When eyecare practices finish their own lenses, they’ve taken a step toward vertically integrating their business, which results in more control over the finished product and the potential for a healthier bottom line.
Now, with the availability of more compact surfacing and coating equipment, independent eyecare professionals are also in a position to go beyond just edging and completely manage most of their lens production needs. (To learn how some ECPs are successfully surfacing in-house, see “What’s Beneath the Surfacing,” page 42.)
ECPs are catching on. According to a survey (the Third Quarter 2018 Vision Council LPT Market Tracker Study, available at TheVisionCouncil.org/Research), 24% of respondents bought some type of finishing equipment, surfacing equipment, diagnostic equipment or optical software during the third quarter of 2018.
While this shows that ECPs who are processing their own lenses are expanding beyond just edging lenses in the back of the shop, The Vision Council survey does indicate that in-house finishing does remain a popular option. Specifically, approximately 5.1% of independent ECPs surveyed purchased an edger during the third quarter of last year.
For those lenses being produced in-house, which types are on the increase? According to the study, the lenses that saw the largest increases in internal processing volume were anti-reflective lenses, single vision lenses, polycarbonate lenses and digitally surfaced free-form lenses.
Overall, the volume of lenses being produced is on the increase, both internally and externally. While 33.4% of ECPs reported that the volume of lenses processed internally on in-house lab equipment increased over the past year, those that reported increases in unit volume processed internally were more likely to also have increases in external volume of lenses processed. Nearly half (48.1%) reported that the volume of lenses processed externally by optical labs increased over the past year.
The good news is that along with this increase in lens processing come plans to buy more equipment, 598 potential equipment purchases within the next 90 days, according to The Vision Council survey. Of these potential purchases, the majority (79.8%) were plans to “possibly add new equipment.”
Interestingly, the highest plans for purchases were for practice management software systems (19.5%). (For the latest practice management software and electronic health record updates, see “Loading the Latest Updates,”)
The breakdown of equipment purchasing plans among ECPs were as follows: edgers (14.2%), tracing equipment (12.3%), drilling equipment (8.6%), tinting (8.6%), digital free-form (5.6%), conventional fining/polishing (4.8%), hardcoating (3.5%), other coating (4.8%) and conventional generating (3.2%).
The Vision Council’s Third Quarter 2018 LPT Market Tracker Study even recognized this magazine as well as our sister publication Optical Lab Products (OLP) in its findings. Vision Care Product News (VCPN) was chosen by 59.4% of respondents when asked to select the trade press sources they use for general optical research, and when respondents were asked about which trade press source they utilized for equipment purposes, about 9% stated they use OLP for finishing equipment while 6.2% used it for finishing equipment.
Email me at JSailer@fvmg.com