PINELLAS PARK, Fla., Aug. 7, 2012 – More than 70 percent of independent eyecare practices are actively participating in charitable activities, according to research1 released through the Transitions Healthy Sight for Life™ Fund. However, the survey also revealed that there are barriers to increasing the amount of outreach being done, as well as opportunities to improve how programs are utilized and communicated.
“As an industry that provides such a valuable public service, we have the ability to really make an impact on people’s lives with our outreach efforts,” said Mary O’Hara, regional giving officer and associate marketing manager, trade communications, Transitions Optical, Inc. “Whether it’s providing free vision services, educating in the community or participating in larger optical industry charity events, there are plenty of ways for interested eyecare professionals to help.”
Education and Patient Communications: Missed Opportunities
The majority of the survey respondents (60 percent) provide eyewear to patients through their charitable efforts. The second most common service provided is eye exams (55 percent), followed by vision screenings (41 percent). However, only 25 percent of those who are participating in charitable outreach reported that they provide education as part of their programs.
Every interaction with a patient provides an opportunity to educate on the importance of protecting vision,” said O’Hara. “Especially during vision screenings, which result in a historically low rate of follow up care.”
Another area that was identified in the survey as not reaching its potential is patient communications. A study in 2010 found that 86 percent of consumers believe it’s important that companies stand for something other than profitability.2 Yet only 46 of the practices who participated in the survey are talking about their charitable endeavors to patients. In-office display materials and direct patient communications (newsletters, social media, etc.) were also revealed as being underutilized for this purpose.
Charitable Outreach Challenges
According to the research, respondents who are currently participating in charitable outreach programs are targeting underprivileged populations (58 percent), general populations (50 percent), kids (43 percent), national/regional vision charities (32 percent), blind/low-vision populations (23 percent), seniors (16 percent) and multicultural groups (11 percent). While the survey indicates that the majority of practices are engaged in some level of charitable outreach, respondents revealed some challenges.
Primary reasons why eyecare practices are not doing more non-profit work are lack of time (47 percent) and budget (42 percent). In fact, 30 percent said that they would increase the amount of charitable work they participate in if they could receive additional funding. Additional volunteer support (17 percent), education materials (17 percent) and interest from audiences they wish to support (11 percent) would also encourage more interest.
How the Healthy Sight for Life Fund Can Help
The Transitions Healthy Sight for Life Fund is a resource for industry professionals who are looking to enhance, expand or initiate a charitable program in their practices. Since 2008, the Fund has provided educational resources and financial support to optical industry professionals who are aligned with its mission of helping preserve healthy sight for a lifetime. Grants exceeding $1 million have been awarded for efforts including school vision screenings, public awareness campaigns, outreach through sports and recreation activities, low- or no-cost treatment for people with eye disease and programs to provide comprehensive vision care, vision wear and education to those in need.
While much of the work of the Fund is done in partnership with non-profit organizations in the U.S., Canada and globally, a portion of the available grants are reserved for eyecare practices and laboratories that have charitable programs. To apply for a grant, professionals should submit a request form, located under the Healthy Sight Grants tab of www.healthysightforlife.org.
The Healthy Sight for Life Fund site can be used by eyecare professionals as an education resource for raising awareness of the need for healthy sight. A recently revamped website features a section to help patients understand their sight, including an interactive healthy sight risk assessment, which allows consumers to enter their age and ethnicity and then learn about their most common eye and overall health risks. Printable educational materials, tailored to the individual’s results, are available free of charge. Eyecare professionals can link to the page from their own practice websites as an added resource to patients. They can also access a community outreach portal, which features tips on developing a community outreach program and links to the philanthropic materials and programs developed by Transitions Optical.
ABOUT TRANSITIONS OPTICAL
Since Transitions Optical, headquartered in Pinellas Park, Fla., was founded more than 20 years ago, the company has been driven by an innovative spirit and a commitment to partnership. As the leading provider of photochromics to optical manufacturers, Transitions Optical offers state-of-the-art light management technology in virtually every major lens design and material encompassing a family of everyday adaptive lenses and performance sun lenses.
Everyday lens options include Transitions® lenses, which provide the optimal balance between outdoor darkness and indoor clarity; Transitions® XTRActive™ lenses which provide superior darkness outdoors; and the revolutionary Transitions® Vantage™ lenses, the first and only photochromic lenses to darken and polarize outdoors.
The Transitions® performance sunwear line includes a range of products customized in partnership with other best-in-class brands. Understanding that the right equipment can provide an advantage, the products are all designed to improve depth perception, clarify color and increase contrast for specific outdoor activities
Transitions Optical is dedicated to promoting healthy sight worldwide and to supporting its partners and optical professionals with tools, programs and resources to aid in their individual efforts and help strengthen industry growth. For more information, visit Transitions.com/Pro, or contact Transitions Optical Customer Service at (800) 848-1506 (United States) or (877) 254-2590 (Canada).