves as obsolete. Right now, we can do this with lens recommendations. Most online places offer a generic progressive lens option, and hope that the PD and seg are correct. This isn’t going to always be the case, of course, but for now we need to take advantage of it. We need to delve into what people are doing with their eyewear, and make better recommendations. We need to do what Big Optical doesn’t.
By this point, I know what you’re thinking. Why, oh why didn’t I take the BLUE pill?
I could certainly go into the many different uses of progressive lenses, and the pros and cons of different ones, but that’s not really useful for you. I don’t know who you are, what lab you use, or what lenses you even have access to. Instead, you need to think about what you’re doing, and how your current lab can help you. If you look at their offering of freeform lenses, and they only have a few options, that’s a pretty good indication that they don’t really have what you need. What use is it to have a “good”, “better”, and “best” option, when they are all “general use”, “all around”, or some other generic term that means they’re “okay but not great” at everything. If you don’t have a lab that can help you look at the lens options and really give you some variation, then maybe you need to look harder. Your job is to use your mind – your experience – to give your patient the best possible experience.
One such case I saw was someone looking for a lens for a concert pianist. They needed the main focus on the near/intermediate for playing, obviously. But they also needed some distance to be able to see the audience. Not much distance, mind you, but some. So this meant your standard computer lens wasn’t going to have enough distance, and a normal progressive was going to have too much. By using a modified computer-style lens, they were able to give the patient what they wanted – just the tiniest distance viewing area at the top of the lens, but with the rest of it focused on what was needed. Being able to go down this far is necessary to be able to go above and beyond, because that’s what is needed in order to be successful.
I’m not telling you that you need to fight against Big Optical. I’m telling you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.
– Mr. Anderson