With technological breakthroughs almost daily in the optical industry, there is still a basic foundation of equipment that every eyecare professional needs.


Frames are the platform for Rx lenses and require a variety of hand tools to attain proper position on the patient’s face.

Hilco’s ErgoPro Nylon Gripping Pliers’ protective nylon jaws make adjusting metal frames a snap, and their ergonomic cushion handles take care of a busy day of adjustments. Also by Hilco, the ErgoPro Eyewire Shaper Pliers’ two nylon jaws cut to a precise radius to help shape a frame eyewire to conform and “seat” a lens properly.

Nosepad adjustments are quick and easy with the Slim Nose Pad Arm Adjusting Pliers from OptiSource International. The slim jaw design allows for the adjustment of most nosepad arm configurations, and the concave jaw supports the important nosepad mount during an adjustment.

Changing stubborn, tight nosepads is no problem with OptiSource’s Nose Pad Removal Pliers, useful on all snap-in style nosepad mounts. They push the pad out of the holder without stressing the guard arm mounting or fitting angles.

Repairing or assembling eyewear that uses a nylon cord for lens attachment is quick and easy with Western Optical Supply’s Rimlon Harpoon tool. This handy tool easily grabs the nylon cord to remove a lens or manipulate the cord to aid in new eyewear assembly.

Compression mount rimless eyewear becomes much easier when using Western’s PJ Post Pushing Pliers. The parallel jaw design enables the technician to use minimal effort to push out old compression bushings from existing lenses for replacement.


High-tech frame designs that require heat for lens insertion need quality frame warmers such as OptiSource’s Digital Hot Air Frame Warmer. The bright LED readout lets the technician know the temperature of the unit from 104⁰F to 302⁰F. In addition, the unit is specially vented to contain the heat to the specific area of a frame during eyewear assembly.

Hilco’s TempMaster Deluxe Hot Air Frame Warmer utilizes two heat settings and one separate cooling setting. In addition, the fan has a dial control to change the velocity of the air to protect the frame during heating. Finally, an optional heat concentrator is available to constrict the flow of heat to a specific area of the frame.


Another important low-tech operation is lens tinting. BPI’s Turbo 2 and Turbo 4 tinting units utilize infrared light from ceramic heating chambers, allowing the lenses to be heated to a higher temperature, resulting in better tint penetration and color consistency. Automatic stirring systems inside the units assure the full use of the dye in the tank.

The OptiSafe Digital Super Tinter from Phantom Research Laboratories is a single quart tank heating system combining digital temperature control, variable stirring action, a split lid and nonstick tank for heating lens tinting solutions. The detachable temperature probe is immersed into the tint solution to reflect the solution temperature not the temperature of the heat transfer fluid (HTF) as in conventional heating systems.

Verification of tint results are easily reported using the Model Spectrum 700VU unit by Phantom. The unit measures UV and visible light transmission through the lens. It measures from 320 to 400 nanometers in the UV spectrum and 400nm to 700nm in the visible spectrum. The unit doubles as a tool for educating about photochromic lenses and lens filtration.

With blue light a factor in macular generation, BPI has introduced a UV/Blue Light Analyzer to assess the filtration properties of lenses in certain areas of the spectrum. These areas include 400nm, 430nm, 470nm and 505nm. Results are shown on an LED display. Lens measurements are further extrapolated into a useful protective value using the Wertheim factor (proprietary to BPI). The unit can educate patients about the dangers of high energy blue light.


Lens finishing always plays a role in the dispensary, and the hand stone is an important piece of low-tech equipment. It is instrumental in adjusting bevels, shaping lenses and reducing size in addition to safety/pin beveling. The Handemate Hand Edger by AIT is an excellent unit for small labs with a standard 1.5-inch-wide, 600-grit wheel to handle most handwork and includes a hide-a-bevel on the wheel to assist with bevel modifications.

For the more robust dispensary’s lab, the WECO Smooth II Lab Dual Wheel Hand Edger fits the bill. The Smooth II features dual grinding wheels on the same machine, giving the expert technician tremendous capabilities for lens handwork. Eight different grind wheel combinations are available from a rough grit for major shaping and stock removal to a super fine grit for polishing. The wheels are cooled by two water-delivery methods, recirculating water reservoir or plumbed direct water feed.

Simple observation/inspection of lenses is one of the most important low-tech tools of all. Inspection tasks are quick and easy with the 3-in-1 Lens Inspection Station by OptiSource. The Station features a PAL lens identifier that brings trademarks and add powers into crisp focus for verification. The Polariscope helps verify the orientation of polarized lenses, detection of lens stress in finished eyewear and verification of heat treatment in glass lenses. Finally, the Station includes a general inspection lens and a white light illumination LED bulb that helps the technician detect a wide range of lens flaws and scratches.

No matter how advanced our products become, low-tech equipment will always play a role in the lab dispensary.

Richard W. McCoy, BA, LDO, ABOC, NCLEC, is the head of the opticianry program at Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA.


WHERE TO FIND IT: AIT Industries, Inc. (Weco) 800.729.1959 • // Brain Power, Inc. (BPI) 800.225.5274 • // Hilco Vision 800.955.6544 // OptiSource International 800.678.4768 • // Phantom Research Laboratories, Inc. 800.225.5559 • // Western Optical Supply, Inc. 800.423.3294 •


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