WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN FREE-FORM LENSES?

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A SIMULATED VIEW Seiko’s free-form lenses
PROGRESSIVE WEARER Vision-Ease Lens’ Illumina
FEATURES OF PREMIUM FREE-FORM PALS

• Sharper, clearer vision
• Wider and softer clear fields of view
• Objects appear natural with no distortion
• Variable insets help eyes track down the corridor
• Variable/multiple corridor lengths make these lenses suitable for nearly any B measurement frame
• 0.01D power accuracy provides pinpoint lens powers
• Position-of-wear compensated optics deliver “as worn” power accuracy
• Available in every lens material and lens option
SHAMIR ULTIMATUM Power blue with orange tint with orange tint

Since free-form lenses have been around for a number of years, I thought it was a good time to discover what ECPs are looking for in these lenses. To find out, I interviewed four optical professionals. Kevin Rehak, OD, owner, Colonial Family Eyecare, LLC, Royersford, PA; James Whitfield, optical manager, New Castle Eye Care, New Castle, DE; William Bips, optical manager, Certified Opticians, Plymouth Meeting, PA; Paul Kohan, general manager, Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs, Philadelphia, PA. Here is what they shared with me.

PIN POINT OPTICS
Kevin Rehak, OD, owner of Colonial Family Eyecare, is looking for continued improvement in the accuracy of free-form lenses. “They offer faster adaptation for first-time progressive wearers than conventionally designed and produced lenses, plus they set us apart from our competition,” says Dr. Rehak.

He notes, “Exact precision is the name of the game for many patients and the ECP who offers the most advanced free-form lenses has the best chance to earn their business. While the lens industry still may have multiple segments, the fastest growing is free-form lenses. Whether they are in single vision, occupational, or progressive form, we can now satisfy even the most sensitive lens wearer with the finest optics ever created,” shares Dr. Rehak. “We also see significantly fewer lens remakes and can clearly notice the savings on our lab bills and in our pockets with the private label free-form lenses we use.”

ACCESS TO EDUCATION
James Whitfield, optical manager, New Castle Eye Care, wants to see more consumer education about the free-form lenses that are available digitally. He says patients have become extremely savvy when it comes to researching new technology on the Internet and through social media sites so they know more about lenses and options before walking into their offices. Many also know about free-form lenses thanks to TV ads and online commercials.

“With all the marketing and education found on the Internet and through direct advertising, patients often come into our optical office asking for specific free-form lens brands by name,” explains Whitfield. “What was once an industry where patients could only be informed about lenses from ECPs has evolved into a world where social media and the Internet reach more patients than ever. Having outlets like these allows ECPs to save on direct marketing and reach more potential patients by using web media and lens manufacturers’ links to boost free-form sales.”

A BUYER’S ADVANTAGE
William Bips, optical manager, Certified Opticians, wants to see free-form lenses continue to keep their premium status because they bring more profit to his office. “While free-form lenses may cost a few more dollars, they also enable you to generate some hefty profits with their sales,” Bips notes. “Compared to traditional lenses, free-form lenses can be sold for larger margins and are easily justified due to their advanced technology. Even seasoned optical veterans have embraced them, especially the progressives.”

Bips adds, “As the market continues to expand daily, keep an eye out for free-form lenses to become available in more designs, greater material variations, and at a lower cost. This will help us sell more of them to more people, thereby increasing profits even more.”

CHANGING TO FREE-FORM
Paul Kohan, general manager, Philadelphia Eyeglass Labs, wants to see every patient receive free-form lenses. “While it took a few months for us to catch on in the beginning, patients quickly saw the added benefits that free-form optics provide and they let us know how well they were seeing with the new lenses. We saw the future was in free-form, and while we are a 125-year-old company, we knew it was time to make the jump. I think every office should offer 100% free-form lenses,” Kohan concludes.

If free-form lenses aren’t a part of your practice, perhaps this is a good time to jump on the bandwagon.

Francis Gimbel, Jr. is a licensed optician and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.

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