|FEA’s Eagle Single Vision comes in a 6-base 1.67 polarized brown.|
|US Optical tiers its private label products in the ‘better’ and ‘best’ categories.|
|P.O.G. Labs offers a single series of digital designed labels.|
Private label lenses allow ECPs to offer quality lenses at affordable prices.
2013 was the year lab-branded lenses, also known as private label lenses, increased their market share. One of the reasons is because free-form technology changed the way lenses are produced. Laboratories that are equipped with free-form equipment can now take sophisticated computer-generated lens designs and transfer them directly to various lens materials with accuracy. In most cases, this process also allows for customization of point-of-wear measurements to provide a “custom fit” and even better visual experience for the patient.
Last year, VCPN surveyed eye-care professionals (ECPs) about their use and experience with private label free-form lenses (“Private Label Free-Form Lenses-Do They Have a Place in Today’s Optical Environment?“). Nearly half of the respondents (48%) said they use them in their practices.
“I think we will continue to see consistent growth in private label lenses because it’s a win-win for everybody,” says Kurt Gardner, sales manager with Indizen Optical Technologies (IOT) America which offers a catalog of lenses for labs to choose from. “From the patient’s point of view, to the ECP, back to the lab, everybody can get a better quality product at a more affordable price point.” Gardner believes independent labs are using their own branding to keep ECPs happy- offering them private label products is an extension of that customer care. “ECPs are seeing the economic advantages of private label brands which offer flexibility,” Gardner notes. “They let the doctor do a better job of providing a customized service to their patients.”
The following are some labs that offer private label products to their ECP customers and how they tier them.
A pioneer in the field of free-form lenses, Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd. offers digital products from many manufacturers in addition to its own private label free-form progressive lenses.
“Although we continue to provide lens designs from all leading lens manufacturers, some of which are free-form designs, we now have the opportunity to purchase state-of-the-art free-form designs directly from the world’s leading lens designers,” says Ralph Kent, Luzerne’s sales manager. “These lens designs then become the proprietary property of the laboratory.”
Luzerne’s own private label free-form products include SightStar 365‘, a free-form progressive which can provide patients with clear comfortable vision at a reasonable cost. In the “better” category, there’s FreeFocus™, an all-purpose digital progressive lens. This 100% digital backside design is calculated to match a patient’s prescribed Rx for easy verification. It is available in variable or fixed designs. Luzerne’s “best” offerings are FreeFocus™HD, a premium, all-purpose, personalized progressive lens. Also in this category is the CrownView™, the first glass progressive free-form lens to be introduced in the U.S. CrownView has a soft progressive design with smooth power changes.
After reviewing the lens offerings available on the market, FEA Industries, Inc. chose IOT as its primary lens designer. According to Bill Heffner, IV, “IOT allows us to offer a different lens suited to almost every lifestyle and activity. This means they give us the most flexibility, as well as the largest power and add range, as they go from a +0.25D up to a +4.50D add power. IOT is also the only lens manufacturer that offers all materials, including glass.”
Heffner believes ECPs shouldn’t have to pay for expensive brands in order to get the best technology on the market. In terms of different tiers of products, FEA has three: The “good” tier is a non-compensated free-form design, the Eaglet. The “better” products are Eagle lenses, which come in about 12 different specific designs, ranging from standard progressives, to driving lenses, to office lenses. The “best” category has the new Eagle free-form powered by Camber technology. This technology uses a variable base curve lens blank on the front, which makes it possible to eliminate the issue of free-form lenses being on steep base curves. The lens blanks are designed to more easily accommodate the add power of a progressive lens. FEA is one of the first labs authorized to offer this joint product from IOT and Younger Optics.
Using the Eagle (compensated) and Eaglet (non-compensated) designs, FEA also produces glass progressives up to a +4.50D add power in any glass material and color. It has invested over $1 million in glass free-form equipment so it can process free-form glass progressive lenses at (or below) the cost of traditional glass progressives.
A Nikon partner laboratory, Encore Optics, was the first lab to produce the full range of Nikon Lenswear free-form lenses and anti-glare treatments in the U.S. “Since 2009 when we surfaced the first Nikon free-form lenses inhouse, our customers have embraced the Nikon lens technology and have expressed just how much of a difference Nikon free-form lenses have made for improving their patients’ vision,” says Laura Bush, general manager, Encore Optics. Nikon digital lenses are Encore’s primary lens of choice and so they do not process any other private label lens.
Adopting a “best-only” strategy, US Optical LLC just tiers its private label products in the “better” and “best” categories. “Our free-form digital private label lenses are the best,” says Ralph Cotran, vice president. US Optical’s three progressive lenses are its own proprietary designs and all are compensated. Personal measurements such as vertex and tilt can be added. “They are comparable to some of the best brands,” Cotran adds.
ULTIMATE HD is US Optical’s best-selling brand. It is followed closely behind by Advanced HD which has a slightly better design and a larger reading area. Finally, the Wrap HD is available for 6- and 8-base sunglass frames. “All of our free-form HD lenses receive 99% adaptability,” Cotran adds.
US Optical prices its private label lenses the same way as traditional progressives. “We turn them around in 24 to 48 hours with Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.’s Purecoat‘, our own trademarked DIGITAL AR™, and our in-house Crizal‘ coatings,” Cotran concludes.
Precision Optical Group, Inc. (P.O.G.) offers its own private label free-form lenses called 4You. The 4You lens is fully customizable and comes in single vision and progressive and in many different materials. It has add powers that range from +1.00D to +3.50D. The fitting corridor is from 13mm to 35mm, so this lens will fit virtually any frame. “We feel the private label market allows us to control the quality of the product as well as offer greater savings to our customers,” states Mike Tamerius, owner. The company only offers a single series of digital designed lenses. “There’s no good, better, best here,” Tamerius adds. “In our opinion that is a recipe for disaster. The quality of the products, in this segment, is crucial for continued growth. We choose the design based on the wide Rx, material, and corridor length it comes in.”
If you’re an ECP looking for more affordable options than brand lenses, look into whether your preferred lab has private label products on offer.
Carol Gilhawley is Senior Editor of VCPN.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
|Central One Optical
|FEA Industries, Inc.
|Indizen Optical Technologies (IOT)
|Luzerne Optical Laboratories, Ltd.
|Precision Optical Group (P.O.G.)