By Vittorio Mena OD, MS
Oct. 13, 2021
Sports eyewear provides a great service to patients, protecting their eyes, while helping to enhance performance.
Sales of sports eyewear in my practice generate around $170,000 annually and sales of sports eye vitamins generate $14,000 annually.
Here is how I am building a sports vision niche that enables my patients to get more out of the sports they participate in while helping my practice to generate significant profitability.
The greatest profit from sports vision in my practice comes from sunglasses, contact lenses, sports eye vitamins, sports eyewear and prescription swimming google sales. We do not currently offer sports vision therapy, but it is an area of practice that I would like to incorporate in the future.
Every Patient is a Potential “Athlete”
I consider every patient who walks into my exam room a potential athlete. If this was a perfect world, every athlete on the planet would be wearing sports eyewear as a protective measure, whether they had a prescription or not. However, the main patients in my practice wearing sports eyewear are children, high school and collegiate athletes if contact lenses are not an option for them.
Each patient should also be wearing sunglasses. A great opening for a sunwear conversation occurs when a patient tells me they participate in an outdoor sport. I emphasize the need to protect their eyes from the sun. I explain that the blue light they are concerned about from their electronic devices is emitted much more powerfully by the sun. That information often inspires the patient to finally invest in a pair of high-quality sunglasses.
Invest in at Least One Great Sports Eyewear Line
The first step to selling sports eyewear is opening an account with a sports eyewear company. We sell RecSpecs by Liberty Sport. We offer more youth protective eyewear than adult, but we do have products available in our office for adults, too. We usually mark this merchandise up 2-3x over the wholesale cost to our practice. This generates $170,000 in net profit annually.
Sell Sports Eye Vitamins
I began selling eye vitamins in May 2015. As a sports performance vision optometrist, I prescribed EyePromiseVizual Edge PRO to support the brain in relation to its interaction with the visual system during the competition of sports. However, in the past few months I have started prescribing a supplement called VIZION EDGE, which contains a high amount of zeaxanthin and lutein, as well as meso-zeaxanthin.
These vitamins typically come in a case of 24. In the first month of prescribing these vitamins, a total of five cases of VIZION EDGE were purchased for the practice with four cases sold in just four weeks! Soon we will start selling the eye vitamins on our website, so patients can order online from us instead of having to drive to our office.
There are 30 soft gels in each VIZION EDGE bottle, which last patients one month as they take it once a day. The cost to the practice on each bottle is $13-$15. The profit to the practice per bottle is around $15. EyePromise Vizual Edge PRO comes in a case of 10 and the cost to the practice is $450. Profit on each patient is about $30-$35 per box.
On average I sell about three bottles a day and the office is open six days a week. That means I go through one case of vitamins in about a week and a half. $45 a day x 6 days a week = $270 per week. On average, that is an additional $14,000 per year to the practice selling just three bottles a day.
Devote a Portion of Your Optical to Sports Eyewear & Talk About It
We have a sports eyewear area by the main entrance to our office, so people see it when they walk in and out. We also display sports eyewear in other places around our optical, so patients can’t help but find it.
If you do not have a section dedicated to sports eyewear, and/or are not talking about sports eyewear to your patients, how will they find out that you sell it? Our job as healthcare professionals is to give patients all the eyewear options that exist that could improve their lives. If you give the patient a reason why they need a product like sports eyewear, and the reason you gave makes sense to them, they usually will make the purchase.
Ask Patients to Bring All of Their Glasses to Their Appointment
When a patient calls or e-mails us to make an appointment, the front desk will typically instruct them, “When you come in for your appointment, please bring with you any old or current frames you have, including glasses, reading glasses, sports eyewear, sunglasses and contact lenses.” When the patient comes in for their appointment, the front desk staff will ask if the patient brought those things with them. By asking patients to do this, and following up on that request when they come into the office, we are setting the stage for a conversation about all the products we have available that can help the patient. We are planting a seed for that conversation before they even walk in.
After the patient is has completed the check-in process, they head to the pretesting area where they are pretested by the technicians, who will ask the patient again about all the products for their eyes they use. When the patient comes into the exam room, I will then see all the glasses and contact lenses they currently own and use.
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Based on their lifestyle activities and hobbies, I prescribe other eyewear, including sports glasses, that they would benefit from wearing. By the time I hand the patient off to the optician, they will have heard this discussion about beneficial eyewear and contact lenses as many as five times. They are primed by that point to be open to buying multiple pairs of glasses, including sports eyewear.
Target Exam Room Conversation to Patients’ Specific Activities
If a computer programmer loves to fish three times a week I will recommend not only computer glasses, but also polarized sunglasses. If the patient was a pilot, prescribing polarized sunglasses would not be a good thing because then he would not be able to see his plane’s gauges.
If the patient is a young child, I ask if they do sports, such as basketball, karate, swim, dance or gymnastics. I will then recommended contact lenses, sports eyewear or swimming goggles.
Reach Out to Places Where Athletes Go
I practice close to New York City, where there are many schools, recreation centers, colleges, high schools, gyms and Boys and Girls Clubs nearby. I go and introduce myself to the athletes in these places, educating them on the importance of an eye exam. I explain that for them to perform well in their sport, they need to be seeing their best. I note the difference a good pair of contact lenses or sports eyewear can make to sports performance. I also emphasize how sports eyewear not only can enable them to see better, but also can minimize the risk of eye injuries and concussions. I currently work with two Division 1 colleges, and whenever I can help, they reach out to me.
When you make the effort to educate your patients and community about the benefits of sports vision services, you find many athletes and sports hobbyists who are eager to visit your practice.