A new survey by Transitions Optical reveals that the cultural diversity of the Millennial generation is likely influencing this group’s eyeglass preferences and expectations of eyecare professionals. The survey of Millennial eyeglass wearers (ages 18 to 34) explored factors and values that influence their purchasing behavior and their understanding of the need for UV protection.

“Cultural sensitivity, giving back and having the freedom to express their personal style all emerged as being highly valued among Millennial eyeglass wearers – and are also core values of growing ethnic minority groups that make up such a large portion of this generation,” said Patience Cook, director, North America marketing, Transitions Optical. “This reinforces the importance of eyecare professionals embracing multicultural outreach efforts and paying attention to trends in this area.”

Choices and Maintaining an Individual Style
When it comes to selecting their eyeglasses, nearly half of Millennials rank “which one I think looks good” as the most important factor. Next, Millennials rank “which one provides the clearest vision,” “price,” and “which one protects my eye health.” While only 30 percent cited “my eyecare professional’s recommendation” as an important factor, the research showed that they do want to hear about options. In fact, more than any other age group, Millennials (56 percent) believe it’s important that their eyecare professional offers them choices in eyewear. Millennials stand out amongst Gen Xers and Boomers because they are more likely to consider “which one is fashionable,” and “which one has a brand name that I recognize.”

“Having grown up with the internet and being the first on many social media sites, it’s not surprising that Millennials tend to be more aware of the latest fashion trends and are looking for styles they can personally relate to,” said Cook. “By keeping this in mind when offering eyewear options to Millennials, eyecare professionals can help to grow their businesses while increasing patient satisfaction.”

Eye Health Understanding
Fortunately, Millennials (57 percent) are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to understand that their ethnicity can be putting them at an increased risk for certain eye health issues (only 35 percent of Gen Xers and 19 percent of Boomers are aware).

Despite this, the survey revealed an urgent need for ongoing education about the importance of year-round UV eye protection. Six out of 10 Millennials incorrectly believe that they only need to protect their eyes from UV rays during the spring and summer months, with older Millennials (ages 25-34) even more likely to believe this.

Higher Sensitivity to Cultural Differences and Community Involvement
The survey found that nearly two-thirds of Millennials (65 percent) would appreciate it if their eyecare professional offered educational materials that were bilingual or in a language other than English. Additionally, nearly eight out of 10 believe that taking this step is a sign of respect for their own or other’s cultures.

“With Millennials being the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in U.S. history, eyecare professionals are going to be seeing a larger mix of patients who are proponents of cultural sensitivity,” added Cook.

The survey also found that nearly 9 out of 10 Millennials believe eyecare professionals should be involved in their local communities – slightly higher than their older counterparts (82 percent of Gen Xers and 81 percent of Boomers). Ethnic minorities – such as African-Americans and Hispanics – are also more likely than the general population to value giving back.

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