In today’s consumer world, everything seems to be personalized. We can go online and choose a distinctive ring tone for our smartphone, buy a laptop built to our specifications or order a pair of jeans with custom detailing that is tailored to our individual measurements.

In the ophthalmic lens world, personalization is also taking hold. We’re seeing a new generation of high-performance lenses that are described by manufacturers as being “customized,” “individualized” or “personalized.” These lenses, typically PALs and, more recently, single vision, perform better than conventional lenses because they fit the wearer more precisely.

While this is a good thing, it can also be confusing. Lens manufacturers use different terms to describe the attributes of their products. Consumers may also have different understandings of terms like “customized” based upon their experience with non-optical products. It’s one thing to select from a menu of standard options and assemble a customized product such as a laptop. It’s another to have a pair of jeans made-to-order. And ordering a bespoke suit, the pinnacle of personalization, is something else again.

While one could argue that all lenses are customized to some degree, in fact they can range from products with standard base curves to ones that are optimized for the patient’s prescription to lenses created from data supplied by an in-office centration system that takes precise measurements for frame fit, face form and eye movement, and combines them with the patient’s Rx to create a one-of-a-kind lens (see our cover story).

It’s up to eyecare professionals to explain these options to patients. But it would help if manufacturers would standardize their terminology and be as precise as possible when describing the features and benefits of their products.

—Andrew Karp