Optimize your optical, part 2

October 15, 2006

Editor's note: In part one of "Optimize Your Optical" (see Ophthalmology Times, Sept. 15, 2006) optician, dispenser, and educator Laurie Pierce shared five techniques, forged through personal experience, that have enabled her to build patients' confidence while saving time and money. In part two, Pierce offers more of her practical "how-tos."

Tip #6: High myopia and high hyperopia: not high maintenance, just higher criteria

When a prescription reaches a certain mark (±7.00 D in any meridian), vertex distance compensation is necessary. As lens powers increase, positioning and vertex distance become very important. When there is a shift of vertex (the distance between the cornea and the back surface of the lens) from the refracted distance and the fitted distance, compensation must be made. The shift of vertex changes the effective power of the lens-in effect, what the brain sees.

How do you know the refracted vertex and the fitted vertex? The refracted vertex comes from the ophthalmologist. If you don't know it, and if it is not written on the prescription, then a phone call to the doctor of record is in order. Many ophthalmologists refract at a set vertex distance and can give you this information very easily.

Accurately compensating for vertex distance shift in higher prescriptions can make the difference between a patient seeing 20/30 (or worse) or 20/20. This will, of course, make a big difference in your patients' quality of vision, and, therefore, their quality of life.

Tip #7: Keep an optical checklist

When you're troubleshooting an optical problem or checking in a new order, an optical checklist is a big time-saver.

Tip #8: Know your patients' expectations

If you don't know, find out! It is easy to think that we know what our patients want from us. After all, we know what's best for them, right? Often, when we think we are communicating with our clientele and know their expectations, we are surprisingly far from the mark. If you think you know what your patients really want and expect from your dispensary, there's no better test than to ask them directly.

A focus group I once facilitated revealed some very surprising data in regard to patient expectations. We pulled together 12 people who represented a sample of our client base to mirror our business demographics. We simply asked them, repeatedly, what their expectations were upon entering our dispensary, meeting our opticians, and receiving their prescription eyewear. It was interesting to learn that when we thought we were exceeding expectations, we were barely meeting them!