Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
The effects of optical industry disruptors aren’t only seen in new startups and creative business models. They change not only how businesses operate but also how the employees work. The vision disruptors’ shared goals of affordable eye care and industry transparency need people to bring lofty ideas down to earth where they can be useful.
The changes disruptors made to the eyecare industry affect the day-to-day operations of businesses down to their smallest unit: the employee. Disruptors work with optical engineers to design a prototype, medical science liaisons to ensure the product is viable, and marketers to get the word out to potential consumers.
Not only do these positions have a new person to work with, the disruptor, they also have to adapt to the resulting changes. Eyecare industry disruptors rely heavily on technology, software, and communication to introduce new ways of doing things and the employees, scientists, and engineers that work alongside them must do the same. Engineers work with advanced 3D modeling software to design new equipment, staff opticians walk people through vision tests over teleconferencing, and licensed ophthalmologists read and report on results for a patient they never saw in person. Because disruptors have made technology and software important aspects of the eye care industry, the people who currently work in this field need to navigate these changes and incorporate them into their job description.
There are two ways optical industry professionals work along with disruptors. The first is the link between a disruptor and the technical aspects like healthcare, science, and engineering. Although it is behind-the-scenes work, it is essential to insure the disruptor’s idea is both practical and commercially viable. The other seeks to create communication between the disruptor and the consumer they are looking to reach. Telling consumers that they can afford eye care, where to get it, and why this new way of doing things is better for them are all part of fulfilling transparency goals.
In order to create effective and practical solutions, disruptors’ ideas and goals need to align with the needs of the healthcare industry and the technological limits of engineering. A medical science liaison manages the healthcare part.
The primary focus of their job is to enable effective communication between industry innovators and their fellow scientists and doctors. They are the link between the people with the ideas and the people who carry them out. The medical science liaison uses the knowledge gained from getting their doctorate in a specific field (such as ophthalmology) to work with both idealistic goals and rigid industry conventions.
Their purpose is to provide balanced, informative insight on how to improve a product using the knowledge of their selected medical field. Because they are familiar with the healthcare aspect, they are able to explain the kind of effect the disruptor’s product will have.
Optical engineers are responsible for every phase of creation, from the idea to the final implementation. Their skills need to cross several disciplines, as this position is a mix of both engineering and physics.
In the initial stage, the optical engineer needs to envision a device that will fulfill a need in the industry. This may include a new way to test for eye disorders or perhaps it involves improving an aspect of laser surgery. However, to complete each project successfully, there are several mandatory questions to answer.
What is practical? The optical engineer needs to mentally inventory the technology and materials that are currently available to create the new device. This assessment is the first step to determine the viability of the project.
How does it work? If the possibility for creation exists, then it needs to be designed. This takes the idea and brings it into the physical world through the use of measurements, materials, and the laws of physics. The optical engineer creates the framework that holds the device and the mechanical components that will make it work.
Does it work? Testing and analyzing the completed device may or may not be the final stage. Modifications or even a complete reevaluation of the project may be needed. In many cases, the optical engineer is involved in the assembly process which provides even greater control and input in the development of the device. A manufacturing engineer could also take over this aspect but there needs to be communication with the optical engineer at all stages.
The many hats an optical engineer wears during the creation-to-implementation process make this a very interesting position. Although this career is primarily a desk job, there will be many opportunities to work with others and to travel to testing facilities or laboratories. During the design or testing phase, longer work hours may be needed, yet there is a definite feeling of satisfaction achieved from creating devices that will improve the optical industry.
There is a great demand for optical engineers and the field is filled with growth, thanks to eyecare industry disruptors. As the current business model for eye care embraces ever-changing technological advances, the optical engineer will be at the forefront creating devices that lead the way into a better future.
As technology is created and improved and the optical industry evolves, optical staff technicians keep up with these changes. The on-site technicians have always collected the patient’s basic information and conducted a traditional-style vision test. Staff opticians still do these things but in new ways that reflect the influence brought about by industry disruptors.
They might have started out giving a vision test using large machines in brick-and-mortar office buildings, but now they may help a person use a small device for their smartphone. The handshake when they enter the exam room might be replaced by a wave through a monitor before starting the live video feed. The vision test might not even take place in an exam room, but in the person’s home using a portable autorefractor or even their computer’s webcam.
Conducting vision tests using telecommunications affects more than just the technicians. The licensed ophthalmologists who interpret the results don’t have to be physically near the patient either. The method of operations for the eyecare industry was to have the person come into the doctor’s office for their vision test and prescription. But disruptors discovered it is simpler and more resource-efficient to send test results to the licensed ophthalmologist. This especially benefits people who need vision care but are unable to get to an office in person, such as those who have health problems or live in rural areas. In addition to allowing ophthalmologists to see and treat patients more efficiently, they can also provide care to people who would otherwise forgo vision correction altogether.
Disrupting the eyecare industry isn’t just about dealing with high-tech innovations. Because this field is really about providing healthcare, there is a human element to this business that cannot be ignored. Once the optical engineers design the product and the staff technicians assist with vision exams, there is still a customer who needs to purchase a product. That is the reason the individual and the disruptor are interacting in the first place.
The responsibilities of the customer service representative have evolved as well. Before disruptors began creating a foothold in the industry, the customer service role was pretty straightforward. Sit at a desk waiting for a customer to walk in, help them select a pair of glasses, go over the invoice and get their payment information, and send them home to wait for a phone call saying their eyewear is ready. But, for a company that operates entirely online, how is that useful?
It isn’t. Which is how disruptors changed the definition of customer service. In the post-disruption industry, customers need service of a different kind, namely, more educational and information-based to lead them through the new changes.
A vital component which separates these new, innovative companies with the optical industry giants they are disrupting is communication. This element connects companies and consumers in a more influential way than just saying “I bought their product.” Communication allows disruptors to alert eyecare consumers to the behind-the-scenes practices of the industry which serve only to benefit the large corporations, creating a transparency that wasn’t seen in this business before. The consumer can also interact with a company directly in a way that wasn’t even an option before.
The overwhelming popularity of social media combines with disruptors’ needs and desires to communicate with their consumers. The previously semi-related fields of PR manager and marketer have become closely intertwined. Social media managers and social marketers are born from this union.
Running a social media account brings brand awareness, cultivates consumer loyalty through accessibility and positive interactions, and provides an outlet for people to feel heard by the company. Small startups can connect with the public on a more personal level which creates rapport between business and customer.
These positions even incorporate elements of customer service. Assuring unsatisfied customers their complaints were heard and relaying that information back to the business shows consumers, both the one you’re interacting with and potential new ones, that this business is legitimately interested in helping and making changes based on feedback. Fresh startups don’t have a long business history or traditions to cling to which makes them responsive to consumer praise or criticism in a way traditional eyecare industry businesses can’t (or don’t care to) be.
Eyecare industry disruptors bring much-needed change that results in increased convenience and decreased costs to consumers. Yet, the disruption of the former business model also changes the parameters of jobs in this field.
At the forefront is software. Industry disruptors have used the modern advances in technology to change the “default setting” on eye care by upgrading to more efficient and accurate ways of performing everything from vision exams to LASIK surgery. While these improvements are beneficial, those in the field must be ready to adapt to them.
In many ways, the software generated and used by the industry disruptors are at the core of change. Careers in this field now center on the ability to learn new systems. The disruptors also open the door for innovative thinkers who can develop software to address the current goals of this industry. The entire disruption process carries a message that change is here to stay. Careers in eye care will focus on this message through adoption, inventions, and implementation.
Another vital skill for the job seeker in the post-disruption eyecare industry is the ability to communicate. This requirement now extends beyond the simple act of talking to patients in an office setting. Careers in this industry now require people to be able to explain in understandable terms how the technology works for their benefit.
This means that patients need to be introduced to new concepts in a clear way. For instance, Smart Vision Lab’s 5-Minute Vision Exam offers convenience and cost savings. Yet, patients will not fully appreciate the benefit to themselves until it’s explained. Another example is buying eyewear online. Whenever consumers are offered a different way of doing things, there is always a learning process. That’s why communicators are a vital force in the eyecare industry disruption.
Just like the disruptors have a vision for change, so will those working in this industry. Certain skills will be magnified to better enable eye care to attain the goals that will best serve the people they seek to reach.
Telemedicine of Today
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
by Joyce Handzo
Try looking down.
Pop Quiz: You want to get a new pair of stylish, sophisticated and environmentally responsible glasses to show off your new hairstyle when you go out this weekend, but you need to get your eyeglass prescription updated first, and you’ve got to do it all during your lunch hour and still find time to silence the grumbling in your belly.
Answer: Check out VU Frameworks in the ultra-chic TurnStyle underground market below Columbus Circle. Conveniently located in what is arguably one of the easiest locations to get to quickly from anywhere in New York City, VU Frameworks is surrounded by upscale shops selling hand-made stationery, ultra-chic messenger bags, and a variety of tasty delicacies ranging from artisanal donuts and savory French Crepes, to critically acclaimed grilled cheese sandwiches, Bolivian Saltenas, and Taiwanese dumplings.
Not only can you satisfy your hunger for food, but you can also satisfy your hunger for fashion – especially the fashion that sits on your face. VU Frameworks creates eyewear with an Urban Zen style. Even better, every faux wooden frame in their collection is designed to raise awareness of the strains consumerism puts on nature.
Ah, you say, but what about updating your prescription? You don’t have time to wait for an appointment with your eye doctor, and you don’t have the time to spend waiting in an office for a separate eye exam. Never fear, VU Frameworks Owner Nai Wang has got you covered there, too.
Nai is all about meeting the needs of her customers, some of the most demanding, most discriminating, high energy and time-challenged working professionals in the world. She recently began offering Smart Vision Labs’ 5-Minute Vision Exam, the revolutionary smartphone-based technology that can get you in and out of her store in less time than it takes you to finish your Espresso Affogato, and give you your new prescription in less than 24 hours thanks to cutting edge optical telemedicine.
Chic and convenient? Environmentally aware, technologically advanced, and fashion forward? Yes, to all of the above.
And you’ll find it all down below Columbus Circle, at VU Frameworks in the TurnStyle underground market.
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?
Buying glasses should not make you roll your eyes. It also shouldn’t make your eyes widen in disbelief at the price.
Enter the eyecare industry disruptors. These are people who have caught a vision of a better, simpler, and less expensive way to purchase eyewear. They are creating companies to promote their ideas; they are using social media to introduce these ideas; they are making a disruption in the industry that is scattering traditional ways of doing business.
And it’s all for the best of the consumer.
One of the trademarks of the eyecare industry disruptors is the breakdown of geography. By using current technology, consumers are not limited to a place for a vision exam or to purchase eyewear. Smartphones and the Internet open up possibilities that never existed before. Instead of going to an optical store to look at hundreds of frames, consumers can sit at a computer and view thousands of them. Add to that try-on technology in the comfort of home and the traditional business model doesn’t look so good anymore.
Most interesting about the eyecare industry disruptors is the fact that their vision extends worldwide. The viability of any change in a business model can be measured in the level of acceptance across a wide audience. Internationally, these disruptors are making inroads in areas that are diverse in culture, yet common in a desire to affect change in an industry that needs reform.
A look at some of these international industry disruptors will reveal a common thread of placing the purchasing power into the consumer’s hands. These companies offer new business models with some unique ideas. The end result is an industry that will be better able to address the real needs of consumers.
Industry disruptors are problem solvers. To succeed, they need a problem to fix.
The problem is numbers. For the first time, India is dealing with an aging population as well as a large one. As the country grew, so did the life expectancy. In 2015, the World Health Organization reported India’s life expectancy to be 68 years of age. In the 1990s, it was only 58 years.
This affects all aspects of the eyecare industry from prescriptions, to medical treatment, to corrective eyewear. Change is needed to more efficiently reach the many people who need it.
Consumers deal with a few different vision problems. As people get older, there is a greater likelihood their eyesight will weaken. There has also been an increase in instances of myopia. These people need corrective lenses to maintain their quality of life.
Many unchecked vision problems can progress into vision loss which is indeed what happens here. India has the largest population of blind people in the world. The market even reflects this. The biggest sectors of the eyecare industry here all deal with conditions which relate to blindness: cataracts, retinal disease, and glaucoma.
India’s problem is a lack of doctors to provide preventative vision care. Due to government regulations and insufficient training programs, India has only about one-third of the eye doctors it needs to provide care to all the people. But if the doctors are busy treating patients with glaucoma and cataracts, they just don’t have the time or resources to see the patient who just needs glasses. That patient who didn’t get to see the doctor goes without vision correction until it severely impairs their sight and the cycle continues.
This is the place the disruptors enter the market. Eyecare industry disruptors around the world share one common goal: accessibility to the consumer. They want their product to reach the people and areas left untouched by the largest companies.
Winkk addresses the frustration many people feel when trying to purchase eyeglasses. Only after navigating the frame selection and confusing lens upgrades with the “help” of a pushy employee does the customer learn the price of the eyeglasses.
They set out to offer frames that are both trendy and cost-effective. What is Winkk’s contribution to transparency in the eyecare industry? Their eyeglasses have a listed price which includes the prescription lenses. Offering frames that are both affordable and fashionable gives the consumer purchasing power and reduces the number of people going without vision correction due to a confusing sales experience.
Glassic was founded after learning the reason the eyewear market was so confusing and overpriced. Over 80 percent of the market was being controlled by a single supply chain, from manufacture to sale. The founders of Glassic are able to keep their prices reasonable by making their glasses in-house and cutting out the retailer by selling through their own website.
A few creative solutions allowed them to overcome the concerns of not being able to see yourself in the frames first and the unclear lens options. A virtual try-on which uses the customer’s webcam creates an experience just like testing frames in-person. Glassic addresses the lens selection issue with a unique algorithm which suggests lenses after the customer selects their power, ensuring the product they buy is their best option. This algorithm also eliminates the navigation of lens types as well as the price variation between different opticians.
Lenskart expands on convenience of shopping for glasses. By offering a vision exam at home, the consumer is not only able to get a lens prescription, but this keeps an optician free to care for a patient with more immediate issues. Certain areas are eligible for a home visit to try on frames. An employee brings 100 frame options and helps the customer with their purchase.
These innovative companies prove the power of a creative idea to change the status quo, create solutions, and assure the consumer that they made a good investment.
Three factors contributed to the eyecare industry disruption in Latin America: a growing population, a steady increase of people requiring vision correction, and runaway inflationary rate on eyewear. The first two factors seemed to point to a steady volume of consumers, but the rising retail cost of eyewear made them postpone or cancel purchases.
The traditional business model has merely assumed that a steady customer base equals steady sales. While this may be accurate to an extent, consumers have become more cost-savvy and will not purchase a product if they feel their best interests have not been realized.
Eyecare industry disruptors saw this and reacted by offering more cost-effective choices. In Latin America, this was done by two primary methods: acquisitions and partnerships.
For example, Luxottica, the eyewear superpower, increased their distribution by acquiring retailers. Having retail-ready locations for their manufactured products builds a strong competitive edge and gives consumers a network of locations to purchase eyewear.
Partnerships have a similar strategy but balance the power differently. Chilli Beans, the major retailer of sunglasses in Latin America, partnered with GoECart to run the e-commerce side of their business. This type of industry disruption embraces the technology that is available and makes product selection more accessible.
Yet, the eyecare industry disruptors in Latin America are not looking to just take over the competition, they are in the business with long-range and innovative goals. Lema21, the “Warby Parker” of Brazil, sells private label frames directly to consumers. They compete with designer brands, which are made in the same Chinese factories as their own products. The difference is a much lower price, averaging about $100.
But Lema21 didn’t stop with the monetary benefit; they added a virtual try-on tool and a home trial that ships four different frames to consumers. Now, people can shop conveniently, have choices, and save money. The industry disruptors listened to the consumers, made changes in the business model, and everyone walks away happy.
European consumers are welcoming the eyecare industry disruptors. In Germany, consumers are buying glasses online at an increasing rate, while industry experts predict an even bigger growth in this venue of sales.
Industry disruptors are responding to consumer concerns about buying eyewear online: the lack of an optician to provide advice when making a purchase. This can be remedied through a variety of means. Try-on technology and an easier return policy are ways to give consumers more confidence. Social media, blogs, and forums can connect customers to style experts both within and outside of the industry. All of these things contribute to a better buying experience.
Eyecare industry disruptors will concentrate on these issues since most consumers have stated that they are very satisfied with the lower costs of purchasing glasses online. Price is an overriding factor in consumer appeal and industry disruptors will continue to refine the entire process, stressing the personalization of each sale.
In France, Paul Morlet, the founder of Lunettes Pour Tous (Glasses for All), is making a bold claim: get a pair of glasses for 10 euros in 10 minutes. His democratic approach to making glasses both affordable and accessible is shaking up the core of the industry in this country. The basic idea is for consumers to buy glasses and leave with them the same day.
His business model is basic with lower prices, reduced markups, and large volume sales. His marketing strategy includes educating consumers about the high profits opticians enjoy as they sell glasses that are cheaply made in China. Truth-telling is a large part of the eyecare industry disruption strategy since no consumer wants to feel taken advantage of.
Throughout Europe, these same principles are steering the eyewear industry into new ways to do business. Cost, choice, and convenience are the keywords that consumers use, and industry disruptors are providing real solutions in these areas. While each country may have varying measures of progress in the disruption phase, industry experts see a steady increase of consumer confidence in purchasing eyewear online.
Technology and transparency in the eyecare industry is forever changing the view (and the resulting purchasing power) of consumers.
A trademark of industry disruptors is their lack of boundaries, either physical or creative. Japan-based Jins Eyewear perfectly captures this element of being a disruptor. Crossing borders and collaborating with tech, fashion, and business allow this company to make headlines.
Although they were unknown in the US, they operated over 300 stores overseas Japan and China. So why open a flagship store in San Francisco, California? Because the trendy city is a great fit for their brand of eyewear that is fashionable and tech-savvy. Young, progressive cities are like a magnet for industry disruptors because they are full of the kind of adventurous consumers which startups need to succeed.
The technology allowing them to disrupt is Kanna, their in-house eyeglass manufacturing robot. Having a lens lab right in the store means not only are the materials sourced directly from the company, the manufacturing is too. Really embracing the concept of controlling the whole supply chain to keep costs down also results in the fast wait time between selecting and taking home a new pair of glasses. The Jins experience is going home with a pair of glasses for only $120 and 30 minutes of time. In San Francisco. The low cost enables their fashion-savvy consumer to have multiple pairs quickly and inexpensively.
The Jins flagship store has another unique collaboration: a fellow disruptor. 20/20 Now, who offer vision tests through video-conference, rents space in the back of the store. If you add an inexpensive refraction to your trip to Jins, you can still leave your visit with a new prescription and a new pair of glasses for under $200. Again, this is San Francisco.
The most important goal of industry disruptors is creating transparency. Regardless of the problems the eyeglass market faces, information is what leads to solutions. Overpriced eyeglasses and consumers who are kept in the dark about their true cost is a problem worldwide.
Eyecare industry disruptors are creating solutions. The fact that they are all working towards fixing the same problems shows the issues the market faces are due to the distribution model rather than their physical location.
The future of this industry rests in the vision of these disruptors.
3D Printing Your Eyesight
Telemedicine of Today
What are Sports Vision Skills?
If you think that playing sports only involves running, throwing, tackling, and jumping, then you are missing other key skills every athlete must develop.
Sports vision skills are an integral part of every game. The eyes gather over 60% of information that is sent to the muscular and skeletal systems. Specific visual abilities affect sports performance because they directly impact motor skills. The great news is that just like physical exercise strengthens the body, visual skills can be improved with training.
Keep Your Eyes on the Ball (Maybe Not)
Every coach has said that and every player has tried to do it but focusing on a fast-moving object places a great demand on vision. A baseball hit into right field might seem like a blur but players can improve this visual ability by understanding how focusing works in a sports situation.
Humans can only focus both eyes on an object within a relatively small space. To get a look at what this means, try the Thumb Rule. Hold your arm straight out with your thumb pointing vertically. The width of your thumb in this position gives you an idea of the size of your visual focus. Now, before you get discouraged and think you will never be able to track a tennis ball or softball that is lobbed your way, be prepared to learn a focusing trick.
While it is difficult for both eyes to focus on a ball that is moving, you can concentrate your vision peripherally. Motion is more easily detected in your peripheral vision field. And the quicker you react to the motion in sports, the better able you will be able to play.
So, instead of intensely focusing on the ball, look to the midpoint. In basketball, for instance, this can mean looking at the area between the ball and the person you are defending. The movement of either the ball or the other player will be detected more quickly and you will be in a better place visually to make the right move.
What’s Your Eye D?
Of course, you all have ID, but Eye D refers to your dominant eye. If you know which eye it is, you can improve the way you play certain sports. That’s because the dominant eye processes and sends information to the brain just a little bit faster and more accurately than the other eye.
Let’s take a quick test. Extend both arms straight out from your body, at about shoulder height. With your thumbs and index fingers, form a small triangle. Pick an object in the distance and center it in the triangle. Close one eye at a time and look at the object. The eye that sees the object centered in the triangle is your dominant eye.
Now, take this information to the playing field. If you are a golfer, line up your next shot so that your dominant eye has a clear view of the ball and the hole. Tilt your head to give that eye an unobstructed look at the path the ball needs to travel.
While a physically fit body is important in sports, remember the role of your eyes. Without their ability to focus and process visual information, athletes would literally be at a loss. Get regular vision exams to keep your eyes at their best. And remember, it’s not only about winning; it’s also about being a better and healthier you.
What’s the Right Eyewear for Sports?
Do Sunglasses Make You More Attractive While Protecting Your Eyes?
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing
Should You Get Glasses or Contact Lenses?
Eyecare Industry Disruptors in the US
Industry disruptors challenge traditional approaches in decisive ways; their independent thinking removes obstacles and replaces them with optimistic and effective solutions.
Disruptive technology is changing the eyecare industry. Innovations are reshaping the core of this business while restoring consumer confidence. Disruptors have followed a steady progression that has encompassed several key ideas.
Recognizing the need for change within the eyecare industry and coupling that with available technology began the course of disruptive innovations. Three main factors were addressed by the early disruptors: cost, convenience, and accessibility.
Traditionally, eye exams and eyewear had a prohibitive cost for many people. Industry disruptors used technology and innovative product development and procurement to lower the cost and keep the quality.
Convenience is a sought-after commodity in today’s busy world and eyecare industry disruptors made the exams and purchase of glasses and contact lenses easy. Smart Vision Labs, for instance, has a 5-minute vision exam (no appointment necessary) that can determine if corrective eyewear is needed. A prescription is generated and a secure online portal holds the patient’s information. Convenience encourages and motivates consumers and is a hallmark of change that disruptors bring to industries.
Accessibility takes the idea of convenience one step further by bringing eye care to everyone. Rural areas benefit, as well as the house-bound or anyone either physically or mentally unable to go for traditional vision exams. Eyewear can be purchased online and delivered to the door. All of these things make people more inclined to take an active part in their eyes’ health.
Who Are the Vision Industry Disruptors and How Do They Disrupt the Eyecare Industry?
The disruptive companies are creating solutions to long-standing industry problems. Specifically, they have been targeting areas of eye care and eyewear. Creating connections using the Internet rather than in-person introduces opportunities to reach new consumers.
Some of these innovative companies work toward making vision care available for everyone, regardless of their financial situation or physical location. In addition to the Internet, advancements in laser technology and the prevalence of smartphones assist these eyecare industry disruptors in providing another option to the status quo.
Opternative uses a smartphone and computer to offer an at-home vision test. In less than 25 minutes, the consumer gets a signed prescription to shop for their eyewear anywhere they like.
EyeQue’s Personal Vision Tracker uses an optical miniscope which works with a smartphone application to deliver your prescription. In addition to storing the results in the cloud, the app also tracks vision history and has customizable notifications about things from health reminders to current eyewear trends.
Eyenetra offers Blink, an at-home vision test performed by a trained technician. The “Visioneers” collect the person’s health history and use the Blink devices to perform a vision test before sending the results to a licensed optometrist within their network.
PUPIL has a free at-home vision test where the technician will also bring different frames for the consumer to try out. If they find something they like, they will have their glasses that same week.
20/20 Now uses HD video conferencing to get the client from exam to prescription in 15 minutes or less.
PlenOptika created QuickSee, a handheld autorefractor. This innovation came about specifically for places where glasses are very inexpensive but there is a lack of doctors to prescribe them. QuickSee allows doctors to work more efficiently, see more patients, and get them the proper vision correction.
Smart Vision Labs pushes the boundary of vision care further while setting the standard for convenience. Their 5-Minute Vision Exam uses technology similar to LASIK to create accurate prescriptions quickly. The consumer doesn’t even need to schedule an appointment.
Other innovative companies work to disrupt the fashion side of the eyecare industry, which has been forcing unknowing consumers to purchase their vision correction from the established leaders. Glasses and contact lenses are both affected by this problem but disruptors are working to change it. The benefit of affordable and accessible vision testing is diminished if the consumer can’t afford frames or be able to replace their contacts routinely.
1-800 Contacts was the first online retailer offering contact lenses. They have grown into the world’s largest contact lens store. The high volume they work with means they are the most likely to have exactly what the consumer is shopping for and at a low price.
On the eyeglass front, Zenni Optical began by offering low-cost frames and lenses. For under $9, you could get a complete pair of glasses, frames included.
Warby Parker disrupted the industry by making new ways to connect with the consumer. Being able to see how frames look, either virtually or through their Home Try-On, invites customers to take an active part in the buying process. These innovations, in addition to connecting through social media, really resonated with their target audience of young adults, proving they are a viable market.
Eponym provides a venue for smaller fashion companies to break into the eyeglass market.
Frameri builds on the online glasses market by trying something new: interchangeable lenses. Their lenses can pop-out of one frame and into another. This encourages people to try out new styles or change up their appearance easily without purchasing another lens.
Timing the Disruption
Eyecare industry disruptors know when it’s time to ‘better the business.’ Changes, of any type, are most effective when certain conditions appear.
Information and technology are the two elements that move disruptions from the idea stage to full implementation. Industry disruptors have pinpointed the areas for change and developed a strategy. Yet, to actually bring this innovative thinking into the industry requires the collective consciousness of consumers.
Information begins the disruption.
The eyecare industry has a secret or two. They have been pairing with vision insurance providers and retail eyewear manufacturers. This has created an uneven flow of money. People with vision insurance feel obligated to use that benefit but when they do, they are directed to in-network providers for both the exams and the eyewear.
The secret is that the consumer has other, more beneficial, options than their coverage suggests. Vision insurance has traditionally created a conduit for the consumer to receive eye exams and corrective products. Eyecare industry disruptors are offering choices that bring the power back to the consumer. This is done by comparing the options.
The insurance-priced versus the direct-priced methods show a significant monetary difference. A consumer paying directly for a vision exam or corrective eyewear can see a price drop of at least 50%.
The price change reflects information that creates transparency in the eyecare industry. When consumers see the actual cost of products and services, the idea of vision insurance does not seem so beneficial. Disruptors have seen the artificial inflation that has permeated this industry and have a plan to bring real options to the consumer.
Technology helps to not only spread this information but it also provides access to exams and products in a cost-effective and convenient way.
Smartphones can be used for vision exams, and cloud-based technology can send and store patient information. Try-on software can make buying frames easier and 3D printing can create custom looks for consumers.
Information paired with technology uncovers secrets and creates solutions. Disruptions give power to the people.
Eyecare industry disruptors see the need for change and offer real solutions.
Where are the Disruptions Taking Place?
That’s the best part about the eyecare industry disruptors—they are making changes everywhere.
The disruptive technology can be accessed from any location. There are no geographic boundaries that limit the spread of information and innovations that are reshaping the eyecare business. Rural communities benefit as well as those in large metropolitan areas. These disruptions are removing geography as a factor in maintaining eye health.
But physical location is only part of the ‘place’ where the disruption is occurring. The mind is another vital location where the industry disruptors are making their presence known. Consumers are getting knowledge about how vision insurance has created an option to maintain eye health at a cost to the very people they seek to help. That cost is monetary but also comes with a loss of personal freedom.
Being directed to certain places for vision exams or to purchase eyewear limits choices. When there is no competition in an industry only a few companies set the price. Consumers know that the price of corrective glasses and frames is very high, yet the actual cost of this product is not.
Eyecare industry disruptors put price and cost in their proper places to benefit the consumers.
When a disruption is taking place in an industry, it will never be business as usual. And that’s a very good thing.
The eyecare industry has maintained a status quo existence for a long time, so why should we welcome these industry disruptors now?
The single word answer would be ‘motivation.’ These eyecare industry disruptors are motivated to change a business that has become stagnant and cost-prohibitive. By embracing and using current technology, the business of eye health can—and should—have a fresh new look. And that will positively impact every consumer.
Disruptive technology is currently in place to address real needs and concerns. Consumers already understand the value of vision exams and using prescription eyewear if needed. However, what they don’t understand is the inconvenience and prohibitive costs associated with this industry.
Eyecare industry disruptors do understand. They have technology in place to bring the vision exam to the patient, whether it’s a rural area or a place that doesn’t require such a stringent time frame. Patients do not want to schedule a vision test around their work or school schedule. Time is valuable to them.
Disruptors believe in transparency in the cost of eyewear which is another huge concern to consumers. Price and cost have not been fully explained to consumers and therefore, the traditional industry method of distribution has favored the manufacturers. Disruptors challenge the current business model and invite the purchasing power of the consumer to come alongside them.
But perhaps the biggest innovation that eyecare industry disruptors bring is the power of choice.
They recognize that change needs to be implemented to address the valid concerns of consumers. They use disruptive technology to create a new industry standard. They form innovative companies that not only herald the change but spearhead the movement.
The result is an improved vision for the eyecare industry and one that is motivated to connect consumers to more affordable ways to care for their eyes.
Eye Health Begins with You
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Eye Care Tips Your Eye Doctor Wish You Knew
What’s Your Eyes’ Age?
Hold off on ordering yet another wrinkle cream because it might be your eyes giving your age away. Some things you’re probably doing every day are actually bad habits that can make your eyes seem older.
There are three main things your eyes react to which create an aging appearance: your health, irritation, and physical damage. These problems can build on each other which emphasize how important your overall health is.
What’s Your Beauty Eye-Q?
Is part of your beauty regimen eating well and drinking enough water? Your eyes benefit from a healthy diet and good hydration, inside and out. Dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, almonds, and eggs all contain key nutrients your eyes need to be functioning optimally. Those things could all even be part of a nice breakfast. When your eyes are working at their best, they’re not straining and creating redness and irritation.
Did you remember to pour a glass of water with your breakfast? You’ve noticed your eyes seem dry after spending a few hours working on a computer for work or after studying for a big exam at school. But one other way you might find yourself rubbing your dry eyes is if you are dehydrated. Stopping work to drink a glass of water gives your eyes a break by allowing them to focus on something else while you rehydrate them. This is especially true if you’ve been doing something that dehydrates your body, say, like drinking a few cups of coffee to stay awake while working.
It isn’t called ‘beauty rest’ for nothing. Nothing completes the “I was up all night” ensemble like puffy eyelids above your red eyes and dark circles below them. When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood vessels dilate and become visible through the thin skin under your eyes. ‘Bags’ below your eyes, as well as puffy eyelids, are caused by fluid retention. Both of these can usually be fixed and prevented by making sure you’re getting a good rest at night.
When your eyes are tired, do you rub the lids to make them feel better? That is definitely a bad habit. Tugging on the delicate eye skin creates lines and wrinkles that make you appear older. While some creasing and things like crow’s feet are a normal part of aging, breaking the habit of touching your eyes will keep any extra lines from showing up.
Just Hide It?
You have places to be and things like ‘sleep’ and ‘healthy breakfast’ are not on the to-do list. Your quick fix could be wearing some big designer sunglasses, like the kind that seem to cover half of your face.
Actually, this one is a good idea. Yes, the sunglasses will hide your red eyes and dark circles but they will also protect your skin from sun damage. Since this pair protects against 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays (or else you wouldn’t have bought them), their large lenses block the harmful rays from reaching your skin.
So put your shades on for now. Try to remember to get a good night’s rest when you finish your busy day. It turns out, keeping your eyes looking young and keeping them healthy are the same thing.
Eye Health Begins with You
Vision Exams and Eye Health
Do Eye Exercises Really Improve Vision?
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing
3D printing has been making its usefulness and potential known throughout many different areas. Recent breakthroughs in 3D printing are opening doors for it to be utilized in precise applications like engineering and space travel and for more creative uses in the home and fashion industries. Right now, 3D printing seems to be limited only by the designer’s imagination (and the size of the printer).
In any of these fields, the basic idea is to allow items to be manufactured using the printer and a schematic rather than having to purchase or otherwise obtain the item already made. This saves time (to find the item), space (from not having to store it), and changes the availability of the item from seeing if it is in stock to downloading a file. The applications for this technology are enormous. If an astronaut needs a tool in outer space or your washing machine repairman needs a part to install, all they require is a design file and a printer.
3D printing provides an innovative offering of freedom and imagination that impacts consumers on several levels. Eyeglasses are the core of the optometry industry, with the selection and purchase of frames being a finite business. There are, apparently, a limited number and type of available frames. Consumers understand that their eyewear selection will be based on what has already been designed and created. In other words, the consumer must ‘fit’ into the frames in a similar way that the frames need to ‘fit’ on their eyes.
On some level, the consumer is aware that their choices are controlled by the eyewear industry. With traditional methods of manufacturing, thousands of the exact same frames are made.
After receiving a prescription, the patient is directed to a wall of frames that await their inspection. This part of the process has been relatively effective so far because the consumer views the choices as a sampling of every type of frame available. Often there are categories like ‘new arrivals.’ The trendy colorful frames will be on the opposite side of the wall not mingling with the conservative business-style ones. The choices seem impressive at first glance, but they are finite.
3D printing has just knocked down that wall of frames.
This technology has put words like, specialized, customizable, personalized, and unique in the equation of purchasing frames. These are more than concepts to the consumer; these ideas form the basis of their purchasing power. People want choices, but they also want choices that they can create.
3D printing holds the potential for not only creating frames that exist in a model or photo, but frames that are literally born in the consumer’s mind. This opens the door to one-off, individualized frames. Imagine designing your own frames someday.
The technology sends a strong message to eyeglass wearers: choices are possible.
In an exciting, innovative way, 3D printing put the other “I” in eyewear. The potential and future impact will be astounding.
The role of the optician is to measure and fit lenses and frames for clients according to a written prescription provided by a licensed ophthalmologist.
3D printing can add more to this job description: print frames for clients. These frames can be made from a prototype or may even be a unique design.
The bottom line is that opticians are at the forefront of using technology that will add to their business.
One of the key benefits of printable frames is the elimination of excess inventory. Most optical stores have thousands of frames but they are not all being sold because they may not fit right or be the wrong color or shape. Consumers use their buying power most effectively when they believe they have choices that will benefit themselves.
Seeing thousands of frames in the optical store may seem impressive but consumers may get frustrated trying on frames that are close to what they want but not quite. 3D printing can create a unique and perfect-for-them set of frames.
Opticians can also combine current technologies to offer customized choices. Virtual try-on technology and facial recognition software can literally create a look for the client that is one-of-a-kind. 3D printing technology then wraps up the process by printing the frames according to the exact specifications of the consumer.
Remember those thousands of frames that are displayed on the wall? They may have been the epitome of the industry’s standard in the past, but 3D printing brings tens of thousands of choices to the consumer. Opticians will not have to rely on eyewear manufacturers to dictate the latest trends or be subject to purchasing inventory based on projected sales. The business of selling eyewear will be brought to the level where it will be most appreciated: the consumer.
Is this mind-boggling? Of course it is, in a cutting-edge, I-care-about-your-choice way.
Few companies already in this scene are Protos Eyewear, Sneaking Duck, and Mykita.
Protos has an unique algorithm which allows them alter the design of each pair of glasses to fit the user’s features and accentuate their facial structure.
Mykita is a German manufacturer of hand-crafted prescription frames and glasses. They have maee a unique material called Mylon, for their product, by employing a 3D printing process called Selective Laser Sintering.
Sneaking Duck is an Australian online retailer of prescription eyewear with a whole range of customizable 3D printed glasses.
Will the consumer be overwhelmed with this abundance of options? It’s more likely that the consumer will be overly impressed with the available choices they can control. Buying power is put back into their hands.
Opticians will see a renewed motivation in the consumer and the words ‘close-out sales’ may no longer be heard in the office.
Which looks better, one or two?
No, not the eyecharts. ‘One or two’ in this case is inviting you to compare how you buy glasses now to how you might purchase them in the not-so-distant future.
Meet Steve and Joe. Steve loves following new tech so he’s excited to test out those new 3D printed glasses frames he’s read about on some of his favorite blogs. Joe is a little more cautious of technology and trends so he opts to get his new glasses from the shop he’s been purchasing from since he was young. Let’s see what each of their experiences looks like.
Steve walks into the office where an equally enthusiastic optician walks him through what he needs to do in order to get his new frames. He asks if Steve has any ideas about what kind of glasses he’s looking for and, of course, Steve does. That idea is actually the first step in the 3D printing process; a vision of what you want to make. Steve pulls a well-worn pair of glasses from his bag. He says these were his favorite pair but they’ve haven’t fit right since he repaired them after they got run over with a bike. He wants to be able to have the look of his ‘geek-chic’ square black plastic frames with some measurement tweaks so they won’t slide off his nose (and into the path of oncoming bicycles).
The optician takes some measurements of the both the frames and Steve’s face before recreating the glasses in a 3D modeling program. As he works, he tells Steve the other ways he could have designed his new glasses. Bringing in a design he downloaded or created himself at home, using a database to select a pre-made frame, experimenting with different colors, or even emailing the shop a frame model (so Steve never even had to leave his house) were all other options.
As Steve and the optician excitedly discuss frame designs, Joe walks into his local glasses shop and right away sees a frame he likes. And another one! And another one? Joe and Steve actually have something in common here: their preferred style of square black frames. But while Steve works to customize his perfect pair, Joe is tasked with trying on the many pre-selected frames the store carries. Pick a frame, take off the glasses you’re wearing and put them down, put on the new pair and squint into the mirror to see if they look okay, decide they don’t and put your old pair back on. And repeat. Joe might be here a while.
And Joe is only dealing with one downside to the current way glasses are bought: too many choices. If Joe was interested in a more unique frame or if his face measurements fell above or below the ‘average’ sizes, he would run into the other side of his current problem: not enough choices. Sure, there are fifty pairs of average-sized square black frames but only one option if you want a small, red pair of glasses.
Meanwhile, the optician finishes creating the frame’s schematic in the 3D modeling program and, after getting Steve’s approval, sends the file to the 3D printer to be made. 3D printers work like this. A thin layer of plastic powder is spread out across the printer’s surface. It heats up and a laser runs over the powder in the shape of the model the optician uploaded. The process then repeats creating a new layer over the previous one. One by one, these layers build and form the shape of the frames. After the printing process completes, the optician attaches the arms, pops the lenses back in and hands them over to Steve.
Joe did find a pair that fit him well so the sales person sat him down to take his measurements for lenses and to get his payment information. She says the glasses will be ready in about a week as she hands him the invoice. Joe is a little surprised such a simple pair of frames cost so much but it’s either pay with money now or in time spent later having to find another, cheaper pair. He pays and leaves to see if Steve fared any better with his new-fangled technology.
Industry experts predict that within 20 years, all optical stores and optometrist offices will have a 3D printer.
This prediction also means that everyone who wears and purchases corrective glasses will have an infinite number of choices. The word ‘infinite’ refers to not only a physical inventory, but the creations of their minds.
Designing and printing unique customized frames will be the norm. Tens of thousands of options will be available to the consumer.
This will revolutionize the eyecare industry. The consumer benefits from choices and the ease of getting their customized frames printed in the office while they wait.
Optical stores benefit from not having to keep a larger, and often, not sellable inventory.
In terms of employment, 3D printing will create new and specialized careers in the optical industry. The duties of the optician will also include being a designer, as the creation of frames will be both fashionable and functional.
Perhaps a way to sum up the optical industry of tomorrow will be to think of the past and future.
2D is the past, giving consumers two choices: buy what is available or don’t make a purchase.
3D offers a new dimension: if you don’t see what you want, create it. This third choice empowers opticians to stop asking consumers to settle for available options but to offer them what they really want.
3D printing is powerful. Watch what it will do for the eyecare industry.
Telemedicine of Today
How to Clean Your Eyeglasses…the Right Way
Should You Get Glasses or Contact Lenses?
Should I Get Reading Glasses From a Drugstore?
There should only be one way to answer that question: “I didn’t.”
However, although 114 million eye exams are performed each year, there are 240 million Americans who have some type of vision problem.
So someone has been skipping a vision exam, right? That isn’t you though, is it?
Why is there such a difference in the number of people who need vision correction and those who actually go for an eye exam?
It (mostly) comes down to money. A CDC survey of people with vision problems over 40 found the most commonly cited reasons for not getting routine eye exams were due to the cost of treatment. Both lack of vision insurance and not being able to afford the visit made up nearly 40 percent of the reasons why people skipped their eye checkup.
The group most likely to state a cost-prohibitive reason for their lack of vision care was between the ages of 40 to 64. This is also the age when many age-related vision problems (such as presbyopia) begin to make themselves known.
What Other Reasons Could There Be?
So, you noticed it “mostly” comes down to money. What are the other reasons?
The next most influential decision maker in refusing vision care is some good old self-diagnosis… or lack thereof. 35 percent of people stated they didn’t go to the eye doctor because they didn’t feel they needed a vision exam.
Let’s back up for a moment. The survey involved people over 40 who have “moderate to severe visual impairment” which is defined through actions such as struggling to read a newspaper. 35 percent of people with noticeable vision problems don’t think they need a vision exam. For the rest, regular vision exams will also alert the person to any developing problems that aren’t big enough to notice but that are at the perfect time to correct, preventing further damage.
Nearly 5 percent said they had difficulty getting an appointment scheduled which prevented their checkup. Although this percentage is far smaller than the other two statistics, it represents another completely different issue. Why can’t these people find appointments? Is their schedule or their doctor’s the problem? Is it caused by an understaffed office or maybe the patient is homebound? This 5 percent has both the money and desire to get their eyes checked but are not receiving treatment.
A Real Way for Affordable Eye Care
Smart Vision Labs has a way to address each of these groups to present them with the opportunity to receive vision care using telemedicine and their 5-Minute Smart Vision Exam.
Those without adequate vision coverage will be pleased to find out how affordable a vision test can be without involving their health insurance at all. In this way, Smart Vision Labs is helping to honor the ideals of the Affordable Care Act, even when the law itself can’t fix everything.
Appointments, scheduling, and creating time are also far simpler. After the short vision test is complete, the results are sent to an ophthalmologist who reviews them. You get your prescription through a secure online portal which protects your privacy and gives you control over how you use your own medical information. Having the prescription on a computer makes it easy to purchase glasses or contacts online so finding time to try on glasses turns into browsing websites at your leisure.
For that group who just “doesn’t need it,” perhaps they just need to see the ease and affordability of a vision exam. It doesn’t hurt at all to go, whether they end up with a prescription they didn’t think they would get or bragging rights that they didn’t require corrective glasses and were right all along.
But affordably caring for your eyes is never a wrong decision.
No Stress Vision Exams
Vision Exams and Eye Health
How Would Describe Your Last Vision Exam?