As I See It...
What should change about the optical industry
By John Young
There’s an old story dating back to the 19th century about a supervisor in the United States patent office who submitted a resignation letter stating, in part, “There [is] nothing more to be invented.” Of course, history has since proved him wrong. But there are times when all of us, like this patent supervisor, wonder, “Is that all there is?”
Take optical, for instance. The first progressive lens was invented in 1909. Yet, research and development on this lens design concept stood idle for more than half a century before someone decided to take the no-line notion seriously.
So where do we stand now? Has it all been invented? Not! Is there anything that needs fixing? Well, maybe. I’m sure everyone has gripes about how this could be done better or how that should be done differently within our industry. Not surprisingly, when it comes to optical products, I have some, too. Here’s just a few:
Let’s learn how to fit progressive lenses correctly. In February 2000, this
column addressed the issue of poor progressive fitting found through the COLTS “Mystery Shopper” program. At the time, the most common error involved dispensers fitting PALs using only the dominant eye to dot lens. This caused 72 percent of the prescriptions in the program to be 1.5mm temporally located from the pupil of that eye on one side. This can be corrected rather simply, through the use of a corneal reflex pupilometer. Yet, these and other similarly ridiculous errors persist. Dispensers and patients alike opine about progressive “adaptation,” but many “non-adapts” might be the result of poor fitting.
Opticians unite! I see opticians losing ground in this profession because of political discord within the trade. In terms of eyewear dispensing, these are important people with excellent knowledge. They need a unified voice.
Let’s do a better job of promoting eye safety—and the use of eye safety products—at home. Research shows 90 percent of eye trauma occurs with people not wearing any kind of spectacles at all. These are frequently people involved in seemingly mundane household repair and maintenance activities. There is a huge, untapped market for safety specs here and optical is missing the boat.
Independent wholesale labs need
to be more proactive in marketing themselves. The labs that we see in our programs here at COLTS have a lot to offer in terms of products and services. They need to make it known within the dispenser community.
Sports sunglasses should follow the ANSI Z87.1 standard. There is a huge difference between the standard FDA impact test and the Z87.1 safety tests using the High-Velocity and High-Mass impact devices. Given the risks in many sports activities, it’s vital that sunwear used in sports activities meet these higher standards.
We should fit young children with 2mm (center thickness) polycarbonate lenses. Poly offers excellent impact resistance; 2mm polycarbonate is the new requirement for the safety lens standard (ANSI Z87.1). This should be part of the ANSI Z80.1 recommendations.
I could go on about this, as we all could about our opinions. But the best part of the melding of opinions is that some good always comes from them and helps us progress to a better future.
John Young is the owner of COLTS Laboratories, a Clearwater, Fla.-based independent lens and eyewear product testing facility. His clients include lens manufacturers, wholesale labs, independent research organizations, large retailers and independent dispensers. Young can be reached by phone at (727) 725-2323 and by email at email@example.com.