HOYA Creates Learning Center for ECPs

HOYA Vision Care Announced the creation of the HOYA Learning Center with new positions added to support the growing needs of Independent eyecare professionals. Customer needs are ever evolving and the HOYA Learning Center at the outset will address four specific needs–technical and medical education, practice development, new media optics and dispensing.

The mission for the HOYA Learning Center is to help Independent eyecare professionals of all experience levels have access to the information they need to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly shifting and ultra-competitive market.

Complimentary training will be available in multiple formats including in-person, instructor-led webinars and self-directed web-based training programs. Training can be customized to meet the needs of each practice and each individual so all can meet their respective goals.

Transitions Optical Releases Multicultural Initiative Report

A new report–Cultural Connections: The 2012 Multicultural Initiative Report–overviews Transitions Optical’s multicultural efforts to date, including research conducted; resources available to both eyecare professionals and culturally diverse consumers; and programs executed through partnerships with industry and cultural organizations. The initiative report also includes profiles of Transitions Optical’s Diversity Advisory Board members, who oversee all efforts and ensure they are culturally appropriate and relevant.

Transitions Optical’s multicultural initiative report is available free-of-charge through Transitions Optical Customer Service at CService@Transitions.com or (800) 848-1506. A printable PDF version is also available online within the “My Industry” section of MyMulticulturalToolkit.com and includes links to useful tools and resources for eyecare professionals.

The Majority of Indepedent ECPs Participate in Charities, According to a New Transitions Optical Study

 

More than 70 percent of independent eyecare practices are actively participating in charitable activities, according to research released through the Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund. However, the survey also reveals that there are barriers to increasing the amount of outreach being done, as well as opportunities to improve how programs are utilized and communicated.

“As an industry that provides such a valuable public service, we have the ability to really make an impact on people’s lives with our outreach efforts,” says Mary O’Hara, regional giving officer and associate marketing manager, trade communications, Transitions Optical, Inc. “Whether it’s providing free vision services, educating in the community or participating in larger optical industry charity events, there are plenty of ways for interested eyecare professionals to help.”

Education and Patient Communications: Missed Opportunities
The majority of the survey respondents (60 percent) provide eyewear to patients through their charitable efforts. The second most common service provided is eye exams (55 percent), followed by vision screenings (41 percent). However, only 25 percent of those who are participating in charitable outreach reported that they provide education as part of their programs.

“Every interaction with a patient provides an opportunity to educate on the importance of protecting vision,” says O’Hara. “Especially during vision screenings, which result in a historically low rate of follow-up care.”

Another area that was identified in the survey as not reaching its potential is patient communications. A study in 2010 found that 86 percent of consumers believe it’s important that companies stand for something other than profitability. Yet only 46 of the practices who participated in the survey are talking about their charitable endeavors to patients. In-office display materials and direct patient communications (newsletters, social media, etc.) were also revealed as being underutilized for this purpose.

Charitable Outreach Challenges
According to the research, respondents who are currently participating in charitable outreach programs are targeting underprivileged populations (58 percent), general populations (50 percent), kids (43 percent), national/regional vision charities (32 percent), blind/low-vision populations (23 percent), seniors (16 percent) and multicultural groups (11 percent). While the survey indicates that the majority of practices are engaged in some level of charitable outreach, respondents revealed some challenges.

Primary reasons why eyecare practices are not doing more non-profit work are lack of time (47 percent) and budget (42 percent). In fact, 30 percent said that they would increase the amount of charitable work they participate in if they could receive additional funding. Additional volunteer support (17 percent), education materials (17 percent) and interest from audiences they wish to support (11 percent) would also encourage more interest.

How the Healthy Sight for Life Fund Can Help
The Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund is a resource for industry professionals who are looking to enhance, expand or initiate a charitable program in their practices. Since 2008, the Fund has provided educational resources and financial support to optical industry professionals who are aligned with its mission of helping preserve healthy sight for a lifetime. Grants exceeding $1 million have been awarded for efforts including school vision screenings, public awareness campaigns, outreach through sports and recreation activities, low- or no-cost treatment for people with eye disease and programs to provide comprehensive vision care, vision wear and education to those in need.

While much of the work of the fund is done in partnership with non-profit organizations in the U.S., Canada and globally, a portion of the available grants are reserved for eyecare practices and laboratories that have charitable programs. To apply for a grant, professionals should submit a request form, located under the Healthy Sight Grants tab of www.healthysightforlife.org.

 

Tap Opportunity: Daily Replacement Lenses for Astigmatic Patients

Advances in daily replacement toric lenses allow you to improve the vision of contact lens wearers with even small amounts of astigmatism.

Doctors and more and more patients know daily replacement contact lenses are the best choice for comfort and eye health. Until recently this option was not available to patients with an astigmatism who required toric lenses. That is no longer the case.  

A vast majority of patients have at least a small amount of astigmatism. Clinically significant astigmatism starting at about -0.75 DC affects about 35% of patients. The only barrier to tapping this market is misconception. Many patients with astigmatism had negative past experiences with an eyecare provider who told them they could not wear contact lenses or they would be more difficult to fit in contact lenses due to their astigmatism. With today’s technology, there are very few astigmatic patients who can’t fit into contact lenses.  

Maybe Even More Profitable Than Other CL Wearers

A study about the value of contact lens wearers by Mark Ritson, PhD, of London Business School, shows that contact lens wearers are 4:1 more profitable to an optometric practice than spectacle-only wearers over time. If it was a closer margin, the results could be questioned, but this creates such a large, overwhelming reason to fit all patients in contact lenses.

In addition, daily replacement wearers are significantly more compliant than two-week and one-month wearers. It is a win-win!  Patients love the convenience of daily replacement and the practice is more profitable.

A comprehensive business analysis of the different modalities and which patients are more profitable would be helpful to us all. The assumption would be that astigmatic patients are more likely to purchase contact lenses from their eyecare professional because their prescription is more specialized. We should each take time to analyze the business performance of the different modalities of contact lenses that we prescribe and look for trends over time to aid our financial and inventory planning.

Greater Loyalty and Opportunities for Referral

Focus on astigmatic contact lens patients because they are more loyal to their eyecare professional who can fit their prescription successfully. They will often refer more of their friends and family to you because of that perceived “extra care.” In general, contact lens patients come in more frequently and have a stronger relationship with their eyecare professional-a fact that is even truer of astigmatic patients who finally are able to wear the contact lenses they always wanted to wear.

Have the Conversation with Patients

With the enhanced wear-ability of daily replacement contact lenses, the greatest challenge is getting patients to give them a try. Given the chance to try daily replacement toric contact lenses, most of these patients become long-term, enthusiastic wearers.

Wide Discrepancies Between Vision Care Attitudes and Practices, Says VISTAKON Study

While Americans rank sight as the most important of the five senses, a new survey shows that nearly half did not get an eye exam in the past year and approximately 30 percent do not believe that taking care of their eyes is as important as other health issues. The 2012 Americans’ Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care Survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of VISTAKON Division Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., tracked attitude and behavior changes among 1,000 US adults compared to 2006 benchmark data and revealed surprising discrepancies between attitudes about vision care and actual practices.

Results show a consistently high value placed on maintaining proper vision, although the number of respondents who indicated they do not regularly visit an eyecare professional increased 36 percent compared to 2006 (19 percent vs. 14 percent in 2006).  Alarmingly, approximately one in five (21 percent) US adults mistakenly agrees that they do not need an eye exam unless they are having trouble seeing.

“Despite knowledge and perceived importance, Americans are not making eye health a medical priority,” says Cristina Schnider, OD, senior director, Professional Communications, VISTAKON  “Seeing an eyecare professional regularly for a comprehensive eye exam will not only assess vision and the potential need for updated prescriptions, but it may also help identify and lead to a diagnosis of other health concerns such as hypertension and diabetes.”

Among the respondents who have a regular eyecare professional, the study shows an upward trend in satisfaction rates. Significantly more US adults are extremely/very satisfied with their regular eyecare professional, an 18 percent increase vs. 2006 (80 percent vs. 68 percent in 2006). When asked about the reason for their last eye exam, significantly more respondents noted that they had established a set eye exam schedule (32 percent vs. 29 percent in 2006) or received a reminder from the eye doctor’s office (20 percent vs. 17 percent in 2006–an increase of 10 and 18 percent, respectively).

Nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated they sought a referral when selecting their current eyecare professional, with a family member, friend or co-worker serving as the single greatest referral source (40 percent), followed by a health care provider (21 percent). Women were significantly more likely than men to seek referrals for a new eyecare professional (48 percent vs. 37 percent, respectively).

Sources for obtaining information on vision care products are also evolving. Eyecare providers’ offices remain the number-one resource–and the most trusted/reliable–but a growing number of US adults say they seek out a family member or friend for information.The Internet has gained traction as well; an increase of 33 percent of respondents cited this as an information resource for vision care (20 percent vs. 15 percent in 2006).

“These findings are consistent with data from a recent Harris Poll that showed three quarters (74 percent) of all adults have gone online at some point to look for health information,” says Humphrey Taylor, chairman, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive. “As the influence of the Internet as a valued source of health care and medical information continues to grow, eyecare professionals need to work hard to ensure that they are providing the public with relevant, user-friendly and reliable information.”

Other findings from the Americans’ Attitudes and Perceptions About Vision Care survey included the following:

•    Many attitudes regarding contact lenses did not change significantly since 2006, with one exception
o    Compared to 2006, significantly more contact lens wearers agree that it is important to take lenses out daily to give their eyes a rest (93 percent, 2012 vs. 86 percent, 2006).
o    About one-in-five contact lens wearers (17 percent) say they wear daily-replacement contact lenses.

•    Cost is less of a barrier to vision care
o    Approximately three in ten adults (29 percent) agree that they avoid going to their eye doctor because of cost, a 12 percent decrease vs. 2006.
o    Two in three adults have some type of eyecare insurance coverage.

•    Vision correction surgery remains minimal
o    Six percent of US adults reported having vision correction surgery, compared to seven percent in 2006.
o    The likelihood to have vision correction surgery is significantly less, declining from 10 percent extremely/very likely in 2006 to six percent in 2012.

HOYA North America Launches HOYAVision.com

HOYA Vision Care North America announced the launch of its new consumer web site, developed after a yearlong market research study to better understand how consumers approach buying premium spectacle lenses. The new site is designed to empower eyecare patients with easy‐to‐understand information about the latest advancements in vision correction, offering straightforward explanations about the differences between HOYA lenses and other lens brands.

This approach is in direct response to research findings that consumers are focusing more on their lens treatments and frames than on what they actually see through. “After quantitative and qualitative studies, we found the vast majority of eyecare consumers don’t care about their lenses,” says Ron Barnes, director of project marketing at HOYA North America, “because they don’t understand our industry jargon. That’s why so many patients still think lens brands are all the same, just commodities. So they base their purchase decisions on price alone.”

In addition to the educational benefits for patients, the new site can be used as a preemptive sales tool by eyecare professionals–a way to give their patients a head start in learning about their premium lens options before their next appointment. Detailed overviews about the advanced nature of HOYA lens products and technology, combined with general overviews and explanations about vision correction itself, invite eyecare consumers to be a part of their treatment and better inform their questions prior to their office visits.

“This is about shifting paradigms,” says Barnes. “The new site will let patients know they can wear a premium lens brand, not just designer frames. And just as important, we’ll let them know the most advanced prescription eyeglass lenses on earth are only available at independent eyecare practices.”

The new HOYAVision.com is also designed to make finding HOYA premium lenses easier for consumers. By simply entering their zip code in the “Find a Provider” section of the site, eyecare patients can locate their nearest HOYA-authorized practice.

Globally, We Are Losing Our Eye Health, a New Bausch + Lomb Study Reveals

Almost 70% of people from around the world would rather give up 10 years of their life, or even sacrifice one of their limbs, than lose their eyesight. Yet less than one third of those polled take the basic steps necessary to preserve eye sight, according to the “Barometer of Global Eye Health,” a new global survey released by Bausch + Lomb.

Developed in concert with eyecare experts around the world and validated by 147 eye health professionals from 26 different countries, Bausch + Lomb’s study, conducted with its research partner KRC Research, surveyed 11,000 consumers across Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

This first-of-its-kind public opinion poll sheds new light on the state of consumer awareness, attitudes and behaviors related to eye health. While 80% of visual impairment is preventable if detected and treated early enough, according to the findings not enough people are getting regular eye exams and their reasons for doing so vary wildly.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons not enough people are getting regular eye exams seems to be lack of awareness about the connection between eye health and overall health. That’s because the eyes are the one organ where the health of a person’s veins and arteries can be easily seen, allowing eyecare professionals to detect signs of more than 150 diseases, such as diabetes, high-cholesterol and hypertension, years before a patient displays other symptoms.

Through this benchmark survey, Bausch + Lomb hopes to inform and educate millions of consumers around the world about the importance of seeing an eye doctor on a regular basis to avoid serious eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, and to increase the chances of early detection of other chronic conditions.

Key results from the “Barometer of Global Eye Health” showed:
•    Less than one third of those polled take the basic steps necessary to preserve eye sight.

•    If forced to choose, people would rather lose their sense of taste (79%), hearing (78%), one of their limbs (68%) or 10 years off their life (67%) instead of their eyesight.

•    Three-fourths of people would rather have their pay cut in half than have a permanent 50% decline in the quality of their vision.

•    68% of those surveyed say they are knowledgeable about eye health, but this assertion is contradicted by the fact that only 21% had regular eye exams over the past five years.

•    Women were more likely than men to take steps to protect their vision, such as wearing sunglasses (81% vs. 77%), eating a healthy diet (82% vs. 75%) and refraining from smoking (79% vs. 73%.

•    Married people were more likely than singles to have had a comprehensive eye exam in the past year (46% married vs. 38%.

•    For those who did not have regular eye exams, 65%said they had not visited an eye doctor because they did not have any symptoms, and 60%because they had clear vision. This is dangerous reasoning since many eye diseases occur without any noticeable signs to the patient.
       
•    97%of doctors surveyed globally believe consumers do not have sufficient eye health knowledge.

•    94%of eye health professionals said women took better care of their eyes than men.

The survey also revealed multiple myths that prevail regarding vision and eye health:

•    44%of those polled admitted they thought “I don’t need an eye test unless there is a problem,” while 42%said they believe “If I can see, then my eyes must be healthy.”  

•    Almost four in 10 (exactly 39% honestly believed “The only reason to visit an eye doctor is for vision corrections.”

•    When it came to their eyes, 30%of those surveyed said “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not serious.”  

For detailed results from ‘The Barometer of Global Eye Health,’ to read stories about people’s eye health, find your local eye health practitioner, participate in a poll or view an inspirational video, visit www.bausch.com/barometer