DAC Vision
A Monthly Update for Optical Laboratory Owners and Managers January 2008

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from DAC Vision.

New Products
Operating Strategies

This article inaugurates a new section in Lab Advisor devoted to a discussion of lab operations. Each month, lab operations expert Bob Niemiec will share his ideas about how to optimize your lab’s manufacturing and distribution processes.

Bob Niemiec

Does Your Lab Need a Reality Check? Part One

While many of us consider ourselves to be in the optical lab business, in a larger sense we are really in the business of manufacturing. In addition to making prescriptions, lab owners and managers need to understand and implement current manufacturing techniques used in other industries if they are to remain competitive. Although many labs have adopted state-of-the-art manufacturing methods like Lean and Six Sigma, some have not. This less than total commitment to driving improvement through the implementation of the latest manufacturing methods though is not just limited to the optical industry. 

Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to visit a number of manufacturing companies, both in and outside of the optical industry. One thing that continually surprises me is the degree to which some senior managers are out of sync with the way customers perceive their company and its products or services.

For example, I was recently speaking with the CEO of a non-optical company who was extremely knowledgeable about aspects of Lean manufacturing, Lean processing and the Toyota Production system. He spoke with pride about how far along the Lean journey his company was. Naturally, I was prepared to be wowed when I toured the factory floor of the company’s largest manufacturing facility. I was wowed, but not in the way you might think. In touring the shop floor there was no evidence of the Lean processes the CEO had spoken about. In fact, there was no visual management employed anywhere. High levels of raw materials and work in process were in evidence everywhere you looked. Job flow was poor, with work in process traveling needlessly great distances and being handled an excessive number of times. There was no evidence of the use of continuous improvement tools like Kaizens which use employee involvement to drive business improvement.

It’s hard for me to say why this particular CEO’s knowledge of his own business was so far out of line with reality. Clearly, this was a serious case of corporate self-misperception. Left uncorrected, it could put this company’s operations at a serious disadvantage to their competition that may actually be doing what the CEO of this company was only talking about.

Bob Niemiec is president of Optinova Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in operations improvement, new technology assessment and mergers and acquisitions, primarily in the optical industry. An optical industry veteran, he has held senior level positions in manufacturing and distribution with large optical retailers and manufacturers. He can be reached at [email protected].

Tech Talk

Beveling AR Lenses
Santinelli International

Use the type of protective pads, stickers or seals recommended by the lens maker, and check for any pre-applied lens protective layers.

Apply protective pads smoothly with no wrinkles and keep them inside the finished lens shape to avoid contact with the beveling wheels.

Place the block firmly on the center of the non-slip protective pad or sticker, and block on the optical center using softer non-metal blocks if possible. Check first with your edger manufacturer for blocking guidelines compatible with your machine.

Make sure the base curve of the block matches the lens base curve. Many labs use concave blocks to fit a generic base curve. If there are any gaps, use a piece of protective pad to fill the cavity so the center section of the lens fits better into the block.

Handle the lens by the edges and avoid brushing against the surface. Be careful not to wipe the front surface of the lens during layout. Use translucent pads that show markings.

Use the AR setting or the “fragile” or “delicate” setting designed to reduce clamping pressure and machine speed. The idea is to slow down the process to reduce torque against the lenses and avoid slippage while beveling.

Marketing Matters

PR Strategies for Optical Labs, Part 3

Working Lab

Mastering the Press Release Process

This is the third in a series of articles that explores how optical labs can improve their public relations techniques.

The PR Value of Web Sites
In addition to good, old-fashioned conversation and press releases, there’s a high-tech way to interact with both your customers and the press that covers you—the Internet. Don’t miss an opportunity because you haven’t prepared yourself to be covered by the media in this way.

Reporters and customers do use the Web for information, resources, etc. Reporters, for instance, might go to the site to find out more about your business. Include an archive of your press releases on the site, as well as downloadable photos/company logo. Also, include an About Us section that offers a summary of your history, a list of your key executives (including names, titles and contact information, in case we need to verify something for a story), an outline of your products and services and contact information. Labs also find success, in terms of customer service, by including job tracking/ordering functions, as well as CE courses on their Web sites. The more we can learn about your company from your Web site, the more interested in it we’ll be.

Laramy K Optical
Laramy-K’s Web site won LabTalk magazine’s Optical Laboratory Web Site of the Year contest for 2007.

Successful Web sites include:

  1. An archive of press releases
  2. Downloadable photos/logo
  3. About Us section
  4. Key executive directory
  5. Summary of products/services
  6. Customer Service initiatives

Remember, a Web site can be a quick source of information for potential customers, as well as a great place to promote your products and services. It also demonstrates that your lab is high-tech and cutting edge.

When you launch a Web site, Contact Lab Advisor and we will promote it.

Don’t forget to add your press release to your Web site. Press release pages are typically added to the Press Release link, often found under the About Us section of your home page. This is important because your press release invites people to your Web site’s home page, and because you don’t want to miss prospective business opportunities. Make sure your page is up-to-date and looking good.



handshakeThis month, Jason A. Meyer takes over the Dollars & Sense column from Tom Puckett. As senior vice president, HPC Puckett & Company, Meyer is well-versed in financial and strategic issues of interest to optical laboratory owners and managers.

If you have a suggestion, question or a story to share, please email it to him at [email protected] for consideration. If used, Lab Advisor will only mention your name if requested by you, and won’t mention the names of the other parties in the stories. We look forward to your input and feedback.

Who Can You Trust?

The industry is ripe with equipment manufacturers, lens manufacturers, and software providers that would have lab owners, sales managers, and production managers believe that their equipment, processes, and products are the silver bullets to their businesses. Seasoned industry veterans have all seen dazzling proposals for expensive products that imply promises of great success and extraordinary prosperity. Beware of who the advice is coming from. 

There are a variety of considerations professionals should contemplate before making an investment that will drastically change production, engineering, and sales programs of their labs. The first questions to ask seem obvious enough:

  • Do my customers demand the new potential offering?
  • What is the competition doing?
  • How will the new product or service impact the rest of operations?
  • How quickly can staff be trained to efficiently produce/use the new product or process?
  • How much will it all cost?
  • What will be the return on investment?

The above are among many other questions that should be answered before embarking on the change. In the next series of “Dollars & Sense” articles, we will explore some ways to answer these and other questions independent of taking the sellers’ word for it. There are a number of very reputable suppliers whose products and services work, have been tested, and proven to be successful, but there are also those who oversell their offerings and sometimes they are one in the same. Our hope is that you will have and use the tools that can effectively evaluate the opportunities in the marketplace without just trusting in the next snake oil or cure-all.

We will also discuss decisions regarding lease or borrow options, manufacturer financing, outsourcing vs. in-house production, discounts, warranties, tax effects, and other financial topics of interest to lab professionals. We invite readers to submit questions regarding these articles or ideas for future topics. Also stories of success, failure, decisions, and just plain luck can provide color to the subject of “Who to Trust?” We expect some lively topics and think you will enjoy the commentary.

Jason MeyerJason A. Meyer is senior vice president, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories.

DAC Vision

Gerber Coburn

Singing an Optical Aria

Lester Thornburg of Hoya Vision Care told Lab Advisor about a customer who recently sent in a pair of antique French opera glasses that required special handling. The lenses were a very small diameter (16mm) with a +11.00D power.opera glasses

“While they were not extremely difficult to process, I could not just send them down the line with the rest of the jobs,” said Thornburg. “Our current machinery is not able to edge these dimensions. This required me to do a significant amount of hand edging to make them fit into the flip up attachment on the glasses.RxFiles

“As we have added automated machinery and improved our technologies we have lost many of the skills that used to be required to make a pair of glasses. I had to take the time to personally do these due to the loss of these skills. Regardless of how our production capabilities have changed, we will still make the effort to find a way to service our customers in those unique situations.”

DAC Vision

Geoffrey Vincent of Optical Dimensions

Geoffrey VincentGeoffrey Vincent started in the optical industry in 1991 working at D.O.C at the Sportsvision location in Royal Oak, Mich. While at D.O.C, Vincent dispensed, managed offices and supervised staffs as large as 20 people. He participated in buying trips, specialized trainings, as well as advisory committees.

Vincent settled in the training department as the only trainer for D.O.C and its sister companies, with locations exceeding 140 offices.

“I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity and exposure to various aspects of this industry,” said Vincent.

After D.O.C, Vincent took on the position of director of training and development for Henry Ford OptimEyes and Eye Doctors Optical Outlets in Tampa. A short time later, Optical Dimensions hired him as outside sale representative.

“I knew Optical Dimensions owner Richard [Kirsammer] from my D.O.C days,” said Vincent. “Optical Dimensions handled all of our VSP [Vision Service Plan] work.”

Optical Dimensions has been independently owned and operated for over 30 years. As outside sales representative, Vincent’s job duties encompass more than just sales. “Unlike our other sales rep and my predecessor, I work in and out of the lab as well as design marketing and promotional materials,” noted Vincent. He is also responsible for the development and maintenance of the company’s Web site, always keeping it up-to-date with new products and promotions. As an ABO certified optician, Vincent also spends a great deal of time training his customer’s staff.

Vincent said helping eyecare professionals find solutions for the selection of proper lenses and enhancements for each patient is one of the things he loves most about his job. When a new product is released Vincent commented on his excitement to share the information with the doctors and opticians in the marketplace. “Spiffs and promos are great, but when you have products in your arsenal that are premium, people rally behind it and make it a part of their dispensing ‘culture,'” he said. “It’s really a win, win, win. Patients get great vision and high performance lenses. ECPs earn loyal patients that provide word of mouth testimonials to their service and the lab builds a stronger customer base.”

Vincent feels the highlight of his career at Optical Dimensions has been putting the lab’s Web site and remote order entry online. “The first time I looked at the Web site traffic report and saw all the various searches that led people to our Web site, I was thrilled,” he remarked. “I think once people experience what an independent lab like ours has to offer, they will prefer us over being just another account at some of the bigger labs.”—Samantha Toth

DAC Vision

New Survey Highlights ECPs Perceptions and Attitudes About Labs

Recently, 20/20’s L&T magazine conducted its annual Lab Usage Survey. Two hundred forty independent vision care professionals and optical retailers were polled to find out their perceptions and attitudes about their optical labs as well as the essential products and services the labs supply to them. Here are some of the survey highlights.

Lab Study 2007

  • Most locations use a wholesale lab for processing lenses or providing other eyewear products and services.
  • About 7 out of 10 (72.5 percent) locations work with more than one wholesale lab. 
  • 52.1 percent expect to do more business with wholesale labs in the coming year.  Only 4.6 percent expect to do less.
  • The most important factors in selecting a lab are lens surfacing quality (92.5 percent), lens finishing quality (91.7 percent), lens coating quality (89.2 percent), quality of drill mounting (86.3 percent) and product turn around time (82.9 percent).
  • The majority of locations purchase spectacle lenses (92.9 percent), surfaced lenses (72.9 percent) and safety glasses (58.3. percent) from their primary lab.
  • Most labs that sell spectacle lenses offer online ordering; however, 61.9 percent of respondents have never sent in frame tracing data with an online order.
  • Although only 38.1 percent of respondents have ever sent in frame tracing data with an online order, this number is up from previous years.
  • About 7 out of 10 locations are familiar with the lens technology term “freeform.” Of those who are aware of this lens technology, 54.3 percent currently dispense lenses manufactured by freeform methods.
  • Three quarters of locations are familiar with the lens technology term “digital surfacing.” Of those who are aware of this lens technology, 51.1 percent currently dispense progressive lenses manufactured by digital surfacing lenses.
  • Half of the locations have lens edging capability in-house. Among these locations, an average of 64.6 percent of all edged jobs are done in-house.

Soderberg Honored As Transitions 2007 U.S. Lab of The Year—Transitions Optical has named Soderberg Ophthalmic Services as its 2007 U.S. Lab of the Year. The lab was honored Jan. 15 at an awards ceremony at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort here that concluded the 12th annual Transitions Academy.


The Soderberg Ophthalmic Services team, headed by Craig Giles, third from right, accepting the award for Transitions 2007 U.S. Lab of the Year. Connie Falvo of Transitions Optical, second from right, presented the award at a gala ceremony in Orlando, Fla. on Jan. 15. Dave Cole of Transitions, far left, was also on hand to congratulate the Soderberg team, which also won the award in 2001.

Based in Minneapolis, Soderberg is a two-time winner of the Transitions Lab of the Year distinction, receiving the award for the first time in 2001. Over the past year, Soderberg made Transitions its number-one focus, successfully incorporating Transitions into all of its major marketing, creative and educational initiatives. As a result, Soderberg saw a 12 percent increase in sales of Transitions lenses for the year, according to Transitions.

The ceremony, which drew an international audience of more than 1,000 industry professionals, also recognized Riverside Opticalab, Ottawa, Ontario, 2007 Transitions Lab of the Year in Canada; Fhocus, São Paulo City, 2007 Transitions Lab of the Year in Brazil and Augusto Express, Argentina, 2007 Transitions Lab of the Year in Latin America.

21st Century Optics Reorganizes Management Team—The board of directors at 21st Century Optics, a major New York City ophthalmic laboratory, has appointed president Ralph Woythaler chief executive officer. He previously served as president.

His brother, Bernard Woythaler, who had served as vice president of operations, has been appointed president. In addition, his son, Robert Woythaler, who had served as director of customer relations, takes over the responsibilities of vice president of operations.

“In keeping with its 40-year history this succession assures a Woythaler family member will be at the helm for many more years,” said Ralph Woythaler.

The other members of the 21st Century management team, including another brother, Mike Woythaler, vice president of production, and Anthony Fulco, vice president of sales and marketing, remain in place.

21st Century Optics is an Essilor partner lab. The lab specializes in custom prescription eyeglass lenses, as well as anti-reflective GlareFREE coatings, mirror coatings, and fashion coatings. The lab was founded in 1967 as Eye-Glasses, Inc. by Julius Tart and Ralph Woythaler and was originally located in Manhattan. Woythaler bought the company from Tart in 1985 and moved it to Long Island City in 1987.

OPL Hosts Awards & Poker—Optical Prescription Lab (OPL), based in Pelham, Ala. hosted its annual awards ceremony and poker tournament on Nov. 30, 2007 in Birmingham, Ala. With over 150 guests in attendance, OPL presented attendees with dinner, awards and a traditional poker tournament. Immediately following the cocktail hour, the awards ceremony included the presentation of the following awards:

Crizal Outstanding Achievement Award: A.C.I.P.C.O. Medical Group, Inc., Alabaster Optical, Chilton County Optical, Day Eye Care, Eastern Medical Eye Center, Family Eye Care, Inverness Eye Care, Martin Eye Care, Medical Park Optical, Optimeyes, Primary Eye Care Associates, Riverside Optical, Samuel F. Hollingsworth, MD, Tullahoma Vision Associates, P.C., University Optometric Group and Wesley Eye Center.

Crizal Wesley

The staff of Wesley Eye Center receiving their Crizal Outstanding Achievement Award. Pictured, left to right are Dr. David Wesley, OD, Dr. Karen Wesley, OD, Charlie Hunter, OPL sales rep, Stacy Kilgore, optician, Jessica Tanner, director of marketing, OPL, Sherry Pugh, vice president, OPL and Danny Pugh, president, OPL.

Varilux Outstanding Achievement Award: Bessemer Eye Clinic, Eastern Medical Eye Center, Inverness Eyecare, Medical Park Optical and Tullahoma Vision Associates.

Transitions Outstanding Achievement Award: Alabaster Optical, Boozer Eyecare, Family Eye Care and Jasper Eye Clinic.

Crizal Eyecare Practice of the Year: UAB School of Optometry.

Regency Optical Wins Hawaiian Vacation—Wholesale lab Toledo Optical recently announced that Regency Optical, an Ohio-based retailer, won its Hawaiian Delight for the Best In Sight promotion, which the lab sponsored with support from Shamir Insight.

Toledo Shamir Regency

Pictured from left: Irland Tashima, Toledo Optical, Kelly Zeunen, Dane Zell, Vickie Mezinko, Terri Mahl, Regency Optical, Jeff Szymanski, Toledo Optical. Ron Matuszewski of Regency Optical (pictured on poster) was unable to attend.

Throughout the months of May to August, 2007, ECPs had the chance to earn rewards back for each pair of Shamir Creation lenses with Acclaro AR coating and Shamir Creation with Acclaro AR and Transitions. Regency, which operates locations in Toledo, Perrysburg and Oregon, Ohio, won the grand prize, a five-day, four-night trip to Hawaii.

Essilor Acquires Interstate Optical in U.S.—Essilor of America, Essilor International’s U.S. subsidiary, has expanded its prescription laboratory network in the U.S. with the acquisition of Interstate Optical, an independent wholesale laboratory headquartered in Mansfield, Ohio. The purchase price was not announced.

Interstate was ranked the fifth largest independent U.S. wholesale lab in Vision Monday’s 2007 Top Labs Report, with Rx sales of $24.9 million. Interstate, which operates a branch in Indianapolis, has 210 employees and serves eyecare professionals in 32 states. The lab was owned by the Art family. Interstate's management team, headed by John Art, president, Rob Art, vice president and Debbie Art, secretary/treasurer, will remain in place, according to Essilor.

Reliable Optics Adds In-House AR—Reliable Optics, a eight-month-old independent wholesale lab in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently expanded its services with the addition of in-house anti-reflective coating capabilities. The lab’s Crystál AR Technology Center produces two types of coatings: Crystál Allure with super oleophobic topcoat and Crystál AR with hydrophobic topcoat.

Reliable Optical Owners
Reliable Optics’ co-owners Eddie Purman, left, and Howard Fried, OD, inside the lab’s Crystal AR technology center.

Arndt Named VP of Epic Labs—Epic Labs, a specials lab located here, has appointed Jesse Arndt vice president. In addition, Arndt has also purchased a portion of the company’s stock.

Jesse Arndt

Jesse Arndt

Arndt has been employed with Epic Labs since 1998 working in production, customer service and most recently as the company’s sales and marketing manager. He joins Epic’s current president, Brian Stene and CEO Ron Stene as a third member of the ownership team.

“We are proud to welcome Jesse into his new role with the company,” the Stenes said. “His contributions to Epic have been significant and we are confident his addition to the ownership mix will be very beneficial.” Epic Labs currently employs 24 people and works exclusively as a sub-contractor for other wholesale labs throughout North America.


Lance Christensen

Christensen Named Production Manager at Precision—Lance Christensen has joined the management team at Precision Optical Group, in Creston Iowa as production manager.

Christensen comes from a similar position at Midwest Uncuts in Indianola, Iowa, and has 18 years of optical experience. He directs the day-to-day activities of the surfacing lab, finish department, and quality control.

Perfect Optics Hosts ECP Education Event—Perfect Optics, the Vista, Calif.-based wholesale lab, recently hosted Perfect Academy, an education day for eyecare professionals. The bi-annual educational program, designed for novice optical staff members, featured seven ABO CEC hours of optical instruction on topics such as optic training, management programs, interactive workshops and a refresher ABO certification course.

Vendor sponsors included Carl Zeiss Vision, Shamir Insight, Younger Optics, Optylux Frames and United Vision Buying Group.

The next Perfect Academy is scheduled for April, 2008. For more information or to enroll, contact Linda Pierce at (866) 569-8800.



Crizal Avancé Scotchgard Protector
Manufacturer: Essilor of America
Description: New generation anti-reflective lenses that combines the anti-reflective, durability and ease of cleaning properties of Crizal Alizé with Clearguard lenses and the protective qualities of Scotchgard Protector.
Target Customer: AR lens wearers

Features: Improved contact angle of 116˚. Lenses stay clean after 20,000 cleanings, defending the integrity of the AR efficiency and protecting the lens from scratches that can result if the cleanability deteriorates over time. Repels dust, dirt, fingerprints, oil and grease better than ever.
Independent Lab tests prove they start out the easiest to clean and stay the easiest even after 20,000 cleanings. Scotchgard Protector brand has 93 percent U.S. consumer awareness.
(800)-377-4567 (Essilor)


Shield Lens Protection System
Manufacturer/Distributor: Hilco
Description: Easy cleaning lens protection available in spray-on form
Target Customer: Wearers of “anti-smudge” oleophobic AR coated lenses

Features: Safe and effective on cast resin, polycarbonate, high-index, Trivex and glass lenses. Unlike factory-applied systems, Shield Lens Protector is applied in the office or home through a simple, initial two-minute process. After the initial application, continued cleaning with a convenient pump spray and microfiber cloth assures years of wearing benefits.
Availability: Order direct from Hilco
(800) 955-6544


DP Solutions
Manufacturer/Distributor: KBco
Description: Expanded base curve offering in single-diopter increments
Target Customer: Polarized lens wearers

Features: According to KBco, DP Solutions lenses are optimized for digital processing; to that end the lenses are manufactured with a rigid adherence to quality control which ensures that front side curves, an essential component of digital processing, do not vary from lens to lens. Labs don’t have to process lenses digitally to benefit from the expanded base curve offering; even conventionally surfaced lenses can take advantage of the superior optics afforded by the additional base curves.
Availability: Polarized polycarbonate DP Solutions are available with KBco’s standard WearGard hard coat or premium Super WearGard hard coat and are offered in the three polarized colors – KBco Grey-C, KBco True Grey, and KBco Brown-C. DP Solutions will soon be available in 1.67 high-index and standard plastic materials.
(800) 722-8776




Lenticular Flat-Top 28, 35 & Lenticular Round-Seg  20mm to 30mm
Manufacturer/Distributor: Quest Optical Specialty Lab
Description: Niche products that fill the market void created by the lack of availability of lenticular flat-tops and round-segs. Lenses are created utilizing the latest “high-definition” technology by DAC International.
Target Customer: Children with accommodative esotropia and longtime lenticular flat-top and round-seg wearers

Features: High Definition process technology allows production of bowl size diameter to minimize the center thickness and reduce the magnification, standard lenticular design or blended bowl for enhanced aesthetics, and plano or convex back curve design to  increase the viewing angle.
Power Range: Adds up to 6.00D in round-seg and up to 4.00D in flat-top.
Availability: Standard plastic, 1.56, 1.6, 1.67, and Transitions
(727) 581-2706


Training Videos on Frame Adjusting Techniques
Manufacturer/Distributor: Vigor
Description: Vigor’s popular videos have been reformatted for DVD.
Target Customer: Dispensers and lab technicians

Features: The DVDs cover metal frame adjusting techniques, (63.1508DVD), zyl adjusting ( 63.1507DVD), frame fitting for comfort (63.1506DVD) and the most popular frame repair techniques (63.1505DVD). Also there are two DVDs on soldering. One explores electric welding (63.1512DVD) and the other features gas soldering (63.1511DVD). Most of the DVDs run approximately 20-25 minutes and sell for $25 each.
(800) 847-4188

Wide Mouth Lens Caliper

Wide Mouth Lens Caliper #2060WM
Manufacturer/Distributor: Western Optical Supply
Target Customer: Dispensers and lab technicians

Features: Measures up to 25mm thick lenses in 1/5thmm graduations. Easy to calibrate. Precision constructed of stainless steel and brass. 7 ½” long.
(800) 423-3294


FreedomID in 1.50 and 1.67
Manufacturer/Distributor: X-Cel Optical
Description: Progressive lens in 1.50-index and 1.67-index
Target Customer: Active presbyopes

Features: FreedomID features a 17mm fitting height and uncommonly wider distance and near vision zones with the least amount of unwanted cylinder.
Power Range: 1.00 to 3.00D in 1.25D steps.
Availability: FreedomID is now available in 1.50 and 1.67, adding to the original availability of Aris Trivex clear and Transitions, clear and photochromic glass, polarized polycarbonate and polarized glass. Transitions 1.50 and 1.67 will be available later this year.
(800) 747-9235

In This Edition...
Who Can You Trust?
Singing an Optical Aria
Geoffrey Vincent of Optical Dimensions
New Survey Highlights ECPs Perceptions and Attitudes About Labs

Soderberg Honored As Transitions 2007 U.S. Lab of The Year

21st Century Optics Reorganizes Management Team

OPL Hosts Awards & Poker

Regency Optical Wins Hawaiian Vacation

Essilor Acquires Interstate Optical in U.S.

Reliable Optics Adds In-House AR

Arndt Named VP of Epic Labs

Christensen Named Production Manager at Precision

Perfect Optics Hosts ECP Education Event

Does Your Lab Need a Reality Check? Part One
Beveling AR Lenses
PR Strategies for Labs, Part 3
Mastering the Press Release Process

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DAC Vision
LabTalk Spotlight January 2008

In LabTalk’s cover story for the January/February issue, Raising the Bar on Photochromics Sales – Tips & Best Practices, Julie Bos interviewed past Transitions Optical Lab of the Year winners to find out how optical labs can increase their sales of photochromic lenses. Check out this excerpt:
“Let’s face it, when labs and ECPs are all talking about—and selling—photochromics, everyone wins,” said Anthony Fulco, vice president of sales and marketing for 21st Century Optics.

“Unfortunately, many ECPs just don’t get it. They’re not always as business-savvy as they could be—and technical competence alone does not ensure success.”

“We try to teach them that if their business is not growing, it’s shrinking by attrition,” he added. “The market is flat, and patients often go to other practices. Therefore, ECPs need to find a way to upgrade their existing patient base—from plain lenses to AR lenses, from plastic to polycarbonate, from polycarbonate to high-index, or from standard to photochromic lenses.”

Just how, exactly, can your lab increase its photochromic sales? How can you inspire ECPs to discuss these lenses with their patients? What are the secrets to success? To find out, we asked some labs that would know best—those that have actually done it.”
To read the entire article, “Raising the Bar on Photochromics Sales?” log on to http://www.labtalkonline.com/  Here you will find the article listed under the Features section.

Buying Group & Lab Association News

OLA Joins Coalition Challenging FDA on Proposed Drop Ball Regulations
It could create a financial and practical burden on eyecare professionals by requiring them to purchase lens testing equipment, as well as force ECPs to outsource lens-finishing processes to third-party laboratories. ECPs that conduct any type of edging would be viewed as the manufacturer and be subject to liability.

The FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Division of Small Manufacturers, International and Consumer Assistance, issued the guidelines in late October, 2007 in the form of a draft guidance. The document provides the optical industry with questions and answers about the federal regulation for impact resistant lenses which has been in place since 1972, and updates the 1987 FDA draft guidance on impact resistant lenses.

The FDA has set Jan. 24 as the deadline for industry comments on the draft Q&A. A coalition of industry groups spearheaded by the Vision Council of America (VCA) is preparing to submit comments to the FDA.

“We’ve asked the FDA for an extension so we can have more time to comment,” said Ed Greene, CEO of the VCA . “We think the draft has incorrect information concerning the impact testing of edged lenses. It contains many contradictory statements and is very confusing. The Q&A implies there’s an issue with eye injuries and broken lenses, and that’s not accurate. It also implies that edged lenses have reduced strength, and we’re not sure that’s true.

“Another aspect of the proposed guidance is that lenses that are tested can’t be resold,” said Greene. “That will cost consumers millions of dollars and is totally unnecessary. We’re taking a strong stance on this issue and look forward to the opportunity of working with the FDA to help them come up with a better set of guidelines that will address these issues. We are also working closely with every other national organization.”

Bob Dziuban, executive director of the Optical Laboratories Association, said “OLA is working closely with VCA and other industry associations to produce a unified response. We will comment about the need for, and the real-world feasibility of, the various changes that would result from implementation of this draft Q&A. OLA, and all industry organizations, share with the FDA the objective of producing eyewear of outstanding quality and safety. We are very glad to have the opportunity to discuss with the FDA the regulations that will control the production of that eyewear.”

American Vision Lab Joins OSC—American Vision Lab has become the newest member of Optical Supply Co-Op (OSC). Based in Dallas, Texas, American Vision Lab is a full-service wholesale optical laboratory geared toward the future with the latest technology as well as AR, sunlens and industrial coating capabilities. 

Optical Supply Co-Op based in Pelham, Ala., is an alliance of wholesale laboratories located throughout the country. OSC’s goal is to provide members with a competitive advantage in service, pricing, marketing and education.