New Adventure Kids Club exclusively from Healthy Eyes Advantage offers opportunities for growth and ocular health awareness
Several years ago, Ryan Parker, OD, took his two young children to the playground. “My blonde, blue-eyed, light-complexioned son looked over at me and was squinting in the sunlight,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’m the worst dad.’ I encourage my patients to purchase sunwear for their kids, yet my own kid is out here ‘squinting.’” Since that time, Dr. Parker has been adamant that parents — himself included — understand the importance of protecting children’s eye health.
The body of scientific evidence is strong that exposure to ultraviolet light can contribute to ocular health and vision issues, such as the development of cataracts, and emerging research points to a possible link between exposure to blue-violet light and long-term vision issues, such as age-related macular degeneration.1 “Harmful light can cause damage to the retina over time,” Dr. Parker says. Yet many practitioners don’t address children’s long-term eye health. He understands why: practices are busy places. Often, a routine child’s eye exam represents a point in the schedule when the doctor and staff can catch up a little. The exam typically moves quickly, and doctors might feel hesitant to bring up something that parents might consider alarmist, he says.
He uses the analogy of a primary care physician reminding parents to use sunscreen to protect their child’s skin. “The concern is not that the child will develop skin cancer when she’s 6 or 10, but that she might when she’s 60,” he says. Counseling parents on the preventive strategies they can take now to ensure their child’s long-term health and wellness is important.
As Essilor’s Director of Professional Education, Dr. Parker is delighted with the launch of the Adventure Kids Club, a program offered exclusively by Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA). This program brings children’s vision to the forefront by offering independent eye care practitioners (IECPs) a simplified solution to frame board management and bundled options, as well as the opportunity to offer families a great value by meeting all of a child’s eyewear needs — indoor and outdoor — in a single pair. Dr. Parker conducted some Q&A sessions at the HEA booth during Vision Expo East on this topic. “It’s a great program — unique and amazing. This program caught the attention of all who came by the booth, and I think it will have tremendous traction,” he says.
The Adventure Kids Club offers frames and lens packages to include polycarbonate Crizal® lenses with Transitions® technology in a choice of eight UV-activated, color-changing frames and an in-office, interactive frame display.
Protecting Children’s Vision
IECPs have known for years that many people are exposed to the greatest amount of UV light during their childhood years. Children spend more time outdoors as preschoolers, before and after school and during vacations. At the same time, the crystalline lens is still thin and clear at this point in their physical development, so IECPs should be stressing the importance of quality sunwear and UV protection. But the past decade has seen a fundamental shift in the way that young people learn and engage the world. For example, 42 percent of young children now have their very own tablet device2 — up from 7 percent four years ago. Indeed, even young children ages 8 and under are spending an average of two hours a day on digital devices, while children from 8 to 12 are spending an average of four hours a day on devices2. Increases in screen time and less time spent outdoors could be contributing to advancing myopia. It is estimated that by 2050, 58 percent of the U.S. population could be myopic.3
Parents Provide The Opening
Dr. Parker says that some IECPs may shy away from a discussion on ocular health risks with young patients because they don’t want to frighten children or parents. However, he says, parents often provide an opening for just such a conversation. “We will often hear parents say something like, ‘My kid spends a lot of time staring at digital screens.’ It’s the perfect opportunity to provide some education. ‘This generation is going to have more exposure to blue light than previous generations. All screens emit blue light, and we also know that screen time can cause fatigue. The good news is now we have lenses that…’ These parents are looking for information to make sense of what they’ve heard about blue light,” he says.
The goal is never to scare parents, but if more science shows additional harmful effects, these parents can feel that they’ve done everything possible to protect their children. “We are trying to minimize potential damage,” he says.
Parents want value in the products that they buy for their children. That doesn’t mean that they are looking for the least expensive option, but they do want eyewear that can stand up to a child’s rough play. The warranty with the Adventure Kids Club is a big plus, as is the fact that one pair of eyewear with Transitions lenses can do so much to protect children’s eyes from UV rays without the cost of buying two pairs or the inconvenience of keeping track of multiple pairs with active kids.
What parents don’t want, Dr. Parker says, is the feeling that they’re being sold unnecessary upgrades. “I’m currently able to spend a lot of time listening to the presentations in opticals around the country. It’s often uncomfortable. The optical staff members feel like they’re selling feature after feature, and the patient feels like they’re being sold,” he says. That sense is partly due to the idea that parents don’t really know what they need for their children and don’t understand the mix of features being touted. “Once you start talking about coatings and treatments and upgrades, they begin to tune you out,” he says.
Dr. Parker uses his own experience shopping for computers or a new phone as an analogy. “I don’t understand all that my phone or computer can do. But I know that I can walk into the Apple store and say, ‘Here’s what I want my laptop to do,’ and within five minutes, I can walk out with exactly the right laptop,” he says. He trusts the sales representatives to understand which products can meet his needs.
Optical dispensaries can work the same way. If IECPs talk with parents during the eye exam about children’s vision — protection against harmful UV and blue light, screen time, spending time outside — it becomes much simpler for the optical staff to present a bundled solution that meets that child’s needs. The optician can continue the conversation that the doctor started, emphasizing that Transitions lenses that adapt to changing light conditions are a great solution for primary eyewear for a child and that it’s included in this package of children’s eyewear.
“The key is to identify the needs first. Once you do that, you can present an option that meets those needs,” Dr. Parker says. “Bundled offers are the simplest and most effective way to sell premium eyewear.”
Supply Chain Management
Essilor brings its experience in marketing and supply chain management to this exclusive program, too. “Essilor supports groups like HEA that are aligned with our mission of improving lives by improving sight,” says Ellen Haag, Essilor Vice President, Consolidated ECPs. Adventure Kids Club allows a simplified process in which complete eyewear is finished at an Essilor lab, which will have the frames on hand or order them directly. This allows the frames for the Adventure Kids Club selections to stay on the frame boards. “A busy practice can sell the same frame several times in a day, making the frame turn rate higher,” she says.
Coolest Frames Around
It’s also important to have a great selection of frames that will excite kids. The color-changing frames in the Adventure Kids Club are truly unique and offer tremendous kid appeal. In addition, they bring an element of education into the mix. Dr. Parker explains that these frames might change color — due to the changes in light — at unexpected times.
He remembers his surprise when he was wearing his Transitions lenses during a flight. Looking out the window in his airplane seat, he realized that his Transitions lenses were getting darker. The brightness of the day had not altered visibly, so it took him a moment to realize that as the airplane climbed, he was being exposed to higher levels of UV radiation, and the airplane windows were not screening it. He notes that he can imagine the color-changing frames could result in similar moments of recognition for parents and children.
1 Dillon, James, et al., Transmission of light to the aging human retina: possible implications for age related macular degeneration, Experimental Eye Research Volume 79, Issue 6, December 2004, pages 753–775. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2004.06.025.
3 Holden, et. al. (2016). “Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050.” Ophthalmology 123(5): 1036-1042.