Apr
2005

Through My Lens

AR’s Time is Now
When I started writing about lenses in 1987, anti-reflective lenses were just a blip on the optical radar screen. Although most doctors and dispensers had prescribed or dispensed AR lenses at one time or another, many lacked confidence in them, and for good reasons. Patients often complained about paying a premium for AR, only to discover the coatings soon peeled off, cracked or crazed.
   Fortunately, those days are long behind us. Leading lens suppliers, coating equipment makers and coating labs have developed a new generation of AR lenses with coatings that are compatible with virtually every lens material and hard coating on the market today. The best of these coatings feature high-quality hydrophobic top coats that repel oil and water, and make cleaning a breeze.
   These significant improvements in product quality are going a long way toward restoring confidence in AR lenses among ECPs and their patients. Industry observers estimate that AR lenses now account for between 20 to 25 percent of lens sales in the U.S., a considerable increase from even a few years ago.
Several recent developments will further spur the growth of the AR market. Consumer advertising by Essilor for its Crizal Alizé brand is raising the public’s awareness of AR lenses to new levels. The recent merger of Satis Vacuum, a leading AR equipment maker and Loh Optical Machinery, a leading surfacing equipment maker, promises new synergies in AR lens production. The pending merger of SOLA and the ophthalmic business of Carl Zeiss also presents interesting possibilities; SOLA markets the Teflon AR brand and owns Great Lakes, a major coating lab. Carl Zeiss, markets Zeiss AR lenses and coating systems.
   Now several coating equipment makers are introducing small scale AR systems for the in-office or retail lab and small-to-midsize prescription lab. The introduction of these compact systems, some which are featured in this month’s “Well Equipped” section, will increase the availability of AR lenses and should make them even more accessible to consumers.

— Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology
akarp@jobson.com

 

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