The partnerships between wholesale laboratories and eyecare practitioners are among the optical industry’s most fundamental business relationships. Practitioners depend upon their lab to provide expert, up-to-date information on lenses, coatings, frames, contact lenses, as well as guidance on how to market and merchandise these products. They also value the education and training many labs provide. An experienced, capable wholesale lab that meets all of these needs can greatly improve an ECP’s ability to serve their patients and improve the bottom line of their business or practice.

In L&T ’s 2010 Lab Usage Survey, we polled 272 independent vision care professionals and optical retailers from around the country to find out their perceptions and attitudes about the wholesale labs they use. Here’s what we learned.

—Andrew Karp

Wholesale Lab Usuage Study 2010

Topline Analysis

  • Over 8 out of 10 (82.1%) respondents work with more than one wholesale lab.
  • 37.4% of respondents expect to do more business with wholesale labs in the coming year, which is 11.3 percentage points less than last year.
  • Online is the method used most to order products. Telephone is the second most used method.
  • The factors that were rated ‘very important’ in selecting a wholesale lab are based on the quality of services more so than the characteristics of the labs themselves (e.g. ownership). The factors in selecting a lab considered very important by most are lens
  • surfacing quality (96.0%), lens finishing quality (93.4%), lens coating quality (91.2%), quality of drill mounting (87.2%) and product turn around time (85.3%).
  • The majority of locations purchase spectacle lenses (92.7%) and surfaced lenses (78.0%) from their primary lab.
  • The services provided most often by the respondent’s primary lab were lens product information (95.2%), technical support (91.2%), and online ordering (88.6%).
  • Only 36% of respondents have ever sent in frame tracing data with an online order.
  • More than 9 out of 10 locations are familiar with the lens technology term “free-form.” Of those who are aware of this lens technology, currently 65.4% dispense lenses manufactured by free-form.

Wholesale Lab Usuage Study 2010


20/20’s Wholesale Lab Usage Survey 2010 was conducted during August 2010 by Jobson Optical Research’s in-house research staff. The sample of 272 respondents was derived from the proprietary Jobson Optical Research Database.

The 2010 survey was conducted via the internet, and only eye care professionals at independent locations (1, 2, or 3 affiliated practices) who use a wholesale lab for processing lenses or providing other eyewear products and services were qualified to complete the survey. Respondents to the survey were entered in a sweepstakes to win a $300 American Express gift card.

Three years of data is shown for trending purposes. The 2008 survey was conducted in Aug/Sep of 2008 via the internet. 208 respondents at optical retail locations completed the survey and were offered a chance to win a $300 American Express gift card as an incentive. The 2009 survey was conducted in Sep of 2009 via the internet. 150 respondents at optical retail locations completed the survey and were offered a chance to win a $300 American Express gift card as an incentive.

—Jennifer Zupnick
Senior Research Analyst
Jobson Optical Research

For more information or to purchase the complete Wholesale Lab Usage Survey contact Jennifer Zupnick at or visit