Your being a hard working educator and entrpreneur in the field , do you have some suggestions Ted ?
I would love to hear his ideas I'm doing it by specializing.
As there is no way of destroying the internet, unless you can shoot down the satellites that transmit it instantly and the world will be set back more than 60-to 70 years, because the old telephone and telegraph cables do not exist anymore as they have been removed, in which case your profession will flourish again for a while and there is no need for any change.
If this ultimate disaster does not happen you will be dying a professional death as we can see from these many posts on OptiBoard. There is no consensus, no agreement, only bickering.
The consumer looks for the best price and the internet provides the information where to to and get it. The BC Government has now ordered optometrist's to provide the PD on every prescription. (Copy of letter in a Canadian Forum post). How long will it take until other provincial and or State governments will follow this trend ? It is bound to happen.
One post on another thread quotes an OptiBoard member buying his new car on-line because it saves thousands of Dollars. How long will it be until we can just about get anything on the web for cheaper ? And aren't we all doing it, ............but do not like the on-line optical's to interfere with our profession?
According to the post's right here on OptiBoard any post dealing with this competition where just about ignored for the last 6 years.
There is no way of picking the brains of on-line operators as the few that came on this board have disappeared or have been banned for whatever reason.
I could even project that at some point your optical labs will start selling directly to consumers as the B&M businesses will not be able to order enough for them to survive. Most of the big labs are corporation owned, the same corporation that owns the largest on-line optical.
They are playing the field both ways and don't care how it is going to be in the future, they will still be selling their lenses and AR coating them.
If opticians do not adapt very fast and not over years, they will be a historic profession.
There was once an optician who..............................
I think we may be seeing more of this type of business
As opticians, we need to prove our value-worth to every customer and every-time. As we look to the future, one great tool that some of us have taken advantage of to enhance value is a digital measurement system. Getting the customer involved, discussing/showing monocular measurement accuracy and having a digital file/picture of the measurement to reference for future sales/measurements is a great help. This is especially so for when a different optician may measure that customer in the future. Being able to take incredibly accurate measurements works for all, and is especially impressive for the people who have a 1mm or greater difference in the mono pd or height. They have the greatest potentially to be 100% believers in the opticians and the technology. They will share these experiences with others and help to build business.
A key point for some customers, show/prove that they have a "special eye wear need", mono-pd-height differences with the frame pre-fit. They cannot get the accurate mono-measurement online and in many cases, will not get it from your competition who is not using the latest technology.
Your digital PD measurement will be antiquated by the next century system, as it will be commercially available within the next couple of years incorporated into I-Pads or similar.
Long before the next century, probably over the next few years............There will be a new type of optical service retailers, as the present system has been terminated by lack of customers that are willing to pay the prices charged by today's opticians.
These will be optical service stations, that do urgent repairs, adjustments, measure PDs and anything else when needed and required. The employees will not need any big qualifications as the job is more mechanical and needs good hands and fingers. Any technical support will be available with digital input by lens and frame manufacturers.
These service stations will also go the way of being set up by the few large optical corporations on a similar political setup as today's gas stations. They will be run by a new professional, the optical service manager. Optical Service Stations could also be part of the on-line optical's, carrying frame samples for peoples easier choice and charge only a service fee.
The major optical corporations will eventually take over most of the large on-line optical's after having successfully deregulated the optical retail by big time lobbying government regulators in the USA and Canada.
The on-line optical's will make and sell the glasses and prescriptions, while major lens manufacturers will setup proprietary and complex software which will replace the learned wisdom of today's optician. You will only click the links on the computer and get the correct answers to any occurring problem. All you can teach presently a live human brain is already at your fingertips and can be concentrated down to only optical wisdom.
You have forgotten one very important thing. The majority of full time eyeglass wearers still want to try on frames and not just virtually. You can't do this at a kiosk or "service station" because you need a large space and many frames, mirrors, lighting, so how would it fit in?
Sometime this century, opticianry will go the way of the blacksmith, and it won't be the internet that does us in. As medical procedures, products and breakthroughs accelerate (such as the ReStor IOL), there will be no need for glasses.
You may be right, Optical24/7, but if need is reduced, I'm sure fashion and filter will step in as want.
These systems have come down in cost significantly, the accuracy is incredible, and the customer response is "WOW". When is last time someone was WOWed by a pd stick that was used to stir coffee earlier in the day? When we can show the consumer that we are state of the art in technology, we teach why pre-fitting is critical to accurate measurements, we show them how they are unique (different mono-pd-height)... then we do additional sales today and tomorrow. If I am worried about spending a few thousand dollars on my business and the customers visual acuity outcome, then maybe I should be working for someone in some other trade.
Want to awaken Opticianry...threaten to de-regulate every state with a licensing requirement, however minimal.
"Jargon is the last refuge of the scoundrel." --Roger Ebert
Cat, I've said the same thing here for years. In my 38 years in this business I've seen and heard the fear of;
* Soft CL's
* One hour opticals
* Radial K
All of these advancements have had some impact on eyewear, but they pale in comparison to the advancements we are seeing already. ( Bionic eyes and multifocal IOL's just to name two.) I believe it to be naive to think there won't be continued advancements in medical procedures and products that restore/enhance vision. Medically, there are geometric advancements. The list is to long to print here on what's possible today that wasn't just 30 short years ago.
Opticianry, as we know it, is aproaching it's zenith, (if we haven't got there yet.)
So this is all not so new, but if you can impress customers, good for you, as long as they are not financially strapped and look mainly for deals which are thrown at them in every Saturday newspapers insert and thousands of websites.
Whatever happened to the online grocery stores that everyone was going to log on to, and get the groceries delivered to their door? 5 years ago, you couldn't pick up a Forbes without seeing an article about all the competition in that segment of the market.
Are we no different? After all, macaroni is macaroni.
Ophthalmic Optician, Society to Advance Opticianry
There won't be many if any opticians shortly, just opthalmic assistants and optometric assistances.
The place for the skilled dispenser and frabricator of spectacles who is not a general office worker, pre-exam and follow-up person will disappear. Automation will do away with most of the other optical skills required. It may even turn out as it did in Russia that refractive surgery is a lot cheaper and faster than eyeglasses.
I don't think our profession, done well, will vanish. No auto anything can take the place of skilled problem solvers. We have to adapt with the marketplace, just like any other industry. Done well is the key here, though, and I think the dispensers who are not doing the job well should be worried and will have more trouble in the future.
Ophthalmic Optician, Society to Advance Opticianry
The digital systems are significantly less than $10k these days and some labs offer credits to help pay for them. If you have not used the best systems, then you are short changing yourself and your customers IMHO. The opportunity to train licensed and apprentice opticians in the "profession" of pre-fitting and measuring with a digital system is significantly more effective and efficient than without them (Warren should feel better that I used the right word). I have the Ophth. Science Degree, I have been an Apprentice, I have student taught at one of the schools and taught many AO's and licenses in my day, and having the digital image to work off of to show opticians what they are doing well and having them point out what they need to improve on is night and day better as compared to sitting across from them or to the right or left when they are practicing.
As I have said to many of my counterparts, we could survive without the systems, but, the WOW factor with it is incredible. Better to thrive than survive,
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