If Only I Knew That

Experience pictured in a dictionary

As I advance in my journey in the field of Opticianry, I often reflect on how beneficial it would have been to receive certain insights when I first started. Understanding the complexities of meeting customers’ specific needs and offering them eyeglasses that enhance their appearance and vision is like solving an intricate puzzle. Let’s explore these aspects together to guide aspiring eyecare professionals and hopefully prevent them from experiencing the same “if only I knew that when…” moment that I did.

The first thing is manual lensometry. Manual lensometry is something that not a lot of younger/newer eyecare professionals focus on especially since most of them have automatic lensometers. To me, manual lensometry has been so crucial in understanding the optical cross, and prism and helped me visualize the negative effects of poorly executed measurements and OC decentration.

The second thing I would remind myself is that there is a difference between knowing the material and truly understanding it. You can memorize all these different formulas and techniques to pass your ABO/NCLE but truly understanding them and being able to implement them in your day-to-day practice is VERY different. For example, being able to define vertex distance is one thing but making the conscious effort to look for it during the frame selection process and how to accommodate it when needed is an extremely different thing.

I would also make sure to tell myself early on that even though I am working to be a licensed eyecare professional, I am not above a fashion consultant. I still have to acknowledge the importance of a customer having a fashionable frame that is trendy and makes them feel their best. What frames complement certain face shapes, what colors enhance certain skin tones, and stay up to date on the changing trends in the pop culture and fashion industry.

Something I was hesitant to do early on in my career was to troubleshoot when customers were having issues with their new glasses. Now seeing how important and informative the process is, I would have done things differently. If a customer comes in with complaints, instead of automatically deeming it a prescription error you should first rule out all the other possibilities and gather as much information as possible. Granted, most of this in a perfect world should technically be done at the time of the sale, and we could hopefully avoid this problem altogether. If they have a pair of glasses currently that they like, what was the base curve of the lenses and the lens material they were in previously? Does adding face form or tilt help lessen the symptoms they are experiencing? Having an open-ended conversation first can more times than not be beneficial, I have had some clients who have come back due to quote-unquote issues with their new glasses and come to find out they can see, and see very well they “just thought it was going to be a more drastic change”. Hence why even though you would assume the prescribing Doctor already explained and demonstrated their prescription and demonstrated the difference, I will always review the change once more during the final stages of the purchase to ensure there will be no surprises at the time of dispense.

Finally, the most important thing I would tell myself is that progressive lenses are not one size fits all. There are so many lenses available with different technologies that can enhance your customer’s vision based on their lifestyle and what their visual expectations are. In the early stages of my optical career, I found myself fitting one brand of progressive over and over again simply because those before me did or because I was comfortable with that specific lens.

However, once I started to do my own research and realized the almost endless possibilities, I became more versatile and was able to recommend and have a different lens option that I could offer for every customer. Educating myself and leaving my comfort zone was beneficial for not only me but inevitably improved the visual experience I could provide my customers with.

By sharing my experiences and lessons learned, I hope to provide valuable knowledge and advice to those just starting out in the field of Opticianry. As we continue to navigate the intricacies of this industry, let us support each other and strive to constantly improve and innovate in order to better serve our customers. Together, we can create a more informed and successful community of eyecare professionals.

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