Optician Success 65


Weekly nuggets of random 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 business/career.

“Some lack the fickleness to live as they wish and just live as they have begun.”



Are You A Medical Professional?

So, I took a little flack last week for my most recent riff on giving away PD measurements. Not for the PD measurements, but for suggesting opticians should give up the whole “medical professional” bit which includes calling people who walk through your door, “patients.”

As you might expect, I hit a nerve.

Here’s an example:

“Many of us Opticians are also highly trained laser techs, optometric techs, back office assistants....as well as opticians. We ARE medical professionals! Perhaps it is YOU that could improve with updating YOUR mindset. We are not just salespeople. ...many opticians have day to day duties that are nothing BUT jobs in the medical field. ...maybe YOU are not a medical professional but many of us are.”

First let me say, I understand. We all know that opticians work in many different environments and have many different responsibilities, some of which include medically-related work.

To be clearer, perhaps I should have called this newsletter Dispensing Optician Success, but there we go again throwing around medical terminology. Besides, Dispensing Optician Success just doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as Optician Success.

But here’s the thing, if you’ve found happiness being a certified ophthalmic assistant or a highly trained laser tech and selling glasses is not a top priority, that is awesome! You have found your calling. You don’t need Optician Success. Maybe you could even start a newsletter called Highly Trained Laser Tech Success. Really. I'm serious.

On the other hand,

If you care about the craft and the art of making glasses…

If you love giving joy by helping people see better than they ever have before...

If you are still amazed by how a perfectly selected frame can transform a person inside and out...

If you take pride in delivering an experience your customers will not soon forget...

keep reading

because these things just aren’t typically done in the context of medical devices.


For years—although not nearly as many as you might think—the entire U.S. optical industry has pushed the idea of opticianry as a medical profession. We refer to eyewear as medical devices and talk about prescriptions, dispensaries, patients, etc., all in the context of selling glasses, not medical exams. I could go on about all reasons this came to be and why most of them are bad, suffice it to say optometry itself was born on the very specific idea that “a lens is not a pill.” Somewhere along the way, we decided it would be more lucrative—and of course, better for the common good—if we said, "yeah, let's just forget that lens is not a pill thing. A lens really is a pill."  

Fortunately or unfortunately, times have changed, as they always do. Today, there is infinitely more transparency in everything we do. It is no longer in the optical shop’s best interest (whether doctor-owned or optician-owned) to keep up the appearance that a lens is a pill, for many reasons including those I wrote about here.

I also understand that more than a few opticians have lousy jobs, lousy pay and get very little in the way of respect. So, on some level, it just makes sense to think of a “medical” title as more worthy of respect than “sales.”  

But, this absolutely does not have to be the case. In fact, that’s what Optician Success is all about ...as a Rock Star Optician, constantly striving to become the best optician you can be, you can do more amazing work, change more lives for the better, gain more respect, feel better about your profession AND make more money doing it.

Look, I don’t want anyone to feel like I am insulting their position. This is not intended to be a slam on those happy in the medical world and I am certainly not the arbiter of opticianry. But my advice is the very same for doctors: If you are interested in selling eyewear, the optical portion of the practice really needs to be run and marketed a retail store, not a medical office. Why? Because its purpose is to sell eyewear. And…where would you or your customers rather be?

Shopping or at the doctor’s office?

Yes, eye health is critically important. But, what do we gain if our stubbornness and refusal to change, continue to push people toward refraction apps and online orders?

Get them in the door first. Make eyewear an experience. Connect with your customers. Then figure out how to educate them on eye health.


"...to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

—Sun Tzu

"A lens is not a pill."

—Charles F. Prentice


A European Point Of View

I came across this today on Jody Shuler’s “The Optical Bar” group on Facebook. I thought it provided a nice bit of perspective from across the pond.

Anja Jakupovic I am interested in hearing from opticians who own their own practice and run without a doctor. How long have you been in business and what is your best marketing strategy to get new clients through the door?

Edwin Sluis To respond to this, I need to explain the differences between the US and Dutch market first. Here (in the Netherlands) an optician is allowed to do an eye exam to determine the refractive power needed. As a matter of fact, my next door neighbor who sells stuff for your hair is legally allowed to do eye exams to determine the refractive power. Your doctors would be our optometrists. They look beyond the refractive powers, and focus on medical conditions of the eye. More and more optical shops in the Netherlands have an in-house optometrist.That said, I am not an optometrist, I am a licensed optician. Unlike some businesses, I do not advertise my knowledge about the eye (optometry), but focus on advertising the high quality of frames and lenses I sell (fashion / quality). Now, focusing on the US market, that is also what I would focus on, if I didn't have an in-house doctor.

Anja Jakupovic Thanks Edwin! Your market is pretty much the same as in Germany where I worked a few years back. His (former boss )marketing strategy was all about him. He was in the paper every single day showing off his funky outfits, attending all kinds of events and sponsoring the local soccer and hockey team. He quickly became known as the best optician in town by far... and he drew people’s attention to his store by “his” physical appearance and uniqueness and that made people curious. He definitely made himself stand out with the things he wore but that was his personality. Once people came into his store and saw the service and frames he provided they would not go anywhere else...and he would quickly gain more clients through word of mouth. How do you advertise your brand? I feel like people don’t care when they hear “independent” Eyewear in an ad or even on a post....they won’t care until they are in the store, trying it on and seeing and feeling the product for themselves...until then it means nothing to them and it won’t get their attention. Something else has to be done to attract our customers to our niche products and service.

Tell a story. Deliver an experience. Build a community. Foster a culture.


Two Videos This Week Because….

Well, I failed to get a newsletter out last week.

I’ll be honest with you.

This was supposed to be last week’s edition. But, I struggled to get it finished, because one, I am a world-class procrastinator, I mean, we’re talking one-percenter here, and two, I know how strongly some opticians identify themselves as medical professionals. I found myself up at 3 am Thursday morning, bleary-eyed, still trying to find the right words. So, rather than risk writing something stupid (perhaps stupider) in my less-than-optimal state, I finally decided to punt until this week. Undoubtedly, I’m fighting a losing battle, but I still think it’s important to continue evangelizing these ideas for those interested in the mid-to-long-term success of the profession. I don’t want to see opticianry go the way of the travel agent as I’m sure you don’t either.

SO! All that to say... Two Videos!

In the first, John revisits the ideas behind compensated free-form lens design as it pertains to lens tilt. Most of us know the concept of vertex distance and how as a lens moves away from or closer to the eye, the lens is perceived as having gained or lost power. The same is true when we tilt a lens. A lens when tilted will have a perceived change in its sphere power and develop perceived cylinder. So, hit the whiteboard and work through an example using a simple, poly, +12.00 spherical lens tilted 15 degrees.

The second is for the optician newbies out there. Just a fun little video that goes through the parts of the frame and helps you remember them with the mnemonic, THE BC GENT.

Don’t forget, our goal is to provide a more accessible and higher level of education for opticians everywhere. If you like [Dispensing?] Optician Success and our free weekly videos—and haven’t done so yet—please consider showing your support by becoming a member of OpticianWorks.com which includes access to even more high-quality optician training. Or, better yet, open a Laramy-K Optical lab account for the best in truly independent uncut work and we'll throw in OpticianWorks memberships for your entire office for free.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Optician Success.

Until next time,

Thanks for reading and sharing!


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