Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Specialty eyewear demands advanced machines, skilled artisanship, and plenty of foresight and innovation.

Most eyewear finishing work requires routine edging tasks. Yet, while you can surely enhance the eyewear a good deal using a modern edger that has all the bells and whistles, most eyewear jobs use the same edger settings with little modification. So, what happens when you get a really special job that requires a good deal of specific designing and artisanship? Do you do it yourself or do you send it out?

While most jobs are routine, there are those periodic jobs that challenge every cell in your body to craft a pair of eyeglasses that look natural and cosmetically appealing, even though they have very challenging Rx requirements. There are also jobs that require special edging-actually milling or cutting-to produce them, like certain safety eye- and sunwear. These take a great deal of know-how, skill, some creative planning, and the machinery to produce what you envision. For those eyecare professionals (ECPs) who love challenges and the creative process, the strategy for producing amazing specialty eyewear is to do it themselves.

In order to make specialty eyewear in-house, you’ll need an advanced edger system. These machines have an array of features to produce intricate eyewear. For example, you can use the milling function to create just about any odd-looking shape you can envision. Shelf bevels and special cuts in the lenses are also produced using these machines.

For most ECPs, this kind of specialty work is too demanding. Even if you feel you have the knowledge and vision to design this kind of eyewear, you have to have the machinery to do it. Don’t forget that the really challenging jobs require sophisticated and skilled hand beveling and other hand work like edge coloring or polishing. Even if you have a top-of-the-line edger system, commercial labs have machines that use cutter blades, milling bits, shaping drums, polishing tools, and more, to craft specialty lenses. These machines range from $150,000 to $250,000 so they are outside the realm of the average retail optical shop.

One good strategy for getting quality specialty eyewear is to outsource it. Two top labs that specialize in this kind of work are ICE-TECH Advanced Lens Technologies and Laramy-K Optical. Here are a couple of examples of what you can expect.

The frame in Fig. 1 was fitted with polycarbonate gray lenses that required a shelf and slots in it. The Rx for this job was:

OD: -3.25 -2.00 x 41
OS: -4.25 -1.00 x 132

Since this eyewear uses 8.00D-base lenses, the Rx was compensated to:

OD: -2.88 -2.21 x 39
OS: -3.78 -1.30 x 137

Due to the large size of the frame, the lenses had 7mm of decentration ground into them and the lenses were aspherized. Fig. 2 illustrates the finished eyewear. The frame in Fig. 3 had gradient Trivex material progressive lenses placed into it. The Rx for this job was:

OD: +4.00
OS: +2.50 -1.50 x 90

The Rx was compensated to:

OD: +3.89 -0.34 x 114
OS: +2.40 -1.50 x 88

The job required 8mm of decentration per eye due to the frame’s large size. The lab used what it calls “Thin Ice,” a technique of aspherizing the periphery of the lenses strategically to reduce thickness substantially. Fig. 4 illustrates how thin and natural looking these lenses turned out.

Whether you do it yourself or you send it out, specialty eyewear is one of the most rewarding tasks an optician can undertake. Be sure to have some samples of what you can offer and don’t be shy about suggesting this kind of work to your patients.

Ed De Gennaro is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group.


ICE-TECH Advanced Lens Technologies
888-423-8324 •

Laramy-K Optical
800-525-1274 •


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