Sunwear for all seasons

February 15, 2005

Consumers are becoming more aware of the damaging effects of UV light. They have found that sunwear . . . counteracts these ill effects.

Joseph Bacotti, MD, FACS, has been dispensing sunwear for about 15 years. Today, more than 50% of Dr. Bacotti's patients purchase sunwear from his dispensary. He believes that it is an important part of the eye-care package for patients.

"If you're dispensing, you need to do everything. Sunwear is an integral part of dispensing and the refraction package," Dr. Bacotti said. "It is so integral to the eye-care package that I cannot imagine ophthalmologists not having sunwear if they have a dispensary."

"Some patients want a polychromic lens, others want sportswear lenses, or they want to make a fashion statement with sunglasses or even plano lenses," he said. "During the exam, we find out about the patient's lifestyle and then go from there. In the dispensary, our dispenser follows up on this and fine-tunes it to the patient's individual needs."

Duralde said consumers are becoming more aware of the damaging effects of UV light. They have found that sunwear not only improves their vision, but also counteracts these ill effects. The medical benefits of sunwear become especially important in patients with macular problems or cataracts, for example.

Duralde agrees that a thorough assessment of patient lifestyles is the key to successful sunwear sales.

"The ophthalmologist can do a lifestyle profile for the patient to ascertain the amount of time a patient spends driving in daylight, walking in the sunshine, staying outdoors, or sitting in front of a computer," Duralde said. "The doctor can calculate this time in relation to the total waking hours and see that most patients have a significant need for sun or light protection."

Since his practice is located on Long Island, Dr. Bacotti said sunwear sales are not just seasonal.

"We're pretty active on Long Island," he said. "We sell all types of sunwear. For example, polarized lenses help golfers with their game and they reduce glare for skiers and boaters. We do it for function, fashion, and lifestyle fitting, not just in the summer months, but all year long."

According to other experts, patient education is another one of the keys to successful marketing of sunwear styles.

"We believe that every patient who walks into an optical dispensary needs high-quality protective sunglasses," said Vittorio Verdun, director of marketing for Luxottica Group. "To promote sunglasses as 'the other first pair,' eye-care professionals must stress the importance of protecting one's eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

"They should explain the dangers of UV rays, what diseases can result from overexposure to the sun, and how this can affect one's vision today and in later years," Verdun said. "Educating patients on the various lens options available-from polarized and photochromic lenses to mirrored lenses and tint options-helps to expand a patient's knowledge of lenses and also enhances opportunities for increased profitability."