SPORTING EYEWEAR

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Location, location, location; the old adage for real estate could also apply to sport eyewear. Among the many eyecare professionals we interviewed about this category, when asked how they determined who’s a good candidate, many said it was by virtue of their location.

“Everyone’s very active in Boulder, so most of our customers are candidates,” said Chris Merciez, ABOC, of Envision Boulder in Boulder, CO.

Kate Schamroth of Mollega Eyecare in Miramar Beach, FL, told us, “I live in Florida, so basically everybody needs a good pair of sunglasses whether or not they actually play sports.”

Even Minnesota is sports-centric. “Think of a sport and it’s done here in Minnesota – cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking,” said Kat Leek, LDO, of Kat’s Eyes Optical in Duluth, MN.

The more than 10,000 American adults who participated in last year’s VisionWatch report on Sports Sunglasses from The Vision Council also confirmed that not only are certain parts of the country more active in sports overall, but also specific regions are more likely to participate in specific sports: “Respondents from the Mountain-Pacific region and the Midwest region of the U.S. were slightly more likely to participate in sports than respondents from the Northeast and the Southeast regions. Participation in specific sports was contingent on region as well. Camping, for example, was far more popular in the Mountain-Pacific (24.4%) than in the Northeast (15.7%). Similarly, 22.0% in the Midwest said they had taken part in fishing in the past year, while only 13.1% in the Northeast had. The Mountain-Pacific and Northeast regions were more likely to take part in snow skiing and hiking than the Southeast.”

Beyond location, sometimes it’s a mandate that leads both children and adults to seek sport (and safety) eyewear. For children, organized sports often require that they wear it, and for adults, their profession can be the reason.

“A lot of intramural sports require safety eyewear, so if a player needs a prescription, that’s where we come in,” said Michael Pepe of Delaware’s four-location Specs for Less.

Rose Gilliland of The Eye Place in Birmingham, AL, told us, “We have a lot of military and police officers” as a reason for carrying ballistic level safety eyewear.

That’s just a couple categories, of which there are many when it comes to sport (and safety) eywear, everything from ballistic level protection through safety goggles for children’s organized sports, from sunglasses to sporty looking frames that make wearers look and feel like an athlete even if they never set foot on the court or field or track.

Even The Vision Council divides sport sunglass wearers into a number of categories for its survey on the topic, including water sports, mountain sports, winter sports, extreme sports and road sports.

Which brands do they choose? While sometimes it’s the features and benefits that sell, the decision often results from loyalty to a specific brand.

“Personally, I like that Liberty Sport is available in enough sizes to take kids from 8 to 14 years old because most kids are loyal to their glasses brand,” said Nicole Finigan, FNAO, ABOC, of PD Optics in Livingston, NJ.
The top ten recognized sport eyewear brands, according to the VisionWatch report, are Ray-Ban, Nike, Oakley, Adidas, Under Armour, Quiksilver, Maui Jim, Roxy, Ironman and Bollé.

If it’s not brands influencing their decisions, it might be athletes themselves or some other celebrity. According to a recent Transitions PRO Facebook post, “Millennials are four times more likely than other generations to have their eyeglass purchasing decision influenced by a celebrity, athlete or online influencer.”

Whatever the reason, whatever the sport, whatever the category of sport eyewear selected, be sure to always offer your patients the protection they need . . . and feel free to use this month’s focus on Sport Eyewear to inspire you on how to make that happen.

Email me at JSailer@fvmg.com

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