Zoom, Zoom - Keeping Up to Speed with Freeform Lenses

By Karen Appold
Every year, millions of automobile enthusiasts anticipate the debut of the newest car models. Suddenly, the amazing features and look of last year’s cars don’t seem so exciting. Instead, motorists crave new options such as air-conditioned seats, a built-in DVD player or parking sensors in the bumpers.

Advancements in the optical industry are perceived in a similar fashion. When freeform lenses debuted, they were all the rage—just like when the Hummer and Dodge’s Magnum came onto the market. But who wants yesterday’s model when the newest freeform offerings promise to deliver even better clarity? Simply put, the old models are no longer up to speed.

The freeform concept encompasses everything from lens mold development to backside lens surfacing. “While freeform technology in itself doesn’t ensure a superior lens design, it enhances lens quality by overcoming many of the traditional manufacturing limitations that could result in small, unintended alterations of the lens design,” explained Joan Hollywood, marketing director, Augen Optics. “The key benefit of freeform manufacturing is the capacity to produce lenses with tremendous accuracy of curve power, delivering the lens design exactly as intended by the designer.”

Craig Fahan, marketing communications manager, Seiko, pointed out three benefits of freeform lenses:

1. The spherical front surface eliminates front surface distortion.

2. The back surface design brings the prescription closer to the eye, adding to the wider fields of vision in all visual zones.

3. The freeform design customizes the prescription to the patient’s exact prescription.

Jeff Hopkins, communications manager at Carl Zeiss Vision, added, “The real benefit comes when we combine on-demand, real-time freeform manufacturing with real-time lens design. This allows us to create a lens that is uniquely designed for the needs of an individual patient.”

For the practitioner, digital surfacing is exciting because it provides the potential for advancements in PAL design technology. For example, lenses can be optimized, i.e., optical aberrations may be removed or reduced; personalized, i.e., a particular trait of the patient may be incorporated into the design itself; or the design may be customized, i.e., the design can be made ideal for a particular wearing condition as measured by the practitioner, concluded Samy Lauriette, director of digital surfacing, Essilor America.

Drive Your Clients to a New Level of Perfection with These Advancements in Freeform Lenses

Augen Optics

Augen Optics has introduced the Augen HD progressive and Augen HD Short Corridor progressive in hard resin. Both products are produced using freeform manufacturing technology that ensures delivery of the exact design characteristics intended by its design team. The Augen High Definition Lens designs for the HD Progressive and HD Short Corridor Progressive are delivered in a pure form, without manufacturing alterations created by traditional mold processes. Wearers are able to experience the full benefit of the design—wider, clearer and more natural vision—due to the freeform manufacturing process. In addition to hard resin, Augen HD Progressives and Augen HD Short Corridor Progressives are available in Trivex, Trivex Transitions and SunSensors+.

Carl Zeiss Vision

Carl Zeiss Vision recently launched a number of customized lenses. Zeiss Individual SV brings the advantages of customized lenses to single-vision wearers. It is also expanding its line of customized progressive lenses, including Zeiss GT2 3D and Zeiss GT2 3D Short (customized for the patient’s prescription) and Zeiss GT2 3DV (customized for the patient’s prescription and frame shape). Zeiss Individual SV is customized for the patient’s sphere, cylinder and axis, as well as for the wearing position, and delivers the same larger viewing zones and enhanced visual acuity as its progressive counterpart. Zeiss GT2 3D and Zeiss GT2 3DV offer eye care professionals and patients multiple price tiers for customized lenses.

Essilor of America

Varilux Physio Short 360°™, Essilor’s short-corridor progressive lens enhanced with W.A.V.E. Technology™ is specifically designed to function best in short frames. The design has been enhanced by the integration of W.A.V.E. Technology, delivering 30 percent greater contrast sensitivity for the sharpest and most natural progressive vision at every distance. The Varilux 360° Optimizationsm process further enhances the lens, providing 30 percent wider fields of vision and reduced distortion, particularly for patients with complex prescriptions. Now available to all Varilux laboratories in a wide variety of materials and specifications.

“Varilux Physio Short 360° provides the most natural visual performance of any short-corridor progressive lens on the market,” said Carl Bracy, vice president of marketing for Essilor of America. “Essilor can now offer ECPs and their patients the unique benefits of W.A.V.E. Technology and Varilux 360° Optimization in the fashionably-short frames many patients prefer.”


The HOYALUX iD Lifestyle polycarbonate polarized in true grey was released December 2009. iD Lifestyle is also now available in Transitions grey and brown in CR-39, Phoenix and polycarbonate. Compared to earlier designs, these products further bolster the iD Lifestyle’s appeal with a wider range of materials and treatments.

HOYA‘s freeform products include the HOYALUX iD, iD Lifestyle and Nulux EP, which feature HOYA’s proprietary Double Integrated Surface technology, a unique approach to freeform design and fabrication. The HOYALUX iD completely customizes the design to the specific prescription and frame geometry, separates that design into its two basic components (vertical and horizontal optics) and places them over both sides of the lens. Using the same approach, iD Lifestyle uses both surfaces to distribute the vertical and horizontal performance elements over both sides of the lens with one distinct difference: the front surface (the vertical design component) is molded on the front of a unique semi-finished lens blank. The back surface is then HOYA freeform designed and surfaced to integrate the horizontal component as well as sphere and cylinder powers.


Seiko Optical Products is introducing a new high-index freeform single-vision lens. Dubbed Seiko Super MV, this 1.67 double-aspheric freeform single-vision lens combines Seiko’s aspheric design technology with state-of-the-art freeform lens processing. Seiko says the new lens provides excellent levels of optical performance, thinness, lightness and comfort. A unique combination of a patented low base curve and freeform aspheric back-surface design virtually eliminates power error, distortion and marginal astigmatism. The result is “optical center vision” throughout the entire lens, with great clarity of vision even in prescriptions with high power and cylinder. The Super MV single-vision lens is currently only available in 1.67 material, in a range from +6.00 to -10.00, out to a -5.00 cylinder (total power of -10.00 diopters), with up to 3 diopters of prism. Seiko labs also process Seiko’s branded Succeed & Supercede 100 percent back surface progressive lenses, available in plastic, polycarbonate, Trivex, 1.60 and 1.67, in clear polarized and transitions lenses.


Shamir introduces The Freeform Blank, a Shamir freeform certified single vision blank. The production of a Shamir freeform lens starts with a standard single-vision blank; however patients risk experiencing discrepancies with power, aberrations and unwanted cylinder in the finished lens. These issues arise due to the inconsistencies with the front (true) curve of the blank. Each freeform blank is configured to the software specifications set for each Shamir freeform lens design. Shamir’s Prescriptor software (which is used to grind Shamir freeform designs) uses the front true curve of the single-vision lens to base its grinding calculations. If the lens is not manufactured to the same specifications as what Prescriptor needs, it will result in a finished lens that may cause issues for the patient. The Freeform Blank guarantees a front curve that is consistent and truly spherical, which will result in a personalized lens. These include SuperLite 1.60, SuperLite 1.60 Transitions, SuperLite 1.67, SuperLite 1.67 Transitions, PolyPlus, PolyPlus Transitions and SuperLite 1.74.

Signet Armorlite

KODAK Unique Lenses—Signet Armorlite’s digitally-created backside progressives—are now available in 49 lens material choices. Accounting for the new additions are the KODAK Sun Lens Unique Progressives, now available with NXT technology that includes photochromic polarized, photochromic, polarized, mirror (silver and gold) and fixed tint. As an impact-resistant lens option for outdoor sports and activity enthusiasts, KODAK Sun Lenses with NXT technology are durable enough for rimless frames, yet are 16 percent lighter than standard resin and 8 percent lighter than polycarbonate. A double-sided hard coat resists scratches, too.


SOLA HDV, at the top of the SOLA line, is fully customized for the patient’s sphere, cylinder and axis. It also employs a variable corridor to optimize the design for the particular frame the patient chooses. Full-prescription customization allows for the elimination of compromises that are inherent in semi-finished lenses. Semi-finished progressives are manufactured in a limited number of base curves. Each base curve uses a design that must cover a range of prescriptions. The design on the base curve, however, is only optimal for one particular prescription. Other prescriptions that use that base curve, particularly those with cylinder power, will have additional power error. By creating a unique design for each patient, compromises are eliminated. This can mean up to 50 percent larger fields of clear vision for the wearer. In addition, SOLA HDV’s continuously variable corridor assures that the viewing zones will be placed ideally in the frame. Semi-finished progressives generally come in standard and short corridor lengths.


Labtalk June 2020