Happy New PAL Year


A Happy New PAL Year

The progressive addition lens product category grows bigger each year as manufacturers keep piling on the PALs. According to the 2005 Optical Laboratories Association’s Progressive Lens Identifier chart, there are 278 PALs currently in production and available in the U.S. But, how many PALs do we really need?

Don’t get me wrong. Being a PAL wearer myself and someone who writes about lenses for a living, I applaud the introduction of any new product that will enhance my vision.
However, we are in danger of becoming over-PALed. Labs complain of having to inventory so many SKUs and many eyecare professionals get confused trying to differentiate one PAL design from another because of similar claims made by manufacturers. Consumers certainly don’t need so many choices.

Not only does the PAL category keep growing, it is getting more complex as manufacturing and design technology becomes more sophisticated. In addition to general purpose and short-corridor PALs, we now have customized, optimized and personalized PALs.

How can the clutter and confusion in the PAL category be reduced? Let’s ask lens manufacturers to make the following New Year’s resolutions. Before introducing a new PAL, they should delete any old products that feature outdated designs. Next, lens makers must make more of an effort to communicate to labs and ECPs and convince them not just why their new product is better than competitors’ products, but also how it differs from the manufacturer’s other PALs designs. They need to do more than just state the features and benefits of the new lens, but also clearly explain how it should be positioned against other PALs. If the manufacturers want ECPs to switch patients from one PAL to another, they must give them a strong reason to do it.

Some manufacturers are already taking these steps. But it would be to everyone’s benefit if all lens manufacturers could put themselves on a post-holiday diet to slim down their PAL lines.

Andrew Karp, akarp@jobson.com