|SEIKO provides a motorized Spinner Display to compare a progressive lens with a conventional lens.|
|LAB MARKETING One of the challenges in marketing free-form is marketing itself. Traditionally, lens manufacturers produced all of the brochures and point-of-purchase materials. Now, that responsibility is falling to labs. They need to not only make the literature, but explain it in a way that both ECPs and patients can understand. The labs also need to be able to illustrate why their lenses are as good as (or better than) the brand-name alternatives.|
|Luzerne’s iFit Dispensing System for the iPad assists ECPs with eyewear selection, lens education, and position-of-wear measurements.|
|P.O.G. Labs has an array of materials to help ECPs understand and prescribe free-form lenses.|
|FEA Industries’ PD/segment height measuring ruler makes it easy to collect advanced frame information.|
Free-form labs and lens manufacturers provide an abundance of educational materials to ECPs.
For many ECPs, understanding the “how and why” of free-form technology is akin to wondering what Oz was doing behind the curtain. Fortunately, there are many tools and materials provided by free-form labs and lens manufacturers to assist ECPs and their patients in navigating the somewhat foreign landscape of free-form technology. To explore what materials are available, I contacted a number of labs. Here’s a sampling.
It goes without saying that if you want to run a successful business in today’s tech-saturated environment, you must have a website. The sponsors of First Vision Media Group’s Free-Form Revolution group are no exception. Each of their websites contains a wealth of information about free-form lenses. There is easy access to product literature, fitting guides, and specification/technical data, much of it downloadable in PDF files for ECPs.
Precision Optical Group, Inc. (P.O.G. Labs), for example, provides an excellent downloadable Free-Form Lens Sheet that is five pages of straightforward information for understanding and prescribing free-form lenses. Similarly, FEA Industries, Inc. not only provides an abundance of related information on their site but it also directs visitors to a few external websites to broaden their understanding of free-form technology. Some of the ones they use are iot.es and camberlens.com.
With the astonishing amount of information available on the Internet, it may appear “Old School” to provide printed materials. These materials, nonetheless, continue to remain an essential part of an effective strategy to educate and inform ECPs and their patients.
Printed materials come in all shapes and sizes. A few of the many materials available from free-form labs and lens manufacturers are: patient brochures, product flyers, fitting and dispensing guides, countercards that ECPs can display to educate patients while they await appointments, lens guides, and reading cards.
VIDEOS AND PODCASTS
Quickly becoming an essential tool for product introduction and education are videos and podcasts. Why? Everyone loves videos, especially short and informative pieces. Free-form lens manufacturers use these videos to explain the basic concepts of free-form. ECPs can reference these videos as educational tools for themselves, their staff, or their patients. It gives their patients a better idea of the technology at work and helps make them become more comfortable with the difference between “traditional” and “high-definition” lenses. An example is the popular IOT Free-Form Lens Design – Digital Ray Path on YouTube.
US Optical has a lab tour video on its website. While the video clearly promotes its business, it is educational and informative. For those who have never been in a lab and are not aware of the intense amount of precision work that goes into processing lenses and fabricating eyeglasses, it’s very educational. Central One Optical has a cool lab video too. This one has no narration and shows the high-tech nature of its lab processes with some hip music playing in the background.
Podcasts are another way ECPs can benefit from materials provided by lens manufacturers. For example, I entered the search term “podcasts for eyecare professionals” on Google and got over 1.5 million hits in 0.49 seconds! Now, we all know that the relevant results are a small fraction of that number, but still, the potential for customer and patient support through podcasts seems infinite.
COURSES AND TRAINING
Several of the companies contacted offer excellent training opportunities for the ECP. Two noteworthy mentions are SEIKO Optical Products of America, Inc. and Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd. Both offer ABO-certified and accredited courses that are focused on free-form education.
SEIKO sponsors courses about the PC WIDE (a free-form progressive lens for computer and desktop use) and Dispensing Variable Inset Free-Form Progressive Lenses. Luzerne has developed a two-hour ABO accredited seminar called “The Digital and Free-form Revolution and What It Means to your Office.” This seminar was developed to clarify the difference between free-form technology and digital lenses and the advantages of this new technology. The program is unique in that it doesn’t present this material from any one manufacturer’s point of view.
Several lens manufacturers also offer non-accredited seminars. For example, Shamir Insight, Inc., in conjunction with US Optical, conducts seminars which focus on the ever-increasing influx of new free-form lenses.
TOOLS, DISPLAYS, AND MORE
Part of the confusion in understanding free-form technology is due to the need for additional position-of-wear measurements. To simplify this process, lens manufacturers provide an array of measuring devices, dispensing tools, and special rulers. Additionally, there are demonstration tools, dispensing mats presenting product information, and many software programs. One of the newest software applications is the iFit Dispensing System app for the iPad. Developed for Luzerne by ABS Inc. which sells the Smart Mirror, it is designed to assist in eyewear selection, lens education, and multifocal measurements including position-of-wear measurements used for digital and free-form products.
Most of the tools available are company-specific, that is, they promote the company’s brands. For example, SEIKO provides a motorized “Spinner Display” that compares an image seen through a progressive lens with a conventional lens. Display kits and other point-of-purchase displays offer a visual aid to the ECP and their patients and come in various designs. Along with information about free-form technology, some kits often display various lens options to patients. Most manufacturers offer a lens ruler in some form, e.g., pantoscopic tilt measuring rulers, frame wrap tools, and PD/segment height measuring rulers. FEA has rulers that make it easy to collect advanced frame information like pantoscopic tilt, wrap angle, and vertex distance.
All of these tools are designed to make the ECP’s job easier and more efficient. Some companies even go so far as to include the compensated Rx information on the job invoice. A small thing, maybe, but a good example of how lens manufacturers are doing everything they can to help ECPs understand and utilize free-form technology.
Steven Warfield is a lab technician and freelance writer based in Harrisburg, PA.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Central One Optical
800-322-6678 • centraloptical.com
FEA Industries, Inc.
800-327-2002 • feaind.com
Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd.
800-233-9637 • luzerneoptical.com
Precision Optical Group, Inc.
800-497-9239 • precisionopticalgroup.com
800-445-2773 • usoptical.com