Michelle J. Hoff, OD, FAAO, ABO-AC, FNAO,
Isabel Kazemi, OD, FAAO,
and Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO
People are spending more time than ever on computers and other electronic devices. As the pandemic has limited in-person gatherings, people have turned to online meetings and video chat to maintain daily activities. This heavy use of electronics has come at a price, with many experiencing digital eye fatigue.
Here is how to help patients and generate significant revenues by recommending customized task-specific lenses, sometimes referred to (though not a brand name) as “Powerboost” lenses.
Huge Opportunity to Serve Patients & Build Practice Profitability
With people utilizing digital devices more than ever, ophthalmic recommendations need to align with computer usage.
We know that Powerboost lenses make up a low percentage of the single-vision market share (3-5 percent). Practices that were early adopters of this lens report 30-50 percent usage, according to Pete Hanlin, Senior Director, Professional Solutions, Essilor.
Average, typical pricing to patients for lenses without treatments or lens material upgrades:
• Standard CR 39 single-vision lenses $100
• Single vision Powerboost lenses $230
• Progressive lenses $400
Dispensing just one pair of Powerboost lenses per week in place of a single-vision lens could add as much as $6,760 of gross profit to a practice. This is a conservative estimate because these lenses are typically prescribed with anti-reflective treatments and lighter-weight lens materials, which would add as much as $185 to each pair for an additional $9,620 per year, summing up to a total of over $16,380 of gross profit. However, if practices understand and promote Powerboost lenses to all patients who could benefit from them, and substitute approximately 40 percent of their single-vision lens sales with a Powerboost lens, they could easily add $100,000 annually to their practice.
What Are”Powerboost” Lenses & Why Do They Make Better Computer Glasses?
Powerboost lenses are designed as an enhanced single-vision lens, utilizing a different design philosophy than traditional computer lenses. We consider Powerboost lenses to be a subcategory of “computer” or intermediate design lenses. Powerboost lenses may fill the need for intermediate or computer glasses, as long as the patient’s Rx, accommodative and binocular vision ability are all taken into consideration.
The Powerboost lens design is simple. It is a specialty progressive-like lens with a very soft, wide and short transition of low plus power ( 0.50D to 1.32D) at the bottom of the lens. There is minimal off-axis aberration using freeform surfacing which gives this lens a wide clear field of view, and enables it to perform much like a single-vision lens. The periphery of the lens has low amounts of blur, usually undetectable, and this is what makes this lens easy to adapt to and different from traditional progressive lenses.
The best scenario in any practice is for the optometrist to understand the lens and then prescribe it for young patients, pre-presbyopes and early presbyopes. Doctors should evaluate and consider a patient’s refractive error, accommodation and binocular vision when prescribing the lens. The Powerboost lens is also an excellent choice for advanced presbyopes needing an intermediate-to-near visual solution.
In addition to digital eye strain, Powerboost lenses can be prescribed to patients for other conditions: refractive, binocular vision and accommodative problems. The patients who will benefit most from this lens are:
• Any accommodative disorder where the treatment plan indicates prescribing plus power lenses.
• Latent hyperopic patients who do not accept their full plus prescription for full-time wear, but are helped by more plus prescription at near.
• Patients with esophoria at near that benefit with a low amount of plus at near to neutralize the esophoria and create comfortable near vision.
• Powerboost lenses are a much better solution for patients using multiple pairs of OTC readers.
Note: these lenses may be contraindicated for patients with convergence insufficiency and moderate exophoria.
Educate Patients About Powerboost as Computer Glasses in the Exam Room
Powerboost lenses are most successful if the doctor recommends them to the patient, notes it on their prescription and reinforces the recommendation to the optician or technician.
We recommend starting the conversation with a patient near the beginning of the comprehensive examination with a questionnaire or conversation where they may share their vision symptoms and changes. Ask patients how they use their eyes most. Question patients if they are using a computer or if they have noticed an increase in computer or intermediate- and near-range viewing. Advise patients there are specific lenses designed to address those visual needs.
Doctors should conclude their vision examination by demonstrating and recommending as many types of visual solutions that may benefit the patient’s individual needs, noting these recommendations in their records and on their written spectacle Rx. When ordering their glasses, patients can choose which ones they would like to order and think about the recommendations that will benefit them the most. Should they decide not to order computer-specific lenses at the time of the exam, they will start to think about their computer vision demands and pay more attention to their symptoms and needs. Ideally, they may return to order the recommended Powerboost computer glasses, increasing your practice revenue.
People are using their near- and intermediate-range vision more than ever as they live their lives virtually during the pandemic. Doctors should provide their patients a much-needed service by prescribing a vision solution to make near and intermediate viewing more comfortable and less taxing on their eyes.
Michelle J. Hoff, OD, FAAO, ABO-AC, FNAO, is an associate clinical professor of optometry at University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry