The mantle of “independent optometrist” means much more than simply running a private practice. It represents a commitment to patient-centered care, personalized attention, and the freedom and responsibility to make clinical decisions based on individual patient needs. It embodies the true essence of the optometric profession. As an independent optometrist, it’s important to establish your individual purpose.

I learned from my father, grandfather, and great grandfather the sanctity of the patient-doctor relationship. A relationship that is built on trust. Trust that as their doctor, I listen to understand their unique needs and ambitions. Trust that I won’t treat them as a diagnosis, but rather as an individual. To ensure my team and I consistently deliver on our patient’s trust in us while providing the unique experience they expect, we have three core values as our guiding principles: (1) Quality Care (2) Innovation (3) Individual Responsibility

Quality Care – means we don’t cut corners. We do not compromise the quality of care, service, technology, or solutions we recommend. We listen to patients and customize treatments to their specific needs. 

Innovation – our world is constantly changing and so are we. How can we be better? What new technologies allow us to better care for our patients? How can we improve the quality of our patients’ lives? 

Individual Responsibility – as professionals, every member of our team assumes responsibility to provide quality care and drive innovation. We educate ourselves and each other in order to provide evidence-based medicine and a positive experience. 

Build a Premium Mindset

At Werner Optometry, the premium experience reflective of our core values starts from the moment each patient walks into our practice. Furthermore, that premium experience is not limited to clinical care but reaches all aspects of the service we provide. In the optical, every patient, no matter their spectacle Rx, is measured for their frame and lenses using a digital measuring device. Optical fitting technology has gone beyond a marker and PD ruler, and custom measurements empower us to provide optimal vision and premium experiences as we blend function and fashion in spectacle visual solutions. We do not “upsell” products or services, rather as eyecare professionals, we connect our patient’s visual and lifestyle needs with the lens designs that are best for them. By understanding the benefits of different lens technologies, my team makes recommendations, starting with the solution offering the premium visual experience to patients and explaining just how that lens (both design and treatments) is tailored to the individual. We do not offer a one-size-fits-all approach – something patients can get from big-box retailers – we offer individualized solutions.

A good metaphor when thinking about personalized lens recommendations based upon the specific needs of patients is the iPhone. While all iPhones have the same basic functions of calling, texting, camera, etc., specific users want (or “need” if you’re my kids) a new iPhone for different reasons. Just within my own family – my daughter “needs” an iPhone PRO for the camera quality, my son wants an iPhone Plus for the larger screen to be able to play games, and my wife wants enhanced battery life. They don’t need to understand every single benefit the newest iPhone has to offer, just the benefit that is the most relevant to them – it’s the same when recommending lenses.

If for whatever reason the patient does not want our most premium recommendation, we have a secondary option. Having this simplified portfolio of products, even in our progressive lens offerings, is deliberate in how we establish our business identity as offering a premium experience to my patients.

Still, I know for me and many other practitioners, being able to help people by providing quality patient care was the reason I decided to be in independent optometry. As an independent practice owner, I quickly learned that in order for me to follow my “North Star” in excellent patient care, I must first thrive as a business.

To do that, you need to establish your business identity and simplify your core value – we can’t be everything to everyone. For my practice, I knew I wanted to not only provide my patients with excellent medical care, but I also wanted their experience to feel premium – something they can’t get at a big box retail store. Providing a premium experience doesn’t just happen on its own, it’s up to us as practice owners to make sure everyone in the practice is on board and knows our core value and business identity. The belief in our practice identity builds the culture needed to achieve our desired vision. Being an independent optometrist plays a vital role in preserving the core values and integrity of the field, fostering meaningful patient relationships, and driving innovation in vision care.

Varilux® XR track: A New Personalized PAL Solution

Like many of you when I first saw Varilux XR series, the new premium progressive lens by Essilor, at Vision Expo East, I was skeptical. As I learned more about the technology, I knew that Varilux XR track was going to be our go-to premium progressive lens offering.

Varilux XR track uses near vision behavior (NVB) measurements that takes custom measurements to reposition and enlarge the near vision zone according to the patient’s unique visual behavior. The NVB takes into consideration gaze lowering, reading distance, visual behavior and lateral offset, which is the overall posture of the body and lateral direction (to the left, right or directly centered with the body) that the wearer holds the tablet. The NVB measurement is taken from an Eye-Ruler™ 2 by reproducing a pseudo-reading task on a tablet screen. My practice has used both Visioffice® 1 and Visioffice® 2, and after getting to test the Eye-Ruler 2 at Vision Expo, my team was impressed at how easy it was to use and how quickly it was able to take measurements. Patients are impressed by the newest measuring device and comment on how we continue to have the latest technology in the practice.

I believe Varilux XR track will give my practice the ability to offer the best personalized progressive lens solution to our patients, reinforcing the premium experience and quality care we value. The new lenses will give our presbyopic patients vision as close as possible to what they had before they needed correction. I recently had a discussion with Pete Hanlin, Vice President of Professional Services at EssilorLuxottica on my podcast, Independent Insights, to discuss the technology behind Varilux XR series more in-depth – click here to listen.

If you are looking to establish your practice as a destination for premium patient care, I encourage you to be deliberate in establishing exactly what that premium patient care should feel like and work with your team to implement it. For us, a critical factor in our elevated patient experience has been establishing our premium lens portfolio and ensuring patients feel the customization in our recommendation.

Wishing you much success.