The Reality of the DREAM Study

Plenty of misinformation is still being spread on the Internet regarding the DREAM (Dry Eye Assessment and Management) study that claimed fish oil is not good for dry eyes. Readers who found themselves poring over these click-bait headlines were misled, and their misunderstanding was further perpetuated by the omissive messaging by the New England Journal of Medicine regarding the findings from the National Eye Institute study.

Not only was the DREAM trial not well designed or controlled in its broad, inclusive subject selection, the researchers also permitted concurrent dry eye therapies. Additionally, the active Omega-3 supplement used was tested against a placebo, olive oil, which also happens to be a healthy oil.

The research concluded there was significant improvement in dry eye symptoms in both the placebo and in the fish oil supplement groups, but that there was no significant difference between the two groups. Wouldn’t that imply that an increase in healthy oils, such as that found in fish oil and olive oil, can significantly help dry eye symptoms? Yet, the lead researcher in the DREAM study, without noting that the placebo is also a healthy oil, said that fish oil is not effective in improving dry eye symptoms when his own research clearly indicates that it is. Fish oil and olive oil both help reduce dry eye symptoms.

“The Omega-3 used (in the study) was a fish oil concentrate in triglyceride form, rather than re-esterified triglyceride, which may help to shed light on the findings,” says Dr. Richard L. Maharaj from eyeLABS in Brampton, ON.

Although the study had many blemishes, the conclusions did illuminate other alternatives to consider in the treatment and management of dry eye disease (DED). “Interestingly, the name DREAM is appropriate, in that seeing the impact of the olive oil may point us to seek out other naturally existing oils and their impact on the ocular surface,” says Dr. Maharaj.

Before jumping into what healthy oils to consume, it is important to first know about Omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids. The body cannot produce the essential dietary fats Omega-3 and -6, and so these must be consumed. These fats are part of a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids called PUFAs, including DHA, EPA, DPA, and linoleic acid. Omega-3 helps balance pro-inflammatory Omega-6. Also, Omega-3 fish oils come in triglyceride or ethyl ester forms. Triglycerides are the natural form of Omega-3 in fish and do contain impurities. The more expensive, re-esterification process converts the artificially manufactured ethyl ester form without impurities back into the natural form of Omega-3. Omega-9 are monounsaturated and are not deemed essential because they are already produced by the body.

All EFAs treat cells as miniature cities with signaling systems between the cells. They make up part of the protective cell membrane, especially Omega-3 which allows nutrients and wastes to go in and out of the cell.

Not consuming enough healthy oils or consuming too much creates a traffic jam which won’t allow oxygen to pass through properly. This reduction in oxygen causes the normally paired oxygen molecules to gain electrons, thus turning them into unpaired molecules called free radicals. Cellular injury and damage occur when free radicals build up at the cellular level, and the communication system between the cells becomes erratic and causes inflammatory disease, such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

These inflammatory conditions can contribute to dry eyes, which in turn can cause more inflammatory reactions on the ocular surface. It is important to treat dry eyes as the symptom. Because eyedrops are for symptom-relief and don’t fix the problem, it makes sense to treat the inflammation within the body to help get rid of dry eye by consuming healthy oils. A shift in lifestyle diet, added to a body wellness regime will help with dry eyes.

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes and healthy cells in general. The recommended ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is 2:1 or 4:1, not the 10:1 we often see in Western diet. The Mediterranean diet, which uses large amounts of olive oil, is excellent for those with dry eye. Eating healthy oils creates better traffic flow between cells, which prevents free radical build-up.  Healthy oils help to clean out the bad cells and sometimes even repair them.

“Certainly, the DREAM study adds to our new collective approach to managing DED using a comprehensive approach which includes nutrition counselling, ” says Dr. Maharaj.

The DREAM study, albeit flawed, shows that Omega-3 supplementation is beneficial while shining a bright light on the need to look more closely at other healthy oils as well.

By Shirley Ha HBSc, OD, FCOVD

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Wowing the World of Eyewear Design: Mary Iljazovic for ROLF Spectacles

Mary Iljazovic is one of a kind: strongly determined, wildly creative and technically obsessed. And, after only 10 years fashioning eyewear frames, she and her team at ROLF Spectacles may well lead the optical world in design awards.

Those awards keep piling up at ROLF Spectacles, headquartered in the village of Weissenbach, Austria. “I think there are about 45 awards now,” Iljazovic allows, “with the most important being the SILMO d’Or, which we won three times, the Red Dot Design award, which we won several times, and the iF (International Forum Design) design award.” Clearly not one to boast, Iljazovic is instead profoundly focused on the heart of the ROLF business philosophy: setting trends and making the impossible, possible.

mod. Nuova

Rather than having to kowtow to the whims of a ‘boss’, Iljazovic always knew she wanted to be in business for herself. It suits her. “I have always lived from one day to the next, keeping things simple and having no grand plan,” she says. “I grew up in a very technically creative family and I always knew that one day I would be making things. I definitely did not want to be someone’s employee.”

ROLF began as a vision in the minds and hearts of Iljazovic and her then-romantic partner Roland Wolf. They met while teaching snowboarding in the Austrian Alps. Wolf was working as an optician and the two shared a passion for vintage automobiles. The path to eyewear design started to emerge at this point. They began by representing frame manufacturers in Austria and South Germany. Their own vision for frames started to emerge in 2006.

mod: Break

In 2007, Iljazovic and Wolf teamed up with Christian Wolf (Roland’s brother) and Mary’s younger brother, Martin Iljazovic, to see if they could wow the world of eyewear. The four worked in the basement of Roland and Christian’s home. They wanted to make frames out of sustainable natural materials, starting with wood. “We tried to find a factory with the highly specialized technology needed to realize our vision, but it did not exist, so we had to invent our own machines and systems,” says Mary.

Iljazovic is entirely self-taught. Her role in the startup was production software design. “We decided to try out some ideas and within six months we had finished product. But everything takes much longer than expected. In 2009 we took a bad prototype to the trade show in Munich. Based on the feedback we received we went back to the drawing board to make the product better.”

With the goal of making the impossible, possible, Iljazovic and Wolf designed a wooden hinge right off the start. “I had an idea for the shape, and we did the technical aspects together,” says Iljazovic. They also developed a unique glazing system that inserted a variable thickness of nylon thread through tiny drilled holes on the eyepiece and then into a groove in the frame. “It’s not as easy to glaze wood as it is acetate and metal,” says Iljazovic.

mod. Corniche

When they first showed their frames in Munich, people were fascinated by the hinge and glazing system. A second hinge, the FLEXLOCK, was created in 2017. An ingenious combination of densely compressed wood and natural rubber, the FLEXLOCK has multi-directional capabilities, is metal-free and able to absorb shocks.

Iljazovic was the first designer to combine wood and stone in frame design, as seen in models from ROLF’s Main, Evolved and Excellence collections. An exquisite and technically innovative collection made from buffalo horn, MONOCEROS, launched in 2017.

From the initial four owners working in a cellar to a team of 53 employees, ROLF Spectacles has come a very long way in just over 10 years. Still ardently true to their first objectives of sustainability, in-house production and turning the impossible into the possible, the company makes frames entirely in-house from locally sourced materials—except for the nylon thread used in glazing, which is imported from Germany and some of the wood, which is sourced from reputable suppliers.

mod. Foursome

And Iljazovic lives exactly the lifestyle she prefers, in a small village, which is a ten-minute drive from company headquarters. Here she keeps four horses and a dog. She likes to snowboard occasionally and generally lives a quiet life. “I like visiting cities but only for a few days at a time,” she says.

Who exactly is Mary Iljazovic? She describes herself as ‘an architectural draftswoman’ who loves animals and the countryside of her native Austria. The world is describing her as a preeminent designer of luxury frames who sets design trends and realizes new ideas: just witness the awards! It seems impossible for such a young company to rack up almost 50 awards for design, but Mary Iljazovic is proof positive that the impossible is within reach.

By Paddy Kamen

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When More is Less: The Too-Much-Choice Effect

Optical retailers recognize that customers crave choice, perhaps even abundance. Research from various sources, including marketers, economists and psychologists supports the belief that shoppers feel they benefit from having more choice. Online giants like Amazon have indeed built their business models on the ability to offer endless assortments in any product category.

But did you know there is a well-documented “too much choice” effect? It’s also known as “choice overload”, “the paradox of choice”, or “hyperchoice”. Further investigation has shown that having too much choice can be associated with less purchasing!

Offering consumers too many options makes them less keen to make a final choice. How many of us have been overwhelmed by our options when shopping online for cosmetics or electronics, for example, and have simply put off the decision and abandoned our carts? Perhaps even more surprisingly—and more importantly for ECPs—when there are too many options, customers have less post-purchase satisfaction with their choice.

What causes this lower satisfaction? Having to decline many alternatives. The more alternatives customers have, the more uncertain they may feel about whether they have made a good choice.

Three Tips to Avoid this Effect

  1. Reduce the Amount of Similarity between Alternatives

The most important thing is to make the range of choices seem less complicated to the consumer. When presenting frames start with options that are quite dissimilar. Present choices in a specific order, from the boldest to most subtle frame designs, from the most advanced design to entry-level options in lenses. Propose a frame or lens that you can describe as a standout option and offer one back-up option for easy comparison. Offering one choice that is clearly superior will help reduce the choice paralysis your customer may be feeling.

  1. Reduce the Range of Alternatives

The size of the assortment matters differently to two distinct types of customer. For customers who don’t arrive with something specific in mind, more IS less, whereas customers who walk in with strong preferences tend to be more satisfied if they choose from a larger assortment, expecting that a large selection will ensure they find the look or the product they have in mind. You can be successful with both types of customers if you merchandise your frame selection strategically. Place more of the “same” items together: multiple colours of the same frame, the same sunglass style with and without polarized lenses. This will avoid triggering the “too much choice” effect. Mirrors, false bottoms and simply presenting every product twice on a frame board can go a long way to creating the comfort of selection without the discomfort of choice paralysis.

  1. Chunk Technical Information into Categories

We owe our customers the necessary technical information, so they can participate actively in the selection process and make well-informed choices, but the difficulty of choosing will increase with the number of different pieces of information they need to evaluate. This is particularly true when consumers lack expertise and experience­­—particularly when they are first-time wearers of prescription glasses, progressive lenses or contact lenses. The secret to avoiding information overload is to simplify the choices by grouping them in categories. For example, if you tell customers, “we will walk through three decisions together with respect to your lens options—lens material, lens design and lens coatings”—it will be less overwhelming than if you had listed all the options one-by-one. Same for frame choices: saying, “let’s compare the benefits of the different materials, then choose a shape, then your colour preference,” helps reduce the complexity. This approach has proven to be even more effective with smaller rather than larger assortments.

Always keep in mind that your customer’s ultimate satisfaction is not directly associated with the number of choices you offer. The relationship between choice and satisfaction is complicated and sometimes too many choices can damage your overall effectiveness.

By Margaret Osborne, BSc MBA RO

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For Lenses, it’s Showtime!

Vision Expo West (VEW) in Las Vegas, scheduled for September 26 through 29, offers ECPs from all over the world an opportunity to learn, network and, okay, have a little fun.

However, meetings like the two annual Vision Expos also provide manufacturers and suppliers with a platform for introducing new products. Notably, some of the most important recent releases have been in the spectacle lens market.

While it’s true the new lens offerings that debuted at Vision Expo East (VEE) in the New York last spring lacked the fanfare of, say, the first freeform lenses or, going back a bit, the initial launches in progressives and photochromics, they were no less impactful in terms of increasing the options you can provide your patients and/or clients. And, more importantly, they also make significant inroads in enhancing how eyeglass wearers see, and their overall visual comfort.

Take for example Essilor’s decision to offer blue light protection on all of its lens products going forward, via a new coating (see cover story). The new treatment, called Essential Blue, filters three times as much harmful blue light as a conventional clear lens, the company reports. It meets the needs of today’s eyeglass wearers, and their growing use of digital devices (which emit blue light), by filtering out harmful rays (415 to 455 nanometers) while allowing in rays that are beneficial to eye health (465 to 495 nanometers).

Zeiss, meanwhile, used the New York show to launch UVProtect, a lens treatment it describes as the first-ever complete sunglass-level ultraviolet (UV) coating available for clear, organic eyeglass lens materials. The company will now be offering this UV protection (up to 400 nanometers) on all its lens designs and materials. This is notable because, according to Zeiss, most clear spectacle lenses protect against 380 nanometers (UV380) of UV, leaving eyeglass-wearers exposed to as much as 40 per cent of the most harmful rays. This exposure has been linked with photoaging, cancer and cataracts.

Staying on the theme of eye protection, Vision Ease and Younger both made significant additions to their polarized sun lens lines during VEE. Vision Ease has expanded its Coppertone Polarized Lenses line with new offerings in PPG’s Trivex material. Of note, Coppertone Trivex lenses block 100 per cent of UVA and UVB rays, and also filter blue light.

Younger’s launch in New York is called NuPolar ® Infinite GreyTM. According to the company, the new lens is designed to combine its “award-winning” NuPolar polarization technology with state-of-the-art photochromics, creating an “adaptable” corrective sun lens. The new product was developed in response to complaints from prescription eyeglass wearers that their sun lenses were, “either too light or too dark, typically at the wrong times,” according to Younger. In their lightest state, NuPolar® Infinite GreyTM lenses allow for 35 per cent light transmittance, compared to only nine per cent at their darkest state.

VEW in Las Vegas will likely see more new products brought to market. How these new innovations can and will be used in individual optical practices remains to be seen, but new technology generally brings with it new opportunities to meet the ever-increasing expectations of eyeglass wearers.

By Brian P. Dunleavy

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Don’t be Shortsighted About Myopia


How we interact, interpret and see our environment determines who we are. This is the foundation on which developmental or behavioural optometrists operate. Vision therapy practitioners often see the refractive behaviour of an individual before it is measured because there is a strong relationship between vision and personality. For instance, people who are nearsighted are more likely to display certain personality patterns and mannerisms that are different from those who are not.

It is important to understand that a significant number of vision problems, including myopia, are the result of mal-adaptations to the stresses in our environment or improperly learned patterns that we develop in life. We are not born with poor vision. There are, of course, people who are born with congenital cataracts or distinctive visual dysfunctions but they represent only a small percentage of the population. Most people are born without vision issues. Vision is a process that develops and is learned.

So, how do people become myopic and how do they relate to their world? Everyone, admittedly, is spending more time indoors, reading and working on computers and digital devices. The increased demands in our near-centred culture cause strain in our visual system as we adapt to meet the near visual stress, often at the expense of clear distance vision. Myopia development begins at near because it is a symptom of a near-point visual dysfunction.

When nearsighted people are exposed to external pressure, their perception is always pointed internally. They respond, either by constricting their physical world closer to them, or by withdrawing from their environment for security in a flight response — without actually running away — when things get too challenging. The internal responses they demonstrate are often charged with emotion that quickly becomes their customary pattern. They are in survival mode and have developed this way of seeing to protect themselves. They are frequently introverted, socially insecure and reserved. More often than not, their behaviour is skewed toward detail and tensed eye and body musculature.

The eye problems nearsighted people present can provide insights into greater internal imbalances and skewed patterns of reality. The personality of nearsightedness transfers to how people think, how they speak, the way they see themselves, the way they interact with others, and the way they adjust their posture.

These people tend to be rational thinkers, which helps them to make sense of the modern, logic-driven society they live in. Being logical allows them to be pragmatic and more focused without becoming emotional. This allows an assigned job or task to be meticulously completed, which may facilitate job advancement or a financial reward. Clinical research papers have shown a strong association between nearsightedness and analytical and intellectual activities and high intelligence, which these individuals frequently have.

It is possible to identify the anomalous near clinical findings that drive myopia development with a functional vision assessment by a developmental or behavioural optometrist. The solution is not to prescribe compensatory lenses for distance for full-time wear, especially at near, but, rather, appropriate low plus-powered lenses at near as determined by stress retinoscopy for all near work. Another method used to intervene, prevent or reduce myopia progression is through a vision therapy program. Myopia is mirrored in the mind, in the emotions, and in the body as a whole. Nothing can be done to change myopic perceptions without working the entire body as one unit. Here, an individual at risk for developing or showing early signs of myopia is given activities to change the neurology that will bring stability and support to the visual system at near.

Other therapeutic options include low-powered BI or BD prisms, bifocals, multifocal contact lenses, orthokeratology lenses and low-dose atropine. Researchers have also recommended turning off digital devices and going outdoors. There is a very strong correlation between myopia and overusing electronic devices while not being outdoors enough. Some studies suggest that myopia might be linked to lower levels of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, but it is unclear why spending time outdoors benefits myopes; studies cannot prove if the primary reason is UV radiation, vitamin D concentrations, light intensity or other factors. People with myopia should also eat a diet that includes Omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E that are found in a variety of foods.

You don’t want to be shortsighted, do you? Help your patients with nearsighted behaviours to refocus, change their perceptions and expand outward into the world. You can learn more this summer in Niagara Falls, ON at the Canadian Optometrists in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation’s Myopia Conference, which will feature classical and behavioural international optometry lecturers. Visit for further information.

This is the second of two developmental optometry stories. The first story appeared in the March/April issue of Envision: seeing beyond magazine.

By Shirley Ha HBSc, OD, FCOVD

Kids’ Eyewear

Kids Eyewear

Lorne Kashin’s father made a prediction when the family opened The Eyeglass Factory, an optical store in Thornhill, ON in 1977: “If you get the child, you will get the family.”

“He was right,” says Lorne, who doubles as executive director of the Ontario Opticians Association. “The children’s part of our business has grown significantly over the years and I’m now fitting the babies of babies I fitted years ago.”

Kashin’s experience illustrates the potential of having a child-friendly practice: done right, selling kids’ eyewear is an opportunity to win customers — and their family members — for life.

Still, doing it right involves challenges, starting with the fact that you’re dealing with two customers: the child and her parent. Both are important and their priorities sometimes conflict.

“Kids, especially younger ones, want colour and lots of it, as well as style,” says Sheena Taff, manager of Vancouver-based Roberts & Brown Opticians. “Parents want durability and functionality. You have to find a way to satisfy both.”

Fortunately, says Taff, many of today’s options are stylish and durable. “We offer over 300 frames in many styles and colours so there’s something for almost every child to get excited about.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge is dealing with parents who have strong, preconceived ideas of what they want. “Kids tend to have a higher plus power and that’s not always conducive to the look parents have in mind.”

There may also be conflicts about style: a parent might want thick, bold, black frames, while their child prefers something more conservative, Taff notes.

“A child’s glasses should showcase their style and suit their personality. Otherwise, they’ll wind up broken or at the bottom of the toy box. I encourage parents to let their children make the final decision, provided the visual aesthetics and technical insertion of the lens aren’t a problem.”

She also stresses the importance of fit. “I sometimes see kids wearing glasses that are too big — perhaps the parent is hoping they will grow into them. Remember that your customers are walking ads for you and your reputation rides on fitting them correctly.”

At the same time, says Kashin, it’s important to be responsive to parents’ concerns.

“Make sure they feel you’re paying attention to them. Respect their budget. And if you disagree with their choice, gently steer them toward a better fit and style.”

Despite the challenges, working with children can be tremendously rewarding, he says.

“It makes me feel good because I love kids. There’s something special in each child I meet, so I find that and focus on it.”

Here’s Looking at You, Kids!

There has never been a better time to sell kids’ eyewear. Children’s glasses today are colourful, fun and affordable, featuring fashion-forward styling and revolutionary technical features that ensure a great fit, durability and ease of wear.

Here’s a look at what’s available from some of the top children’s eyewear manufacturers for 2018.

Alternative Eyewear and Plan B Eyewear


Alternative Eyewear and Plan B Eyewear

Alternative Eyewear and Plan B Eyewear

The Quintessential Nano Vista collection from Alternative Eyewear and Plan B Eyewear offers a host of revolutionary features, including the patented ‘52’ hinge that allows temples to bend and rotate 360 degrees without breakage or wearing down.

Made with thermo-adjustable, patented SiliflexTM material, each frame in the collection includes a mini temple tip strap to keep the frames secure and comfortable, and a full headband strap that is ideal when worn under helmets for aggressive sports such as hockey, motocross and skiing.

Excellent for special needs children, Nano Vista glasses are available with metal core temples for incredible adjustability, and without the metal core for compulsive children who might chew the frames and hurt themselves on metal parts.

Available in a wide variety of colours, shapes and sizes, these frames are also lightweight and easy to modify. Glow-in-the-dark colours help children to be seen and to find their glasses in the dark. Alternative Eyewear is also launching a magnetic clip-on version that features polarized blue-blocking lenses.

All Nano Vista children’s eyewear comes with an unconditional three-year warranty.

 JF Rey

JF Rey: Forest 2520

JF Rey: Forest 2520

World-famous designer JF Rey has revolutionized the technical aspect of children’s eyewear with JUST ADJUST a patented temple design that enables eyecare professionals (ECPs) to quickly adjust the frame’s temple length to suit the changing physiognomy of the child.

Another special feature of JF Rey Kids & Teens glasses is their special flex hinge, which ECPs can easily change in-store. It was developed to prevent temples from becoming deformed and to ensure the frame’s robustness.

The JF Rey Kids & Teens collection uses beautiful acetates and acetate/stainless steel combos in a variety of shapes, featuring tints and graded colours, and original designs that highlight tortoise shells, stripes, spots and checks. There is something here to appeal to every taste.

All of the collection’s frames come with a two-year warranty.



Lafon: CASI6065

Lafon: CASI6065

Dynamic new colours and patterns for youngsters aged 4-7 highlight the fall/winter 2018 collection from Lafont pour les enfants.

The style is playful and colourful, with orange, red and blue car patterns driving happily across frames designed for young boys, while purple hearts and delicate plaid patterns adorn frames for young girls.

Lafont is known for children’s eyewear designs that cater to their specific tastes and physical features. The company pays great attention to detail, bridge fit and lens area to ensure a proper fit.

The collection features frame fronts designed from cellulose acetate and temples reinforced with redesigned stainless steel spring hinges to ensure comfort and flexibility.

With adjustable arms, these frames adapt perfectly to the morphology of young children. Soft, modified rectangles with high lens areas and adjustable temple lengths provide a customizable fit. And the exclusive flex system allows kids to practice putting on the eyewear themselves.

All Lafont pour les enfants frames feature a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.

Match Eyewear


Match Eyewear: FLT-KP-253

Match Eyewear: FLT-KP-253

Kids can express their own unique personalities with the Float Kids collection from Match Eyewear. Bringing fresh, fun styling to grown-up designs that allow kids to emulate their parents and older siblings, Float Kids Eyewear is a trendy and colourful collection for youngsters aged 4-16.

Sturdy and durable to keep up with a child’s active lifestyle, Float Kids glasses are carefully crafted from premium quality materials and components, ensuring maximum comfort, safety and durability for cool, active kids.

Girls’ styles feature soft, feminine squares made of blue, brown or purple acetate, with solid colour fronts and matching leopard colour temples. Masculine square shapes are available for boys in black, green and grey acetate with solid fronts and multi-stripe temples. All styles feature spring hinge temples for a comfortable fit.

All Float Kids glasses come with a one-year warranty.



OPAL: DSC_9483

OPAL: DSC_9483

Young adventurers keen to “master the force” will love the STAR WARSTM collection from OPAL Canada. The collection incorporates the famous expressions, charismatic characters and galactic scenery from the iconic films.

With some models featuring exclusive acetates, these STAR WARSTM frames deliver outstanding quality, which is evident in both their finish and original details. The collection is fun as well as technically advanced, specially designed for aspiring young Jedi. And each frame comes with a case and a branded gift.

OPAL offers Canadian kids several other cool collections to choose from, including the Disney collection for children ages 3-8: boys can choose from Avengers and Spiderman, while girls can select the Frozen or Disney Princess collections.

The Little ELEVENPARIS collection is designed for those ages 8-14, and ELEVENPARIS is created for those 14 and older.

All OPAL Canada glasses for children come with a two-year warranty.



Sàfilo: SA0008

Sàfilo: SA0008

Introducing playful new colours and comfort features, the all-new 2018 Kids by Sàfilo ophthalmic collection features fun and original graphics on styles dedicated to children 3 to 8 years of age.

New elastic straps and ultra-soft silicone tips help to keep the frames in place without compromising comfort, even for extended periods of wear.

Exclusive new clip-on sun-covers with polarized lenses are also available for children ages 3-8, for glare-free vision, clear contrasts, vision of natural colours, reduced eye fatigue and 100 per cent UV protection.

“100 per cent Made in Italy”, the KIDS BY SÀFILO optical collection is made of light, safe, bio-based materials and includes designs for children from infants to 8-year-olds. Soft rubber is moulded over the internal temple and bridge, while high-performance polymers are used for the front and temples. These biocompatible, hypoallergenic, non-toxic and washable materials guarantee safety.

KIDS BY SÀFILO frames are lightweight and stable, thanks to a lower bridge and the temple design, which features a horizontal bend. The enhanced design of the front ensures that the lenses cover the children’s entire field of vision, guaranteeing effective correction.

Every KIDS BY SÀFILO frame comes with a two-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.



WestGroupe: SFK-189

WestGroupe: SFK-189

WestGroupe presents 16 new styles from its Superflex Kids (SFK) Back to School (BTS) 2018 Collection.

The SFK BTS 2018 collection is far-reaching with both metal and acetate styles capturing all the latest eyewear trends. For girls, acetate is fun and funky with confetti glitter and sparkly plaids, while sporty colours are centre stage for boys. With its mission of making eyewear fun for kids, the new models are available in a wide range of hues from colour that pops to clean neutrals. Colour blocking, a key fashion trend this season, is highlighted throughout the collection.

Two-tone colouring on the metal styles is enhanced with etched patterns ranging from racing stripes to baroque florals, giving the temples a textured feel and 3D effect. In acetate, triple laminations provide a more classic take on the trend, as does the blocked effect of patterned tortoise temples coupled with tonal colour fronts. The collection is well balanced between boys, girls and unisex styles in trending shapes of rectangles, squares and rounds to fit every kid’s personality.

All SFK models have a spring hinge for added durability and comfort and come with a two-year warranty against manufacturer’s defect.


By JoAnne Sommers


Canadian Optometrists All In for Seeing Beyond 20/20


Developmental, aka neuro, neuro-developmental or behavioural optometry, is exploding in Canada, thanks to the passion, motivation and energy of the ALL-IN campaign, launched by the Canadian Optometrists in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation (COVTR). These optometrists provide life-transforming vision therapy and rehabilitation services to their patients via a specialized area of optometric care that works with the eye-brain-body connection.

While a majority of eyecare professionals deal with the health of the eyes — or “hardware” — and provide compensatory prescriptions to their patients so they can see clearly, developmental optometrists describe vision, or the “software”, as a dynamic process that involves more than eyesight. They recognize that vision, as the dominant sense, is pervasive in all aspects of life. It is learned and developed through interaction with the environment and through life experiences. Vision is the entire process that gathers, assembles and integrates sensory and motor information, to and from the brain, body and environment, with what is seen through the eyes. This provides meaning in order to direct accurate, comfortable and efficient motor movements or actions.

Good visual acquisition skills (how we get information into the brain) and good processing skills (how we interpret, use and project visual information) influence human development and provide a foundation for new learning. A breakdown in eye teaming, eye movement and peripheral awareness can happen over time, as a result of visual stress, or following a head injury such as a concussion. Such breakdowns are closely linked to a reduction in depth perception and balance, inefficient processing and uncomfortable vision. When undiagnosed, vision problems can become barriers to success in academics, sports and life. In the words of the late Dr. John W. Streff of Lancaster, OH, a founding father of the developmental optometry community, “When vision is good, it leads; when it is poor, it interferes.”

Developmental optometrists use powerful tools such as lenses, prisms, tints/filters and vision training to rewire the “programming” or neural pathways and help guide vision development, rehabilitate a compromised visual system and improve visual performance.

COVTR is a three-year-old non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing optometric education and public awareness of vision therapy and rehabilitation (VTR) to improve the lives of Canadians ( It has grown from a group of seven optometrists in a vision therapy study group in 2014 to a national organization representing over 300 members, including optometrists, vision therapists and students.

This rapid growth has resulted in many sold-out continuing education events across Canada. An unprecedented eight Canadian optometrists completed post-graduate training in VTR and obtained fellowships from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) in Jacksonville, FL in 2017. The organization is propelling VTR to the forefront of vision care nationwide across Canada and is in the midst of a movement to show that VTR success is not limited to one community or practice – it is everywhere.

Thousands of Canadians are now enrolled as patients in vision therapy and rehabilitation programs across the country. COVTR’s goal is to ensure that all Canadians are informed about VTR and given the opportunity to participate in these life-changing services. The organization’s members are remediating patients with binocular vision dysfunctions, such as convergence insufficiency, and children with learning-related vision problems and academic delays. They offer effective, non-surgical management for patients with eye turns (strabismus) and lazy eyes (amblyopia), and novel ways to alleviate concussion and head injury symptoms, such as dizziness, double vision and light sensitivity, for those with acquired and/or traumatic brain injuries. In addition, athletes who want to develop their visual abilities for optimum results are benefitting from sports vision-enhancement activities.

At COVTR’s 2nd Annual General Meeting and Conference in August, 2017, commemorating a historic 75 years of vision therapy in Montreal, the inaugural class of 2017, made up of 37 vision therapists and two optometrists, graduated from Canada’s first-ever Practical Vision Therapist Accreditation Program (PVTAP). It is an 18-month program, developed in conjunction with a licencing agreement with the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO), for optometrists and their vision therapists. The goal is to facilitate the successful integration of VTR into their practices by providing participants with the relevant theory and understanding of the development of vision problems and strong practical experience for gold-standard, office-based therapy delivery and management for their patients.

COVTR is making waves, not only in Canada but around the world. And this year, for the first time, Canada will be represented at the International Congress of Behavioural Optometrists (ICBO) event in Sydney, Australia. The landscape of VTR in Canada looks very bright for optometrists who are ALL IN and want to increase their knowledge base to help their patients. Similarly, the outlook is positive for their patients, giving them hope of controlling their visual symptoms and retraining their brains to use their visual systems more effectively and efficiently.

By Shirley Ha


This is the first of two developmental optometry stories. The second story will run in an upcoming issue of Envision: seeing beyond magazine.

An Interview with Barbara Piper, New Essilor President


Barbara Piper

In September 2017, Barbara Piper was named the new president of Essilor Canada. Piper has spent more than 18 years with the company, most recently as vice president, key accounts strategies & solutions for Essilor of America.

Martine Breton, publisher of Envision: seeing beyond magazine, recently met with Piper to discuss the company’s role in the community and its plans for the future.

MB: What are your main goals with respect to growing Essilor?

BP: My first goal, given the challenges we face, is to refocus ourselves and the company on our customers and their needs. It’s crucial that we regain the trust of some of our customers. We can do this and show leadership through quality, service and innovation in our products. It’s critical that we be the valued partners they expect us to be.

MB: Does Essilor have any plans to make acquisitions in the near future?

BP: With respect to Essilor Canada, I’m focused first on improving our internal processes and activities and refocusing on our customers and their needs. That’s where we have a role to play as leaders in the Canadian market.

MB: How do you foresee the Canadian vision market evolving in the next five years?

BP: It’s rapidly changing and transforming and Essilor’s role is to help our customer partners navigate these changes. We’re seeing new channels, delivery methods, product types, consumer purchasing behaviours and lifestyles.

One example is digital: 72 per cent of consumers aged 18-39 use three devices a day. This may damage their vision, so how do we address that? As an industry, we must look at how to create awareness of the issues, including more discussion about blue light protection and the need for UV protection all year long.

MB: What is your greatest aspiration for the world of vision?

BP: I’m very passionate about our industry and I’ve seen first-hand what we can do when we come together as an industry to solve vision problems.

Many people seem more concerned about the health of their smiles than their eyes. That’s not right. The comprehensive eye exam is an amazing tool as part of primary care but it’s under-utilized.

I don’t think enough people understand the important role of eye health in our daily lives and in the education of children. Eighty per cent of what a child learns before the age of 12 comes through their eyes. And 86 per cent of Canadian kids have not even had a comprehensive eye exam before age 6.

MB: How does Essilor plan to become involved socially to help improve eye health for Canadians?

BP: We spend over $1.2 million annually in communities across the country. In 2017, we conducted over 25,000 vision screenings. At our national sales meeting in January, our entire team took half a day to visit schools and, with the help of the Eye Disease Foundation, conducted close to 400 screenings. Forty-seven per cent of the kids we saw needed an eye exam of whom 15 per cent were emergency referrals. There’s a lot to do to help Canadians see and live better and we’re always looking for ways to do more in the community.

MB: Does Essilor have any plans for other community programs in Canada that you can share?

BP: I’m working with the Essilor Vision Foundation to see if we can elevate it and perhaps refocus our efforts in Canada. We have plans that we’re not ready to announce yet but there are things in the works that I think everyone will be very excited about. Stay tuned.

MB: Finally, how do you see Essilor’s positioning as an eyecare supplier in the optical industry five years from now?

BP: I don’t see us as an eyecare supplier. I really see us as a key industry partner. If you think about it, we don’t just provide products to our partners, we build innovative solutions by leveraging our assets. It’s much more than products. Of course, it’s innovation but it’s also services, awareness, marketing, community outreach – there are a lot of pieces that we’re bringing together with the goal of growing and helping our customers create value.

Our industry is transforming rapidly. Market dynamics and consumers are changing the way they look at eyewear and eye care. That transformation can be perceived as a challenge. I would like to reframe it so we see challenges as opportunities. How can we, as an industry, adapt and make the most of these opportunities? As a key partner in the industry, Essilor is here to help our partners harness those changes, grow with them and help them to transform themselves.

In the end we all want to help Canadians see better. I think we can work together to figure out the best way to harness change. It’s our responsibility as a leader to make sure we have a healthy, thriving and sustainable industry in Canada.

Interview by Martine Breton, Transcript by JoAnne Sommers

Ti Kwa: RIGARDS Brings a World of Wonder to Design


Ti Kwa

Ti Kwa

Familiar with many cultures and contexts, Ti Kwa, owner and designer for RIGARDS eyewear, has an easy demeanour that belies his design genius.

Robots, manta rays, infinity symbols, flying buttresses: all have inspired Ti Kwa’s frame designs. This is a man rich in imagination and manifestly capable in business. A man of the world, with a rich stew of experiences that make his life and work something special, indeed.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to parents who gave him a ‘strict yet liberal upbringing’, Kwa was drawn to art at a young age, inspired by his mother, who was a talented dressmaker, and his paternal grandmother and great-grandmother who were master embroiderers (think line, texture, curves, colour). At age eight, Kwa started his first business. “I created comic strips starring a gang of characters who wreaked havoc in school, and I charged my classmates five cents to read them. Business was good!”

At age 16, life took a rather drastic turn when Kwa’s parents ‘incarcerated’ him in Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, PA. Being the only Malaysian for miles around was not a problem for Kwa, who always found it easy to connect with others. However, he threw off the rigid discipline and conformity of the academy at the earliest opportunity in favour of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. What a shift! From there, Kwa moved to Seattle, attracted by the grunge music scene, where he also took a business degree from the University of Washington. So: buzz cuts, fashion, business and Smashing Pumpkins: not a bad recipe for a varied life!

Kwa worked as a designer in leather goods and footwear for several years. Lucky for us, he needed eyewear from a young age. “Having experienced the worst in frames, I thought it would be fun to make my own glasses. It became my personal project to make frames unlike any others, something I could treasure and make a part of my story, and that could evolve with me over time, not unlike my old Cordovan boots.”

Turning this personal quest into a business was natural for Kwa and so RIGARDS was born in 2012, with the goal of creating frames that speak to others in a way that is fresh but approachable.

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RIGARDS frames are distinguished by finding the right balance of yin and yang. “We like to embrace contrasts, tempering hard angles with silken lines to facilitate a seamless and positive energy flow around the frame,” says Kwa. “This is good feng shui.”

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Recognition from within the industry wasn’t long in coming. RIGARDS started 2018 with a bang by winning a 2018 iF Design Award, a nice complement to a SILMO d’Or Best Sunglasses Design nomination in 2017. What judges, eyecare professionals and consumers alike appreciate in RIGARDS frames is a transformational marriage of imaginative ideas with natural materials. Horn was the first material of choice for Kwa and continues to be a favourite.

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Another RIGARDS hallmark is their signature finishes. Says Kwa: “We enjoy using our own modified horn-smithing tools and like to create unique effects. Custom finishes like ‘Sanjuro, are inspired by our admiration for the Japanese ‘shibusa’ aesthetic, a concept which sees value in irregular perfection. Applied by hand, this technique produces a texture that is at once rough and refined, adding a fingerprint-like uniqueness. Our compelling ‘Plastron’ finish gives our frames a ‘scaled armor’ appearance. Exclusive finishes like these create a bespoke element to meet customer needs.”

Kwa is passionate about his brand and 100 per cent involved in the entire process. “In the six years since our launch, we have followed an organic model to progressively grow RIGARDS from a single product line (genuine horn) to a more diversified portfolio. We want to keep supporting our loyal and new-found customers with fresh innovative product lines and the same dedication to quality and artistry that they’ve come to expect of RIGARDS. In Canada we have been blessed to have the support of reputable eyecare retailers like Brass Monocle (Calgary), Bruce Eyewear (Vancouver), Gaudet Optical (Halifax), Hanley’s Eyewear Boutique (Ancaster), Alain Assedo (Montreal) and Speer Opticians (St. Catharines).”

Kwa lives in Hong Kong, with his wife and twin daughters, where most of his frames are made in his private atelier. Life is more than busy: “I try to be involved in raising the girls as much as their mother, which doesn’t leave me much time (read: no time). I also have a love of all things well-made and exploring old places and new ones.”

When asked who in all the world inspires him, either in business, art or design, Kwa earnestly points to Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto: “70-plus and still beating the system,” he enthuses. I suspect that young designers already have their eyes on Ti Kwa as a major inspiration. I know I do.

By Paddy Kamen

No More Boring Boards


“If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford

Could your system for filling your frame boards benefit from a fresh, data-driven approach? Are you missing opportunities to make your inventory turn more quickly? More profitably? Could a more strategic frame selection process streamline the purchase decision for you and your clients?

Category managers in large retail chains have been perfecting disciplined approaches to selecting and merchandising their product assortments for decades. Some of their techniques might help you boost your board performance, while reducing your investment in time and inventory.

Consider these three proven techniques of retail category managers:

  1. “Storyboard” to create excitement. Borrow this technique from graphic novelists and advertisers. Think of each frame board as a page in a graphic novel or a scene from a movie where the plot unfolds as you move from one board to the next. Each brand you carry and every frame position on your board should play a well-defined role in the story your offering communicates to customers. Typical characters in the drama you are creating might include:
    • Traffic Drivers: high mind share (consumers recall these brands quickly and without prompting), frequently purchased, high percentage of sales; example: Ray-Ban.
    • Transaction Builders: higher price point, they build loyal, repeat customers; examples: Orgreen, Maui Jim.
    • Profit Generators: higher gross margin, strong inventory turns; examples: Tom Ford, Gucci.
    • Cash Generators: higher inventory turns, frequently purchased; example:  Kate Spade.
    • Exc­itement Creators: impulse, lifestyle-oriented, seasonal, new product or segment; examples:  NO LOGO, Etnia Barcelona, Tekka.
    • Image En­­hancers: highly promoted, impulse, unique items, seasonal; example: Dior, Chloe.
    • Turf Defenders: used to draw in traditional customer base; examples: Prada, Lafont.

Decide how much space on your frame boards you want to dedicate to each of these categories. ­­Remember the 80:20 rule: 80 per cent of your sales will tend to come from 20 per cent of your frame selection. Reflect this reality by stocking 80 per cent of your frames from the Traffic Drivers. Successful category managers resist the temptation to expand the supporting roles.

Merchandise precisely, according to the experience you want to create. Build instant credibility and comfort by greeting customers with Turf Defenders near the entrance. Create moments of delight by allocating Excitement Creators horizontally as your customers walk through the store. Place Image Creators strategically at eye level and sprinkle Profit Generators into the mix. Draw customers through the store by making Traffic Drivers visible towards the back. Transaction Builders deserve special attention, with freestanding displays and targeted, point-of-purchase messaging.

  1. Analyze data to quantify your space management. “Planogram” software can be used to map out your space at little or no cost. A planogram is a useful tool to analyze and maximize the direct profitability of each space on your frame board. It supports data-driven conversations with your vendor sales representatives. Brands are given precisely the same share of space as their share of sales. New entrants without proven sales records need to earn their space, perhaps with promotional allowances or extended payment terms, before displacing current offerings.

Extract frame sales information from your point-of-sale information. Geocode it by postal code and use tools like Environics Analytics Prizm5 ( to identify the incomes and psychographics of your most profitable customer demographic. Use this mapping data to zero in on your target market sweet spot for future frame selection and digital promotions.

  1. Be ruthless, no matter how much you like your sales representative, and no matter how much you personally like a new frame design! The best category managers do not make exceptions. For every new frame added, be sure you know the position and role it will play and which frame it is replacing.

Frame boards will be anything but boring if you infuse them with deliberately chosen characters that tell your story in a consistent and impactful way. Your unique audience will be thrilled and your results will earn rave reviews.

By Margaret Osborne