Let's Dance to a Different Drummer

By Christie Walker

Lens manufacturers and coating chemists have created some amazing new technology that can solve a myriad of visual problems from UV protection, to glaring light, to computer eye fatigue, to the standard issues of presbyopia, myopia and hyperopia. As an industry, we have solutions to all kinds of visual problems that sit in boxes on your lab’s shelves waiting for that order from an eye care professional.  Sadly, so many patients walk out the door of their doctor’s office without any of these products. From AR to polarized lenses, from computer glasses to the latest progressives, doctors are not taking advantage of all there is to offer their patients.

Twenty years ago, the industry was pounding the drum, beating out a message to ECPs, “Recommend from the chair, recommend from the chair, recommend from the chair.” Today, the industry is still beating the same drum to no avail.

ECPs are still not making recommendations from the chair. It’s time to dance to a different drummer.

By many accounts the problem has to do with the OD’s wish to avoid the appearance of being a spec peddler and yet, part of the definition of what optometry does is directly related to prescribing eyewear.

“Optometry is the practice or profession of examining the eyes, by means of suitable instruments or appliances, for defects in vision and eye disorders in order to prescribe correctives lenses or other appropriate treatment.”

There is at least one OD who “gets it” AND is trying to do something to bring his colleagues around.  Peter G. Shaw-McMinn, OD, is an assistant professor at Marshall B. Ketchum University and a diplomat on the American Board of Optometry, as well as a sought-after lecturer.  Shaw-McMinn has created a presentation for optical labs called, “Be a Better Resource for Your Doctor by Offering the Latest Lens Technologies for Ocular Pathological Conditions.”  He also gives this presentation to doctors focusing on lenses and technology that can be used to correct or help with ocular pathological conditions.

Optometrists didn’t go through all that schooling and incur all that debt to prescribe and sell eyewear. They went to school to be DOCTORS and help their patients see better.  Dr. Shaw-McMinn is marching to the beat of a different drummer, a beat that his fellow ODs might actually listen to in the long run. He is focusing on what ODs love the most, the science and “doctory stuff” (my word) of being an OD.

According to Dr. Shaw-McMinn, there are five possible reasons ODs don’t prescribe glasses:

1.   They don’t know how lenses can help their patients.

2.  They don’t know how to explain the need for lenses to their patients.

3.   They don’t want to because of rechecks and redos.

4.   They receive no additional compensation for prescribing.

5.  They want to be seen as doctors rather than “spec peddlers.”

Dr. Shaw-McMinn recommends talking with your clients about using a medical model for prescribing lenses. According to Susan Stenson, MD, a medical model is described as, “General medical care relies on the history, physical examination, and various hereditary, social, environmental, occupation, and recreational considerations to generate prescriptions to help treat and/or prevent disease.”

In optometry, the lenses and coatings are the prescription that helps treat and/or prevent disease. Instead of focusing on how much more money they will make by prescribing premium products, the focus needs to appeal to the ECP’s desire to be viewed as a medical doctor offering care for their patients.

Dr. Shaw-McMinn offers these four steps for using a medical model to prescribe spectacle lenses:

1. Educate the patient as to the lens technology available.

2.  Use the history form to trigger patient needs.

3.  The ECP matches the history form to possible lens solutions.

4.  The doctor reinforces the need and lens solution.

Here are some recommended tools you can provide to your clients to help them prescribe more lenses:

■  Informational sheets for patients on various conditions and their recommended solutions

■  Copies of articles that relate the patient history form to lens features

■  Pre-printed Rx pads that have specific check boxes for treatments such as AR, polarized lenses, computer lenses, etc

■  Information packets, routing slips, and scripts for helping the doctor connect the dots

■ Forms for exam summaries, which is given to patient to give to the optician

Optometrists took an oath: “I will advise my patients fully and honestly of all which may serve to restore, maintain, or enhance their vision and general health.” The optical industry has great products to help ODs fully advise their patients on products that will enhance their vision. It’s up to the optical labs to help them do just that.

To help you converse with your customers in “doctor speak” Dr. Shaw-McMinn has compiled a short list of eye health issues with their possible lens technology solutions. This may be a good starting point for a conversation with your clients. Instead of beating the same drum, try approaching the subject from this new direction, speaking the language they understand better and appealing to their desire to be treated like the doctors they are.

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but provided to give you a guide and a starting point. Use this information to create your own handouts to give to your customers and maybe we can close the gap between patients seen and patients leaving the practice with a pair of glasses that use all the latest technology 

to provide the best possible vision.


Ocular Issue

Lens Solution

Why it works

Higher Order Aberrations

Digital Lenses

The ability to personalize a lens and optimize both surfaces rather than just one, reduces higher order aberrations.

Post Radial Keratotomy Patients

Progressive Addition Lenses

Corrects varying refractive errors

Diabetic Patients

Progressive Addition Lenses

Corrects varying refractive errors

Macular Edema

Progressive Addition Lenses

Corrects varying refractive errors

CVS Sufferers, Monovision, LASIK patients

Computer lenses or near vision lenses

Provides a visual solution for prolonged close-up work

Computer fatigue + dry eye

Computer lenses or near vision lenses

Provides a visual solution for prolonged close-up work

Binocular vision problems + OSD

Computer lenses or near vision lenses

Provides a visual solution for prolonged close-up work

Accommodative disorders + Blephariitis

Computer lenses or near vision lenses

Provides a visual solution for prolonged close-up work

Reduced acuity from disease

Computer lenses or near vision lenses

Provides a visual solution for prolonged close-up work

High Progressive Myopes

High Index Lenses

Provides the thinnest lenses available for high myopia prescriptions

Following retinal detachment surgery increase in myopia

High Index Lenses

Provides the thinnest lenses available for high myopia prescriptions.

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Indoors premium progressive lenses with AR and UV blocker. Outdoors brown tinted polarized lenses with back side AR.

Blue wavelengths of light contributes to AMD progression. These lenses and coatings block UV light and offer the best possible image.


HOA-correcting lenses such as digital lenses with AR and UV400 blocker for indoors.

Polarized lenses with backside AR and UV blocker for outdoors

Correction of HOA, glare reduction and UV protection.


HOA-correcting polarized sun lenses with AR and UV400.

Enhances contrast, and offers a better image with HOA correction.

Progressive or high myopia

Progressive lenses with add power. High index with AR

Slow myopia progression by adding add power to the lens, improve cosmetics with High Index, but reduce increased reflections with AR.

Monocular Patients

Polycarbonate or Trivex lenses

Protects the remaining eye from trauma.

At Risk for Ocular Trauma

Polycarbonate or Trivex lenses

Protects eyes from trauma.

Corneal Conditions

Polarized lenses outdoors/AR lenses indoors

Glare reduction

Lid Neoplasms, Pterygia and Pinguicula

UV Protection

Protects anterior segment of the eye and lids/protects lens of eye/protects retina in those under the age of 18


Blue-blocking Lenses

Blocks short blue wavelengths of light which decreases scattering effect and protects retina.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Photochromic /polarized lenses

Protection from sunlight and photophobia

Eyelid Position Disorders


Prevents light scattering and brings more light to the eyes


Sun protection from photochromic/polarized lenses, UV coatings

Protects eyes from sunlight and UV rays.


Sun protection from photochromic/polarized lenses, and UV coatings

Protects eyes from sunlight and UV rays.


For additional information on this subject, contact Dr. Peter Shaw-McMinn at [email protected]


Labtalk June 2020