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Get results from new lens technology

By Leigh Robinson
Freeform technology lenses were supposed to revolutionise the way patients felt about their glasses. But are we seeing the benefits? LEIGH ROBINSON explains what could be holding the technology back.

All major lens laboratories are now well and truly engaged in Freeform lens technologies. Freeform lenses and their various forms of individualisation of prescriptions provide your patients with better adaptation rates and a far greater visual experience.

All optometric practices (and the labs) should be experiencing much improved warranty claim rates. But are they?

A non-adapt or warranty claim on Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs) is a wonderful service provided by Australian labs, rarely found in other countries. But this comes at a cost.

The most significant cost is the damage to your practice reputation when the patient has to return time and again, sometimes three and four times for their glasses.

"Old methods like the dotting of heights, and measuring binocular PDs and then halving them for monocular PD’s, are now well and truly out of date"

Whether it is the good nature of the labs or the competitiveness of the market (I rather think the latter), labs have weakened their stance on warranty claims by even allowing dispensing errors such as heights, PDs and ‘Oh we forgot to order the tint!’ to become warranty claims, something not heard of in the past.

What other industry would let this happen? If you were to renovate your bathroom and mismeasure the shower screen for your order, what chance would you stand of the glazier agreeing to a non-adapt claim? None, I would suggest.

Could this situation be due to a perceived lack of dispensing skill in Australian optometric practices?

First introduced with the introduction of PALs to the market back in the 1980s to encourage uptake, the situation has led to the acceptance of poor dispensing skills.

The integrity of the industry has been weakened by many optometric practices employing undertrained staff and not investing in training. The lens companies, while maintaining customer relations to keep their customers happy, have contributed also.

All of this is reflected in the shortage of qualified dispensers and declining enrolments at some of the traditional education providers, and the continued reliance of unskilled practice staff.

Freeform PALs are a huge improvement on front surface moulded PALs of the past, but the lens technology that offers both optimised and personalised lens designs is not enough on its own. The labs need correct measurements and more measurements than we supplied in the past.

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Many practices choose optimised lens design and trust that one size fits all. This method relies on ‘best average’ default measurements from the labs’ ‘world average’ statistics and fails to optimise the best possible result for the patient.

This practice often culminates in a poor wearing experience and leads to questions like; “Why are these new expensive lenses not as good as my former less expensive lenses?”

A lab warranty will not repair your damaged reputation
A lab warranty will not repair your damaged reputation

Manufacturers of optimised and individualised lenses can calculate the true power of the lens in the as worn position for all directions of gaze, while position of wear (POW) measurements have become a standard industry requirement.

Faceform angle (wrap), pantoscopic tilt and back vertex distance (BVD) measurements are now required to improve lens design and the patient’s visual experience.

Old methods like the dotting of heights, and measuring binocular PDs and then halving them for monocular PD’s, are now well and truly out of date and frankly quite unacceptable.

All well-versed practices should at least be using a pupilometer to measure monocular PDs and height gauges for pupil heights. A better option is to use the advanced electronic measuring devices provided and recommended by the various lens companies.

The fact is, learning how to measure position of wear measurements is not difficult for practice staff and your patients will thank you for the “best lenses ever”.

Think about your current practices. If you’re not having great success dispensing these new advanced technology lenses, now might be the time to rethink practice dispensing methods and staff training.

Also spare a moment to think about what your patients are thinking when they have just experienced a thorough and professional eye examination using the very latest expensive and complex testing equipment, and then are confronted with a $2 texta pen and a chicken scratching on their inserts at the dispense.

Worse, what are they thinking when they have to return because their new (and costly) glasses are ‘not quite right?’.

A lab warranty may help your bottom line, but it will not repatriate a damaged reputation.

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