Presented by Opticians For Change

Looking to 'humaneyes' prescription eyewear.

"It's time to shift our thinking.
It's time to get our shift together.
It's time for eyewear professionals
to become agents of change going forward;
it's time to return to the days of providing full service;
to improve our hands-on craftsmanship skills; it's time
for those who know to teach those who do not know; and
it's time for those who do not know to surrender their ego."

'Professional Egotism'

There are a number of conflicted forces at work within the ophthalmic dispensing industry, which keep us from making progress. The two biggest are:

.) We have not yet effectively dealt with the reality that the majority of current dispensers are woefully under trained and extremely challenged when it comes to handcrafting prescription eyewear. For instance, I know senior Opticians who attend Optical Workshops who are unable to adequately customize eyewear directly on a Patient. (The number one complaint by prescription eyewear consumers is they are unable to acquire well-fitting eyewear.)

.) There's also a lot of what I call professional egotism and shaktipad (see NOTES* below), whereby many 'Opticians' are unable to admit, either through ignorance or antipathy, that they really do not know how to adjust eyewear, i.e., handcraft eyewear directly on a patient. Many only think they know and take umbrage when challenged. They have convinced themselves that they need no more training because they've been adjusting frames for years, and they see no need to change.

Regarding this 'professional egoism' issue, we suggest that we ask this question of those dispensers who claim they already know how to fit eyewear, and those who claim that they have been working as an Optician for several years. "Have you had any formal training in handcrafting eyewear directly on the consumer?"

The problem is that many folks are self-taught, and most of those who came up as apprentices were taught by dispensers who have had no formalized hands-on the consumer, frame-adjustment training.

This decades-old history is the main reason, not price, that Opticianry as a profession has lost, and continues to lose market share.

Therefore it is incumbent on those who know to teach those who do not know. And it is incumbent on those who do not know to surrender their ego. OpticalGuidelines.com


EGOTISM is the feeling or belief that one is better, more important, more talented, etc., than other people.

SHAKTIPAD is a state of egotism in which an optical dispenser is far less experienced, knows far less than they think they know, and who fails to acknowledge it. The worst case scenario is the optician who falls into the trap of convincing themselves and others that only they know the best way, and that the old ways need to change. Beware of the 'tiger's bite'! Shaktipad is a consequence of 'riding the tiger' of pride. One must ever be alert to the signs of shaktipad in order to take appropriate action. In the case of an optical dispenser in the state of shaktipad, the remedy is to seek out practical training with the attitude of a perpetual student, i.e., one who surrenders their ego, realizes that learning never stops, and that one can always improve their skills. See Ego Eradicator.

Discovery                          Design                               Delivery

"Opticianry is defined by how well the eyewear makes contact with the patient.
All Opticianry is local. Eyeglass consumers need and deserve the following:
a) Optician-assisted, in-depth lifestyle interview;
b) Optician-assisted, design and selection;
c) Handcrafted, form-fitting eyewear;
d) Free lifetime adjustments and
minor repair services, none of
which are available online."


All Opticianry is local.

It's time for direct, touch and feel, Hands on the
tactile training, an art craft, which cannot
be learned virtually. -- DispensingGuidelines.com

Of over 67,000 Opticians designing, manufacturing
and dispensing eyewear, less than half have formal
certification or licensure. -- U.S. Department of Labor

For the last few decades our collective
mindset has manifested as, 'Divided we stand...
united we fall.' We must shift to, 'United we stand...
divided we fall,’ as our paradigm. See 1Plus1Equals11.com.

After many years of failing to provide the public with
hands on the patient frame-fitting services, dispensers
have suddenly discovered that Consumers are flocking
to the Internet* for their eyewear, where likewise, they
are unable to acquire customized frame-fitting services.
Refusing to admit culpability, these same retailers now
blame cheap online prices and unethical practices for the
erosion of market share and the steep decline of revenues.
*See the AARP's 'Your Money,' December, 2011, as example.

It's time to end the lecture-only-training of Opticians.
It's time for Opticians to get hands-on, tactile training in
order to
humanize the dispensing of prescription eyewear,
thereby reducing outsourcing of the Rx to Web-based providers.

Many of today's Retail Optical Execs and Managers have
no experience in Opticianry or Ophthalmic Dispensing. In one
organization, only 1 of 43 Regional Managers is an Optician. You
can imagine what adverse impact this practice alone must have. In
contrast, the CEO of Walgreens Drugs is a Registered Pharmacist.

We teach the art-craft of Hands on the Patient Opticianry to Eye
Care Professionals who want to learn. -- OpticalWorkshops.com

If you will recall, Opticianry is ultimately defined by how well
the eyewear fits the Patient. So, the real issue for Opticians and
Consumers to consider, is not whether prescription eyewear can be
purchased in stores or online. The real issue is the current deficiency
in the delivery of eyewear due to the absence of the craftsmanship
and skills required to dispense form-fitting eyewear to the Consumer.
The real challenge for any Optician is to take a symmetrically, 4-point
square device and handcraft it to fit an asymmetrically shaped surface.
The answer is: hands-on training, hands-on training, hands-on training.
It's time for those Opticians who know to teach those who do not know.

And it is time for any Opticians who do not know to surrender their egos.
It's been predicted that if Opticians fail to practice customizing eyewear to
fit the Patient, Opticianry will become irrelevant as a healthcare profession.

When Opticians relate to Consumers as customers, it often has an adverse
impact on the relationship. When Consumers purchase prescription eyewear
they should invariably be served as a Patient, never as a customer. Patients
receive healthcare. Customers receive merchandise. -- 3DDispensing.com

Capitalism as practiced in this the Age of Aquarius is hopelessly flawed.
Today's capitalists have it all backwards. The new paradigm is: Serve
consumers and profit will follow, i.e., service trumps the dollar. Those
who fail to put serving consumers first will become irrelevant.

. Why do we so often consider Consumers mere customers
when they present us with a doctor's prescription for eyewear?
. Why not consider consumers Patients requiring vision care?
. Wouldn't this change the way we relate in terms of time and kind of
service we render them? (Maybe this is why we relate to them merely as
customers. We want to be simply merchants. Too much responsibility, otherwise.)
. Aren't optical dispensaries supposed to be genuine healthcare facilities where we
provide Three Dimensional Dispensing, i.e., Discovery, Design, and Delivery of
prescription eyewear, and where the Patient's health and wellness needs are served?

It's time for three-dimensional dispensing, a time honored craftsmanship that includes:
. Discovery of the real needs of the Patient by way of an in-depth Lifestyle Interview,
. An unbiased Design of frame and lenses that fulfill the Patient's real vision needs, and
. Delivery of hand-customized eyewear, which creates a multi-dimensional balance in
relation to the visual axis, the face and skull, and results in a skull conforming,
form-fitting that precisely matches the topography of the Patient's features.
See Optical Guidelines. See Optical Workhops. See Fit It And Forget It.

"When Opticians relate to consumers as Customers, it often has an adverse
impact on the relationship. When consumers purchase prescription eyewear
they should invariably be served as Patients, never as Customers. Patients
receive healthcare. Customers receive merchandise." -- 3DDispensing.com

"Many optical outlets are 'ready-to-wear' stores where
eyewear merchants sell 'one-size-fits-all' merchandise,
and where volume of sales and customers is paramount.
This environment has prostituted the practice of Opticianry."

"Optical dispensaries are healthcare facilities where Opticians practice
Three Dimensional Dispensing, the Discovery, Design, and Delivery of
prescription eyewear, and where the Patient's needs always comes first."

Today's Focus

"Today, Consumers can go online to get the same dehumanized service they
receive from eyewear merchants for less cost and with more convenience.
We must re-humanize the Consumer's experience in order to get them back.
Skilled and experienced Opticians 'take charge' of the dispensing procedures
whereby they can anticipate adverse visual and fitting issues with direct hands-
on-the-patient eyewear design and frame fitting skills before the Patient has to
endure them, thereby avoiding the necessity and inconvenience of return visits
and-or possible re-do's, or worse, refunds, and the adverse notoriety that comes
thereafter. When the eye care industry as a whole returns to this practice as the
dominant paradigm in today's market, Consumers will return to brick-and-mortar
dispensaries for their eyewear purchases. Unfortunately, as things stand, many
Consumers have little reason not to make their eyewear purchases online."

Patients deserve custom-fitted prescription eyewear.


The narrative, which follows, presents a 'Bird's eye' view of a) the business model in use today by many Retail Optical Dispensaries; b) the conflicted relationship between experienced Opticians and many Retail Managers and Executives; c) the retailing practices, which have led to a steep and steady decline in the practical design and up-close-and-personal, and on-the-face-delivery of custom-fitted, prescription eyewear; and d) practical remedies including transformational Hands on the Patient Workshops.*

*NOTE:If you are a Practitioner who needs additional training or consultation, or you need assistance in order to regain market share and improve the profitability of your practice, please visit OpticalWorkshops.com and OpticalGuidelines.com, then click, or call Opticians For Change at 855-410-2700 to discuss and-or arrange a Workshop session for your staff. Click here if you want your name added to our mailing list.

The genesis of the Open Letter below occurred after an optical retailer's outreach to its Staff for ideas about creating "America's ‘Premier’ source for Vision Care." What follows is based in part on a written response by a staff member, along with some additional observations.

The opinions and conclusions that follow are based first, on our direct observation and experience, and second, on the first hand testimonials (see example below) of Patients with whom we have had the opportunity of serving. And they are presented optimistically with the belief that owners and managers, whether they are independent Eyewear Professionals or optical retailers, will resonate and be inspired and motivated to make appropriate changes to their business model in order to advance the status of Opticianry as a profession while enhancing their other objectives. See My Two Sense. See Our Letter to ECPs.

NOTE: An abbreviated version of the following letter appears in the November 2009 edition of Eye Care Professional Magazine.


From a Consumer:

Having you fit my glasses on my face, ears, nose and under my turban with care and attention to detail, making minute but essential adjustments, was the best experience I have ever had of having glasses fitted to my face during my lifetime of wearing glasses. The first time you did my glasses, and your wife suggested to me that I also have my lenses tinted to gently soften the lines around my eyes, was a memorable experience. I have shared the story of that day, in your Optical Shop very often, whenever I get ‘new’ glasses. Most Opticians are surprised to hear the story and also amazed that having that care and attention to detail as a part of having glasses fit properly made such a difference in my life. Having my glasses not hurt, and having them fit properly was an incredible blessing. Having my glasses fit gracefully and painlessly under my turban was nothing short of a Godsend. I can honestly say that no other Optician ever did such an impeccable job as you did.

Sikh women wearing turban

I once tried to get new lenses in the glasses that you had adjusted for me. I came back to pick up the glasses and someone said to me that the Optician had straightened out the bent side pieces! I was so upset! I made the Optician come out and I explained what you had done for me, why you had done it and what a terrible disservice he had done by ‘straightening’ my side pieces and that he had to re-bend the side pieces back to where they had been. Needless to say, those glasses never fit the same again! After that I never changed lenses without speaking directly to the person making the lenses and making sure they knew not to change or adjust the side pieces. If you lived where I could get my glasses adjusted properly that is where I would go... --

From another Consumer:

I was 9 (*cough,cough!* an eon ago!) - I can't remember actually being "fitted" with my glasses in years and years. Thank you for this reminder that it SHOULD be done this way. Perhaps if dispensaries had continued these practices I wouldn't have felt so aggrieved at the continually and gasp-inducing rising prices of eyewear. To such an extent, in fact, that the last pairs of glasses I've gotten, I purchased online. (Hope you were sitting down for that! I wouldn't want to be the cause of a heart attack :-) ) No, I didn't get fitted, obviously, but I got exactly the same product - AND service - I would have gotten at any local shop, for so much less money that I was able to buy three pairs of glasses for about a third of the price I'd have paid in person. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. --

Our Two Sense:

So, this Consumer's experience suggests the reason for the proliferation of online prescription eyewear sales is not so much about lower prices as it is about adequate personalized hands on the patient services.

There are only three things the optical industry can offer the prescription eyewear Consumer, SERVICE, QUALITY and PRICE. But most latter-years dispensaries currently ever offer ONLY TWO of these, simultaneously. Why can’t we offer SERVICE, i.e., HANDS-ON THREE DIMENSION DISPENSING, QUALITY PRODUCTS, and FAIR PRICING, all three simultaneously, like we used to?

BTW: A colleague recently asked, "What does it say about the "soul" of our profession when the first "selling point" that comes out of a frame rep's mouth is, "Your cost is $9.95, but it's listed in Frame Facts for $79.95...so you can bill insurance higher.

From a fellow Optician:

Coming from an old fashion world of Opticianry, it really saddens me that today is all about the sales. Gone are the days of one on one, fitting and guiding the patients through the process. I have even come across people who never even knew they were wearing progressives!! This is totally outrageous. They tell me they were told they will now be able to see up close with their new glasses but never explained what they were getting. This has happened more than once.

I can see why the visitor to your site felt no difference buying online rather than at a location. It angers me that the word "fitting" is not even recognizable to him. As Opticians, we need to man up and go back to basics before the Internet takes over what we are trained to do.

Thanks for the eye opening. I will take it as a encouragement to keep doing my old fashion fitting and dispensing and hope it does make a difference. --

Our Two Sense:

Any ophthalmic dispenser who is not practicing basic guidelines, see DispensingGuidelines.com, is just an eyeglass merchant, not an Optician. And this is the major reason why many of today's PRESCRIPTION eyewear Consumers purchase their eyewear online.

If you are not practicing Opticianry with the application of 3D Dispensing, Discovery-Design-Delivery skills, i.e., a) Discovery of the Consumers REAL eyewear needs in an unbiased Comprehensive Lifestyle Interview, b) Using yesteryear skills in both the Design of eyewear, and Tactile, Touch and Feel Hands on the Consumer Delivery of prescription eyewear, let’s be honest, you are a big part of the cause of today’s proliferation of online sales. And only you can restore market share to the ECP industry, more skillful professional services for Consumers, and the lost craftsmanship skills.

Also, we recommend across-the-board-charging of a realistic fee to Web-based Consumers who seek follow up attention for ill-fitting eyewear. (This is addressed in some detail elsewhere.) Of course, we must see to it that we have the hands-on skills to warrant our fees. Opticians have historically offered free lifetime service, but with the advent of the Internet, lifetime services can only be realistically offered to full-fee Consumers. Again, we must have the hands-on skills to warrant the fee. And for many Opticians, even many senior Opticians, this could be a real challenge.

Where there is NO DIFFERENCE between the service offerings of a brick-and-mortar merchant and an online vendor, other than price, many Consumers understandably choose the online source. They are 7/24 accessible, cheaper, and they offer the same absence of direct human contact as a majority of today’s dispensaries. What’s not to like? And keep in mind that 7-11 stores are successful even though their prices are high. Why? Because Consumers mostly get the Service and Quality they want.

There are only three things the optical industry can offer the prescription eyewear consumer, SERVICE, QUALITY and PRICE. But most latter-years dispensaries currently ever offer ONLY TWO of these, simultaneously. Why can’t we offer SERVICE, i.e., 1) HANDS-ON THREE DIMENSION DISPENSING, 2) QUALITY PRODUCTS, and 3) FAIR PRICING, all three simultaneously, like we used to do? This leaves the online providers with only their cheaper prices with no custom fitting skills for that segment of the market, and leave the remaining market (we’re talking mostly about full-time-wear prescription-wearing consumers, not those looking for plano sunwear or readers) to Eyewear Professionals. A big challenge now, is that the industry has devolved to the point of being extremely short on Multi-Dimensional Dispensing Technicians.

Speaking of Price...

The majority of prescription eyewear Consumers relates to and seeks customized Discovery, Design, Delivery, and Quality Products IF and WHEN these are available. The situation that has created online optical merchants is that Multi-Dimensional Dispensing skills are more the exception than the rule. We have served Consumers in recent years that were literally shocked to experience a tactile, hands-on, touch and feel, handcrafted frame fitting, having never previously seen nor experienced such service. Sad!

Another Optician:

I have been a Florida state licensed optician since 2003. I have taken at least two classes from Mr. Hari Bird. I am a seasoned optician, however I learned so much through Mr. Bird that I repeated his class. Why, because I learned so much. His kindness and patience are beyond reproach. His knowledge stems back to the very basics of what we do. Our job is to dispense glasses, basically. If we can make the patient more comfortable and the glasses feel better they will have more confidence in US and the place we work.

I consider him a gift to opticianry. I was not solicited to do this. I'm doing it because I believe in what he has taught me. I use it everyday, and most of my customers tell me that they have never had such a comfortable pair of glasses, ever. And if he comes back again to Florida I'm going to take the class. It really helps and I always learn something.

Just because you're a seasoned and licensed optician doesn't mean you know it all. If you're a licensed optician there is always room to learn, there is always room to grow, and there is always the patient that will value what you do.

Hang in there. Do everything and anything you can to promote your skill as an optician. Fight for your rights, fight for your needs, fight for promoting the best for your patients. We are for the public good. You've got to make your legislators know that.

I'm thinking about relocating to Arizona. You can't let this (optician license) be taken away from you. You've got to fight. It's your livelihood. And it is for the public good. --

See Our Letter to ECPs. See ReachOutAndTouchSomebody.com

And another Optician:

I agree with every word of this! Fitting glasses has become a "Lost Art" in our profession. It seems that most New Opticians believe the correct way to adjust glasses is to bend the temples at a sharp right angle at an approximate location of the back of the ear and tell the patient to "have a nice (though somewhat painful) life." No attention is being paid to pantoscopic or retroscopic tilt, proper nose pad adjustment or widening temples on the smaller frames that people (for fashion reasons) insist on buying. Keep on pushing for more fitting classes in CEC fulfillment. --

See Our Letter to ECPs. See ReachOutAndTouchSomebody.com

And then there's this from a senior Optician:

There is a simple answer as to why Opticians are not licensed in every State. Money! In unlicensed States the Optometrists and Ophthalmologists have a very strong lobby. They dump a lot of money into preventing the licensing of Opticians. They do this because they see their business and profits at risk. They are then now able to hire people at $8.50 to $10.00 per hour, and require no training or education costs in order to maintain a license. While in licensed States, these doctors would have to pay $18.00 to $28.00 per hour plus annual fees for CEC's and license fees. As you can see, doctors can keep approximately $500.00 or more in their pockets, every week of the year for every non-licensed dispenser they have. As Opticians, we need more national representation to advance quality eyecare after the patient gets out of the chair, and this requires money we don't have. Maybe some day the Congress will see a need for the protection of the American Consumer, and require all Eye Care Professionals to be licensed. --

And this question from another Optician:

Why does it seem this field is always hiring? Are there not enough opticians here locally? Personally, I think the field is always hiring because of turnover and lack of significant professional development opportunities. Any profession that is entered by way of on-the-job training for low pay does not offer a great future to many individuals. I think the pay is often too low for the amount of knowledge required to take care of the patient. I also think burn out plays a factor. --

Our Two Sense:

You are correct re the training issue. Wages are proportionate to the quality and quantity of the services rendered. The low wages paid to today's Opticians is due to the steep and steady decline of sufficient application and-or training in the art and science of hands on the patient skills, ergo the inability of most dispensers to deliver adequate services. One-size-fits-all and dehumanized service reigns supreme in almost all retail optical venues except for a few independent, senior Opticians who are fast disappearing. So much so that Consumers now no longer expect or even remember that hands on the patient service used to be the norm, whereas their hairdressers, manicurists, dentists, massage therapists, etc., still provide hands-on, touch-and-feel service, to wit the optical market has now shifted to the Internet where Consumers suffer from the same dehumanized service, i.e., the absence of hands on the patient personalized design and customized fitting of their eyewear, but for less cost. Unfortunately, the Consumer has to then search out old-time, hands on the patient, touch and feel Opticians for a comfort fitting and-or the replacement and expense of properly designed and custom fitted eyewear. Most to no avail.

As we have indicated in previous discussions, the entire industry from State's Boards, to optical retailers, to ophthalmic refractionists, i.e., Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, to schools, to frame and lens manufacturers, to optical labs, to dispensing furniture manufacturers, to even the Consumers themselves, have all played a part in today's lack of service. Mostly because we have all failed to demand and require excellence in the manufacturing, fabricating, design and delivery of prescription eyewear. Just as in our country's politics, only when we collectively decide the status quo is unacceptable and begin demanding excellence in services will much improvement occur. The causes of the decline in services, and some remedies are addressed more completely at OpticianryToday.com and OpticalWorkshops.com. --

Webmaster's Note: Most, if not all States, require Hairstylists, Manicurists, Massage Therapists, etc., to be licensed and regulated.

A Special Note from Opticians For Change

"The eye care industry needs to strike a better
balance between sales goals and healthcare delivery."

Today's retail optical model favors the marketing of one-size-fits-all merchandise unlike an Optical Dispensary, which is like a Pharmacy or Healthcare Facility. An Optical Dispensary is where prescription eyewear is designed, custom fitted and serviced with skill and excellence. Opticians For Change aims to restore that excellence. Opticians For Change is devoted to the principle that Consumers are best served only when they receive competent, Three Dimension Dispensing services, i.e., in-depth Discovery, objective, bias-free Design, and hands-on Delivery of prescription eyewear from a skilled dispenser. In other words, a) a full-discovery lifestyle interview prior to discussing frame and lens options, b) a comprehensive design of lenses and frame without bias as to style and-or cost, and c) a hands-on, in place, on-the-face delivery of their eyewear including multi-dimensional handcrafted frame and lens adjustments. Anything less is unacceptable.

NOTE: As senior Ophthalmic Healthcare Practitioners, we are interested in sharing our experience. If you are a Practitioner who recognizes the decades-old decline in dispensing skills and you are in need of additional training or consultation, or you need assistance in order to regain market share and improve the profitability of your practice, visit OpticianryToday.com and OpticalWorkshops.com. ECPs should inquire here, or 855-410-2700 to arrange a Training Session.

An abbreviated version of the following Open Letter appears in the November 2009 edition of Eye Care Professional Magazine.

The manager of a nationwide retail optical dispensary
advised a staff member who attempted to customize a
frame as seen here that they would be fired if they tried to
fit another 'customer' with such an ugly looking adjustment.


To Whom It May Concern:

First, a brief personal history about Hari Singh Bird, Optician, the author of this narrative. Mr. Bird's career as an Optician began following active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps and his subsequent employment with an American Optical Company Branch Laboratory in 1958. He spent more than 2 years in all phases of Laboratory operations as a Lab Technician, which included hand surfacing, power generation, hand stone and automatic edging, bench work, finishing, final inspection and hands on the Patient custom fitting.** (At that time AO and B&L, Bausch and Lomb, laboratories dispensed eyewear to the public at the request of MD's and OD's. See OpticianryToday.com for additional background.) Mr. Bird then became the Manager of an AO Branch Laboratory, and later a Sales Rep for American Optical lenses, frames, and ophthalmic instruments. He subsequently returned to Ophthalmic Dispensing with a joint MD-OD practice. He holds active Dispensing Optician licenses in Florida and Arizona. He is also ABO, American Board of Opticianry, and NCLE, National Contact Lens Examiners certified. He is a current member of POF, Professional Opticians of Florida, and he has several years experience as the owner of an independent, privately operated Ophthalmic Dispensary, and more recently as a Licensed Optician for a retail optical chain. He is currently a Dispenser Training Consultant and conducts Hands on the Patient training courses accredited for continuing education by ABO and the Florida State Board of Opticians, and sponsored by POF. See notes below.

                                                                   MAIN ISSUES                                                                              

"Successful dispensing requires the careful and thoughtful
process of Discovery, Design, and Delivery of eyewear
without bias concerning sales quotas, profit margin or
other subjective and unrelated considerations."

I) Many Optical Retailers are well positioned in the marketplace, but few are ready to be America's 'Premier' Vision Care Practitioners. Many of them employ a business model that works well for marketing general merchandise. But an Optical Dispensary is different. Like a Pharmacy or Health Clinic, an Optical Dispensary is a Healthcare Facility where prescription eyewear is designed, fitted and serviced. It is not a strictly mercantile sales facility. The comparison can be likened to the difference between a retail outlet where only stuff is sold to Customers versus a Health and Wellness Eye Care Service where precision-made, by-prescription-only optical devices are designed and custom-fitted on Patients. (The concept lost in today's retail market is that an Optician's mission is to also maintain an appropriate balance between Serving and Selling. See also The Coming Humanization of The American Economy and To Serve Is To Succeed.)

An aspiring 'Premier' Vision Care Practitioner must focus on a) ongoing practical training of Staff, b) highest standards of care for Patients, c) inclusion of qualified Opticians in upper management positions, d) sensitivity to Patients' eye care needs, and e) realistic sales goals, which allow for excellence in the dispensing of eyewear.

More and more eyewear is being purchased from eyewear
merchants online because Consumers can't find adequate
professional services in brick-and-mortar dispensaries.
There's just no compelling reason not to purchase online.

When's the last time you saw or heard a retail optical
store promote the custom fitting of eyewear? Could this
be because they don't know how to custom-fit eyewear?
Could it be that the staff only knows how to sell glasses?

II) There is an acute need for many Optical Dispensaries, including those associated with U.S. government agencies, to acquire:

1) Adequate workspace and staffing, and

2) Expanded and ongoing training of staff that includes practical, i.e., Hands on the Patient training, which includes:

a) Full Discovery Lifestyle Interview;
b) Customized Frame Fitting and Adjustment Techniques;
c) Familiarity with both the lensometer and a wider range of dispensing hand tools;
d) Working knowledge of optical laboratory operations, e.g., Layout, Surfacing, Finishing and Final Inspection practices;
e) Working knowledge of the Ophthalmic Refraction, and f) adequate training in contact lens care and Patient compliance.

"Many of today's Retail Optical Execs and Managers have
no experience in Opticianry or Ophthalmic Dispensing. In one
organization, only 1 of 43 Regional Managers is an Optician. You
can imagine what adverse impact this practice alone must have. In
contrast, the CEO of Walgreens Drugs is a Registered Pharmacist."

III) Some Executives and Managers within the retail optical industry, some with MBA's as their only prior experience, tend to make decisions that adversely impact an acceptable standard of vision care. Some are focused too exclusively on their career advancement as Managers, while promoting unrealistically excessive sales goals and requiring interminable amounts of paperwork and reports from subordinates. This in turn interferes with the training and practice of Opticianry, and the delivery of quality healthcare. See 1Plus1Equals11.com.

"The conflicted relationship between Professional Opticians and
Retail Management can be likened to the current relationship
between Medical Practitioners and Insurance Industry HMO's."

IV) Retail Managers who are absent Opticianry skills need sufficient training, possibly even in-house certification, in subjects such as the Lifestyle Interview, Optics and Lens Design, and Custom Fitting and Delivery of prescription eyewear, including contact lenses, and Trial Lens and Frame use BEFORE they assume any policy-making or supervisory roles. Currently, most get on-the-job training only, and their actions and decisions reflect their inexperience to the detriment of acceptable service. Again, providing professional vision care, i.e., designing, measuring, and custom fitting prescription eyewear ON PATIENTS requires much more technical expertise and people skills than what is required to service mercantile CUSTOMERS.


"The customized fitting of eyewear involves far more than just adjusting
a nose piece or bending a temple. It has to include reshaping, bending
stretching, twisting, aligning and sculpting of the frame components
in order to personalize the eyewear. Anything less will most likely
compromise the Patient's visual comfort and long term wearability.
The difference between adjusting and form-fitting is what's different
between today's dispenser-merchant and yesterday's skilled Optician."

Success always follows good service.
Any action, which genuinely favors the
Patient, always improves the bottom line.
We need to focus on caring for Patients.

Patients deserve a pleasant experience.
s deserve as much time as they need.
Patients deserve handcrafted prescription eyewear.

When Opticians do not touch the Consumer at the time
they dispense their eyewear, they're acting more
as unskilled eyeglass merchants than as Opticians.

When Opticians relate to Consumers as Customers,
it often has an adverse impact on the relationship.
When Consumers order their prescription eyewear, they
should invariably be served as Patients, never Customers.
Patients receive Healthcare. Customers receive merchandise.

The closer opticians get to a patient, i.e., laying their hands directly
on the patient, the more responsibly they will act in the interest
of serving the patient, i.e., the more removed they are from
the point of service, the less likely they are to perform well.
In other words, successful dispensing of eyewear is
directly related to the proximity of the service.

What are the chances of today's eyewear consumers getting a
handcrafted form-fitting of their prescription eyewear? If you
answered this question correctly, you know why they buy online.

Opticians are Eyewear Professionals. Opticianry
is ultimately defined by how well the eyewear makes
contact with the Patient, not by the number of Customers served.
For the truly skilled Optician, the standard of care must include a
customized design and hands-on fitting of eyewear on each Patient.

Today's Retail Optical paradigm needs to be upgraded to that of serving
Healthcare Patients, as opposed to only serving Retail Customers. Only then
can Opticians be seen as Healthcare Professionals, instead of mere merchants.


"The most perfect prescription can be compromised if the
eyewear does not provide comfort and long term wearability."

EXAMPLE: Newly purchased eyewear, including Contact Lenses, is routinely and casually handed over to Patients without any custom fitting of the frame directly ON the Patient, or without sufficient instructions regarding contact lens wear and Patient Compliance.

            More and more eyewear is being purchased online.                 

The number one complaint of brick-and-mortar store patrons...
"Nobody adjusted my glasses. They just handed them to me."

When Opticians relate to Consumers as Customers,
it often has an adverse impact on the relationship.
When Consumers acquire their prescription eyewear, they
should invariably be served as Patients, never Customers.
Patients receive Healthcare. Customers receive merchandise.

Every Patient deserves a fully personalized design and fitting of their eyewear. The fact that the frame lies on a flat surface squarely should never preclude fitting the frame directly on the Patient. This becomes obvious when after fitting a Patient with facial anomalies, the frame no longer fits squarely on a flat surface. Facial-cranial structure, the positioning of each eye and ear, the mastoid area behind each ear (see photo), all of these differ with each person. See Common Complaints and Causes. See GlassesOnlineWarning.com. See also The Final Fitting.

"For many Consumers, the personalized fitting of eyewear
by a skilled, hands-on Optician is an unfamiliar experience."

The manager of a nationwide retail optical dispensary
advised a staff member who attempted to customize a
frame as seen here that they would be fired if they tried to
fit another 'customer' with such an ugly looking adjustment.

EXAMPLE: Experienced Opticians are required by inexperienced Managers to reduce or even by-pass the time necessary to conduct life-style interviews, design appropriate lenses, and custom-fit prescription eyewear directly on the Patient. See How To Manage An Optical Dispensary.

"Dentists, Manicurists and Hairstylists make direct, tactile contact with the
Consumer. Likewise, Opticians must make direct contact with the Patient.
Hands on the Patient Opticians, can determine by sense of touch how a
frame feels even in lieu of asking the Patient. Only an eyeglass merchant
routinely hands over prescription glasses with no hands-on assessment,
nor the appropriate touch and feel required to custom form-fit the eyewear."

Again, fitting a vision appliance on a Patient involves a different level of technical knowledge and people skills. Dispensing prescription eyewear includes many elements of craftsmanship, artistry, and Patient-Dispenser interaction along with significant technical skill and finesse in their application. All of these are key to the success of any Vision Healthcare Facility.

A well-known optical chain's list of expectations for
the purpose of recruiting dispensing staff members.

1) Greet Customers in a friendly manner and
  ensure high quality Customer service.
2) Maintain a continuous effort to obtain            
      company objectives.                                              
3) Create and maintain a retail environment   
    that is fun, educational, and professional.
4) Ensure all visual merchandising is
implemented and maintained.                       
5) Ensure all Customer service complaints      
are handled effectively and efficiently.
6) Show and recommend frames and explain  
         product features and benefits to Customers.  
7) Take optical measurements for Customer eyewear. 
             8) Meet and-or exceed pre-established sales goals. 

From another well-known optical employer.

1) Drive profitable store Sales by fostering a retail selling culture
by practicing and role-playing effective retail sales skills.
2) Develop professional business relationship with other Staff.   
3) Fill ophthalmic eyeglass prescriptions and fit and adapt          
lenses and frames, utilizing optical prescription.

Notice that these Eyewear Merchants rank Sales over Skill whereby 'Customers' are the focus. In contrast, a true Vision Healthcare Facility will emphasize Skill over Sales whereby 'Patients' are the focus, which produces higher levels of Patient satisfaction, fewer remakes and refunds, and subsequent increased profitability due to increased referrals.

And here's a personal profile submitted
online by a latter day Licensed Optician.

"Licensed Optician focused on converting patients
with malfunctioning (structural integrity) and outdated
eyeglasses (quality of vision) into a sales opportunity.
Specialties: Sales, sales reports, sales goals, quality
control, insurance filing, insurance analysis, training, word
processing, building professional relationships with clients."

Again, the focus here is on a SELLING opportunity NOT a SERVING opportunity. Of course, merchandising is an important and necessary service, but all too often the healthcare delivery component of the Optician-Patient equation becomes secondary to the act of selling, i.e., in too many cases unrealistically excessive sales goals override the mission of providing professional healthcare, whereby personalized, custom fitting of eyewear is given only minor consideration, if any. The reality of this issue is clearly demonstrated by a steady albeit unfortunate number of unhappy Patients and the subsequent loss of revenue by way of return visits, remakes, refunds and fewer Patient referrals. See Testimonials. See Common Complaints and Causes. See Free Frame-Fitting Course. See DispensingGuidelines.com.


Well trained, hands-on Healthcare Providers
make for satisfied and happy Patients.


Many Optical Retailers need to make significant changes if they hope to acquire anything like America's ‘Premier’ Vision Care title. Their business models and the services they provide fall short due to deficiencies in practical training and depth of dispensing experience. Much more investment in the training of people and in resources is needed.

EXAMPLE: In-house training manuals lack the practical experience that direct hands on the Patient tasks afford. For an eye care facility to rely on manuals for training a Dispenser is like trying to teach an aspiring Surgeon how to become skilled in surgical techniques in the absence of a Patient. In addition, many dispensaries lack adequate dispensing tools, and visual aids, as well as sufficient training in their use. For instance, nose pad replacement is a frequently requested service. Many unskilled Dispensers use a snipe nose pliers to replace nose pad screws. Using this pliers requires excessive time for such a simple procedure. A practical solution is a specially designed self-closing tweezers that reduces the task to a minimum of time. The use of this tool alone can save an amazing amount of time for both Dispenser and Patient.


Make your own Optical Hand Tools!

We urge Retail Executives to support certification and licensing of Dispensers, the funding of training schools, and higher wages in order to retain a well-trained staff. NOTE: Senior Dispensing Opticians are available to assist in the practical training of Dispensers and to explore pathways to more profitability. Click Here for free consultation.


Of over 67,000 opticians designing, manufacturing
and dispensing eyewear, less than half have formal
certification or licensure. -- U.S. Department of Labor

Several well-known Retailers have a history of financially supporting all kinds of community activities and philanthropic gifts. Their investment in the ongoing training and advancement of their Opticians is a gift that will keep on giving.

"Due to their market share, the largest Optical Retailers are
in a unique position to lead the industry in the direction
of re-humanizing the delivery of prescription eyewear."


Much of the optical industry, as reflected in the media, is busy with commentary on things like frames, lenses, and sales promotions; how to pump up sales; how to sell extra pairs, etc. Very little, if any, of the mainstream media has much to do with issues like Service; how we put People first; how we put Serving before Selling.

In other words the industry's emphasis is too much on THINGS, NOT PEOPLE. Because Opticianry is a very People-centered art and craft, Opticians and Managers must be more devoted to giving People conscientious and caring service. See The Humanization of The American Economy and Business.


"Hands on the patient dispensing is a soon-to-be-lost art. If the trend to
the narrower and strictly retail approach to ophthalmic services continues,
a) The marketing of ready-to-wear, over-the-counter and Web-source eyewear
will continue to flourish; b) Hands on the patient dispensing skills and services
will disappear; c) Patients will continue to suffer from substandard quality of
service; and d) Prescription eyewear will continue to be delivered by an ever
increasing number of unskilled dispensers. The fact is that the majority of today's
eyewear dispensing professionals require major upgrading in their handcrafting
skills without which they will become increasingly irrelevant in the eyecare industry."

"At some point, direct, tactile, Hands on the Patient training has to happen.
This is done only by one-on-one craftsmanship training. It cannot be learned virtually."

For a free consultation on ways to improve the conscientious delivery of prescription eyewear while maintaining profitability or a Training Session, contact Opticians For Change here, or 855-410-2700.

Respectfully submitted,

Hari Singh Bird, Optician



"Our mission is to re-humanize the delivery of
prescription eyewear." -- OpticiansForChange.com

"There is nothing wrong with people making money and
corporations being involved ... provided there is an avenue in
which those marketing forces are not the deciding factor in
what we are doing." -- Keith Olbermann, Commentator

"When owners and managers discover that their people are their
ultimate assets and not their perpetual liabilities, everybody's
economy will prosper and grow." -- The Thank You Economy.

"A corporation's first purpose is to make money for
its stockholders, not to serve the needs of consumers.
The BP-Gulf Coast oil disaster is an example of what can
happen as a result of a corporation's obsession with profits and their
indifference and insensitivity to peoples' needs." -- Opticianry Review

*A) The written reply to management's request has been modified in order to make the points in the above open letter more current. So far, more than 2 years later, and following the departure of its author, the receipt of the original letter has never been formally acknowledged, and no remedial action has occurred. At least none has been observed.

**B) Special note re Hands-on Handcrafted Custom Fitting: It seems the term 'hands-on' has different meanings among members of the optical community. Click here for our definition. For an example of what we call hands on the Patient, old-fashioned design and custom fitting of prescription eyewear, click here. And for those who are otherwise looking to improve the delivery of prescription eyewear in America, please contact us here.

C) To be fair, the experiences of one Optician in a single optical outlet cannot be seen as reflecting that retailer's policy in its entirety. But if this open letter can be viewed minus a 'prism of bias,' perhaps Optical Retailers and aspiring Opticians can use it as a primer as to how well they measure up as a source of Genuine Healthcare in America.

D) Too many Retailers have a 'bottom-line-is-all-that-matters' mind set along with an attitude in which they exist only to serve company goals, not the needs of the Consumer. They're not alone. Corporate America, in general, must soon deal with some heavy karma due to the public's current anger, and the public's demand for the return of more qualitative and thoughtful service with less emphasis on profits. The hope is that Optical Retailers can upgrade their thinking and focus on becoming genuine Healthcare Practitioners. See The Coming Humanization of The American Economy.

E) Large-scale change always seems daunting. We want simple routines that we can easily and automatically follow. If Opticians and Managers adopt the steps presented herein, success will follow. See Letter To Eye Care Professionals.

Get free online training videos.

See published articles by fellow ECPs.


Whatever happened to old-fashioned
Hands on the Patient Opticianry?

Contact Lens Care and Compliance

Eyewear For Hard-To-Fit Patients

NCLE No Fee CEs For Opticians

The Rap on Wrap-arounds

Sunwear Is Not An Option

About Professional Egos

Time For Craftsmanship



Books, lectures and tests can take an Optician's skills only so far.

It is time for direct, touch and feel, Hands on the Patient training.

It is time for touch-and-feel, Hands on the Patient training.
Only one on one craftsmanship training provides this.
Craftsmanship cannot be learned virtually.

"Handcrafted frame fitting, i.e., touch and feel, hands-on dispensing,
cannot be outsourced to lectures or virtual sources. It is an art form,
which requires actual and multi-dimensional contact with the patient."

"It is incumbent on those who know, to teach those who do not know.
It is incumbent on those who do not know to surrender their ego."

ABO, American Board of Opticianry accredited, and Florida State Board approved CE
hours for Intermediate and Advanced Level Opticians in Handcrafted Frame Fitting
are currently offered under the sponsorship of POF, the Professional Opticians of
Florida. Click or Call 855-410-2700 to arrange for Training Session.

"The job of a teacher is to poke, provoke, confront and elevate." -- Yogi Bhajan




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