Why Haven’t You Taken Your Child to Receive an Eye Exam Recently?

Among the 1,532 parents responding to the Vision Council’s VisionWatch Parent for Child Report who have not taken their children to receive an eye exam within the past two years, 63% claim they have not taken their children for an exam because their children do not need an exam. Parents with children over the age of 10 living at home and parents with more than one child living at home were more likely than other parents to avoid eye exams for their children because of the belief that their children don’t need one.

A significantly large portion of parents who have not taken their children for an eye exam recently (35.6%) believe that their children are too young to experience vision problems and therefore do not need an exam. Parents with only one child living at home, and parents with a child under the age of 10 were more likely than other parents to avoid taking their child for an eye exam due to the belief that their child is too young for a vision problem. 14% of parents said they have not taken their child for an eye exam recently because their vision problems are only minor. This was especially true for parents of older children (age 10 and older) and parents with more than one child living at home. For almost 8% of parents whose children have not received an eye exam recently the perceived high cost of an exam has prevented them from taking their child for an exam. The notion that the exam will cost too much was a particular strong deterrent for parents with no vision insurance and for parents with an average household income of under $40,000 annually.

7% of parents with children who have not received an exam in the past two years said they were too busy to take their children for an eye exam. This was especially true for parents with more than two children living at home and for parents with children between the ages of 10 and 13. Another 7% of parents said their children had not received an exam recently because they did not have an eye doctor. This was especially the case for parents with an annual household income under $40,000, those with no vision insurance coverage and for parents with children over the age of 13 living at home.

What are the numbers?  1 in 4 school-aged children have vision problems.
 
What is the risk?  Undiagnosed visual conditions cause unresolved life problems. What is the solution?  Education.
 
How good of a job are we doing?  Based on the Vision Council’s report, not good. We have to start somewhere, so let’s start in our practices. We can do this by signage in the office.

Here are three signs that should be in every doctor’s office:

“Did you know that 1 in 4 school-aged children have vision problems? A child who has never seen the world clearly has no reference point to tell you that something is wrong. Don’t let your child live with a problem that can be easily addressed. Get your child’s eyes examined yearly by an optometrist.”

“Did you know that the eyesight test done by the school nurse or by the pediatrician does a poor job of identifying visual problems? It identifies correctly about half of the children screened. In other words, when children are given the test, about half are told they do not have a problem when they do or told they do have a problem when they do not. Don’t let your child live with a problem that can be easily addressed. Get your child’s eyes examined yearly by an optometrist.”

“A child’s body changes every year. The eyes are part of the body and they change just like the rest of the body. Just because your child had an eye exam one or two years ago does not mean they are still the same today. Don’t let your child live with a problem that can be easily addressed. Get your child’s eyes examined yearly by an optometrist.”

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How Will the Economy Affect Your Next Eyeglasses Purchase?

The economy seems to make no difference in the eyewear buying habits of 30.8% of consumers, who say they will not change their buying behavior because of the state of the economy, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch Economic Situation Study: April 2012. On the other hand, 28.8% say they will use their current eyeglasses for a longer period of time and hold off on purchasing new eyeglasses. Some 25.3% say they will search for the best value when shopping for prescription eyeglasses while 21% say they will continue to use their old frames and only purchase new lenses. Some 5.9% say they will use the internet to purchase their next pair of prescription eyeglasses while 8.8% will try and save money by purchasing multiple pairs of eyeglasses at the same time. Some 19.1% say they will spend less than they spent in the past on the eyeglasses they end up buying.

What are the strategies we want to accomplish with our patients?

1.  We want to provide our patients the best care in services and materials.

2.  We want to provide for all of our patients’ needs (e.g.: indoor, outdoor, computer, safety).

What tactics should we use to achieve our strategic objectives?

1.  Use a lifestyle history questionnaire to identify all of our patient’s needs.

2.  Prescribe an optical solution for each patient need where appropriate focusing on premium products.

3.  Work with patients to prioritize the solutions.

4.  Offer a multi-pair discount to increase the value of multiple pair sales (experience shows that significant movement does not occur until you offer between a 35% to 50% discount).

5.  Have clear visuals in your optical shop that you offer solutions for all price points.

6.   Explain to patients what they lose in benefits to their health, safety and function when they choose lower price points (focus on benefits, not features).

7.  Make sure at least 20% of your frame board is dedicated to sunwear.

8.   Review your frame board mix. Compare the number of frames you have on your board in each price point to the number of frames you actually sold last year in each price point. Remix your frame board to better reflect your strategic objectives and the reality of your practice.

9.  Make sure your office offers payment solutions such as CareCredit and PayPal.

10.  Make sure your patients with frame coverage on their vision insurance use it–it should be the rare exception that these people order lenses only.
Sit down with your staff today and implement a plan of action to help your patients get the best care for all of their needs.

Why Do Patients Continue to Wear Progressive Lenses?

The majority of consumers-68%-who previously wore progressive lenses and continue to wear progressives say they do so because they were satisfied with the design, according to The Vision Council’s 2012 Progressive Lens White Paper. Of first-time progressive purchasers, 42% said they wanted something they could use for both distance and reading while 39% said they wanted something that did not have a line visible to others. Only 26% switched to progressives because their ECP recommended they do so. Of consumers who previously wore single-vision lenses and switched to progressives, the majority said they did so because their prescription changed.

If 68% were satisfied with the lens design and 32% were not, that’s a problem. Doctors and opticians need to better link lens design to patient lifestyle.  

So, how do you determine the patient lifestyle in your practice? As a group, eyecare providers have spent so much time trying to refine the medical history to meet reimbursement documentation requirements that we have ignored the lifestyle history questionnaire. So, let’s focus on the lifestyle history questionnaire today. Is it up to date? Does it include questions about tablet and smartphone usage? Does it question how much time the patient spends on near-work each day?  If not, today is the day you should initiate an update.   

The second issue here is lens design. We definitely need to make sure both doctors and opticians are matching patients’ lifestyles to the best lens design rather than just prescribing their favorite “safe” lens. This means taking the time to meet with lens manufacturer representatives, as well as in-depth discussions between doctors and opticians. Our goal is not to have a patient settle for an adequate lens design but rather to give our patients the best lens design for their unique lifestyle. Don’t forget to educate your patient about what you are doing and why.

Updating the patient lifestyle history questionnaire and making sure both doctors and opticians are matching the patient’s lifestyle history questionnaire with the best lens design are fundamental issues that need our immediate attention. Get this handled today and it will be a win for both your patients and your practice.

Where Do You Take Your Children for Eye Exams?

Independent eyecare practitioners (ECPs) seem to be the provider of choice for parents who have taken their child to receive an eye exam sometime within the past two years, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch Parent-Child Vision Care Report.

In fact, 51.2% of all parents with children who have received an eye exam within the past 24 months took their child to an independent ECP for that exam. Parents with health insurance coverage, especially vision care coverage, were more likely than other parents to have taken their child to an independent ECP to receive an exam. Moreover, parents with children who wear prescription eyewear, particularly eyeglasses, and parents from households with high annual incomes were more likely to have taken their children to an independent ECP for their most recent eye exam.

13% of parents who have taken their children for an eye exam in the past two years went to an optical chain (such as Lens Crafters or Hour Eyes) for the child’s last exam. Optical chains were a particularly popular option for parents with children between the ages of 14 to 17 and parents with annual household incomes between $40,000 to $60,000. An additional 9.4% of parents took their child to a mass merchandiser location for the child’s most recent eye exam. Mass merchandisers were especially popular for parents who were not willing to spend more than $100 on their children’s eyewear.

Finally, a little over 16% of parents whose children have had an eye exam during the past two years took their children to a general MD. This was especially common for parents with more than two children living at home and for parents with younger children. Just over 8% of parents said they took their child to a department store or “other” location for their most recent exam.

What %?

Where did they go?

Why and What were the trends?

51.2%

Independent ECP

1.       Health insurance coverage, especially vision care

2.       Children who wear prescription eyewear

3.       Households with high annual incomes

 

16%

General MD

1.       Parents with > 2 children living at home

2.       Parents with younger children

13%

Optical chain

1.       Children between the ages of 14 to 17

2.       Annual household income between $40K-$60K

9.4%

Mass merchandiser

1.       Parents not willing to spend more than $100 on children’s eyewear

8%

Department store or “other”

 

1.       Does your practice actively promote seeing infants (e.g.: InfantSee)?

2.       Are you marketing effectively to children between the ages of 14-17?

3.       Does your optical have options for parents not willing to spend more than $100?

How Often Do Parents Take Their Children to the Eye Doctor?

Over one-third of all parents with children living at home report that their child(ren) have never received an eye exam, according to the The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch Parent Child Vision Care Report. Parents with only one child living at home, and parents with a child under the age of 10 living at home, were more likely than other parents to never have taken any of their children to get their eyes examined. Insurance coverage (of any kind) has little-to-no influence regarding the frequency or history of eye exams among American children.

It appears that the only noticeable and significant influence that insurance coverage has with regard to children’s eyewear pertains to prices and what parents are willing to pay for the eyeglasses their children wear. In particular, parents with some type of insurance coverage (health insurance, MVC and/or FSA/MSA) are more likely than parents without coverage to be willing to pay more than $99 for a pair of children’s eyewear.

These facts highlight the need to educate all patients about the need for children to have their eyes examined. Everyone is either a parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt or a friend of a child. The circle of everyone’s life touches a child at some point, therefore, educate everyone.  

Use a multimedia approach to educate people. Use simple signs placed in the reception area, computer screen savers, brochures, scripted elevator speeches by staff–use whatever you can to communicate the need for children to have their eyes examined. Make sure your primary message is that undiagnosed visual problems contribute to two unresolved life problems–school performance not at expected levels and poor athletic performance. Unresolved problems mean that children are making life choices based on what they can do rather then what they want to do. Make the point that unresolved means unnecessary.

Your action plan today is to re-examine how you are educating people about the need for children to have their eyes examined and then do it better.

How Many Patients Opt for A/R Lenses?

Some 28.9% of consumers at optical shops operated by independent ECPs choose lenses with A/R coating, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch March 2012 Member Benefit Report. Some 15.7% chose photochromatic lenses.

In Japan, AR usage is greater than 95%. The key is the doctor. How important is A/R to you for your patients?  If the doctor will prescribe it in the exam room, the majority of patients will get it in the optical (remember that every lens in your phoropter is an A/R lens).

A key fact you need to know is that the re-purchase rate for A/R is 95%. This shows deep acceptance by patients once they have experienced A/R.

Your ACTION PLAN for today is to review your A/R numbers. You’ll find them on your optical laboratory Rx Mix Analysis report. If your practice is a typical practice and is not above 80% A/R, then your practice needs to make some changes to improve your numbers. Implement these three ACTIONS:

1)      Have the doctor prescribe A/R in the exam room.
2)      Have the optical staff demonstrate A/R to the patient.
3)      Bundle A/R with your lenses.

Fit Is Most Important When Making Frame Purchase

When asked to consider and rank five different aspects of the eyeglasses they recently purchased, most recent buyers thought that the fit of the frames on their face was the most important factor when settling on the frame they purchased, according to The Vision Council‘s VisionWatch 2011 Fashion vs. Function Eyewear Report.

In fact,  47.1% of recent eyeglass buyers ranked “fit of frame” as the top factor, and only 5.4% ranked the fit of the frame as last on the list of factors presented. The second most important factor considered when purchasing eyeglasses was the perceived durability of the frames that were bought. Over 1/6 all recent eyeglass buyers (17.5%) rated the durability of the frame as the most important factor in the decision to purchase the specific frames they bought. After the fit of the frame, the durability of the frame and the style of the frame, consumers are likely to consider the material of the frame when making an eyeglass purchase.

About 8.7% of recent eyeglass buyers rated the material of the frame as the most important factor when recently making an eyeglass purchase. On the other side of the spectrum, about 7.3% of recent eyeglass buyers considered frame material as the least important purchase factor. Frame material was more important amongst men and women, while older eyeglass buyers valued material more than younger eyeglass buyers.

In aggregate, among the five factors surveyed, the designer name of the eyeglass frame purchased was universally ranked as the least important decision factor considered when consumers recently purchased their eyeglasses. While 77.8% of recent buyers considered the designer name of the frame as the least important purchase decision factor, there were some consumers that considered the designer name of the frame when making their last purchase. In fact, approximately 6.7% of recent eyeglass buyers actually ranked the brand name of the eyeglass frame as the most important purchase decision factor. Typically men, younger eyeglass buyers and eyeglass buyers who also use contact lenses tended to place relatively higher importance on the designer name of the frame when making their last eyeglass purchase.