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How to Communicate the Value of Prescription Sunwear to Your Patients

Millions of people — including many of your patients — could benefit from prescription sun lenses. The problem is, 36 million of those people do not have them and are unaware they need them in the first place.


In the U.S. independent market, consumers purchase 93 million pairs of prescription eyeglasses annually, but only about 3 million are prescription sun lenses. This means that an overwhelming majority of your patients are probably experiencing discomfort outdoors and could use your recommendations.


We know that wearing sun lenses will positively impact your patients and help you increase sales, which will benefit your practice. However, many ECPs are missing out on this conversation with their patients for two main reasons: 


  1. They don’t feel comfortable with the “upsell” 
  2. They aren’t sure how to start the conversation 


Patients are unlikely to bring up the topic of prescription sunwear because again, they’re either unaware they need it, or they believe in certain misconceptions around prescription sunwear. It’s up to the ECP to start the conversation and debunk the myths that surround this eyewear necessity. And this is for the sake of your patients’ eye health and the growth of your practice — both go hand-in-hand.


Here’s how you can start and continue the conversation around prescription sunwear with your patients.


Start with your questionnaire or ask questions mid-exam  

Getting the conversation started is often the hardest part for eye care providers. Your first ideal opportunity is at the very beginning of the appointment when you can refer to the patient questionnaire: “I see you’re outside fairly often and not wearing prescription sunglasses.” The questionnaire takes care of that first step and gets you in the door to have the conversation.


If you don’t have a patient questionnaire to work with from the start, the second opportunity comes in during the slit lamp part of the exam. This is when you can start to pick up on changes in the anatomy of the eye, which is a good moment to talk about the sun. Bringing up the topic of prescription sunwear like this feels a lot more natural and won’t feel like a hard sell.


Ultimately, get to know your patient’s lifestyle. It helps to already have questions on the intake form, but you can use this time to ask questions and paint the picture of your patients’ daily lives. 


Get real about sun damage to the whole eye

Most people are unaware that every minute they spend in the sun without sunglasses may be putting them at risk of eye damage — possibly even permanent vision loss. To help your patients understand the danger of sun damage, start by breaking down the major structures of the eye, perhaps even using a visual aid. Then, follow up with a brief explanation of how the sun can inflict damage on those parts specifically, from the eyelids, the skin around the eyes, and the front surface of the eye to the lens and retina.


During your patient’s visit, explain that the best way to protect the eyes, eyelids, and skin around the eyes from sun-related damage is to wear quality sunglasses that block 100% UV rays from the front and back of the lens, and also shield the eyes from blue light. Remember: UV radiation can penetrate clouds, so sunglasses are important on overcast and cloudy days as well as sunny days — through both winter and summer.


Read more about how to discuss seasonal sun damage with your patients, in our bog, Winter and sun protection.


Break the news about solar blue light

Your patients probably know about the term “blue light” as it relates to working in front of a screen for hours a day — and that it can cause digital eye strain and a number of other symptoms, such as headaches, tired or burning eyes, and more. However, your patients may not know that blue light primarily comes from the sun (blue light’s number one source), and in fact, 15 minutes in the sun equals 12 hours in front of a screen1. 


An estimated 25% to 30% of sunlight consists of solar blue light rays, so you can make an impression on your patients with this info while diving into the harm of solar blue light exposure. Depending on your patients’ activities and work environment, they may consider multiple pairs of glasses — one for computer use indoors and another for outdoor blue light protection.


For more information on explaining the details of solar blue light, download our white paper, Solar blue light technical education.

Keep the tone conversational and educational

Patients trust you to care for their eyes, and they need to trust you to make good recommendations about sun protection. When you’re discussing the potential for prescription sun lenses, make sure to keep it conversational and educational. 


You can even share some of the following quotes with your patients, gleaned from our research. We found that the main difference between wearers and non-wearers was not in their circumstances, but in their behaviors. 


People without prescription sun lenses reported going to great lengths to compensate for their lack of sun protection. They used non-corrective sunglasses, wore a hat or even avoided the sun altogether when they were uncomfortable being outdoors. Here are some quotes they shared:


  • “My girlfriend said I was always squinting.
  • “I would wear my regular glasses and use my hand to block the sun.”
  • “I watched my son’s football game from the other side of the field so I could see.”


On the other hand, people with prescription sunwear reported strong emotional benefits. Here’s what they told us:


  • “I felt liberated when I first got my prescription sunglasses.”
  • “I can just be in the moment and play with my kids.”
  • “I am unstoppable. Prescription sunglasses allow me to comfortably participate and excel in outdoor activities.”


Once your patients get the sunwear protection they need, they’ll start raving with similar reviews — where others can hear them.


Explain that sun lenses aren’t just for designer frames

People often see prescription sun lenses as a luxury item and tend to associate them with high-end, designer brands. Let patients know that they can get prescription sun lenses in any frame at any price point. Consider displaying prescription sun lenses mixed with regular eyeglasses in-store, or in regular frames.


Along the same lines, debunk the myth that prescription sun lenses are solely expensive. Help patients save by using insurance, maximizing benefits, utilizing FSA’s or with BOGO half-off deals. ECPs can offer prescription sunwear at a good price. However they do that is up to them — it's doing nothing that can be a detriment to your practice and your patient.


Additionally, having prescription sunglasses doesn't mean your patients (including contact wearers) have to sacrifice fashion for functionality. Lenses like our Sensity Shine sun lenses offer you more: extra darkness outdoors, extra style and exclusive look, 100% protection against UV rays, and glare reduction.


Read more: Choosing the right sunglasses frames for your patients


Put pricing into perspective

Your patients’ eye health is worth the investment. You just have to help them see that. If you start to break down your patient’s staple expenses on a month-to-month basis, they’ll begin to understand the value of prescription sunglasses. Check out this infographic we created to guide the conversation around pricing:


Emphasize sun protection for children

Adults are not the only ones who need high-quality sunglasses. Too much sun can significantly increase a person’s risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye problems later in life — risks that depend on one’s cumulative exposure to sunlight over a lifetime.


Unfortunately, many parents remain unaware of the importance of sunglasses for children. According to a 2012 Vision Council survey, 74% of American adults said they wear sunglasses for UV protection, but only 58% require their children to wear them. With this information, make sure your patients know the importance of sunglasses for their kids and the future of their vision.


After all, children usually spend significantly more time outdoors than adults, increasing their exposure to ultraviolet (UV) and other solar radiation. Let them know that the best way to protect a person’s eyes from radiation damage is to begin dispensing high-quality sunglasses for children at an early age — even if they don’t need prescription eyeglasses.


This article should give you a good idea of what to cover during your upcoming visits with patients. And although patients need prescription sunwear all year round, now is a good time to use the sun season as a conversation starter. Go spread the good news about 100% UV protection and long-lasting, healthy vision — and grow your practice!


For a more in-depth look at how to start the conversation about prescription sun lenses, please download our latest white paper: How to talk to patients about prescription sun lenses.


1.Vision Ease internal measurements; BlueSpec light meter (425-465 nm).