Why you should offer children’s eyewear

Kids eyewear represents one of the biggest opportunities for growth in the eyecare industry, says Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM, who recently shared his advice at Vision Expo West 2015 in Las Vegas.

Kids eyewear represents one of the biggest opportunities for growth in the eyecare industry, says Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM, director of education at Jobson Medical Information, who recently shared his advice at Vision Expo West 2015 in Las Vegas.


Looking at the data

Not convinced that selling kids eyewear is for your practice? Let’s take a look at the data.

One out of every five people in the United States is 14 years old or younger-which adds up to about 60 million people-and one in four has a vision problem. Mattison-Shupnick estimates that 7.5 million children under the age of 14 have an untreated visual impairment.

Mattison-Shupnick says that only seven percent of children have had a comprehensive eye exam when they start first grade. That figure increases to only 50 percent by the time children graduate high school. 

While eyewear sales for adults dropped four percent between 2011 and 2013, sales for kids frames were up between 10 to 25 percent, Mattison-Shupnick says.

Related: Solving optical complaints

And more kids than ever have vision coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

“Obamacare is now pushing coverage to kids, and the eyecare business is now recognizing that this is an opportunity,” he says.

Once you get the child in the office, Mattison-Shupnick recommends using that opportunity to bring on the whole family as patients. A mother often makes many healthcare decisions for other family members-other children, a spouse, and more often, her parents or in-laws. When scheduling an appointment for a child, he recommends looking at the insurance plan to see if any other family members are included and offering to schedule those patients at that time.

And finally, if you can gain a patient as a child and provide her vision care throughout her lifetime, she can bring in thousands of dollars worth of income into your practice in just eyewear sales alone.

So, the opportunity is there-you just have to take it. 

Next: Selling to Mom


Selling to Mom

Before you can sell children’s eyewear, you’re going to have to get the child into the office be making the parents aware of the necessity of a comprehensive eye exam. Often, parents say that a child never complains, the child too young to have vision problems, or that the child passed the school screening.

Parents are often going to be the first ones to pick up on small changes that signal that a child can’t see well. And if a child can’t see well, he will almost certainly have trouble with learning.

“Who cries more over the first pair of glasses-the kid or Mom? Mom,” says Mattison-Shupnick.

The first step is to put the sale in context for the child’s mother (or father, grandparent, or caretaker). Find out what is most important to the parents and frame the discussion around it. Do they want the best value? Are they concerned about durability? What about the child’s performance in school? Are they concerned about UV protection? Does their child spend a lot of time on digital devices?

When selling the glasses to the parent, emphasize the value of the product you’re offering. Kids are rough on everything, including glasses, and Mom will want to know that she’s getting the best for her kids.

Related: How your optical can save your practice after ICD-10 implementation

That means:

• Offering a warranty

• Durable, adjustable frames in hypoallergenic materials

• Lenses in polycarbonate

• Scratch resistance, AR-coating, photochromic-the works

• Frame brands, colors, and comfortable frames that kids will want to wear

Mattison-Shupnick says more and more frame companies are launching children’s eyewear lines. Increasingly, this area of the market is seeing more adult-like frame styles because kids want more stylish options.

“Kids are influenced by the media. Kids want the same brands that their parents want,” he says.

Next: Finding parents (and kids)


Finding parents (and kids)

If you’re targeting families with young children, your practice needs to market to parents where they are-social media. It’s advice you’ve probably heard a thousand times before, but because these parents are going to be mostly millennials, it is especially important. Mattison-Shupnick highly recommends posting daily on your practice’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Share photos of your patients showing off their new glasses (with their permission, of course).

“Email is an old person’s thing,” says Mattison-Shupnick.

Related: Modernized lifestyle dispensing

You can also advertise trunk shows, hold giveaways, feature mini quizzes on eye health, and most importantly, maintain a relationship with your patients while attracting new ones.

Another great way to spread the word about your pediatric services is to get involved in your community. Set up a booth a health fairs. Visit schools. Educate parents about everything from UV protection to digital device use to the importance of eye exams. These kinds of activities make you a trusted healthcare provider within your community and can provide invaluable word-of-mouth advertising for your practice. 

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Dr. Mohammad Rafieetary
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