The AR Stigma: How often have your patients turned down anti-reflective coatings due to a prior bad experience?
Welcome guest blogger Dr. Anne-Marie Lahr! Dr. Lahr is responsible for technical and medical education at HOYA Vision Care http://www.hoyavisioncare.com.
How often have your patients turned down anti-reflective coatings due to a bad experience they had in the past? As I work with accounts and directly with patients from time-to-time, I am still amazed at how many patients still grasp onto the memory of anti-reflective coatings of the past. Even as we tell them from the chair to the dispensing floor the importance of anti-reflective, there is still this underlying stigma that the coatings will separate, scratch or hold fingerprints and dirt.
Here are a few ways we can begin to dispel and reverse these all too common feelings: 1. Recognizing and understanding the deign flaws in old AR coatings 2. How AR coatings, now called treatments, have changed 3. Understanding why AR treatments are important to the effectiveness of today’s lens designs 4. Helping patients understand the benefits of AR treatments
The AR “Coating” Issue The anti-reflective coatings of the past had several design flaws that created a problematic issue for both dispensers and patients. Early coatings were not engineered to adhere to the hard coatings being applied to the lenses and this caused the pealing and crazing issues on most treated lenses. In addition, the porous nature of the early coatings would attract dust, dirt, water and oil particles to the surface of the lens which made the lenses not only difficult to clean, but created an environment where dirt easily penetrated the coatings surface to create scratches on the lens.
Today’s Treatments Lens treatments of today are just that, lens treatments. They not only include the anti-reflective properties that are necessary for increased light transmission through the lens, but also include dirt, water, oil repellents and extreme scratch resistance. By creating glass-silicone substrates for the hard coats, we have been able to layer on treatments that adhere to the lens surface more efficiently. In addition, the super oleophobic and hydrophobic treatments allow your patient to easily and effectively clean their lenses.
In the case of HOYA, we are not only creating the glass-silicone hard coat, but we are substrate matching the properties of the treatments to the index material type directly. Not only will the substrate expand and contract at the same rate as the lens, but the treatments will as well. This process also eliminates birefringence in the lens. Birefringence is the redirection of light through the lens due to mismatched properties creating an oily appearance to the lens. Because of these advancements, we are able to eliminate the birefringence issue while creating lenses that are as scratch resistant, if not more scratch resistant, than glass itself.
One way to think about how today’s lens “treatments” are different than the “coatings” of the past is like this – A coating was essentially painted on top of the surface of the lens. Today, a treatment is baked into the lens and is therefore an inseparable part of the lens’s DNA.
Importance of Treatments It is extremely important to note the necessity of AR treatments to the integrity of the lens design. Many of the new free form lenses on the market require anti-reflective treatments to maintain and enhance the lens design. Without these treatments, patients are not getting the full benefit of enhanced vision from their lenses.
It is also necessary to remember that when a patient sits behind most phoropters for their eye exam, anti-reflective lenses are used. Your patient’s vision is therefore being determined with this treatment already on the lenses. By not including this treatment on their ophthalmic lenses, we are doing our patients a huge disservice. It is our responsibility as professionals to communicate this to our patients.
Altering the Dialog The most effective way to educate our patients about the changes in eyewear designs and treatments is to alter the dialog. Again, we are dealing with “treatments” not coatings. These treatments are not just a “technical feature” they hold real value and patient benefits: 1. Hydrophobic – Repels water 2. Oleophobic – Repels oils, dirt and grime; easy to clean and keep clean. 3. Anti-reflective – Allows in more light; greater comfort and reduced eye strain. 4. Scratch resistance – Scratch protection which is the #1 desire among patients and protects their lens investment
It is no longer just an anti-reflective lens. They are now all-inclusive lens treatments that enhance the design of the lenses. If we stop talking about anti-reflective coatings and start discussing “lens treatments”, the sale of these all important treatments will increase exponentially elevating the profit margin of the office as well. It is also important to keep this dialog simple. The patient doesn’t need to understand birefringence or substrate matching. All the patient wants to know is that the lens treatment will hold up against the elements, and that they won’t have to run into the office in six months for new lenses. As optical professionals, it is our job to provide the best wearing experience we can for our patients, and that experience includes a great lens treatment.