Many consumers aren’t aware that UV rays can damage the eye. It’s up to you, the ECP, to raise awareness around the importance of UV eye protection and which products offer that protection. Selling sunglasses is also an economic opportunity for your practice, but having the conversation with your patients may not come naturally.
Here are some tips for talking to your patients about the dangers of the sun and how to protect their eyes against it.
1. Be specific about UV damage to each part of the eye
Sight is often considered to be the most valued sense, so make sure your patients know exactly how the sun can impact each part of their eyes.
Here’s some patient information you may find helpful:
Too much time in the sun without sunglasses that block UV and blue light can increase the risk of cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes.
- UV damage risk: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – the most common cancer that affects the eyelids, accounts for about 90 percent of all eyelid tumors, and is the most frequently occurring type of cancer in the entire body.
Sunlight can damage the cornea, which is the “window” of the eye that allows light to enter the eye. The cornea provides about 70% of the focusing power of the eye.
- UV damage risk: photokeratitis – a painful sunburn of the cornea. Though commonly called snow blindness, photokeratitis can occur in the summertime as well, especially when on the water, which reflects UV and HEV rays.
Excessive sun exposure can damage the sclera, or the “white” of the eye, causing irritation. UV protection is the best preventative treatment.
- UV damage risk: pterygium – a pink, triangular-shaped growth on the sclera that can invade the cornea, causing vision problems.
Prolonged exposure to sunlight can hurt the conjunctiva, protective membrane on the outside of the eye. This damage can happen when you see light reflected off of water or snow, and it can cause dry, itchy, or teary eyes.
- UV damage risk: pinguecula, a non-cancerous but unsightly yellow growth in the conjunctiva that is typically located at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions.
- UV damage risk: squamous cell carcinoma – a cancer of the conjunctiva, which can recur after treatment and may spread to other parts of the body. Conjunctival tumors have been linked to repeated sun exposure.
Lens of the eye
The lens of the eye works with the cornea to focus light on the retina.
- UV damage risk: studies have linked high lifetime exposure to sunlight to certain types of cataracts (a clouding of the lens), which affects vision and can be treated only with surgery.
The retina is the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye, where light is transformed into electrical impulses that are transmitted to the brain for vision to occur.
- UV damage risk: longer wavelength UV rays (UVA) and HEV blue light can penetrate deep into the eye and cause damage to light-sensitive cells in the retina consistent with changes caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
2. Break down the benefits of prescription sunglasses
Now that your patients understand the risk of sun damage to eyes, explain the benefits of prescription sunwear and the importance of wearing sunglasses, with our sun protection white papers.
Prescription sunwear is the best eye health solution to protect the eyes, eyelids, and skin around the eyes from sun-related damage. With so many advancements in lens technology just over the last decade, these are the benefits your patients should look for in prescription sunglasses:
- 100% UV protection
- Solar blue light protection
- Visual clarity
- Enhanced contrast
- Impact protection
- Optional indoor/outdoor transition
- Glare reduction
- Extra darkness outdoors
- Style variety
3. Promote prescription sunglasses variety and affordability
Get ahead of a common objection that prescription sun lenses are luxury items and come in limited varieties.
Your patients can get prescription sun lenses in any frame at any price point. Consider displaying prescription sunglasses mixed with regular eyeglasses in-store or in regular frames.
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.
4. Make recommendations based on lifestyle
Before making recommendations, ask a few questions on a questionnaire, in-person, or both.
- When did your patient last update their sunwear?
- How many pairs of prescription glasses do they currently have?
- What does their daily routine look like?
Use their answers to form recommendations that will be a best fit for their lifestyle.
When to recommend polarized
The benefits of polarized lenses include less glare when driving, on bright days, or when looking at light reflecting on water or snow. If your patient spends a lot of time outdoors, they’re likely looking for lenses that offer:
- Safer driving from less glare
- Less eye strain symptoms in bright sunlight
- Great protection (with trivex or a polycarbonate material)
- Reduced glare and better visibility below the surface of water
- Less glare and strain when skiing or traveling in the snow
- 100% UV protection
To boost polarized sunglasses sales, ask your patients if they want their sunglasses with or without glare.
When to recommend photochromic
We are seeing a rise in demand for photochromic lenses– light-reactive lenses that darken upon exposure to certain levels of UV/blue light exposure and return to clear indoors.
Recommend photochromic lenses to your patients who are looking for a two-in-one solution: sun protection and the easy fade back to clear. This built-in convenience simplifies the patient’s life and offers a price benefit: having one pair of frames and lenses that do both instead of multiple pairs.
As you’re talking to your patients about sun damage and UV eye protection, key in on these Sensity® 2 benefits:
- 100% UV protection in all light
- 42% faster fade back speed than original Sensity®
- Consistent, cross-climate performance
- Indoor and outdoor blue light protection
- Excellent glare reduction
- Hard coat durability without peeling
5. Use sun season to your advantage
Even though patients should wear sunglasses all year, sun season is a great time to start the conversation around prescription sunglasses. During their eye exam, ask your patients about their summer plans to ease into the topic. From there, help them prepare for summer outdoor activities with the right prescription sunwear that offers 100% UV protection.
Prioritize sunwear this year
Make sunwear the primary pair each sun season and save your patients from irreversible sun damage to their eyes. Present the benefits of prescription sunwear, navigate any objections that come up, and look for agreement.
As you interact with patients during eye exams, build their awareness and trust, and they’ll likely begin to consider buying a frame and lens. Notice when they’re ready to buy– to pull your hard work together and close the sale.