Optician Success

Weekly nuggets of goodness, hand-picked to complement the OpticianWorks Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Rock Star Optician; tips, stories, and science helping you focus on getting the most from your optician career.

iPhone Refractions—Making Optometry Great Again

Dr. Yaopeng Zhou is the CEO of SmartVision Labs. If you’ve read the last few editions of Optician Success, you know SmartVision Labs is the producer of a technology that allows opticals to quickly measure and receive eyeglass prescriptions via telemedicine. Dr. Zhou was on The Power Hour optometry podcast last week discussing his company and his vision for the future of eye care. The push back from optometrists—one that I’ve seen expressed many times in social media—is concern over the public health risk posed by confusion surrounding the difference between refraction and comprehensive eye exams. But, that confusion didn’t come about by accident. Optometry created and legislated that confusion, optometry exists today because of it, and SmartVision Labs and similar technologies stand to eliminate it. Understandably, that scares the hell out of optometrists. However, what many don’t realize is that the refractive exam, as legislated today, is no longer serving to move optometry forward or even helping its patients. In fact, it’s hurting both. These new technologies are doing ODs favor.

Optometry has done a great job over the years of establishing itself as “primary care for eyes.” Now, the biggest obstacle in optometry’s path is the very thing they are fighting so hard to keep: refraction and the vision correction prescription. As Dr. Zhou tried to express on the podcast, people want an easier way to obtain better vision. The current optometry model stands in direct opposition to that. What he didn’t mention is people are becoming more and more distrustful of eye doctors and their motivation to hold so tightly to those prescriptions and in-store sales. Nothing is more important to a doctor and her practice than patient trust. (Keep in mind there is virtually no distinction in the eyes of the public here between ODs and opticians. Both are met with equal distrust for the very same reasons.)

When technology severs bond between refractions and eye exams, we can have a number of positive outcomes. First, since refractions become significantly easier to obtain, as I wrote about a couple weeks ago, buying glasses in-store becomes easier and more effective than buying glasses online. It stands to reason then, that more people would be getting refractions more often, consequently purchasing eyewear more often. Second, each refraction serves as a contact point and opportunity to educate on the importance of eye health (for the whole family) as well as opportunities to schedule exam appointments. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, now that we are done willfully conflating refractions and eye exams, optometrists can get onto the hard work of educating and marketing the importance of eye health to EVERYONE, emmetropes included. ODs can practice medicine, opticians can make and sell glasses, the two are no longer forcibly entangled, and the motives for public mistrust are removed.

Therefore, widespread use of refraction technology equals more refractions, more glasses sold in-store, more opportunities to educate, restored public trust, and literally double the market size for comprehensive eye exams. This is not a public health risk, it’s a tremendous opportunity to improve public health and the industry: a win for optometrists, a win for opticians, and a win for the public.

Winning! : Part II

Speaking of winning. I love winning. Last week, I posted about the best marketing strategy (the best everything strategy): simply to care. Today, Dr. Neil Gailmard writes in Optometric Management about the best way to get your patients (a.k.a. customers) to love doing business with you. It also happens to be the best way to get your staff to love working with you. In fact, it applies to every relationship in your life.

Crafting Your Niche

Building and becoming part of a community is huuugely important to the RockStar Optician. Invision Magazine published a piece with several examples of ECPs doing just that.

Turn Your Commute Into The Happiest, Most Valuable Part Of Your Day

Beginning in 1999, I spent years commuting in Atlanta traffic, sometimes as many as six hours a day. It was maddening, the bane of my existence, a constant source of frustration. Spending that much time in the car, you quickly realize how small radio playlists actually are and how very little morning radio hosts contribute to humanity. For a time, I found distractions. First there was talk radio, then came the iPod, then satellite radio. While at first, they seemed like great solutions, each got old after awhile. You can only listen so much music and blather from self-important political hacks before you start to go a little crazy.

But then, there was Audible, the downloadable audiobook subscription service (before it belonged to Amazon). It literally changed my life. For awhile, I was a marketing and business book junkie. I guess I still am, but I probably learned more during that time than I would have from multiple MBAs and for a fraction of the cost.

Then came podcasts. I arguably received the equivalent of another degree in filmmaking, over the course of a few years, listening to interviews and eavesdropping on private conversations with the best directors, editors, filmmakers around.

Today, I still have the Audible subscription. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. At around $230/yr (I have an oooold subscription plan), I get more books than I can listen to in a year and consider it an invaluable investment in myself. I still listen to podcasts. I tend to go back and forth. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get caught up on my podcast subscriptions (or my audiobooks for that matter). But, these two combined have served to make my drive time some of the happiest and most valuable of my day. In addition to learning from the content itself, they always inspire me think more deeply about things that are going on in my life and business and how I might apply the lessons learned. I honestly can’t think of any change in my life that has had bigger, more positive impact.

If you have not delved into podcasts, you would not believe the quality and quantity of information available. We are in the golden age of podcasting. It’s tremendous. But, like anything on the Internet, you may have to wade through a little garbage to find the good stuff. In almost any area (with the exception of opticianry, sorry), it can be the next best thing to finding a world-class mentor. Or at the very least, incredibly entertaining.

In case you’re wondering, among my current podcast subscriptions are: The Tim Ferriss Show (my favorite), Hardcore History, The Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, The James Altucher Show, and Found My Fitness with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. I like Joe Rogan, I just can’t fit his 3+ hour shows into my schedule. Freakonomics and Radiolab are good too.

My current Audible listens are:

Average is Over: Powering America Beyond The Age of The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen (A timely read for people in the optical industry)

Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Originals: How Non-Conformist Change The World by Adam Grant

Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday (I also highly recommend The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday and if you are interested in learning how we ended up to the point in our culture where we select Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as candidates for the Presidency, Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday)

Believe me, you’ll never get bored with winning. It’ll be huge, you’ll see.

Education on Facebook

The Optical Guild FB group will make you think and test your optical knowledge. Check it out and you might learn something!

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this issue of Optician Success. If so, please, forward to a friend or colleague.

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