Tools of the Trade

By Julie Bos
We surveyed five suppliers to learn about some of their most popular handheld tools—and how these low-tech devices can lead to high-impact efficiencies for today’s labs. Let’s take a look at some relatively low-tech, handheld devices that shouldn’t be overlooked as important members of your finishing equipment “support” team. The text that follows was submitted by the vendors themselves, and edited to meet LABTALK style requirements.

Mini Meter (BPI)

This economical meter reads UV or visible light transmission percentage, and can test lenses in or out of frames. It’s powered by a standard 9-volt battery, which will last about 40 hours with the display on. It calibrates easily with a single knob and measures visible light with the left button, UV with the right button. It can be calibrated for either 380 or 400nm UV standards. A compensation table for lens power is on the back of the unit. This lightweight, easy-to-use unit automatically shuts down after either button release, preserving battery life. Learn more at

Mini ID Tech (BPI)

Most progressive lens manufacturers employ laser-etched molds to help opticians identify the manufacturer, lens style and add power of the lens. The BPI Mini ID Tech uses a multi-LED light source with a multiply crossed Foucault knife edge pattern for improved viewing of those marks. Small, lightweight and portable, it features a magnifier that can also be useful in examining the lens for defects and scratches. Because it's portable and powered by a single 9-volt battery, it doesn’t need to be plugged in, and can be moved to where it is most comfortable to use.

Blue Light Filter Vision Tester (BPI)

The BPI Blue Light Filter Vision Tester is a handheld, battery-operated blue/violet light source that demonstrates the effectiveness of a blue/violet blocking lens. The intense blue light beams produced by the source are greatly attenuated by some lenses and the effect is readily observed when the lenses are placed between the source and the paper. You can see for yourself how well the blue/violet wavelength is blocked. This tester is available with 470nm sources to demonstrate blue light blocking or with 400nm sources to demonstrate blue/violet blocking of lenses designed to prevent problems caused by light below 420nm.

Hand Held Polariscope (BPI)

The BPI Hand Held Polariscope is a small, handheld device that can be used to check the stresses imposed on lenses by frames. It requires no power. Simply place a lens (in frame, if desired to check stress) between the two polarizers. Stresses due to glass lens heat tempering or excessive compression in the frame can be easily detected.

Bionic Thumb (Hilco)

The Bionic Thumb delivers precise adjustments every time, and makes even the toughest frame adjustments easy, while its ergonomic design alleviates hand stress. As the hottest frame bending tool in the industry, the Bionic Thumb is perfect for virtually effortless and precise temple, pantoscopic and bridge adjustments. It also protects from hot frame components when using a frame warmer, and doubles as a hand-anvil to protect against screwdriver slips. It features light, durable stainless steel construction, and its natural suede bending surfaces help prevent frame marring. Learn more at

Spring Hinge Alignment Tool Kit (Hilco)

Spring hinges are a great benefit to frame design, but a real headache when replacing a screw. Hilco’s new Spring Hinge Tool makes it easier than ever to replace the original screw.

Photochromic Lens Activator (PSI)

This device is an easy way to demonstrate how lenses darken without leaving the building. Simply place them on the light table, shut the lid and set the timer. Perfect for the dispensing table. Learn more at

Red and Blue Blocking Pads (PSI)

PSI Red Blocking pads are now available in four new configurations, 19 x 32mm oval with center hole, 17 x 36 oval with end tabs, 22 x 25mm round with center hole and 14 x 21mm oval with center hole. The PSI Blue Blocking Pad line has been expanded to include the 22 x 25mm round and 14 x 21mm oval configurations. These new configurations are designed to work with the Nidek and Essilor Mr. Orange and Mr. Blue systems. PSI Red Blocking Pads are ideal for use on hydrophobic, AR and hard-coated lenses. They are layered with reinforced foam to keep the pads from twisting on the lens. PSI Blue Blocking Pads offer aggressive, non-slip holding at an economical price. All PSI blocking pads are double tabbed for easy removal.

Lab Modular System (Santinelli International) – A La Carte Hand Tools

Recently, Santinelli International announced the roll-out of its new optical supplies and accessories division: Sios (Santinelli International Optical Supplies). The centerpiece of the Sios lineup is the Lab Modular System, an innovative organization system for storing tools and repair components. The system is available a la carte on a “build-your-own” product basis or in a series of kits: The Starter Kit, The Professional Kit, or The Craftsman Kit. The system features innovative color-coded tools, parts and storage trays to help opticians quickly find the right tool and supplies based on frame type (standard, rimless, spring-hinged or specialty). Learn more at

UV Blue Light & Visible Spectrosphere (Santinelli)

Another innovative product in Santinelli’s new Sios lineup is the UV Blue Light & Visible Spectrosphere. This compact, digital device is unmatched in quality and accuracy. With a wide back lit LCD display, this three-in-one unit can check for blue light filtering and transmission, measure the transmission of UV light and the color intensity of the lens to see if it is suitable for driving. Additionally, it measures the inner and outer lens curvature radius and calculates the refractive index.

Shootout Frame Repair Multi-Tool Kit (Western Optical Supply, #2042)

Considered the “Swiss Army Knife of Opticians,” this solution saves you time in several ways. It punches out hinge and eyewire screws, re-establishes a screwdriver slot in a damaged screw head, flares or peens the screw end and can replace a hinge screw with a QuikFix Rivet. The patented lever mechanism takes a gentle squeeze and transforms it into the controlled power needed to easily eject broken screws and reduce damage to the barrel. It’s simple to align and comfortable to grip, even for the smallest hands. The kit includes the precision hand tool and complete set of punches and anvils. Learn more at

Concorde Lens Splitting Plier (Western Optical, #5027F) - $44.50

Removing demo lenses from frames can be annoying and sometimes painful. With this tool, simply place the pointed jaw in the middle of the lens and squeeze. The lens will break and fall out of the eyewire. It’s great for removing display lenses from frames in a snap.

Spring Hinge Plier Kit (Western Optical, #2018S

This simple-to-use tool set allows you to extend the spring hinge barrel and hold it in the extended position. The self-locking plier makes it easy to align the temple with the frame front and insert the hinge screw. It helps you single-handedly assemble those frustrating spring-hinge frames in seconds. This updated model allows you to safely and quickly open several types of spring hinges.