Communicate a sunwear strategy

The standard for every practice should be to present all patients who wear spectacle lenses with two first-pair options.

Rule 1: Create first-pair emphasis.

Every patient should be educated about the need for sun protection, starting in the exam room with the physician. Of course, sunwear education should occur year-round.

In every practice that wants to see an increase in the percentage of sunwear sales, the value of sunglasses should be communicated to patients three to six times in the course of a visit. Here are some examples:

1. When patients call to schedule an appointment (or the office issues appointment reminders), ask them to bring their current spectacles and any sunglasses, prescription or otherwise, that they wear to the visit.

2. At check-in, have patients turn in their eyeglasses and sunwear for a complimentary cleaning, adjustment, and neutralization. This allows staff to ascertain the quality, condition, and suitability of patients' eyewear.

3. Have patients complete a lifestyle/needs assessment questionnaire while waiting to see the physician. Be sure to ask whether the patient currently wears sunglasses and, if so, for what reasons and activities.

4. During the exam, the physician should introduce the subject of sunwear, highlight the importance of ultraviolet protection, and indicate that the optician will review sun protection options appropriate to the patient's lifestyle and activities.

5. The physician also should write a recommendation for sunwear on the patient's prescription (including contact lens prescriptions) or, better yet, hand the patient a second prescription for sunwear. If the patient does not need vision correction, the physician can transfer the patient to the dispensary by saying, "In order to maintain your eye health, we want to make sure you are wearing quality sunglasses. I'd like Jane, our optician, to talk with you about some of the sun protection options that are available."

6. Patients entering the optical dispensary or contact lens fitting room always should be shown appropriate sunwear options as part of the eyewear selection process based on the physician's recommendation and the lifestyle/needs assessment.