Features: Special Section

Oct
2002

Jobson Marketplace: Eye on Equipment


BUYING  POWER
An optician explores every option

When upgrading his in-office laboratoryThe folks at Jacksonville Ophthalmologic Associates already knew a lot about lens finishing when they started looking into the purchase of a new patternless edger earlier this year. The Jacksonville, Ill.-based group practice—owned by A. George Schultz, MD and Eric Giebelhausen, MD—had been operating its own on-site finishing lab for 15 years, nine under the direction of optician and optical manager Larry Massey.

So, when they began shopping around, the question wasn’t what features and benefits they wanted and needed, but which machine would be able to deliver them best.

“We had an old pattern edger here for years and that was able to do most of the work we needed just fine,” recalls Massey, describing the centerpiece of Jacksonville’s lab until earlier this year. “But when you processed poly it wasn’t very efficient or effective. And it was so noisy you couldn’t be in the same room with it.”
 
And, by the beginning of this year, processing polycarbonate had become a big issue at Jacksonville. Industry-wide, of course, the impact-resistant material is the fastest-growing lens material, in terms of sales. The same is true at Jacksonville, where, Massey says, “we find we’re using it for all kinds of patients these days. It’s an important material in our dispensary and it had become a problem in our lab.”
Indeed, up until the decision to upgrade finishing systems, the practice had been sending most of its polycarbonate work to a wholesale laboratory. Given that outsourcing finishing work can cost anywhere from $7 to $15 extra per job, according to Massey, this had a significant impact on the practice’s operating costs—especially as sales of polycarbonate began to grow in the dispensary. But their existing equipment simply could not produce quality work with polycarbonate consistently and, worse yet, waste disposal was an issue.

“We had to clean the edger constantly and put the waste in a special container, which we then had to dispose of,” explains Massey. “We’d only do a poly job if we had to, and that was if there was a patient sitting there, waiting for it. Otherwise, we’d order the work from the lab finished.”

Enter the need for a new edger. Being an experienced and savvy dispensary manager, Massey, who’s been in the business since the late 1950s (since the days of “ceramic-wheel hand cutters,” he says), knew selecting what finishing system to purchase wouldn’t be an easy decision. He contacted the local sales representatives from five of the major equipment manufacturers and distributors to ask questions about their products. He then asked each one to bring a system in for a demonstration. Given Jacksonville’s size—in all, the practice employs three ophthalmologists, one optometrist and two opticians and sees 120 patients per day; its dispensary does more than $500,000 per year in sales—this wasn’t difficult. According to Massey, each rep spent roughly half a day in the Jacksonville dispensary, setting up the equipment, demonstrating its operation and running sample jobs.

“It’s tempting to kill two birds with one stone and run some of the lab’s real work on the demo machine, but I don’t recommend it,” Massey notes. “I don’t feel comfortable doing that and, if anything happens, it gets expensive correcting mistakes.”

The optical manager, instead, wanted to focus his attention on evaluating the equipment. “What I found is that the technology out there today is really amazing,” he says. “All of the machines I looked at were incredibly well built and easy to use. They all seemed to produce quality work and they all seemed to use basically the same process. It wasn’t an easy decision.”

In the end, Massey says, the decision came down to three factors: versatility, software and price. Massey wanted a machine that would allow him to process different lens materials—particularly high-index plastic and polycarbonate—without time-consuming tool changes and system cleaning. He also wanted a finishing system capable of performing several functions, including grooving, pin beveling and polishing. In addition, he needed to make sure the system he purchased used software compatible to the systems used by the practice’s two wholesale labs (Jacksonville uses one lab for most of its work and another for Varilux orders), both of which operate on different systems. Finally, he wanted all of this at an affordable price.

Ultimately, Massey and Jacksonville settled on the 6E patternless edger and 4T tracer from National Optronics. The upgrade cost the practice less than $30,000. The on-site lab now processes 25 jobs per day, basically all of the dispensary’s finishing work, except for glass jobs. Waste disposal is a non-issue, thanks to a new filtering system that allows the additional swarf generated by poly to go “down the drain,” Massey says. Even though he grew up in the industry when processing work was a hands-on craft, Massey embraces the technology of today.

“It’s much more accurate than how we used to do it, and you don’t have to worry about all the measurements to get a proper edge thickness,” he says. “When it’s all said and done, I don’t believe, like some people, that it’s better to do the work by hand. Today’s machines make much better-looking jobs, easier and faster. I was really impressed with what I saw out there in terms of technology. The manufacturers seem to have a real handle on the industry itself and what dispensers are looking for. If you want to get into finishing, you can find a system to do what you need. It’s a good investment. You just have to figure out what you need and look at all the options.”

Running into problems in your finishing lab? Looking for new staff or having difficulty working with some of today’s premium lens products? Over the years, 20/20 has gathered some excellent tips and techniques for in-office lens processing. What follows are some insights into handling some complex, yet common, lab issues:

FINISHING A-R COATED LENSES
When finishing A-R coated lenses, crazing is the most common type of spoilage. Caused by excess heat or pressure, crazing indicates a breakdown of the A-R coating. If the substrate is unaffected, the coating can be stripped off and the lens re-coated by a coating lab. But that can mean extra time—and money.

Credit:   1 Franel lens fitting pliers  2 Gerber Coburn Delta finishing system  3 BPI Mini Tank tinter   4 AIT Maxima edger   5 Santinelli LessStress lens drill

Some dispensers say they beat the heat that can occur during finishing by attaching an extra valve to their edgers’ water lines, which allows them to increase water flow to cool down the machine when edging an A-R coated lens.

To avoid putting too much pressure on an A-R coated lens during finishing, lab techs recommend using surface-saver tape, now available in smaller sizes specifically for finishing, before blocking the lens for finishing. In addition to being a prudent scratch prevention measure, it helps prevent slippage and ease chuck pressure. If chuck pressure is too high, lenses can flex during finishing, causing crazing. Dispensers should check with their A-R supplier, as well as their edger manufacturer, for specific chuck pressure protocols.
Blocking and de-blocking have to be A-R specific to avoid crazing during finishing. Dispensers shouldn’t leave an A-R coated lenses blocked for extended periods. When de-blocking, experts suggest soaking an A-R coated lens in warm water. Peeling them off directly can cause the coating to come off as well.

In terms of chuck pressure, patternless edgers have advantages over older machines. Patternless systems tend to cut cooler, generating less heat. They also reduce handwork. Depending on the accuracy of the tracer, lenses require only one “cut”—and the polishing cycles eliminate the need for hand polishing.

FINISHING POLYCARBONATE
Because polycarbonate is susceptible to warping and scratching during processing, proper handling and equipment maintenance are key. If a poly lens is damaged during processing, dispensers should check all equipment at each and every stage of the process to track and address the problem. Too much pressure in the edger’s chuck, which clamps the lens as it is being edged, is a common source of finishing scratching with polycarbonate.

Cutting polycarbonate generally takes between 30 seconds and two minutes longer than conventional plastic, depending on the edger. The lens stock removed is not fine or powdery like plastic. It comes off in spirals, making the swarf “chunkier,” which in turn can “gum” up the cutting devices in the edger. Therefore, edging polycarbonate requires more cleaning and general maintenance of the equipment due to the distinctive texture of its swarf.

HIGH-INDEX INSIGHTS
Remember: High-index plastic does not finish like conventional plastic. It requires special handling because it is softer and can flex during processing. It is also, like poly, more sensitive to scratches and heat.

Unlike polycarbonate, however, high-index plastic is a more diverse lens category. Terms such as mid-index and “higher-index” differentiate the number of indices now available (in general, from 1.53 to 1.74). Retailers selling high-index plastic typically use a variety of manufacturers—their 1.60 supplier is very likely a different manufacturer than their 1.66 vendor. Each substrate finishes a little different, experienced dispensers say.
To avoid warpage and scratching, all finishing lab equipment and the general lab area must be kept clean when processing high-index plastic. Dust and grit can damage the lens and excessive debris build-up can also generate heat, potentially enough to warp high-index plastic. Experienced dispensers suggest wiping the lens off before and after edging, using a clean towel.

FINISHING AND FITTING PALS
Successful fitting and finishing of progressives is related. The key to both is the proper positioning of the “fitting cross.”

The fitting cross, which is marked by the manufacturer on the lens, is the major reference point of the lens and indicates the optical center as well as the placement of the distance, intermediate and near powers. The fitting cross must be positioned so that the patient’s pupil is centrally located behind it. Different brands of progressives place the fitting cross in slightly different areas because of the specifics of their respective designs.

A patient’s pupillary distance and monocular height determine the position of the fitting cross in a finished progressive. For finishing, the lens must be “decentered.” In other words, the fitting cross must be properly aligned on the layout blocker so the optical center of the lens (i.e., intersection of the fitting cross) will be positioned over the center of the patient’s pupil when the lens is edged and mounted.

To assist in-office lab techs and dispensers, contemporary layout blockers now use computer monitors that show operators the correct position of the fitting cross during blocking. In addition, on-board software calculates pupillary distance and monocular height for proper decentration. With today’s patternless edgers, operators follow computer prompts and align the fitting cross with the image or guides on the system’s layout screen. In the past, these calculations were done by hand.

Sometimes the manufacturer’s factory markings can come off during surfacing. To deal with this, some wholesale labs will use either a marker or verification sticker to indicate the fitting cross. A mild acetone should be used to remove any markings in order to prevent coating damage. Remove these verification stickers before blocking the lens. If left on, they can cause slippage and clog the edger, jeopardizing edge integrity and possibly damaging the machine itself.


PROCESSING PRODUCTS
For dispensers looking to install, expand or upgrade an in-office laboratory, 20/20’s Eye on Equipment supplement offers the following vendor directory. These companies manufacture and/or distribute equipment and supplies for finishing, surfacing and tinting facilities, as well as ancillary needs such as computer software, lensometers and other tools. Entries include phone and fax numbers as well as web sites, where available. All of these companies can provide you with the latest information on their products and services.

FINISHING
AIT Industries
(800) 729-1959
(630) 595-1005
FAX: (630) 595-1006
FAX: (800) 729-7489
WEB: www.aitindustries.com

Bay Tech Optical Products
(800) 843-8627

Belrose Refracting Equipment
(800) 875-5235
(847) 675-2300
FAX: (847) 675-2303
WEB: www.belroserefracting.com

Bill Fox, Inc.
(972) 722-4608
FAX: (972) 722-8168

Brain Power Inc. (BPI)
(800) 327-2250
(305) 264-4465
FAX: (800) 262-8120
WEB: www.callbpi.com

Briot USA
(800) 292-7468
FAX: (770) 889-8445
WEB: www.briotusa.com

DAC Vision
(800) 800-1550
(972) 543-2500
FAX: (800) 421-3398
WEB: www.dacvision.com

FB Optical
(800) 328-0316
(320) 255-1333
FAX: (320) 255-1413

Franel Optical Supply
(800) 327-2070
FAX: (407) 884-1830
WEB: www.franeloptical.com

Gerber Coburn Optical
(800) 843-1479
(860) 648-6600
FAX: (800) 316-0994
FAX: (860) 648-6601
WEB: www.gerbercoburn.com

Grimes Optical Equipment
(800) 749-8427
FAX: (806) 342-4201

Grobet-Vigor
(800) 847-4188
(201) 939-6700
FAX: (201) 939-5067
WEB: www.grobetusa.com

Henley Optical
(800) 243-6539
(972) 264-4801
FAX: (972) 264-4803

JC Optical Service
(561) 883-5224
Lab-Tech (A member of Nassau
Vision Group)
(800) 822-4343
FAX: (305) 471-8140
WEB: www.lab-tech.net

Loh Optical Machinery
(262) 255-6001
FAX: (262) 255-6002
WEB: www.loh-optical.com

National Optronics
(800) 247-9796
(434) 295-9126
FAX: (434) 295-7799
WEB: www.nationaloptronics.com

Nestor Systems International
(800) NESTORS
(610) 767-5000
FAX: (610) 767-0500

Nu-Tec Optical Equipment
(972) 231-4921
FAX: (972) 231-4923
WEB: www.nu-tecinc.com

Optical Distributors International
(888) 551-2020
(201) 261-1999

Optical Moulding Systems (OMS)
(800) 461-6637
(514) 426-3055
FAX: (514) 426-1138

Optical Works
(800) 688-1806
FAX: (918) 683-9527
WEB: www.opticalworks.com

Practical Systems Inc. (PSI)
(800) 237-8154
FAX: (800) 330-3800

Santinelli International
(800) 644-EDGE
(631) 435-EDGE
FAX: (631) 435-9200
WEB: www.santinelli.com

Sentiles Optical Services
(800) 868-9749

Topcon / ODI
(888) 551-2020
(201) 261-1999
FAX: (201) 634-1326
WEB: www.topcon.com

Universal Photonics
(800) 645-7173
(516) 935-4000
FAX: (516) 935-4039
WEB: www.uniphotonics.thomasregister.com/olc/uniphotonics/home.htm

WECO USA
(800) 292-7468
(770) 889-8445
WEB: www.usaweco.com

REMOTE TRACING
Briot USA
(800) 292-7468
Fax: (770) 889-8445
WEB: www.briotusa.com

Essilor of America/Trace &
Transmit
(800) 237-8725
FAX: (727) 549-5134

Gerber Coburn Optical
(800) 843-1479
(860) 648-6600
FAX: (800) 316-0994
FAX: (860) 648-6601
WEB: www.gerbercoburn.com

Hoya Lens of America/HELP System
(203) 790-0171
(888) 882-HOYA
FAX: (203) 744-6430

National Optronics
(800) 247-9796
(434) 295-9126
FAX: (434) 295-7799
WEB: www.nationaloptronics.com

Santinelli International
(800) 644-EDGE
(631) 435-EDGE
FAX: (631) 435-9200
WEB: www.santinelli.com

Topcon / ODI
(888) 551-2020
(201) 261-1999
FAX: (201) 634-1326
WEB: www.topcon.com

WECO USA
(800) 292-7468
(770) 889-8445
WEB: www.usaweco.com

SURFACING
FB Optical
(800) 328-0316
(320) 255-1333
FAX: (320) 255-1413

Gerber Coburn Optical
(800) 843-1479
(860) 648-6600
FAX: (800) 316-0994
FAX: (860) 648-6601
WEB: www.gerbercoburn.com

Henley Optical
(800) 243-6539
(972) 264-4801
FAX: (972) 264-4803

Loh Optical Machinery
(262) 255-6001
FAX: (262) 255-6002
WEB: www.loh-optical.com

National Optronics
(800) 247-9796
(434) 295-9126
FAX: (434) 295-7799
WEB: www.nationaloptronics.com

Nu-Tec Optical Equipment
(972) 231-4921
FAX: (972) 231-4923
WEB: www.nu-tecinc.com

Optek
(800) 524-5454
(727) 525-2153
FAX: (727) 526-7872
WEB: www.optek-online.com

Optical Works
(800) 688-1806
FAX: (918) 683-9527

Super Systems
(800) 543-7376
FAX: (513) 321-2456
WEB: www.superoptical.com

WECO USA
(800) 292-7468
(770) 889-8445
WEB: www.usaweco.com

LENS FABRICATION
Optical Dynamics
(800) 587-2743
(502) 671-2020
FAX: (502) 458-6625
WEB: www.opticaldynamics.com

Opticast
(888) 893-CAST
(419) 634-CAST
FAX: (419) 634-9858
WEB: www.opticastusa.com

SUPPLIES/MISCELLANEOUS
Arconium Specialty Alloys
(800) 343-0282
(401) 456-0800
FAX: (401) 421-2419
WEB: www.arconium.com

Belrose Refracting Equipment
(800) 875-5235
(847) 675-2300
FAX: (847) 675-2303
WEB: www.belroserefracting.com

Bill Fox, Inc.
(972) 722-4608
FAX: (972) 722-8168

Brain Power Inc. (BPI)
(800) 327-2250
(305) 264-4465
FAX: (800) 262-8120
WEB: www.callbpi.com

Breitfeld & Schliekert
(888) 429-5779
WEB: www.sight-tools.com

Briot USA
(800) 292-7468
Fax: (770) 889-8445
WEB: www.briotusa.com

DAC Vision
(800) 800-1550
(972) 543-2500
FAX: (800) 421-3398
WEB: www.dacvision.com

FB Optical
(800) 328-0316
(320) 255-1333
FAX: (320) 255-1413

Franel Optical Supply
(800) 327-2070
FAX: (407) 884-1830
WEB: www.franeloptical.com

Gerber Coburn Optical
(800) 843-1479
(860) 648-6600
FAX: (800) 316-0994
FAX: (860) 648-6601
WEB: www.gerbercoburn.com

Grimes Optical Equipment
(800) 749-8427
FAX: (806) 342-4201

Grobet-Vigor
(800) 847-4188
(201) 939-6700
FAX: (201) 939-5067
WEB: www.grobetusa.com

Henley Optical
(800) 243-6539
(972) 264-4801
FAX: (972) 264-4803

Hilco/SeeGreen
(800) 955-6544
(508) 699-4406
FAX: (508) 695-2742
WEB: www.hilco-usa.com

Inland Diamond
(800) 347-2020
(248) 585-2330
FAX: (248) 589-0499
WEB: www.inlanddiamond.com

JC Optical Service
(561) 883-5224

Loh Optical Machinery
(262) 255-6001
FAX: (262) 255-6002
WEB: www.loh-optical.com

Marco Ophthalmic
(800) 874-5274
(904) 642-9330
FAX: (904) 642-9338
WEB: www.marcooph.com

Nestor Systems International
(800) NESTORS
(610) 767-5000
FAX: (610) 767-0500

OptiSource
(800) 377-2436
(631) 474-5563
FAX: (631) 473-4292
WEB: www.1-800-optisource.com

Optical Distributors International
(888) 551-2020
(201) 261-1999

Optical Moulding Systems (OMS)
(800) 461-6637
(514) 426-3055
FAX: (514) 426-1138

Optek
(800) 524-5454
(727) 525-2153
FAX: (727) 526-7872
WEB: www.optek-online.com

Optical Works
(800) 688-1806
FAX: (918) 683-9527
WEB: www.opticalworks.com

Phantom Research Laboratories
(800) 821-8729 (California)
(800) 225-5559 (National)
FAX: (619) 280-9908
WEB: www.phantomresearch.com

Practical Systems Inc. (PSI)
(800) 237-8154
FAX: (800) 330-3800
WEB: www.practicalsystems.com

Sadler
(800) 343-3912
(508) 761-8352
FAX: (508) 761-8354

Salem
(800) 234-1982
FAX: (910) 766-1104
FAX: (910) 766-1119

Sentiles Optical Services
(800) 868-9749

Signet Armorlite
(800) 759-4630
(760) 744-4000
FAX: (760) 471-6255
WEB: www.signetarmorlite.com

Smart Lab
(800) 355-0309
FAX: (800) 355-0277
WEB: www.smartlab.com

Super Systems
(800) 543-7376
FAX: (513) 321-2456
WEB: www.superoptical.com

Topcon / ODI
(888) 551-2020
(201) 261-1999
FAX: (201) 634-1326
WEB: www.topcon.com

Tristor Optical
(800) 648-2020
FAX: (800) 466-9640

Universal Photonics
(800) 645-7173
(516) 935-4000
FAX: (516) 935-4039
WEB: www.uniphotonics.thomasregister.com/olc/uniphotonics/home.htm

US Optical Specialties
(800) 227-2252
FAX: (574) 234-3200

Venture Tape
(800) 343-1076
(781) 331-5900
FAX: (781) 871-0065
WEB: www.venturetape.com

Visioneering Research
Laboratories
(800) 837-4000
(727) 849-6604
FAX: (800) 837-4891
WEB: www.vrl.net

Western Optical Supply
(800) 423-3294
(505) 455-1100
FAX: (505) 455-1109
WEB: www.westernoptical.com

TINTING
Action Services
(800) 881-2020
(865) 671-2905
FAX: (800) 881-3030
FAX: (865) 671-2924

Belrose Refracting Equipment
(800) 875-5235
(847) 675-2300
FAX: (847) 675-2303
WEB: www.belroserefracting.com

Bill Fox, Inc.
(972) 722-4608
FAX: (972) 722-8168

Brain Power Inc. (BPI)
(800) 327-2250
(305) 264-4465
FAX: (800) 262-8120
WEB: www.callbpi.com

Briot USA
(800) 292-7468
Fax: (770) 889-8445
WEB: www.briotusa.com

Franel Optical Supply
(800) 327-2070
FAX: (407) 884-1830
WEB: www.franeloptical.com

Grimes Optical Equipment
(800) 749-8427
FAX: (806) 342-4201

Henley Optical
(800) 243-6539
(972) 264-4801
FAX: (972) 264-4803

Inland Diamond
(800) 347-2020
(248) 585-2330
FAX: (248) 589-0499
WEB: www.inlanddiamond.com

Kirk Optical
(516) 378-7800
FAX: (516) 378-5135

Optical Moulding Systems (OMS)
(800) 461-6637
(514) 426-3055
FAX: (514) 426-1138

OptiSource
(800) 377-2436
(631) 474-5563
FAX: (631) 473-4292
WEB: www.1-800-optisource.com

Optical Works
(800) 688-1806
FAX: (918) 683-9527
WEB: www.opticalworks.com

Phantom Research Laboratories
(800) 821-8729 (California)
(800) 225-5559 (National)
FAX: (619) 280-9908
WEB: www.phantomresearch.com

Salem
(800) 234-1982
FAX: (910) 766-1104
FAX: (910) 766-1119

Sentiles Optical Services
(800) 868-9749

Topcon / ODI
(888) 551-2020
(201) 261-1999
FAX: (201) 634-1326
WEB: www.topcon.com

Visioneering Research
Laboratories
(800) 837-4000
(727) 849-6604
FAX: (800) 837-4891
WEB: www.vrl.net

Western Optical Supply
(800) 423-3294
(505) 455-1100
FAX: (505) 455-1109
WEB: www.westernoptical.com

Universal Photonics
(800) 645-7173
(516) 935-4000
FAX: (516) 935-4039
WEB: www.uniphotonics.thomasregister.com/olc/uniphotonics/home.htm

COMPUTERS/SOFTWARE
Delta Add-Power Systems
(504) 837-9835
FAX: (504) 837-9838
WEB: www.addpower.com

Digital Vision, Inc. (DVI)
(503) 231-6606
FAX: (503) 231-4943
WEB: www.thedvi.com

Gerber Coburn Optical
(800) 843-1479
(860) 648-6600
FAX: (800) 316-0994
FAX: (860) 648-6601
WEB: www.gerbercoburn.com

Optical Software Inc. (OSI)
(800) 762-2708 (US)
(800) 939-4227 (Canada)
(506) 857-1707 (Canada)
FAX: (336) 370-1273 (US)
FAX: (506) 853-7512 (Canada)
WEB: www.omics.com

WECO USA
(800) 292-7468
(770) 889-8445
WEB: www.usaweco.com

INSTRUMENTS
Brain Power Inc. (BPI)
(800) 327-2250
(305) 264-4465
FAX: (800) 262-8120
WEB: www.callbpi.com

Grobet-Vigor
(800) 847-4188
(201) 939-6700
FAX: (201) 939-5067
WEB: www.grobetusa.com

Marco Ophthalmic
(800) 874-5274
(904) 642-9330
FAX: (904) 642-9338
WEB: www.marcooph.com

Nikon
(800) 438-8782
(800) 52-NIKON
FAX: (516) 547-5251
WEB: www.nikonusa.com

Topcon Medical Systems
(800) 223-1130
(201) 261-9450
FAX: (201) 634-1365
WEB: www.topcon.com

ON THE BENEFITS OF INSTALLING AN IN-OFFICE LAB:
“When you have a private practice, keeping one patient from going somewhere else to get their glasses is worth having an in-office lab. We can make it easier for the patient and deliver eyewear faster, so they stay with us. When we installed our lab, the volume of retail sales from optical doubled overnight. I would recommend it to any doctor who has enough volume and patient base.” 
—lab manager for independent optical shop, Texas

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINED TECHS IN THE IN-OFFICE LAB:
“It really reduces the learning curve when you hire someone who has experience on the equipment you have. I also think it is better if someone has taken an ‘ophthalmics’ course and understands how to process a lens and why.” 
—lab manager for department-store dispensary, New York

ON THE STATE OF IN-OFFICE LENS TINTING:
“We’re definitely seeing a resurgence in in-office tinting. It goes in cycles and we are definitely in an upswing now. Dispensers see the profit possibilities there and they see the technology available to make the process easier. They’re getting back into it.” 
—executive with equipment manufacturer

ON THE IMPACT OF EDGING TECHNOLOGY ON MOUNTING:
“The new edgers have made mounting easier because the lenses come out more exact.” 
—owner/optician, optical shop, Arizona

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD TRACER:
“In this day and age, with the cost of lenses so high, patient expectations for fast turn-around and smaller, more complex frame shapes, patternless edging is the way to go. The key to it all is the tracer. With a tracer, there is no searching for patterns or making patterns. As an ophthalmology dispensary, we are seeing more difficult prescriptions and specialty work. By tracing the frame, we can exert better quality control regardless of the shape of the eye wire.” 
—lab manager/optician, ophthalmic dispenser, New York

ON AUTOMATED LENSOMETERS:
“Proper lens inspection is critical for an in-office finishing lab. I have been using an automated lensometer for about 10 years. I find that for checking axis and power, and making marks, an automated lensometer is easier to use and more accurate than a manual one. There’s no moving the lens around, no turning the dials to get a good reading. It’s easier to train people on an automated lensometer because all the information is on the screen. Plus, my automated lensometer prints out a job ticket, which is great for recordkeeping.” 
—optician/owner, optical shop, New Jersey

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY TOOLS:
“I consider lens alignment pliers the most essential tool in my lab. The pliers have to be cushioned to prevent scratching. Today’s smaller frames require more complex assembly and mounting. It seems like you have to use the lens alignment pliers more often with these styles, and there’s very little leeway. I’ve been in business since 1953 and nearly every aspect of edging has changed. But the lens alignment pliers are the same. They are necessary for almost every job.” 
—owner, small chain retailer, Kentucky

ON KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGY:
“We hope that by buying the latest technology, we will get better. We want to improve service to our customers.” 
—lab manager for regional chain retailer, Minnesota

ON THE BENEFITS OF CASTING:
“We don’t have any one-hour stores in town. They’re about 30 miles away. But we felt like we could deliver product to patients quicker and cheaper if we processed it ourselves. Plus, we can provide our patients with an extra service. You have to really look at the kind of business you have when you’re deciding [which surfacing method] to use. You have to process a lot more lenses in-office per week than we do to go with traditional surfacing. Casting was the perfect option for us.” 
—independent optometrist, Kansas

 

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