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OWA Practice Series: The Future Of Optical

Optical medical staff gathered around a desk

We have put together a “Practice Series” which will include advice from doctors, opticians and administrative staff, on common and relevant topics that come with running a practice. Stay tuned for additional contributions each month!

Carissa Dunphy, ABOC: Each practice will need to decide how they want to evolve—or not—along with technology as it continues to change. This could mean that you give everything you’ve got to evolving the practice or that you just give something a shot to see how it goes. I have definitely seen an uptick in telehealth visits (yes, even in optometry), inventories of optical online with virtual try-on, as well as advanced pretest and diagnostic instruments. There has also been a lot more practices with sub-specialties, like myopia management, dry eye treatments, or concierge optician services – I think these super specific targeted markets come with unlimited potential for increasing revenue and referrals.

Even if you don’t have the latest and greatest at your office, be informed of what is available in the industry so you can respond to inquiries. Maintaining the standard above competitors is another factor to take into account; you wouldn’t want to lose business because you aren’t willing to consider something new.

I’m not much of a visionary; my role as integrator is focused in the present and short-term future. However, I do believe ALL industries will benefit from focusing on people, profit, planet and productivity. Finding ways to elevate and build strong, trusting relationships with your vendors, partners and community. Culture should be paramount, its foundational support will ultimately reflect in your profit. Focus on what you do well, what makes you unique, who your target demographic is and market around that. Patients who love a personal touch will continue to support you if your services, care and quality products remain consistent. Create smarter systems that inspire learning and opportunities for everyone on your team, retaining talent and getting innovative with how you incentivize the people that work in your practice will serve full circle and for years to come. Christine Maiello

Dr. Sampalis: Optometry has a great future, we will see more females in leadership roles in our industry. Private practice will continue to thrive. We will start to see more young females look into co sublease as a career choice as well.  I like having the private practice and 2 commercial practices at Warby Parker. This hybrid model keeps things interesting and I think we will start to see more hybrid models in the future.

The ever-changing world of Optical is super exciting to be a part of! We’re seeing more UV activated color change frames and frames that glow in blacklight and customizable bespoke eyewear. One of the last frames that I adjusted before leaving my full-time Optician position was a frame someone ordered online that had speakers in the temples, and there was gossip of the frames that were coming out with screens within the lenses. The technological advances in eyewear are going to be mind boggling! Smart contacts and eyewear will be something we all need training on in the future. Whether they are extremely popular or not we won’t know until they become easier to obtain! -Jesse Anderson, ABOC

Melissa Rasband: I feel things will always be changing in the optical industry. I have been in the ophthalmic field for 16 years. Being forward thinking and everchanging is imperative. A company that is stagnant will not survive in the future. Being open to change and making the changes will improve your practice. The supply and demand is definitely going to increase over the next 5 years. I believe that online competition is going to significantly increase as well. Which is scary for us brick and mortar shops. While purchasing online is convenient, you are not truly getting the customized glasses that are available with seeing an in person optician. I believe that really educating your patients on why they should purchase glasses from an optical shop and trained optician. 

I’d love to see more women leading eye care tech creation in the next few years or decade. While a lot of tech is scary for our industry (ex: most of us are still struggling to figure out how to embrace virtual eye exams, virtual testing, etc.), I anticipate it’s the way of the future. The reality is we’ll need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable if we want to help our industry evolve and grow. Mollie Tavel

Where do you think our industry is headed? Let us know in the comments!

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