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Saturday / June 22.
HomemilensesRXable Sunglasses: More Than Meets the Eye

RXable Sunglasses: More Than Meets the Eye

Ordering RXable sunglasses is not as straight forward as you might think. Once the patient selects the sunglasses they like, there are a couple of options the optometrists can choose in order to fulfill the patients Rxable lens needs. The question is: what is the right product for the right patient?

The optomertists can choose to order the sunglasses from the manufacturer with the prescription applied to the original lenses. Alternately, they can choose to ‘pop’ out the original lenses and have a lab make up a new RXable sun lens for the frame. There are pros and cons to both these options.

The Original Branded Lenses

In essence, the optometrists may choose to order the RXable sunglass from the original manufacturer. This is the only way the patient can ensure that they are receiving the genuine article.

The manufacturer will make up a pair of sunglasses with the RX applied to the original lenses. In the case of sunglasses like Bolle, Spotters, Maui Jim, etc., the lens specifications are of the highest standard. Applying the RX to the original lens means that the patient will receive a high standard original product.

“There are many things you need to consider when making a choice between a sunglass branded product and an after market lens solution.”

There are many benefits of ‘branded lenses’ including:

• Cosmetic – matches the patients expectation of product as it will more closely match that found on the shelf so what they order is based upon that expectation

• Proprietary technologies are maintained such as tints or laminates. Most sunglass companies develop tint or frame technologies as there is less need to refine the optical performance of a plano lens

• Many suppliers are more closely integrating with laboratories in order to deliver these technologies

• Brand recognition is maintained, a patient that has seen a given product will be able to have the features of this item applied directly to their own particular prescription requirements

• Advertising and marketing campaigns drive traffic to your store

• Limits the ability of the optometrists to deliver the most effective lens for the patient so care must be taken to balance the patient’s needs with their expectations of a branded product.

After Market Lenses

The optometrists may choose to send the sunglasses to another lab which provides an after market lens solution. In this instance, the original lenses will be removed and replaced with an RXable lens provided by the lab.

It depends on what the patient needs and it’s important the optometrists understand this before ordering.

The patient may like the look of certain brand of sunglasses because they intend to use it fishing and the lenses are polarised. Also, they may have also chosen the model because of the specific lens tint.

Unless the optometrists specifically instructs the lab to fit lenses that exactly match the specifications of the branded lens, then the performance of the lens will be different to the patient’s expectation. The lens performance could be better, the same or worse. For instance, if the optometrists does not instruct the lab to fit polarised lenses then the sunglasses would almost be useless in the activity of fishing.

The benefits of ‘after market’ lenses are:

• More choice of lens materials

• Many of the branded lenses are bound to specific material which can result in limitations to the available lens parameters, thus giving lesser results than would be available in other materials

• Fewer limitations to tints as these are applied in a more individualised fashion

• Design limitations are overcome, especially in progressive wear – many branded lenses are linked to one specific progressive design which may result in adaptation difficulties. This is often as a result of the difficulties of applying the various proprietary technologies to lenses and therefore it is simply not cost effective to have a range of progressive designs in the brand

• There is more attention paid to the optical performance of the prescription lens from the leading manufacturers of lenses such as Essilor, Carl Zeiss Vision, Hoya, Younger, etc. who all provide high performance RXable sun lenses.

Deciding on the Right Product

There are many things you need to consider when making a choice between a sunglass branded product and an after market lens solution.

As the majority of sunglass frames today posses at least some degree of curve it is vital to consider this in the lens selection process.

A larger degree of curve, say greater than base 4, will require the front curve to be factored into the lens design process thus limiting the ability of the lens designer to obtain the best match between front and back surfaces, form overtaking function, if you will.

Many optometrists will have seen the person with a moderate minus prescription go into a base 8 frame and develop truly heroic edge thicknesses on the lens as a result. Conversely, the plus prescription can often result in a massive centre thickness.

So what’s the point? Well, the primary consideration should always be, are we allowing the patients desire to have a particular product overcome their primary reason for attending the practice, that is, a pair of sunglasses that they can see through?

This seems like a fairly obvious question but it is one that is often ignored.

To avoid this quagmire a balance must be struck, or rather, a compromise. In the instance where the branded product is going to result in an unsatisfactory optical or cosmetic appearance the patient should certainly be included in the process.

Will they be satisfied with a lens that satisfies the cosmetic requirements but fails the performance test?

More often than not the patient will be able to see the benefits of moving into a different product which will deliver more effective optical results. This will sometimes be available within a given product range offered by a company or may (as is often the case in higher prescriptions) require a little bit of leg work to find the best product.

A point to note here is that the patients with the most need to get a prescription pair of sunglasses are the ones with quite high powers, so often we find that the selection process is limited by the very lens powers themselves.

In this instance it can be argued that the unsatisfactory performance of the product would hurt the products image and brand, more than help it.

In the same way, what is to be gained by not offering a branded lens and placing a patient into a generic product if both will be successful? This then moves into a situation where the expectation of the patient will be a larger factor than the performance (given that one will be much the same as the other).

As always the crux is to identify what the patient wants and what the patient needs. A large array of products can often be quite bewildering and the effectiveness of a promotional campaign can muddy the waters of expectation.

This is where optometrists need to function as ‘guides’ for the patient in order to provide them with the best results.

While some of the comments above may seem to be biased in one direction or another, try to remember, it does no individual supplier any good to have their product poorly or inappropriately dispensed as it reduces the market goodwill of both the product and supplier.

Ultimately, what we need to end up with is the right product for the right patient. Meet this need and you end up with a more than satisfied patient.

Martin Kocbek has worked in the optical industry for over 20 years. He is an optical dispenser and Director on the committee of the Australasian Dispensing Opticians Association (ADOA) and currently Eurostyle Eyewear Sales Manager.
Grant Hannaford is an optical dispenser, practice owner and Vice-President of ADOA.