By Thuy-Lan Nguyen, OD
Differentiate your practice—and create patient referrals and revenue streams—by specializing in sports vision services and eyewear.
START SMART. Learnbasic tests, know your sports.
START A CONVERSATION. Ask patients if they use different eyeglasses for sports and other activities.
NETWORKWITH ATHLETIC TRAINERS. Network with athletic trainers for high schools, colleges and professional teams; let them know of your services.
In photo: The practice web site features local athletes who are served by the practice’s sports vision services.
Providing patients with sports vision services and eyewear to improve their athletic performance can be a great practice-builder. My practice, The Eye Center in Pembroke Pines, Fla., started over 30 years ago with sports vision as a specialty. It was already known as The Florida Institute of Sports Vision when I bought into the practice three years ago.
In developing a sports vision specialty, you can start small and simple or go modern high tech if you have the budget.We offer tests of athletic performance, and we sell optical goods that can help to improve performance. Nike has a series of training tools, and we use the Nike Sparq strobe glasses as an essential tool for improving the vision of athletes. We have a simple contrast acuity chart and a Wayne’s Saccadic fixator. We use a simple King Devick test for concussion testing. We attached number and letter targets to footballs, softballs, and tennis balls for training. These are all easy, inexpensive tools you can use to get started. We hope to upgrade to a digital Saccadic Fixator and Speed Track test soon.
We feature eyewear for football, basketball, golf, baseball, softball, tennis and soccer. About 25 percent of our optical is devoted to sports eyewear, mostly Nike. We carry approximately 100-200 pieces of sports eyewear in our dispensary.
In addition to spectacles, a big part of sports vision is contact lenses. I fit athletes of all levels into daily disposable contacts.
Launch Sports Vision Niche: Essential Tools
• Nike Sparq strobe glasses
• Contrast acuity chart
• Wayne’s Saccadic fixator
• King Devick test for concussion testing
•Upgrade (later)to a digital Saccadic Fixator and Speed Track test
Ask Patients About Sports Involvement
One key to developing a sports vision specialty is to continually engage patients in talking about their sports involvement. Our technicians and doctors routinely ask patients about their weekend and outdoor activities. I ask patients what kind of activities they like to do outside of work and school. For example, if they are a weekend golfer, I ask if they have a separate pair of glasses for playing. You’d be surprised how many avid golfers actually use the same glasses for golf as they do for work. I ask patientsif they are interested in making their golf game better, and of course, they always are. Many golfers don’t know that the right eyewear is just as important as the right golf club.
Let Patients Demo Eyewear
We let patients put on a good pair of Nike sunglasses and go outside to see the difference. You can’t demo the technology indoors. You have to go outside to see the difference.
Build Relationship With Local Athletic Trainers
Another key: Work with athletes on teams. Start with local high schools or sports clubs by contacting athletic trainers.It is challenging to jump right into working with professional teams. Even big college teams can be tough to approach, but don’t be discouraged.
The Eye Center has been taking care of the Miami Dolphins for over 30 years. We have a very good relationship with the athletic trainers. At least twice a year, we do intense vision screenings for the Miami Dolphins and Nova Southeastern University athletes. I’ve had a Dolphin player tell me that the medical doctors listen to his heart for just 10 seconds, but we do 20 different vision tests during our screenings. We take pictures of all of the professional athletes that we take care of, and we hang them in the reception area as a “Wall of Fame.” Patients love it. They get to see our doctors with their favorite pro athlete.
ROB Editor’s Note: You must have a HIPAA Marketing Release form signed from each patient to post any pictures of patients in your office or elsewhere publicly.
The “Wall of Fame” in Dr. Nguyen’s office, showing off the many local athletes her practice has helped.
Sponsor Local Events
The Eye Center actively promotes our services. We sponsor basketball games for Nova Southeastern University and softball games for local high schools. We also set up tables at local golf tournaments to talk to attendees about sports vision and the importance of UV protection.