A Wave of New PALs

By Julie Bos
From a laboratory’s perspective, the constant release of new PAL products can feel like a tidal wave. Every time you turn around, there’s a new lens on the market, a new material, or another line extension. Pretty soon, new products are everywhere—and it’s often hard to keep up.

While this bodes well for ECPs and consumers — representing more choices than ever before — it can also wreak havoc for laboratories trying to stay organized and keep their heads afloat.

Just how do laboratories keep from drowning in a sea of new products? We asked a couple San Diego-based labs for their opinions. “It’s the biggest cliché in the business — but it’s also the biggest truth: Communication is definitely key to staying on top of it all,” says Adam Winkelman, partner and director of sales and marketing at Perfect Optics in San Diego, Calif. “This communication is vital — first amongst members of our own team and secondly between our team and our ECP clients.”

“Usually, our lab knows what’s coming out in advance because manufacturers do a good job of letting us know about upcoming product releases,” he says. “But I also get product news from the Internet and by keeping up with Vision Monday and Vision Council of America announcements.”

“We always have to have our proverbial ‘antenna’ up, and continually work to facilitate good communication throughout the chain,” he adds. “If we don’t do that, it’s real easy to end up behind the eight ball.”

Mark Becker, president and CEO of Precision Optical Products in San Diego, agrees wholeheartedly.

“We’re fortunate of the great product information we receive from our vendors; and over the last year or so, I’ve supplemented that by participating in national webinars and online product trainings,” he said. “I’m a big fan of webinars because they’re so efficient,” he says. “They typically last between 60 and 90 minutes in an informal setting. Not only do we walk through all the product details, we benefit from the interaction of the other participating labs.”

“Online training is equally convenient — enabling us to do the training in the evenings or on the weekend,” he adds. “In addition to the product details, I also gain valuable information about how to position the product in the market.”

That information becomes critical when discussing the various PAL options with ECPs.

“When it comes to introducing new products — especially progressive lenses — we’ve found it works best to hold one-on-one sessions with ECPs in their offices,” says Becker. “In their environments, ECPs are receptive and very comfortable asking whatever questions they wish.”

Another ongoing battle is determining where to price the new PALs and keeping the price and availability list up-to-date.

“This is probably the biggest challenge we face,” adds Becker. “The manufacturers give us suggested prices — reflecting where they think the product should fit in the marketplace — but markets vary. The San Diego market is different than what our customers face in northern California. We look at the product cost and based on the materials, forecast what kind of margins and yields we can expect. From there, we do a pricing analysis and ask our customers about competitive pricing at the consumer level. This benchmarking helps determine the final price.”

At the end of the day, having a flood of new progressive lens products to choose from is never a bad thing. It gives ECPs and consumers the flexibility they need to make proper decisions, and it keeps a healthy revenue stream coming in to laboratories, as well.

Make a Splash with These New PAL Technologies

Augen Optics

Augen Optics introduces the new Centurion Series Short Corridor Progressive lens, with the shortest corridor available in a progressive today. The Centurion Short-Corridor Progressive features an 8mm near corridor below the fitting cross that quickly transitions to 100 percent power in the near zone, and a 12mm minimum fitting height. Combined with its extra-wide near, the Centurion Short-Corridor Progressive gives wearers maximum reading area even in the smallest frames. The Centurion Short-Corridor Progressive lens is available in lightweight, impact-resistant Trivex and Trivex Transitions VI.

Carl Zeiss Vision

GT2 Progressive Lenses by Carl Zeiss Vision, winner of the 2007 OLA “Best in Lens Design” award, is now available as a polarized sunlens. GT2 employs a proprietary design strategy that combines legendary ZEISS precision with breakthrough research into visual behavior. The result is a progressive lens ergonomically designed for satisfaction and optimized for maximum clarity. The wide clear distance and smooth transition to the periphery make GT2 ideal for outdoor activities. Available in 1.5 Gray.

Essilor

Essilor’s Varilux Comfort 360º progressive lenses are now available in Thin&Lite 1.67 and Thin&Lite 1.60 high-index material. These lens offerings are also available with Crizal Avancé with Scotchgard Protector. Thin&Lite 1.67 lenses are up to 34 percent thinner and 32 percent lighter than 1.50 plastic lenses and up to three times flatter than 1.50 plastic lenses for myopes. Plus, Thin&Lite 1.60 lenses are up to 30 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter that 1.50 plastic lenses.

HOYA

HOYALUX iD is the world’s first Integrated Double-Surface Progressive Design — made with HOYA Free-Form Design Technology. It separates the performance of the front and back surface of the lens and virtually eliminates swimming and swaying sensations. HOYA’s newest innovation in HOYA Free-Form Design Technology — HOYALUX iD LifeStyle — delivers the benefits of our award-winning HOYALUX iD Double-Surface Progressive Design at an affordable price. It features customized horizontal progression on the back surface with standardized vertical progression on the front surface.

Seiko

Seiko Succeed Ws and Succeed Internal Free-form PALs feature Seiko’s patented internal progressive technology, which places the patient’s entire Rx on the back surface of the lens. The spherical front side eliminates the front surface distortion present in conventional progressive lenses. By moving the progressive surface to the back of the lens, there’s up to 30 percent wider fields of view in all visual fields. The patient receives a lens customized to their exact prescription.

Signet Armorlite

Signet Armorlite’s KODAK Unique Progressive, the digital backside lens that is customized for each patient’s frame, is available in more than 30 lens materials. The latest additions include Drivewear, Transitions 1.60, SA PolarShades 1.60 and Life Rx Polycarbonate. Offered exclusively on KODAK Unique Lenses is Signet Armorlite’s premier KODAK Clean’N’CleAR, a slicker, yet edgeable, hydrophobic coating with anti-static properties. For traditional cast progressives, Signet Armorlite offers the popular KODAK Precise, KODAK Precise Short and KODAK Concise Lenses.

SOLA

SOLA HDV from Carl Zeiss Vision uses advanced customization to achieve High Definition (HD) Vision. Each lens is custom-created specifically for the individual patient’s prescription and frame choice. Using proprietary Morphing Technology, SOLA HDV’s corridor is custom-sized for the patient’s exact frame measurements, assuring full reading performance and maximum clarity for fitting heights of 13 to 35mm. HD technology digitally optimizes the lens for the wearer’s exact combination of sphere, cylinder, axis and add power.

Shamir

Shamir Autograph is a custom-made personalized lens created to the highest level of optical accuracy (up to 1/100 diopters). By capturing a patient’s personalized information (Rx, PD, frame measurement and seg height), Shamir’s proprietary Prescriptor software selects the lens design file required to generate a personalized, individually crafted lens for each eye. Autograph’s patented state-of-the-art back-surface design provides wider fields of vision (up to 20%) through all zones of the lens by bringing fields of vision closer to the eye.

Specialty Lens

Specialty Lens added a new 1.67 high-index, polarized, progressive lens to its iRx Polaroid product offering. The new “iRx Pro 1.67” lens design features a crisp and wide distance area with a smooth transition from distance to near, providing patients with the most comfortable performance possible. This design coupled with the thin and light benefits of 1.67 high-index plastic combine to make one of the best polarized progressive lenses available today. Learn more at www.irxlens.com.

Vision-Ease

Vision-Ease Lens recently added a progressive lens extension to its Coppertone polarized lenses. Initially launched in October 2007, Coppertone polarized lenses show the commitment of Vision-Ease Lens to develop and offer products that promote eye protection against harmful UV and HEV rays — in a number of lens styles. Vision-Ease Lens is dedicated to making new product lines available in a number of lens offerings, as evident by the Illumina progressive Coppertone lenses.

Younger Optics

Standard progressive designs often don’t offer enough lens material for wrap sunframes. When the lens doesn’t “cut out,” it spells trouble that can result in lost business and a lot of aggravation for everyone. Younger now offers a better solution: the IMAGE WRAP lens, available in poly NuPolar Gray.

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May/June LabTalk 2017