Your ability to advise them properly is important to both your patients and your practice, according to Joy L. Gibb, ABOC, president of Eyes of Joy Mobile Optical Service, Woods Cross, UT. Gibb was speaking here at International Vision Expo West.
"Performance sunwear is a rapidly changing part of our industry, and that means we need to be educated," Gibb said. "Patients have options, and it's up to us to know the right sunwear for the right activity."
Unlike fashion sunwear, performance sunwear means business: the lenses, frames, non-slip bridges, ventilation ports, and other features all function to offer comfort, protection from injury, and protection from ultraviolet radiation, and also to provide a competitive edge for wearers.
It also means business and a competitive edge for your practice: If you establish yourself as your area's expert on the features and benefits of performance sunwear, patients will turn to you for advice and will spend their money with you accordingly.
Performance lenses—generally made from light-weight and impact-resistant polycarbonate, Trivex, or NXT materials—can be offered with various lens treatments, such as photochromic, polarized, and photochromic polarized.
Once again it's up to you to know the lens configurations that may work best for activities such as running, bicycling, golfing, tennis, fishing, and skiing.
Lens colors can be tailored for specific activities. Violet lenses, for example, are being marketed for their ability to make a white golf ball visually stand out against green grass.
Gibb recommended that eye-care professionals keep a wide variety of samples in the office for patients to try. Ultimately, it will be your patients' decision as to what works for them, and having a large number of samples can help ensure they make a decision with which they are happy.
"There are certain lens colors that may be designed for specific activities, but inevitably it's up to the wearers to decide what they're comfortable with," Gibb said. "You can say, 'This color is designed to be the best golf, or tennis, or cycling,' but individuals will have a preference based on their experience with the lenses.
"Violet lenses for golf are a good example. Some people like them, and some people don't. Many fisherman like polarized lenses because they tend to cut through glare off the water, but I've heard from some golfers who feel polarization makes the green harder to read," Gibb added. "So from a dispensing standpoint, you have to know what all the available options are, you have to be able to present them well and describe the advantages of each one, and ultimately you have to make samples available so patients can try them for themselves."