Although Banff, Canada is not usually considered a hotbed of optical activity, this scenic resort city in the Canadian Rockies was transformed into one for three days last month during Essilor of America’s 2007 national sales meeting. Nearly 740 attendees participated, including Essilor sales consultants, managers from the company’s wholesale lab network and members of its Independent Distribution Division. Essilor’s management used the meeting as a platform to introduce new progressive lens and sun lens technologies. The company’s most significant product launch will be the release of two new progressive lenses (PALs), Accolade and Accolade Freedom. Essilor executives say the new lenses feature proprietary “Harmonix technology,” which incorporates each patient’s eye shape into the PAL design. The technology represents a step beyond that used in PALs such as Essilor Ovation, which are custom-designed based on ametropia.

“The Harmonix technology created for Accolade and Accolade Freedom lenses truly allows patients to see better, faster,” says Carl Bracy, vice president of marketing for Essilor of America. “Our research shows that nine out of 10 patients adapt immediately to Accolade lenses and that Accolade lenses are actually preferred over our successful Ovation lenses, three to one.”

Accolade Freedom lenses offer wearers the same benefits with the added dimension of Essilor’s new “FrameOptimization” technology. The Accolade Freedom lens design uses FrameOptimization technology to customize the backside design using digital surfacing, based on frame dimensions. This technology takes into account the patient’s Rx, frame size and fitting parameters. It adapts lenses to a particular frame, which maximizes the fields of vision for any frame and optimizes corridor length, according to Essilor.

Essilor executives also announced the launch of an integrated anti-reflective (AR) technology specifically designed to complement sunwear. The technology will be introduced in a new product known Crizal Sun that will be part of Essilor’s family of Crizal AR lenses. Crizal Sun lenses offer the same scratch protection and ease of cleaning to both sides of the lens as Crizal Alizé, according to Essilor. Specialized integrated technology reduces backside glare without the common front side color changes, keeping the original color and look of the lens.

Another priority for Essilor in 2007 is extending its Definity line of PALs. Definity brand manager Maureen Cavanagh says the company will be “very aggressive” in launching new Definity products. The first, Definity 1.67, will be released in March.

Essilor will follow with the release of Definity polycarbonate polarized with Crizal Sun. By mid-year, Essilor plans to release Definity Trivex, its first-ever lens made of PPG’s Trivex material.

Essilor will also extend its Varilux PAL line. Kim Schuy, Varilux brand manager, says Essilor will use digital surfacing technology to optimize its Varilux Ellipse and Varilux Comfort PALs. Essilor is currently using the technology to produce its Varilux Physio, Varilux Physio 360° and Varilux Ipseo PALs. The new version of Ellipse will be released this spring, with Comfort following in summer, says Shuy.

Essilor is refreshing its marketing message for Varilux Physio and Varilux Physio 360° in 2007. She said Essilor will emphasis the results of new research that shows the lenses improve contrast sensitivity up to 30 percent over other progressives. Essilor has sold over a million pairs of Varilux Physio and Varilux Physio 360° since introducing them a year ago.

In addition, Essilor plans to launch a program and introduce new tools for its Varilux Ipseo Premiere Program (VIPP). The company will continue to expand the distribution of VisionPrint Systems nationwide to provide a broader group of ECPs with the opportunity to offer Varilux Ipseo.
— Andrew Karp