|OLSS’ Optuitive integrates with most popular digital design calculators and can interface with most digital surfacing equipment.|
|DVI’s patented SWEEP program allows labs to digitally enhance any lens.|
|HIGH-TECH MINI-LABS Digital “pocket” labs designed for smaller offices rather than commercial use are increasingly affordable. They allow a smaller business to economize by doing in-house digital surfacing. Mini-labs can also take advantage of some very high-tech lens designs by using non-branded software, or even marketing their own brand. These companies can help you with acquiring blanks to setting up a fully computer integrated surfacing and finishing lab. Most of their programs are compatible with widely available office management, ordering, surfacing, and edging programs.|
|Labzilla software from CC Systems enables a one-time data entry process.|
|The lab software from Optivision is Windows-based and features fast, one-page Rx order entry.|
Developers are designing lab software to accomodate new levels of Rx customization.
It seems that most ECPs are comfortable with digital surfacing and free-form lens design. What they may not have a lot of knowledge about is the software behind the process.
Simply putting a lens in digital surfacing machinery does not make a free-form lens. The CNC mechanical equipment is the brawn but the algorithmic computer program is the brains. They tell the surfacing equipment exactly what to do as far as designing front and/or back curves, corridor lengths, and even position-of-wear (POW) measurement compensations and wavefront designs.
Here are some important terms you need to know.
- LMS – Lab management software governs the edgers, tracers, surfacing equipment, and often the order tracking and invoicing. Sometimes it will interface directly with manufacturers of consumables for inventory control.
- ROE – Remote order entry allows another interfaced computer to enter the lens order into the system, or into the system of an insurance provider or outside lab.
- EMS/EHR – Electronic medical or health record systems may integrate with the office medical records for ordering and/or billing purposes.
- CNC – Computer numeric-controlled equipment is almost totally controlled by computers.
- Point files – These control the number of points, or locations, where the lens design is optimized for power. They are sometimes referred to as sdf files (surface definition files).
Point files determine the backside curves, including atoric curves, and specific points on the lens both within and without the viewing area in order to lessen or eliminate higher order lens aberrations. They can also be designed to maximize the viewing areas in the distance, near, or intermediate portions of the lens. SDF files are designed specifically to address the visual requirements of the lenses, whether for computer use, increased near vision, etc. They are also designed to integrate with other lab software that does order tracking, inventory control, edger tracing information, etc. These “point” files have the ability to compensate powers over a number of “points” on the surfaces of the lenses. Independent software developers want their product to produce good results too, and often they provide lenses that produce the same end results as many branded lenses, including new levels of Rx customization.
These companies focus on integrating their lab software with currently available ordering, invoicing, surfacing, and finishing equipment, and they each have their own strengths. Keep in mind that some of these companies are not software compatible with others, so they must communicate through a third party (like VisionWeb, VSP Optics Group, etc.) for ordering, but most labs can accommodate that.
Many options for lab owners, including seamlessly integrating with all free-form lens design suppliers such as Indizen Optical Technologies, Inc. (known as IOT America in the U.S.) are available from CC Systems which has just been bought by Ocuco. The seamless CC Systems Lab Management Software System eliminates all headaches into a one-time data entry process via its Labzilla software. Labzilla determines which orders are regular, cut-to-polish, or free-form. Labzilla automatically prices and invoices each order with seamless options for online live tray tracking, management reporting, inventory control, remote ordering, and lens databases that are updated twice a month. Labzilla automatically populates the software provided by the equipment supplier and the lens designer.
Digital Vision, Inc. (DVI) offers its patented SWEEP program with interfaces to multiple lab functions. It allows labs to digitally enhance any lens by adding an aspheric rear surface, to easily generate slab—offs, and create customized round and blended seg bifocals. The company works with all major lens and surfacing equipment manufacturers to process and integrate fully with lens blockers, digital generators, engravers, and polishers. It also interfaces with major lens design brands.
While Ocuco has U.S. offices in Manchester, CT, and Chicago, IL, it also has many development centers in Europe and Asia. Its customers include optical labs of all sizes worldwide, as well as some of the major global retail chains. Ocuco Innovations is lab software for lens surfacing and processing calculations, including advanced back-surface progressive and free-form lenses. Ocuco Innovations can drive OMA-compliant equipment in optical labs, from the in-store mini-labs to the large RFID-controlled central labs serving hundreds of stores. It is independent from equipment manufacturers and modular in its design. Ocuco Innovations can be tailored to the needs of any lab, allowing ECPs to purchase just the required functions while keeping open the possibilities for future expansion. Ocuco Innovations includes a curated universal lens database which is regularly kept up-to-date.
Optical Lab Software Solutions, Inc. (OLSS) has been offering lab management software systems to optical labs for 28 years with programs such as Optuitive, OptiFacts, VisionStar, and OMICS. Its Optuitive LMS has seamless integration with most popular digital design calculators and can interface with most digital surfacing equipment. It can also handle POW and special “wrap” calculations. This software can fully integrate with the most popular digital surfacing generators to produce both digital and traditional lenses. It keeps track of physical inventory for replenishment, and it has a standard order entry system for digital and conventional lens ordering.
The lab software from Optivision, Inc. is Windows’-based and features fast one-page Rx order entry. The digital calculations for free-form and conventional surfacing and finishing are precise, and the software interfaces with all lab devices for direct automated electronic communication. The software provides automated discounting and invoicing, job tracking, and comprehensive reporting for sales, including lens usage, and management. LMS providers are competitors, and so no LMS provider is directly “compatible” with other providers due to the proprietary nature of such intellectual property. LMS “compatibility,” however, is otherwise accomplished through a third-party go-between: Optivision is interfaced with VisionWeb. A job sent from a lab using Optivision to another lab using OptiFacts or DVI, for example, would submit the job through VisionWeb, and VisionWeb would transmit the job to the final outsource lab, where all of the job data mapping and attributes can be handled so the job does not have to be manually re-keyed. This saves time, avoids mistakes, and provides quicker turnaround.
Free-form lenses might be the hot button that ECPs recognize but the brains behind what enables labs to produce them is the software.
Sharon Leonard is a licensed optician and contact lens practitioner in the Syracuse, NY, area.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
800-708-1736 • opticalonline.com
Digital Vision, Inc. (DVI)
503-231-6606 • thedvi.com
Optical Lab Software Solutions, Inc.
503-731-9715 • olsssystems.com
800-795-9927 • optivision.com