By Manuel Solis

Many eye care professionals misperceive that selling Transitions lenses can hurt their second pair sales. The opposite can actually be true and labs can play a role in educating their eye care professional customers on best practices in this area. Transitions Optical Pro Forum member, Dr. Susan Keene has experienced great success in selling both Transitions lenses and sunglasses at her practice and has given us an inside look at what she’s learned. Optical labs can use this example and share this practice with their clients to increase not only Transitions sales but second pair sales as well.

Treatment of eye disease has always been a big part of Envision’s focus, however, a few years ago Dr. Keene and her staff realized there was an unanswered need for prevention of eye disease. They recognized this would not only benefit patients, but also translate into increased optical sales – including sunwear and Transitions lens sales.

Gaining Control 

To answer this niche, Dr. Keene and her staff had to take a step back, benchmark and plan for growth. When they started tracking their numbers, Transitions lens sales only accounted for about 18 percent of their overall sales. At this time, patients only received Transitions lenses if they came in requesting them – 100 percent  of Envision Eye Care’s Transitions lens success was completely patient driven.

They averaged 3,000 pairs of eyeglasses per year, and only about 540 pairs were Transitions lenses. Second pair and sunwear sales were very low (about 70 pairs of sunglasses and less than 7 percent second pair sales).

Putting it into practice

“Once we had our implementation plan fully in place, we began by thinking about the ‘touch points’ the patient experiences in our office and how we could use those to enforce the need for sun protection and other lifestyle changes.”

1. Patient education

The first thing Dr. Keene says to a patient at the conclusion of an exam is, “Let’s first address your eye health and what you can do starting today to ensure that your vision remains crisp and clear.”

She discusses the importance of lifestyle changes, including: not smoking, eating properly, macular pigment supplementation, and the importance of shielding the eyes from the aging and harmful effects of the sun. During this discussion, she references Transition lenses as her preferred everyday eyewear choice and also adds that she wears and recommends polarized sunglasses when spending time in direct sunlight or driving. 

2. Hand off

Near the end of the exam room consultation, Dr. Keene invites the optician to join her in the exam lane. She introduces the patient to the optician and then reiterates her recommendation for keeping the patient’s eyes healthy, followed-up by briefly discussing sunwear recommendations. She ends with her recommendation to meet the patient’s daily ophthalmic needs by addressing the patient’s unique visual needs.

This interaction helps the optician feel comfortable in transitioning to the sunwear discussion first before addressing the patient’s ophthalmic needs. See below for a sample script.

“Simply focusing on the sunwear first resulted in our sunwear sales really increasing.”

Sample hand-off script

Introduction: “Catherine (patient) this is Janice. Janice is my optician and is an expert at making sure that you see just as well with your new lenses as you did with your old ones.”

Reiterate recommendation: “Janice – Catherine and I have had a lot of discussion about the damaging and ageing effects of the sun. She knows that sunwear and Transitions lenses are not just about comfort and looking good, so I’m prescribing Transitions lenses for her everyday eyewear. She’s also going to want to wear polarized sun lenses when she’s boating and golfing which are hobbies of hers.”

Optician: (While walking to optical shop) “It’s nice to meet you, Catherine. I know that Dr. Keene feels it’s important that you protect your eyes from the sun. So first, let’s discuss what you are doing currently to protect your eyes from the sun.”

3. It’s better to give than receive!

By developing an in-office button that the entire office wears that reads, “What is 50-2-30?” helps Envision staff spark the conversation with patients on a second pair of eyewear. The button – standing for 50 percent off a second pair of eyewear for 30 days – leads patients to inquire about second pairs. For patients who do not appreciate the 50 percent off a second pair of eyewear, Envision offers a free frame with the purchase of a second pair. 

Envision staff reminds the patient of the promotion at the dispensing of their eyewear if they haven’t already taken advantage of it.

“The 50 percent off or the BOGO mentality is a very good way to encourage second pair sales in our practice.”

4. Be ready for patient pushback

To combat remarks on competitor pricing, Envision staff simply reminds patients of its promotions that are offered to patients on a daily basis – not just at certain times of the year. 

5. Role playing

Dr. Keene holds a weekly staff meeting to refine the staff’s overall presentation to patients as well as their response to potential patient pushback. 

By following these steps, Envision Eye Care is on track to sell 5,800 pairs of glasses this year and its Transitions lens share is now 51 percent and second pair sales are 22 percent.

A case study and videos of Dr. Keene discussing this topic are available on TransitionsPRO.com for labs to share with their customers.

Dr. Susan Keene practices at Envision Eye Care in southwest Virginia. She graduated from Emory & Henry College with a Bachelors degree in Biology and received her Doctorate of Optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Dr. Keene is a past president of the Virginia Optometric Association (VOA), and received the VOA’s Optometrist of the Year Award in 2008. She practices full scope optometry, and particularly enjoys contact lens fitting and the treatment of ocular disease.


Manuel Solis is the marketing manager, trade and strategic retail accounts, Transitions Optical.


Labtalk June 2020