Focus on Protection - Near Variable Focus Lenses

By Jon Torrey
NVF Lenses - The Best-Kept Secret in the Optical Industry It’s 2008, and technology continues to march on. The biggest product release last year was Apple’s iPhone–the next step in indispensable electronic devices. Between cell phones, DVD players, GPS devices, handheld games, computer CRTs or LCDs and good old-fashioned printed material, most of us spend a lot of time looking at intermediate and near images. In fact, for most people, viewing things at a distance of one to three feet now takes up more than half our waking hours. Given that the human vision system is really designed for looking far away, today’s world confronts us with a very demanding visual experience.

For the optical industry, this change in how we view the world presents a real opportunity. Optometrists and ophthalmologists need to expand their clinical process, and test every patient at intermediate distances. Patients should leave the exam room with at least two prescriptions–one for general wear, another for intermediate and near use.

Here’s where those of us in the laboratory business come in. Once diagnosed, the treatment for the “intermediate” world is a pair of lenses–with the design depending on age and visual status. Non-presbyopes will typically need a single vision lens with an intermediate correction. This will give them relief from the greater accommodative demand of intermediate viewing.

Presbyopes will find tremendous benefits in the relatively new category of lens design called near variable focus (or NVF). NVF lenses utilize all the latest optical design technology of progressives, but with the areas of the lens prioritized differently. NVF lenses offer a much wider intermediate–often three to four times that of a typical PAL–and they deliver the correct intermediate power at the fitting cross. This eliminates the need for patients to tip their head back to find the correct power.

Most labs have processed NVF lenses–but this category should be many times the size it is now. So how can you communicate the benefits of these lenses to your accounts, and convince ECPs to provide better intermediate vision care?

First of all, recognize that these lenses are a great choice for a variety of other activities besides computer viewing. The same features that help in computer viewing–wider intermediate, a longer corridor giving clear vision out beyond the computer–apply to other tasks. Look around your lab and you’ll see a number of activities that are primarily intermediate and near-vision related: order entry, inspection, operating generators and edgers and stocking lenses in the warehouse. It’s not a stretch to say everyone in your lab who is currently wearing bifocals or progressives would benefit from a pair of NVF lenses!

The next step of course is sharing this information with accounts, and there are many ways to accomplish this. First, get everyone in your lab who is a candidate wearing NVF or single vision intermediate lenses. Train your sales professionals on how NVF lenses are fit and how they function, and include information on these lenses in every sales call (it will help their AR sales as well). Your customer service team should be fully trained, so they can suggest them to accounts whenever the opportunity arises. Give your accounts a simple, clear set of directions when they go to order NVF lenses from your lab. In addition, consider a package promotion and offer a discount on NVF lenses when ordered along with your lab’s AR or PAL of choice.

If you make NVF lenses easy to order and remind your accounts about them whenever possible, they will use them and see how much their patients appreciate their virtues. Even though they are tremendous for computer use–don’t limit them to that. Put a number of these simple steps together, and NVF lenses will become a much bigger part of your lab business–just as they should be.

Jon Torrey is a member of the Vision Council of America’s Vision Protection Committee. The committee is dedicated is dedicated to expanding the protective eyewear market on behalf of all segments of the industry, from sports and industrial safety eyewear to computer vision lenses to home eye and sun protection.

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May/June LabTalk 2017