From 20/20 Magazine: Lenses & Technology

Recently, I attended a meeting of lens suppliers who were discussing industry sales trends. When the talk turned to "office" lenses, which are designed to enhance near and intermediate vision and are particularly helpful for computer users, there was general agreement that sales have been disappointing. Apparently, this has been going on for some time.

You'd think selling office lenses would be a cinch. After all, nearly everyone who works in an office uses a computer, and many people use computers in their home office, too. So why is it so hard to drum up interest in this product category? Are suppliers doing a poor job of communicating the features and benefits of office lenses to ECPs? Are ODs not writing a separate prescription for office lenses? Are opticians not promoting them to presbyopic patients because they are afraid they can't make a second-pair sale? Are patients not aware of the benefits of these lenses?

I suspect all of these are reasons why office lens sales are slack. An underlying problem though, is that instead of buying office lenses, some patients are relying upon their everyday progressive lenses, which also offer near and intermediate viewing zones but are more restrictive. (Mea culpa: I am writing this column while wearing my everyday PALs, while my office lenses are languishing in my desk drawer.)

Is it too inconvenient to change from everyday PALs to office lenses and back again? Are people just lazy?

For many patients, it's probably a matter of performance versus price. They may not believe that their vision is significantly better with office lenses than with their everyday PALs to justify the additional cost. Perhaps that's why at least two lens makers, Shamir and Carl Zeiss Vision, are introducing new office lens designs that promise improved performance and more options. They may be onto something. It will be interesting to see if other suppliers follow suit, and if so, whether it will boost office lens sales.

Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology