The American Optician

Winter 2017

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2 1 will look like in the future. Online refraction, self- refraction and remote refraction may be alternate channels for how refractions are obtained by the public and that will affect how eyewear is sold and dispensed. Large retailers are beginning to sell eyewear online. VSP now sells eyewear to its members online. Companies are working on ways of providing a comprehensive eye examination by telemedicine using instrumentation and a technician at a remote location and a doctor supervising miles away and even states away. 3D-printed eyewear will enable opticians to make eyewear in their office, which will disrupt the frame manufacturing channel. A company is working on a drop that will reverse presbyopia, which has the potential to reduce the need for presbyopic eyewear. And of course, there are technologies no one has thought of yet that will be developed that will affect us. "I think that optometry will definitely continue to move in a medical and treatment direction," suggests Sandy Brown, President of the Opticians Association of America. "I see future opticians being vital to the industry. Online eyewear purchasing will grow to a higher percentage, but there will always be a need for brick-and-mortar offices. I foresee big box retailers partnering to a greater extent with optometry and putting greater focus on the health and wellbeing of its patients instead of just selling goods to its customers. Optometrists are now required to obtain additional education to perform certain medical treatments. Some states have mandated such education. With that additional scope of practice, I foresee optometrists who now rely on the optical sales part of their practice transitioning to more of a medical practice. I think there will be room in the future for partnerships between optometrists and opticians and maybe a resurgence of the independent optician." However the future plays out, it's clear that optical, vision and health care will be different. The people who will be successful will be the ones who adapt best to the changes. Ed De Gennaro is Editor Emeritus for First Vision Media Group

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