An independent, national survey reveals 40 percent of consumers prefer to shop for and purchase vision correction services during evenings or weekends.
“Our job is to educate the public as to why they should have their eyes checked every year, and getting them to our office should be convenient as possible”
The survey, commissioned by EyeMed Vision Care, one of the nation’s leading vision benefits companies, found that while 60 percent of respondents indicated they prefer to access vision care services on regular weekdays before 6 p.m., nearly 25 percent of respondents prefer to access vision care on Saturdays at eye care/optical locations with all-day hours. Another 12 percent prefer weekday evenings after 6 p.m., and 4 percent prefer Sundays. In the poll*, conducted by EMI – Online Research Solutions, corrective-lens wearing consumers were asked, “What is your preferred time of day to shop for and purchase your vision correction (services)?”
“Consumers are pretty demanding when it comes to balancing convenience with their busy lives,” said John Lahr, O.D., FAAO, medical director at EyeMed. “The way consumers define convenience has changed dramatically in the last decade with innovations such as mobile broadband devices, online banking, drive-through pharmacies… we’re constantly searching for ways to accomplish everyday tasks on our own time schedules. Vision care should be easy, too.”
Independent optometrist Dr. Gregg Ossip, who owns and operates 16 Ossip Optometry locations in Indiana and provides services to EyeMed members, agrees and said his family business has had extended evening and Saturday hours since the 1950s when his father Dr. Kenneth Ossip first began practicing in Indianapolis. “Even back in the ’50s when our demands on our time weren’t as great, people still wanted convenient hours.
“It’s even more important now because in today’s fast-paced world, patients – whether they’re kids involved in sports or adults with job demands – want convenience. The first time they come to you (as a new patient) is when they’re most demanding of the evening and weekend hours. Then, once you establish a relationship with them, know their history and build their trust, they’re more willing to take time off work or school to come to you during weekday hours.”
Vision plan networks typically include a robust panel of independent providers to meet the needs of their members during workday hours, with some of those independent locations offering limited evening and/or Saturday hours. But some major plans lack optical retail chains to accommodate extended evening and weekend hours. The Vision Council reports in its VisionWatch study that 57 percent of all optical spending occurs at retail chain locations.
“Accessibility to care for our members drives EyeMed’s goal of promoting overall health and wellness,” Lahr said. “If a member is experiencing eye discomfort or needs corrective eyewear, he or she will make time to go to an eye care professional, but individuals who see well are more likely to ignore a routine eye exam if it’s not convenient to his or her lifestyle.”
And not having routine eye care — whether an individual wears corrective lenses or not — negates the potential benefits of a preventive care benefit like eye exams, Lahr said.
“Comprehensive eye exams can detect glaucoma, which has no warning signs, and can lead to clinical management of cataracts and treatment of age-related macular degeneration in order to limit its progression. Eye exams can also uncover serious non-eye-related health issues such as diabetes and hypertension. That’s why accessibility is a priority at EyeMed.”
Ossip said he has discovered very serious health conditions during routine exams. “We want our patients to know that the eye exam is about much more than, ‘Can I see?’ During one exam we found one of the largest melanomas (cancer of the eye) I’ve ever come across. She was a 32-year-old female. We probably saved her life (by discovering it in time for successful treatment). We’ve found tumors, cancers, and multiple sclerosis that revealed itself in a swollen optic nerve. We’re preserving sight and potentially saving lives, giving great care one patient at a time.
“Our job is to educate the public as to why they should have their eyes checked every year, and getting them to our office should be convenient as possible,” Ossip said.
Accessibility – meeting consumers’ demand for convenience – is one of the biggest factors setting EyeMed apart from other vision benefit plans. EyeMed members have access to tens of thousands of independent providers like Ossip Optometry. Members also have access to five of the top six national optical retail chains, including LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical and JCPenney Optical, the vast majority of which provide eye care services during evenings and weekends, both Saturday and Sunday.
This greater accessibility means members can schedule eye exams, or visits for contact lenses or eyewear products and services to fit their lifestyle needs as well as the needs of their families. It also means members can seek treatment for immediate concerns that don’t conform to a typical work schedule.
“Networks with both independent providers and retail chain locations meet 100 percent of member preferences,” Lahr said. “The most important thing is that an individual have a regular eye exam, not which provider is used.”
EyeMed Vision Care