About 20 years ago, I visited a New York wholesale lab to see a demonstration of a new, high-tech edger. The machine, a Briot Scanform, was one of the first patternless edgers I had seen. The Briot rep showed the lab owner and me how the edger could cut a lens accurately by first scanning and digitally storing its dimensions and then using the data to guide the edger wheel’s movements.

Fast forward to today. Patternless edging is standard technology not only for prescription labs but for in-office labs as well. Patternless edgers, tracers, blockers and drills, often integrated into a single system, have greatly simplified the lens finishing process.

For many opticians and ODs, deskilling the finishing process offers many benefits. It allows them to provide faster service and have more time servicing customers. Over time, it can save them money.

Yet the technology is not foolproof, and lots of ECPs would still prefer to have their wholesale lab do the edging, especially when it involves expensive lenses. There’s nothing like ruining a $400 lens to make you think twice about edging it yourself.

For those of you who are considering whether to install an in-office lab or upgrade an existing one, this month’s L&T cover story, “The Dollars & Sense of In-Office Finishing,” is required reading. Written by Mark Mattison-Shupnick, 20/20’s director of education and training, it provides answers to key questions about how operating an in-office lab can impact your practice or business.

Another great resource is The Partnership For In-Office Edging (PIE). Their web site, www.partnershipforinofficeedging.com, features exclusive articles, including some from the archives of L&T, 20/20 and Vision Monday, and is updated regularly.

In today’s challenging business climate, everyone is looking at ways to improve service and maximize profits. Now is a good time to re-examine in-office edging’s potential.

—Andrew Karp