Strategies for Building Your Sunwear Business

by | Feb 17, 2022

Sunglass season is starting.

You’ve heard it before: several of your patients may only buy inexpensive sunglasses because they often end up lost or broken. But if they only knew just how important sun protection is to their eyes, perhaps they’d reconsider. Did you know that about 10% of consumers are unaware of the dangers associated with long term exposure to UV rays? It can increase the risk for ocular conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal damage, and eye or eyelid cancer. It’s important to educate patients about the damage UV radiation can cause to people of all ages, and the differences between good quality prescription sunwear and lenses as compared to inexpensive, over the counter suns.

Benefits of Rx Quality Sunwear

LENSES: Specialty lenses and tints not only protect the eyes, but they can also help patients customize their sunwear. Popular lens options include:

PHOTOCHROMIC. For patients who want one pair of frames to wear both indoors and out, photochromic lenses are variable tinted lenses that are activated by UV wavelengths. When activated, the dye molecules change shape and molecular structure, causing the lenses to change to a darkened color. Photochromics won’t darken as much inside a vehicle as they do outdoors, since most windshields and side windows include UV filters. Address this concern by offering patients a sunglass clip to wear over prescription lenses while driving.

POLARIZED. Polarized lenses reduce eyestrain, squinting and eye fatigue associated with glare, while improving the view beyond the glare. Certain polarized colors also reduce high-energy visible (HEV) light, which can cause damage to the retina.

SPECIAL TINTS. Lens color can profoundly enhance the visual experience! Educate your patients by providing vision benefits associated with each hue:

  • Grey: An all-purpose color that reduces glare and improves contrast
  • Brown: Improves contrast; great for general glare reduction
  • Green: Outstanding at reducing eyestrain in bright light
  • Rose: Improves low-light color separation; great for driving and snow/water sports
  • Blue: Great daily use color; soothes the eyes
  • Yellow: Can boost depth perception in low light situations; perfect for evening drives

Regardless of age, demographics, or specific needs of your patients, there is a variety of lenses and quality sunglasses to meet the needs of everyone. Make sunwear as important to your patients as their ophthalmics, and let them know that they can’t afford NOT to protect their eyes from the sun with a prescription quality sun and lens


Polarized sunglasses aren’t just for fisherman. While these lenses have been used for years by boaters and the like to protect and improve vision, they’re very popular today with athletes, outdoor lovers and everyday sunglass wearers. The benefits of polarized lenses can be broken down into three areas:

  • Performance: Polarized lenses reduce glare causing objects to become more distinct and colors more vibrant.
  • Protection: Polarized lenses provide superior protection against glare and UV rays. Certain polarized colors also reduce high energy visible (HEV) light, which can cause damage to the retina.
  • Comfort: While ordinary tinted lenses reduce brightness, polarized lenses can also reduce eyestrain, squinting and eye fatigue associated with glare.

TIP: Keep a pair of inexpensive sunglasses on hand to show patients the difference in quality of lenses, as well as frame materials, hinge construction, and design details.

Since virtually every consumer should wear some sort of sun protection for their eyes, sunwear can provide a stream of additional revenue for your practice.

Suns Selling Strategies


One of the most important factors in building a suns business is carrying the right mix. Review the demographics of your practice and choose those brands and styles that will most appeal to your patient base. You can’t simply carry a handful of suns and consider yourself in the suns business. By increasing the ratio of suns you display, you’ll reach what is known as “critical mass.” As a result, your patients will see that you are serious about suns.


  • Sunwear should be highly visible within your practice
  • Consider creating a “Suns Center” as a focal point of your office
  • Use seasonal sunwear window signage to draw consumers into your practice
  • Incorporate highly visible merchandising materials, like rotators and banners, into your merchandising mix, so patients are aware you’re in the suns business!
  • Talk about Suns on social media and email your patients


One of the most effective ways to sell sunwear to an Rx or contact lens patient is to sell right from the exam chair. Patients are more likely to trust the word of a doctor in an exam room. Remember, patient compliance is the key to selling from the chair.

  • When confirming an appointment, ask patients to bring suns with them to verify their prescription.
  • Find out what sports or activities they participate in, and ask if they do a lot of driving.
  • Warn patients of the damage that UV rays can cause, such as macular degeneration or cataracts.
  • Position suns as a health need first, fashion accessory second.
  • Remind patients that suns are like sunscreen products; they only work if you use them.
  • Use double Rx pads so both regular and suns lenses can be prescribed


When selling suns to patients using a managed care plan, it’s important to position yourself as an expert on eye care. Sell what looks good on the patient as well as providing the best optics, not the least expensive frame.

  • Suggest patients use managed care funds as a “discount” toward better quality sunwear.
  • Stress the benefits of quality optical products and the importance of a well-warranted frame.


Your associates can use several tactics to help drive sunwear sales from your showroom. When training your staff on selling suns, the following simple guidelines can help:

1. Know your products. Make sure your staff understands the current trends in both the retail fashion and eyewear markets and how the two work together.

2. Know your patients. Ask about their hobbies and interests. Are they athletes? Beach enthusiasts? Each answer should help your staff zero in on what sunwear they should be selling to the patient. As an independent ECP, your ability to provide personal service to your patients is an advantage over larger or online retailers.

3. Educate your patients. Just as you should be selling from the exam chair, your staff should reinforce your message regarding the health benefits of sunwear.

4. Sell multiple pairs. Most of your sunwear sales will come from patients who are already making an Rx or contact lens purchase. Give your staff the authority to offer a discount if the patient adds suns to their purchase.

5. Don’t forget about the littlest patients.  Their developing eyes are so important to protect.  This is also an opportunity to sell to the entire family of the patient.


For every sunglass style, there’s a price point to match. The important thing is deciding what works best for your dispensary.

  • Field work! Investigate the pricing strategies of other dispensaries in your area (look for comparable brands and styles).
  • Study your sunwear sales over the course of a year to determine how much your patients are willing to spend.
  • Review sunwear websites to determine popular price points.
  • Offer contact lens patients discounts or coupons on second pair sales to help promote sunwear sales.
  • Offer deeper discounts on slower selling suns rather than returning them. Returned suns cannot generate revenue!
  • You’ll want to analyze your markup strategy carefully. A key-stone mark up of 2x for most manufacturers will keep you competitive (ask if there is a minimum advertised price policy or MSRP), but you may need to adjust this to ensure profitability under managed care.

Looking for new sunwear options for your patients?
Check out ClearVision Optical’s suns collection.


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