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    Glasses and contact lenses: Have they become a commodity?

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    Fifty years ago, my grandfather was a practicing OD. He would get a call at his lake cabin, rush into town, and spend 10 minutes working to solder the parts of a patient’s glasses so he could give the patient another year with his glasses.

    At the end of his career, my grandfather had the entire town as his patient base with extreme loyalty from all for his efforts.

    Today, things look a little different. The quality of frames does not seem to be the same. Gone are the days of personalization with frame engraving or investment in frame repair service.

    Previously from Dr. Brujic and Dr. Kading: Why aren’t ODs referring to each other?

    Our opticals have become commoditized.

    In the same way, we used to have vials and vials of contact lenses sitting around in our opticals. We personalized every lens order for the patient. Today, we are fighting to keep contact lens prescriptions from going generic.

    Patients can buy the same product from you that they can buy from another retailer. The frames you put on your shelf many times mirror the quality of some online or big-box stores.

    Your differentiation comes in your provided service.

    Quality service leads to happy patients

    People did not buy glasses from my grandfather because the frames and lenses appeared to be better quality than somewhere else. People purchased glasses from him because Dr. R.E. Kading’s brand stood apart.

    He was the product, not the merchandise he sold. In his day, people didn’t shop around to find the product that they wanted; they went to his shop to buy the product and receive his service. The pendulum with products has shifted, but the service standard has remained the same.

    David Kading, OD, FAAO, FCLSA
    Dr. Kading owns a two-location, three-doctor practice in Seattle. He specializes in dry eye and contact lenses with an emphasis on ...
    Mile Brujic, OD, FAAO
    Dr. Mile Brujic practices in Bowling Green, OH. He also owns Optometric Insights, a service providing career coaching to optometrists.

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