In the late 1990s Clough’s Opticians started to notice a rising trend from their patients seeking their advice about laser eye treatment, and had the foresight to recognise that laser treatment for eyes was part of the future. This foresight led them to open the first laser eye clinic in Bolton in 2001; something they saw as a natural extension to their existing business, and of great benefit to their patients.
Over the last 13 years the Visualase team have been keen to encourage other local opticians to not look at laser eye surgery as competition, but rather a way to maintain patient retention.
Clinic manager Hilary Smith comments: “If someone is of the mindset to undergo laser correction then their current optician will usually lose that patient for good, as they may feel awkward returning to them once they’ve had surgery.
However, in reality, that patient will still require a sight test every two years, and will possibly buy designer sunglasses or reading glasses in the future, so there is a huge benefit for their current optician in retaining that relationship.
Our aim is to help to maintain that relationship between optician and patient with our shared care package. We help the optician to provide all the information a patient may require during the decision process, and encourage the patient to return to their optician as part of their after-care process. This means that the optician retains the client in the long run.”
Local optician David Gould in Rossendale, Lancashire, North West, is a prime example of how this shared care package can work. As part of their ongoing commitment to their patients they wanted to be able to talk with authority and knowledge when they asked about laser eye surgery. As a result David visited the Visualase clinic, met with one of the doctors and observed some of the procedures being performed and how the team managed patients.
David said: “As an eye care practitioner, I frequently get asked about what I think of laser surgery, and I am very happy to talk about it, often to the surprise of people who think I will view refractive surgery as a competitor to the various services we offer ourselves.
Although I know a lot about the procedures, I was unable to recommend a clinic if anyone asked, and so I took it upon myself to seek out somewhere I could happily refer my clients to, in the event that they wanted to investigate refractive surgery.
There are many "chain" operators who advertise heavily and promote "Laser Eye Surgery from just £395 per eye". I have yet to meet anyone who has paid just £395 per eye and will be surprised if I ever do. Invariably, this advertising is used to lure prospective clients into the clinic, when the actual price is revealed to be in the order of £1500 per eye.
It was refreshing, therefore, to discover Visualase where the approach is entirely professional and pricing is straightforward (£1000 or £1200 per eye) and, having spent some time in their theatre observing procedures, I now feel confident to refer anyone interested in refractive surgery to this clinic.”
If you’re an optician and would like to find out more about our shared care package please contact us.
All eye surgical procedures carry a level of risk including not obtaining the desired outcome, through to varying levels of visual loss. Your eye surgeon will discuss the risks and benefits, including ones specific to your circumstances, at the time of your pre-operative consultation.