Try Something New [Dee Hennigan]

For human beings eyesight is the most relied upon of all the physical senses.  

Yet, the average human takes sight for granted - never stopping to consider how the eye works or how the brain interprets signals from the optic nerve. Many humans never ponder over how do light rays travel millions of years through the universe, arrive on earth, and bounce or reflect off objects near to them, then pass through their eye’s cornea, crystalline lens, aqueous humor and land on the rods and cones within the retina which then creates data signals for the optic nerve to send to their brain and interpret.

Ah heck, the average human never even considers their aqueous humor, rods and cones, macula, or retina. They don’t even ‘consider’ their tears – well, tears are probably considered when allergies attack, dry eyes irritate, or when an emotional event occurs in their life.  But anatomy and science involved with eye sight and corrective lenses - p’shaw! 

Most folks will take a simple biology course at one time in their younger life; few folks remember anything about rods and cones, etc. Humans ‘see’ beauty around them on a daily basis. They ‘see’ their work in front of them. They ‘see’ the task list created for their daily chores or work assignments. But generally speaking, the fact that they can see is an expected daily activity for which they give little thought …until their eye sight falters.

When human eyesight falters there is one predominant emotion that rises without exception: fear. Fear is powerful.  It maneuvers its way into our subconscious and taints our perspective and even blocks our ability to hear, much less understand, clearly.

When a patient who is struggling with seeing clearly enters our practice and places the care and correction of their sight in our hands, that patient most likely is experiencing trepidation, stress, and downright fear which they unwittingly bring into our boutiques and offices.  As opticians, we must always remind ourselves of the common fact that most patients are not even aware of the stress they feel when they enter the office. Opticians must be kind, and patient, and ask many questions of the client in order to best understand their needs and allay their fears and reduce the stress they feel about selecting corrective lenses.

As an experienced Optician and human being who has walked the good red road for over 50 years, I ask:  Is there anything we can do before our patients arrive for their appointment or frame style session that will lessen the stress and set us on a trusting pathway which reduces the stress levels?   Yes! I discovered such a pathway by participating in community engagement both individually and as an optical team.

Community Engagement is my proactive approach to allay the fear and reduce the stress that patients feel when it is time to select new frames and lenses. I seek out volunteer opportunities and events where I can interact with my local community, promote my practice, build our team skills within our office, as well as establish an entry point to a pathway which earns respect and trust within our community.

Volunteering as much as I can within our local community has proven successful for creating good first impressions. Setting up simple visual field testing booths at the local art fairs or golf tournaments, volunteering to offer visual field tests at the local women’s shelter or back to school events or PTA meetings: all of these events assist me with beginning a dialogue about eye care.  Working beside other members of the community builds rapport and trust and serves as a reminder for patients in the community who need glasses for the first time, or for a patient who has a difficult prescription to fill, that if they visit me and my staff, they can be assured that we care about our community and care about our patients.

What we do and how we treat our patients inside the office is as important as what we do and how we treat individuals in our community outside the office. Give it a try. Connect with your community, volunteer as a team, and watch your practice and your sales grow.  

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