Let Tinted Lenses Take Your Practice Over the Rainbow
BY PHILIP DIXON, OD
How would you like to triple your profits, boost patient satisfaction and set your office apart? It's time to take your practice over the rainbow and start fitting tinted lenses. The rise of the specialty lens markets in the last few years has been astounding. Increases in consumer advertising have made patients more aware of lens options while technological advances have developed a large palette of natural eye shades for patients to choose from. Tinted lenses are now a $150 million market that's growing every year.
The average profit on one- to two-week replacement lenses is $18 per year. A tinted lens, such as Cibasoft Softcolors (CIBA Vision) can return up to $70 per year, per patient. With shrinking margins, specialty lenses can help keep your practice profitable.
Figure 1. Patient color wheel by CIBA
Assess Your Patients' Needs
First ask yourself, "What am I doing to define my practice?" Offering tinted lenses separates our practice and creates an identity that helps us draw new business. Patients know we will provide the services and products they want.
Almost one-third of our patients purchase tinted lenses in addition to their clear lenses. Often patients are too embarrassed to ask for tinted lenses, although they would like to try them. I try to make a gentle suggestion to let patients know that I'd be happy to talk with them about tinted lenses if they're interested. Even if they are happy with their clear lenses, it doesn't mean they wouldn't like a pair of colored lenses for special occasions.
Many light-eyed patients are self-conscious about changing their eye color completely but would like to enhance or highlight their natural color. Enhancing lenses can boost eye color just enough to make a difference. The change is subtle enough that patients don't feel uncomfortable, but they feel special knowing their eyes look a little brighter.
Finding the Right Fit
Some practitioners hesitate to fit tinted lenses because they believe it takes too long for the patient to choose a color. Find someone in your office who enjoys working with colored lenses and has the time to help patients find the right match. These lenses do demand a little extra attention, but fitting tinted lenses can be easy. Using a color wheel, like the one by CIBA Vision, can speed up the process (Figure 1). It demonstrates the most flattering shades depending on eye or skin color. Begin by determining the effect the patient desires, and use your experience to suggest one or two shades. After the initial fitting, the time requirement will dramatically decrease, while you continue to reap the increased profits.
Taking the time to show patients a fun, new product, like a tinted lens, can increase your revenue and help you develop lasting patient relationships. Happy, loyal patients are within your reach, not just somewhere over the rainbow.
Dr. Philip L. Dixon is a graduate of the Southern California College of Optometry. He has authored articles on children's vision, glaucoma and geometric optics. He has practiced in Reedley, Calif., since 1981.