Over the past several years, the advent of digital lenses has been one of the bright spots in the “lenscape.” At a time when the optical industry, like most other industries, has been struggling to make profits, the importance of a new class of products that offers a higher level of performance and commands premium prices cannot be overemphasized.

The many benefits of digital lenses, which can enhance a patient’s vision and boost revenue for an eyecare practice or optical retail store, are well recognized in our industry. But digital lenses offer other benefits to the ECP or retailer as well.

I’m thinking about the relationship between ECPs and labs. As ECPs increasingly embrace digital lenses, they rely more on their lab, which has now taken on the role of lens manufacturer in addition to distributor. It’s largely up to the lab’s sales team to educate practitioners and their staff about digital lenses, including the differences between the dozens of competing brands and lens designs. The lab must also teach the staff about the differences between conventional prescriptions and the compensated prescriptions that accompany digital lenses and help them adjust to dispensing lenses they can no longer measure on a lensmeter.

Just as important, the lab must work closely with its customers to ensure that the patient’s prescription—which now often includes personalized measurements such as vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt and face form—is accurately communicated to the lab. The lab’s customer service team makes sure the Rx data is complete and accurate, and they advise the practice on which lens is best for complex prescriptions. All these things bring the practice and the lab closer together while underscoring the naturally symbiotic relationship between them.

—Andrew Karp