Through My Lens

In the 1990’s, spectacle lenses were experiencing a technological revolution. In the space of a few years, lens suppliers had introduced a flood of new, premium products including aspheric and progressive lens designs, high-index materials, plastic photochromics and high-performance coatings. These new premium products enabled doctors and dispensers to offer their patients eyewear with better optics, more comfort and improved cosmetics.

At the same time, lens processing technology was undergoing a parallel development. The introduction of three-axis generators and patternless edgers changed the way lenses are surfaced and finished. This new equipment gave labs and dispensers the ability to improve the accuracy of the lenses they processed, reduce the need for skilled labor and speed the delivery time for eyewear.

Now we seem to be poised on the brink of a new wave of innovation. Several lens suppliers are releasing new progressive designs this fall, lens coating continue to improve and at least one new lens material, Trivex, is gaining acceptance in a growing number of labs and dispensaries. On the equipment side, cut-to-polish and direct surface generators and robotics are boosting production levels at labs and remote tracing technology is giving dispensers a new tool to improve service.

Perhaps the most profound technological change is occurring with online services. In the past couple of years, online services have steadily been improving and expanding their capabilities. As they improve, more doctors and dispensers are going online to order lenses, frames and contact lenses, file insurance claims, take continuing education courses and get the latest optical news, to name some of the more popular uses of these services.

A spot check with the three practitioners I interviewed for this month’s RxPertise feature revealed that each of them is already doing some online ordering. Each said electronic ordering allows them to save time and simplify their job.

This is just the beginning. Over the next few years, we may see this technology transform the way the optical industry transacts business. L&T will track these changes as they occur and report on them regularly. We would like to hear from practitioners who are using online services and would like to share their experiences with other readers. I invite you to email me to let us know how you’re using online services and what differences it has made in the way you run your business or practice. With your input, we’ll be able to get a clearer idea of what’s going on with this increasingly important area of technology.

—Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology