Randwick TAFE hosts optical dispensers industry morning

Mr Steven Daras, a former colleague, now attached to the Certificate IV optical dispensing course offered by the OTEN DE Kingswood campus of the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE, was one of three guest speaker on the morning’s program. The other guest speakers were Ms Mara Giribaldi, associate lecturer (Discipline of Orthoptics, UTS) and Mr Jono Hennessy Sceats, perhaps Australia’s best known spectacle frame designer.THE CURRENT OPHTHALMIC OPTICAL INDUSTRYWith the sad passing of Dr David Wilson, lead author of the two main dispensing textbooks, Practical Optical Dispensing (co-author Mr Daras) and Practical Optical Workshop (co-authors Mr Steve Stenersen, NZ and Mr Daras), the task of presenting the texts, which were sponsored by a TAFE committee as trustees of the Optical Dispensers’ Education Trust Fund, fell to co-author Mr Daras prior to his presentation.He opened his guest appearance by describing the industry as dynamic and one that necessitated getting on, and staying on, the ‘learning train’ or be left behind. He noted there were changes occurring constantly and those meant that the professional advice dispensers were required to give was also changing.Furthermore, the increasing sophistication of, and applications for, spectacle lenses translated to increasing challenges facing dispensers working at the practice coalface. What might have been relatively simple and straightforward once upon a time is now much more complex in nature.{{quote-A:R-W:450-I:2-Q: Knowledge used correctly will result in a superior client experience. -WHO:Mr Steven Daras, a former colleague, now attached to the Certificate IV optical dispensing course}}Mr Daras said he regretted that the time-consuming art of hand edging spectacle lenses ses to be fading and advised the students present to keep their hand in. He also recommended they stay on top of the ever-changing spectacle frame trends and the introduction of new materials from which frames are fabricated.He advised the audience to avoid ‘acquiring’ bad habits and shortcuts they might pick up from others, especially their places of ployment. Among those shortcuts, which are far too common, is a failure to supply labs with adequate information pertaining to individual optical appliances. By his estimate, only about 10% of the relevant data is now supplied, meaning the lab has to resort to presets, defaults, rules-of-thumb, standard values, or even guesstimates to finalise an order.Instead, Mr Daras told attendees they should ploy the skills taught in their TAFE course – the ‘proper’ way, as he put it. True personalised dispensing requires a significant amount of data, he stated. Knowledge used correctly will result in a superior client experience.He rinded the group that ignoring the actual vertex distance, especially in high Rxs and expensive lenses, is a sure way of inviting trouble, including expensive rakes. His parting advice was to “showcase your talents”.AN OVERVIEW OF ORTHOPTICSMs Giribaldi is not only an orthoptics educator, she is also the external liaison officer for the UTS course and profession. She explained that the UTS course was a two-year, post-graduate Masters degree (MOrth) requiring a relevant first degree. Orthoptics is also taught at La Trobe University in Melbourne via a four-year first degree and a two-year Masters degree.Ms Giribaldi defined orthoptists as eye therapists working as allied health professionals diagnosing and managing eye disorders. Areas of special interest include: eye movents, paediatric and low-vision care and rehabilitation, helping patients maximise vision and ocular comfort, and using advanced technology and clinical skills to diagnose and aid sufferers of ocular and neurological disorders.Since its inception, the UTS course has pursued an innovative practice- and evidence-based curriculum. Its teaching is probl- and case-based and uses an on-campus clinic as well as field placents to extend clinical education into the real world where not all cases follow textbook storylines. External placents can be local, rural, or international with Moorfield Eye Hospital (London, UK) already used and a Boston, US placent option planned.Most standard clinical tools such as slit-lamps, VA charts, refracting equipment including autorefractors, tonometers, fundus cameras (and fluorescein angiography), topographers, keratometers, and OCTs are all within an orthoptist’s skill set. In a surgical context, they are often involved in pre- and post-operative care, intraocular lens calculations, surgery assistance, and post-operative rehabilitation.Core pursuits pertain to the conservative managent of eye issues, eye coordination, binocular vision, strabismus, diplopia, and amblyopia, much of which involves paediatric cases including those detected in school and baby health clinics. However, not all cases are young and some orthoptists are also mbers of trauma and brain injury units. Some are ployed in private practice while others are part of private ophthalmic practice, principally but not exclusively ophthalmological.Orthoptists are likely to interact with dispensing opticians when children’s frames are involved or when trauma cases need either custom frames or significant alterations to standard frames for comfortable and/or practical vision correction. In some cases, a form of occlusion or a Fresnel lens or prism, may need to be fitted to spectacles for orthoptic purposes.Ms Giribaldi’s parting advice was to ensure that all useful lines of communication were opened to all the health professionals involved in individual cases in the interests of an optimum outcome for the patient/client.


Steven Daras
Mara Giribaldi Jonothan Hennessy Sceats

DESIGNER SPECTACLESMr Sceats began his address by describing fashion as managing change. After a stint as an Optyl representative, he commenced designing sunglasses that were made by an Austrian craftsman located in Sydney’s Haymarket (now mostly Chinatown).His life has been ophthalmic-centric as his father, Mr C H Filmer Sceats, was a well-known optometrist who started in Canberra in 1925 before moving to Sydney after World War II. Mr Sceats’ own induction into the spectacle-making craft was also through his father who in the 1960s ployed a bespoke frame maker in his practice.He does not believe that fashion needs to be complex but he did admit that in the era of social media, each brand must have and donstrate a specific and consistent direction. Surprisingly, he revealed that more than 50% of his product is sold into France and Holland, especially the Jono Limited Edition lines wearing the by-line ‘Eyewear artisans since 1925’.{{quote-A:L-W:450-I:4-Q: In the era of social media, each brand must have and donstrate a specific and consistent direction. -WHO:Jonothan Hennessy Sceats, Australia’s best known spectacle frame designer}}Mr Sceats’ secret to successfully staying in the fashion business is to detect trending changes very early so that by the time the trend is apparent to others, you have a relevant product available ex-stock. There is no use reacting to a trend once it has arrived because the wave will be missed – being proactive is the only way to stay ahead, he said.However, he did admit that on occasions, some dispensing clients need a gentle ‘push’ to become early adopters because the new trend had not yet become apparent. His description of the current fashion trend was “all colour” with “botanical thes”, but he guaranteed that by 2017 it would be different.Turning his attention to the retail market, Mr Sceats said the advent of large, price-based corporate players at one end of the market and the few upmarket independent practices staking out the high end of dispensing was likely already putting the squeeze on the middle market, making operations within that segment difficult and less profitable.The resistance of the independents in France and Holland is, he believed, the reason for his marketing success there. He speculated that people like the idea of having a spectacle frame that not only looks good but is unlikely to be seen on the faces of others, or at least on too many others. Bespoke manufacture as started by his father is the ultimate extension of that approach. Some noted that some new brands entering the market have individual designers behind the brand, exclusively.In the dispensary, Mr Sceats recommended a 4–5 minute almost ceronial handover of a completed optical appliance before any adjustments are made. During that time, the frame’s technology, including the material, should be detailed, the special features of the lenses described, and the superior outcomes they can expect, explained. Such service beyond the norm goes some way towards justifying the often higher costs such appliances attract.Mr Sceats described his designing method, which he has used since he started in the 1980s. He admitted that against advice given to him originally when he was a graphic designer, he changed colours and product logos often. A draft is hand-drawn as a half frame and a mirror used to complete the style.The initial drawings are then sent to the factory to be converted into CAD (computer-assisted design) diagrams. That output is then modified into a si-final version before an actual frame is made. The first real draft frame is then hand-modified further before a style is settled on. The whole cycle can take up to six months.Due to the changing fashion cycle issue described earlier, longer cycles are not viable because the trend will have passed by the time suitable product is available. The drivers of the fashion cycle are numerous but can include films, architects, clothes designers and the magazine/e-zine industry serving th, famous individuals, famous designers, and the occasional rebel that gets traction for whatever reason.Mr Sceats’ opinion of the current market is that the 1980s are being revisited and there is now a reaction against European eyewear brands and names. He stated that some trade fairs can reveal coming trends.He also claimed that simplicity is coming to retail, and that includes the continued rise of online companies now moving into bricks and mortar. He nominated North American company Warby Parker and Australia’s Bailey Nelson but admitted all need volume to survive.Mr Sceats acknowledged that frame design was now moving to 3D printing of prototypes because fewer modifications of the prototypes were required (70% of the final design, by his estimate). He added that while he mainly focused his trade fair attention on Italian and French shows, he was looking forward to a presence at the SILMO Sydney event in early 2017.

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