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Based Upon a Reader’s Comment We Asked if You Found Terms Like “Industry,” “Shop” and “Customers” Inappropriate

do you or don't you: Turns out 43% of you do.





As an ECP, do you find terms like “industry,” “shop” and “customers” inappropriate, inaccurate or a turnoff in relation to describing what you do for a living?

Yes: 43%

  • I feel very strongly that elevating the language — both in office and when discussing with patients — projects a better image. A higher level of language allows our office to show that we are cultured and educated, without being haughty or talking down to patients. Office, not shop Patients, not customers. — Dierdre Fogle, OD, Eyetopia Eyecare, Littleton, CO
  • We have patients and work at an optometry practice. — Bethany Cassar, Complete Eye Health, Holland, MI
  • Less personal. It is healthcare not retail. — Chris Gregg, Inver Grove Heights Family Eye Clinic, Inver Grove Heights, MN
  • Patients, service, professional advice. — Carolann Speranzo, OD, Second Sight, Quincy, MA
  • I am a certified professional that is employed in a medical office and provide patients with durable medical equipment that improves their lives. I do also work in a retail environment and sell really cool sunglasses. We’ve all heard the advice to “dress for the job you want” by allowing our profession to be reduced to mere retail terminology reduces our value. Many of us long-timers have seen this happen as opticians are commonly referred to as “salespeople” by OMDs, ODs and many others in the field. Rude. — Amie Robinson, Spring Hill Eyecare, Spring Hill, TN
  • I guess not inappropriate but I personally prefer eyecare, patients, eye center and clinic. It sounds more like the profession that we are actually in and the terms that I use. We are in the care business and we have patients. — Caitlin Neal, San Juan Eye Center, Montrose, CO
  • We feel the words we use really do make a difference when talking to patients. I’ll start with the exception: When discussing business with those “inside” the industry then all words are fine, like revenue, store, shoppers etc. When talking with patients and training our staff we really stress the importance of the nuances of words. So we have a practice (vs. a store) and patients (vs. customers) and roughly once a year we cover this and many other professional terms with our staff in our regular staff meeting as a reminder for all of us. We encourage professional communication within the staff team as well. — Scott Mann, OD, INVISION, Christiansburg and Salem, VA
  • Doctors see patients! — Patti Richard, OD, Family Eye Care, North Andover, MA
  • I would like to see terms such as profession, office and patients. After all we are eyecare professionals. We deal with people with all kinds of issues and different needs. I work very closely with patients to address their every need. — Robert Ray, M.A. Schwartz Optometrist and Associates, Sterling Heights, MI
  • Vision specialist. — Melissa Taylor, Tablerock Family Vision Care, Branson West, MO
  • Office and patients. — Rick Pascucci, Towpath Vision Care, Clinton, NY
  • As a private practice we want to be seen as a professional doctor’s office. Our “customers” are our patients and our emphasis is on care and products that fit the patient’s needs not on the sale or the number of people we can see. Our patient retention and referrals reflect this. — Pam Peters, Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL
  • I am a healthcare provider, so they are patients. I have an optical store, not a shop. — Dorothy Reynolds, Eyes on Fairfield, Fairfield, CT
  • I like office, patients, patient care and seeing patients, rather than saying I am going to work. — Kimberly Riggs OD, Ligonier, PA
  • We try and go with more professional terms (in our opinion) such as office, clinic, patients, etc. — Zachary Dirks, OD, St. Peter and Belle Plaine Eyecare Centers, Saint Peter, MN
  • I prefer the term patients over customers because we are health care professionals first. — Brook Komar, OD, The Center for Children and Women, Houston, TX
  • Profession, optical shop or dispensary, and patients are what we prefer. We are in a healthcare field, helping patients to see clearly with the best products available. We are not “salesmen,” we are educators. — Susan Kantor, Central Phoenix Eyecare, Phoenix, AZ
  • Patients. — Richard Frankel, OD, Atlantic Cape Eyecare, Wildwood, NJ
  • I prefer “patient,” “educating,” and “healthcare.” Glasses and contacts are a commodity, but we need to remind people the “why” behind what we do and what we prescribe. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH
  • In my office they are patients. Patients go to doctor’s offices, customers go to Target. — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA
  • We are physicians and we see patients. Eyeglasses and contact lenses are prescribed medical devices. — Robert M. Easton Jr. OD, FAAO, Oakland Park, FL
  • Eyecare, office, patients, even clients. — Kathryn Collins, OD, Kissel Eye Care, Lititz, PA
  • I like saying patients over customers but all of the other descriptive words are fine. — Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ

No: 57%

  • The only one that throws me off is customers, we prefer patients, because while they may in fact be buying something it is a medical device. — Christine Howard, Eyes on Plainville, Plainville, MA
  • Customers visit our shop to purchase custom eyewear after seeing the OD on staff. We then build those frames that we create in our shop in the back. — Seems pretty clear and concise. Kevin Count, Corner Optical, Glenview, IL
  • Depending on the context, these terms are perfectly acceptable. I tend to refer to our customers as patients. — Pablo E. Mercado, Highland Eye Boutique, Atlanta, GA
  • I am a doctor and I run a clinic. It is half of my business. My optical makes up the second half and is ran by opticians, who have customers. We have customers that are never patients and vice versa. In the end as long as you are caring for people as a whole regardless of what part of the experience they are participating in, any will suffice. — Jason Klepfisz, OD, Urban Eye Care, Phoenix, AZ
  • I think these words are all fitting for what we do as ECPs. We want people to be in the mindset of shopping when they’re choosing eyewear and at that point they are our customer because they’re purchasing products from our optical “shop.” — Morgan DiMaggio, Taylor Eye Care, Carmi, IL
  • These words are used in many different types of businesses and people. — Danielle Doniver, Heritage Optical, Detroit, MI
  • I’m an optician/owner and am proud of creating a fashionable shop for eyewear! — Kyla Skinner, Specs by Kyla, Atascadero, CA
  • But they are also patients. — Lisa Smith, Precision Eye Care, Vancouver, WA
  • I’m an optical manager, I consider my area the “shop” because that’s what our customers do there, they shop. I don’t see anything wrong with describing it that way. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA
  • It is what it is! — Mark Perry, OD, Vision Health Institute, Orlando, FL
  • I use “clinic,” “practice,” and “patients” when describing recipients of physician services, and the other words when describing recipients of hardware or optician services. Helps us keep our goals clear, mentally. — Jen Heller, Pend Oreille Vision Care, Sandpoint, ID
  • The words “industry” and “shop” are not inappropriate at all. “Customers” sounds very cheap, like we are just churning out jobs and not giving our clients any time or respect. Using words like “client” or “patient” elevates our sale as well as makes the patient feel a little more special about their buying experience. — Sydney Tramontano, Woolf Eye Lab, Pasadena, MD
  • I am not embarrassed to consider myself to be in retail. My wife never said, “I need a really sharp pair of shoes … I think I’ll find a good podiatrist to see what they have.” Stores are familiar and inviting, so that’s what we position ourselves as, though we do have 13 doctors on staff. — John Bruening , Geauga Vision Group, Middlefield, OH
  • I think “industry” is used differently now than say 20 years ago. “Are you in the tech industry?” or “What field do you work in?” are very common phrases. I don’t find it insulting, until I have to explain what an optician is. I don’t like saying customers, I like using clients. Customer is a one and done. Client is a relationship. — Jennifer Yerden, Sights and Shades, Canandaigua, NY
  • Don’t think I’ve really used industry much over my 40+ years as an optician but fine with the reference. Love the word shop because if I didn’t have customers (prefer clients) shopping my optical boutique would have no business! — Julie Kubsch, Specs Around Town, Bloomington, IL
  • They’re just words. — Robert Lootens, Physicians Optical Service, Jefferson City, MO

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. eyecare business serving the public, you’re invited to join the INVISION Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting eyecare professionals. Good deal, right? Sign up here.


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