By Linda Lalande
Pounding rhythms, rainbow lasers and luminous dancers ignited the stage at Transitions Academy 2020—appropriately themed 2020 Light It Up. Converging into an ecstatic light beam, 1,100 professionals from the optical industry—including eyecare professionals, vision plan representatives and brokers—gathered at the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando from February 2-4 for the 24th annual Transitions Academy.
The vibrant dancers amplified the 2020 Light It Up theme to welcome the invitation-only crowd from 40 countries, including North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Cal Broker joined participants treated to two days of light-themed professional development and product technology seminars. High-energy experts and educators presented innovative ways to “light up” eye care businesses with thought-provoking leadership skills and creative marketing strategies to harness industry trends with the latest science on eye protection.
Stimulating education, enticing food, fantastic displays and remarkable plays of light in the demos and giveaways inspired plenty of good times and music to enhance the 2020 Light It Up experience. There is also plenty of good news for brokers who offer vision insurance, with science and technology advancements to make vision coverage an essential ingredient in every insurance package.
Presenters reflected the global reach of Transitions Optical with lyrical accents ranging from France, Brazil, Canada and North America to name just a few. Adding sparkle to the opening morning, Chrystel Barranger, president of Essilor Photochromics and Transitions Optical, presented how they will “Light It Up” in 2020.
Chrystel Barranger, president of Essilor Photochromics and Transitions Optical, introduced the new Transitions XTRActive Polarized lenses—the best a lens can offer for all light situations, with heightened visual performance, protection and style
The curriculum included motivating breakouts such as: Leading with Emotional Intelligence; Leading with Resilience; 2020: 10 Online Trends to Watch; Light Up Your Life; Light Up Your Sales; and Light Up Your Style, Light Up Your Store! Several keynotes from well-known motivational speakers and thought leaders—like keynote speaker Neil Pasricha, director, The Global Institute for Happiness and Davitha Ghiassi, EVP of Social & Integration for Red Havas—were also offered throughout the weekend.
Newsflash: Our eyes are suffering from light exposure
“This is a year of innovation, with two new product launches that put us light years ahead in the science and technology of protection,” Barranger announced. “October will be the rollout of our next generation of products, including Transitions Signature GEN 8 style colors and our new Transitions XTRActive Polarized lenses—the best a lens can offer for all light situations, with heightened visual performance, protection and style. All framed in new fashion colors and high style to appeal to every age—from Generation 2020 to millennials to baby boomers and traditionalists. Transitions Optical has got you covered!”
We learned that Transitions Signature lenses style color collection—Amber, Amethyst, Emerald and Sapphire—are now available in GEN 8 breakthrough photochromic lens technology. For those not quite ready for the world of color—no problem—there are still the iconic colors of gray, brown and graphite green available. All Transitions lenses automatically block 100% of harmful UVA and UVB light and help protect from harmful blue light indoors and out.
“We are here to equip you to speak to patients to make it easy to get a yes,” said presenter Charlotte Hamel, Transitions Optical director, global internal communication. “Transitions lenses offer the highest light protection index in the industry, featuring constant protection.”
What does this mean for brokers, here in sunny California?
Look to expanding your conversation around vision benefits to carry your clients into the new century with the cutting edge of style and protection. There’s so much more to coverage than ‘meets the eye.’ The science and technology behind the lenses is fascinating—illuminating how Transitions Optical builds product solutions around protection and style.
In these climate-challenged times, brokers need to talk to companies about Transitions lenses as protection, not just when you’re in the sun, but also when you’re surrounded by digital screens inside or out, according to Elise Bioche, Transitions Optical VP of global marketing.
Elise Bioche, VP, global marketing, Transitions Optical, explains, “At a time, when so much is coming at us that we can’t control, it’s comforting to know that by wearing Transitions lenses, your eyes are protected whenever you have your glasses on.”
Have you seen the light?
Cal Broker caught up with experts at the event to explore what brokers need to know to enhance the offering of vision coverage to employers. It makes sense that combating eye fatigue can help employees be more productive. Here’s the scoop on how, and why, it’s more critical now than ever.
According to Thierry Villette, Essilor director of science and partnerships, light is dynamic power. He explained, “Complex saturation of the eye cell creates sight pollution. Today, we are being exposed to more natural UV rays from the sun. And don’t even start on the number of screens we are in contact with that dramatically increases our exposure to fatiguing blue light! Even if you limit your own screen time, our environment is filled with personal devices, office computers, and random televisions in waiting rooms, et al.”
Thierry Villette, Essilor director of science and partnerships says light is dynamic power. “Too much light confuses us with contradictory information.”
“What can we do in the face of this assault?” he asks. “With so many things we can’t influence, Transitions lenses offer an elegant and powerful solution. As you move through your environment, Gen8 is designed to support the eye in intermediate and changing light. The light adaptive technology adjusts to keep your vision sharp, clear and protected—outside in the sun and inside exposed to screens. You see better with Transitions lenses. Research reveals that once people choose Transitions lenses, 89% never go back.”
Jonathan Ormsby, key account manager, Transitions Optical, Todd Goodall, VP of employee benefits, Brown & Brown of CT, Inc. and Kevin Cuddeback, Anthem Specialty Sales executive.
“Transitions lenses can be a differentiator for brokers that can be a real draw,” noted Jonathan Ormsby, key account manager, national accounts managed care, Transitions Optical. “We’re out there making sure people know what Transitions lenses are. For example, the Transitions XTRActive Polarized lenses do best in warmer parts of the country, so we strategically focus campaigns to boost that fact. And we have a whole new line of motorcycle helmet shields with Transition lenses.
“Many people know the brand Transitions Optical and want benefits that cover it,” he states. “That means something to HR decision-makers when they can meet employee demand for the lens. So, it makes your job easier when you can go out and say – like Anthem – we fully cover for kids.”
Let’s hear what others have to say.
[See related interview with Ormsby: Follow the Light: How Transitions Light Intelligent Lenses Can Boost Your Business]
Todd Goodall, VP of Employee Benefits, Brown & Brown of CT, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CB: What are you discovering here?
TG: Honestly, what I saw in the opening presentation blew me away. I’m being enlightened quite a bit by the technology and science that exists, especially within Transitions Optical. In one morning session, I learned more than I expected. Impressive.
I realize now that Transitions lenses are more and more important. Even the impact over time to the unprotected eye I was not aware of. I see a lot of research from the medical side, but I didn’t know how much is being done on vision. This protection is something I can do for myself, my child, my company that is tangible—it can give you a measure of control.
As a national company, Brown & Brown has a tremendous reach. Based in Connecticut with headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., we are the sixth largest independent insurance intermediary organization in the U.S. and eighth largest in the world (based on the July 2018 ranking by Business Insurance magazine). I manage the employee benefit department and am realizing a lot of things that are important from a benefits standpoint, especially vision.
CB: Do you influence your sales team in what you’re going to offer?
TG: To an extent—I’ll promote Transitions lenses back at the office because it’s something that our folks don’t know much about and the benefit is something companies definitely should offer. Ninety percent of business is focused on the medical arena. The ancillary insurance—like vision—has not been fully understood. Voluntary benefits are not new, but it’s picked up at a tremendous pace—it’s a huge opportunity for brokers. Giving employers other options to offer workers is very popular now. So, vision is absolutely a growing market. The message I got was—let’s GO—let’s sell this protection. There are still nine out of 10 people who don’t know that they have this option and should be using it.
Will you encourage brokers to tell clients about Transitions lenses specifically?
TG: Certainly—from an eye protection standpoint, it will be part of the conversation. Among the agents themselves there are quite a few older folks, so there is an appeal for everyone. If it’s a level playing field, what makes you rise above? If pricing is the same or close, Transitions lenses can be that draw. Offerings like Anthem’s Whole Health can be a draw. Brokers can use these things to set themselves apart.
Kevin Cuddeback, Anthem Specialty Sales Executive (email@example.com)
CB: What’s different about this conference?
KC: At Transitions Academy, they are educating professionals at point of sale. To me that makes a heck of a lot of sense. Bringing together people to learn the industry and the products makes a huge difference.
CB: Have Transitions lenses enhanced Anthem’s offerings?
KC: Having Transitions lenses as part of Anthem’s portfolio is spectacular. Many of our members have no idea what Transitions lenses are and how important they can be to the health of your eyes. When I went in for my eye checkup, I was presented with options and Transitions lenses were part of a great overall solution for me. As a golfer, I wore these heavy clip-ons that were never comfortable. Now I don’t even notice the change, but I can see so much better and I know my eyes are being protected.
Vision is one of the most popular voluntary benefits, with a tangible product. Offering Transitions lenses differentiates us. For the last 10 years, we’ve been one of only two carriers offering full coverage for Transition lenses to kids up to age 19 for no copay. UV protection is really important.
Vision is now part of Anthem’s Whole Health Connection (AWHC), an integrated suite of benefits designed to provide a better member experience and improve the total health of our members: Medical, Pharmacy, Dental, Vision and Disability. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a huge employer like a Marriott or a little mom and pop barbershop, you can still get the integrated plan. Or you can separate out specific coverage as you like.
CB: Why have you created the AWHC product line?
KC: Following years of focused effort and significant investment in this clinical and technological integration, we are now achieving lower costs, better health care outcomes, and a superior overall member experience. When customers combine their medical and ancillary coverages – like vision – with Anthem, we discount their medical premium to reflect the improved health that we know members experience. The data is clear: when we can connect these plans and members healthcare data, we are showing positive outcomes.
With AWHC, we’ve connected it all together—looking at the entire health of an individual not just by insurance product. When you go to the dentist, doctor or vision care professional, they have the ability to review a patient’s underlying health profile—medical, pharmaceutical usage—all in a HIPAA-compliant snapshot. For example, if health problems are detected through an eye exam, Anthem is able to reach out and provide additional support, such as a nurse coach to quickly get the member the care they need. And vice versa: your vision professional can see in your records if you have diabetes or are taking prescription medication that could be affecting your vision.
CB: That sounds like a massive effort! How’s it playing out?
KC: Building the infrastructure was a start (that took years!). Now we are educating the providers and producing the data. We have to prove it to folks, like Todd. Technology is becoming a larger part of the insurance world. To make AWHC integration work, there has to be education for physicians, clients and members.
At Anthem, we’ve also made it easier for members with one ID card for all your coverage (Medical/Dental and Vision). We have one claims system so we are connecting all these touch points to ultimately provide our members with access to better care. What we are doing is beyond others capabilities. We’re improving the member’s, the employer’s and patient’s experience with simplified administration, claims, and diagnostic advances. And that should be good news for brokers!
Danielle Richardson, O.D.
Therapeutic Optometrist, Los Angeles
CB: Tell me about being a Therapeutic Optometrist.
DR: I foster more than just clear vision, I promote clarity of mind, body and soul. I founded Fierce Clarity (fierceclarity.com) a holistic health + wellness company focused on empowering millennial women through retreats and yoga classes. As a doctor of Optometry, I practice at Zakeyes.com, a boutique firm in LA’s upscale Fairfax district. We are really a good match. Wellness and ocular health are our focus—showing patients that eye exams are part of a whole health approach. We opened a year and a half ago next to a popular restaurant and attract a lot of foot traffic in this fashionable neighborhood.
CB: What’s your impression of the Academy?
DR: This is my second year here, and I love coming as a Transitions Change Agent. Education is so important—I’m not selling a product; I’m prescribing a product. From this conference, I am learning amazing ways to integrate Transitions lenses and the new offerings into my life, and my practice. This is going to take us to the next level.
CB: What’s unusual about your practice in Los Angeles compared to other parts of the country where you’ve practiced?
DR: Our LA clientele look for individuality and really value unique, high quality. They want to make a fashion statement so the beauty of the Transitions Optical portfolio is we can customize lenses as well as frames. Transitions Gen 8lenses are a cool offering for cool people. You put UV protection on your skin—but what about your eyes? Now with the style colors and mirrors, we can emphasize eye health by wearing high fashion protection.
We have people come in once a month to get new glasses—it’s totally a fashion accessory. They want multiple pairs to match their mood and their outfits. Our primary demographic is 18-55. So, we get a bit of everyone, but all are fashion forward—a lot of young stylish kids with disposable income. Our branding is kind of cheeky with a sign outside: “Because window shopping is way better when you can actually see the windows.” We’re known for doing custom tinting, and so Transitions Optical’s colors and mirrors really appeal while keeping eyes safe and healthy. Being able to demo the colors and frames for patients is really effective.
Paul Webber, VP of Product, KLIM.com, says Transitions shields are a key factor in Klim creating the lightest weight helmet possible, to give you the best visibility with tremendous flexibility—you don’t have to worry about remembering your sunglasses, or fitting them under your shield.
Paul Webber, VP of Product, KLIM.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CB: Tell me about Transitions lenses and motorcycle helmets? It seems like a natural fit.
PW: Since 2017, Klim has been making motorcycle helmets with Transition shields which offer the best optics on the market. These are a major advantage over others which have a flip down sun shield requiring the wearers to look through two pieces of Polycarbonate. Transitions shields revolutionize the visual experience of wearing a helmet—once you use them, you never go back.
CB: How’s the Academy going for you? What’s unique here?
PW: I was most impressed with the concern about improving people’s lives. In addition to business effectiveness, and how to sell Transitions lenses, there were workshops on improving sleeping habits, emotional intelligence, organizational habits, and how to achieve a healthy life balance. The philosophy of protecting your eyes is just one element—they focus on improving the lives of the dealers and the eye care professionals.
Want to step into the light next year and get that coveted invitation to Transitions Academy 2021? Talk to your vision plan about how you can get more involved with promoting vision benefits and be considered this informative invitation-only event.
Neil Pasricha, best-selling author and leadership development professional, presented a keynote on having a Growth Mindset during which attendees learned how to improve their mindset and take their business and life to an elevated level. His focus was on HAPPINESS with three simple daily practices of 20 minutes a day for 20 days:
- Forest Therapy – take a 20-minute walk in nature without your phone.
- Journal – take 20 minutes to list 5-10 things you are happy about or thankful for.
- Read – 20 pages of fiction from a real book.