Put Some Pep in Your Patients’ Step With Walking Glasses

Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk – to help boost additional profits in your practice.
Photo Credit: Lightpoet, Dreamstime

Our profession has been innovative in so many areas. Technology has improved the way we perform exams, sped up the time it takes for each exam, and bolstered how we store patient information. One area where this innovation hasn’t helped us is in our personal history-taking — particularly as it stands for our presbyopic patients. 

It’s time to spruce up our introductory discussions with patients — an area that has often been sidestepped by practitioners. Our history-taking has always included questions about patients’ lifestyles, with the primary question always being: How do you use your eyes? We direct the conversation in specific areas and include questions on the history form to guide us in the right direction, to learn more, and to help with our recommendations during our end-of-exam discussion.

Asking the Right Questions
Can we help our patients more than we have been when it comes to questions about their lifestyles? Can we have a greater impact on their lives? Yes! And there is beauty in its simplicity. 

The idea hit me — literally —  when I was hiking down one of the more famous and most treacherous hikes in Yosemite National Park. It was on the way down when I took a pretty good fall, perhaps being a bit too aggressive. Similarly, the father of a friend of mine was on his daily walk and stepped on a spike that was sticking out of the pavement, causing a fall that resulted in multiple fractures in his wrist. 

For presbyopic patients like me and my friend’s father, particularly those who are avid hikers and walkers, progressive lenses are just not ideal. As practitioners, we need to be thinking about all of our patients’ lifestyles before we make recommendations.    

Enter: Single Vision Distance Glasses
In an effort to explore alternative optical interventions for walking/hiking, I purchased my first pair of single vision distance glasses since I became a presbyope, many moons ago, trying them out hiking in Taos, New Mexico, recently. It was a game changer. I sprinted on the hiking trails with no fear. I hadn’t realized how cautious I had become. It added to the pleasure of the experience that I haven’t had in years. And yes, there is beauty in its simplicity — providing something so seemingly simple while giving bang for the buck for our patients. 

When presbyopic patients are in our exam chairs, we need to ask them if they regularly go on hikes or walks, and we should add the question to our history forms. Avocational glasses for walking/hiking will certainly be an easier discussion than progressives and likely much easier to understand for the large majority of patients. 

However, dedicated walking/hiking glasses may initially raise eyebrows from our patients, as many of them may have never heard of them. We need to plant the seed, give the explanation, and repeat each time the patient comes in.  

Boosting Practice Revenue
Economically, it is a win for the practice, as patients will need to purchase additional eyeglasses and may even want a backup pair. It is likely that patients have never been offered these types of glasses, and they will go on to speak about it with their friends — their walking and hiking compatriots. With this, there is the potential for referrals. Practices that promote dedicated eyeglasses will be deemed “innovators” — and it will be true. 

Presbyopic patients should have a dedicated avocational pair of eyeglasses for walking/hiking. It is every bit as important as computer progressives, even more so for retirees. As our patients age, exercise is a key factor in their longevity and overall health. We should do our part to enhance their older years, enabling them greater pleasure in an activity that is one of the best going for exercise and well-being.

Aside from the increased revenue stream from the additional single vision avocational eyeglasses, asking patients about their hiking and walking habits would provide such a benefit to our patients — reducing falls, enhancing our patient’s older years, and bringing more pleasure to their experiences.

  • Michael Berenhaus, OD, MBA

    Dr. Michael Berenhaus is the founder of Bethesda Vision Care, a subsidiary of Keplr Vision, located in Bethesda, Maryland. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland, holds an MBA from LaSalle University, and an OD degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.

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