Seniors and Low Vision: Confronting the Challenge

By JoAnne Sommers

As an eyecare professional (ECP), what do you say to an elderly patient whose vision is compromised by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy or some other serious eye condition? Are you prepared to discuss low vision assistive devices and rehab services with them? Or are you stymied when lenses are no longer an option for correcting vision problems?

If you haven’t thought much about it, it’s time to start. CNIB estimates that 1.15 million Canadians currently live with blindness or significant vision loss. By 2033, that number is expected to double.

CNIB defines low vision as visual acuity of less than 20/60 but better than 20/200, or a field of vision that is less than 20° across, in the better eye with the best possible correction.

One major reason for the increase in low vision (LV) problems is the “graying” of the population. About 4.9 million Canadians are 65-plus and 460,000 of them have some vision loss. After 40, the incidence of vision loss doubles roughly every decade, reflecting the fact that the risk of vision-impairing conditions such as cataract and AMD rises exponentially with age. Statistics Canada says that by 2026, 20 per cent of Canadians will be seniors, which means the incidence of LV will almost certainly rise dramatically.

Given the health challenges associated with aging, ECPs should watch for conditions that can result in low vision, says Dr. Morrie Sher, an optometrist and LV practitioner with Innisfil Eye Care in Innisfil, ON. When medical treatment isn’t required, ECPs can refer patients to a rehabilitation or LV specialist, or suggest low vision aids such as magnifiers, telescopic devices or special glasses. Electronic aids such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems with built-in magnification, and computerized reading devices can also help.

Sher is certified as an authorizer and vendor of LV devices. He refers people to CNIB for high tech devices like computer systems but sells lower tech devices through his practice.

“Many tools are available to help maximize a person’s remaining vision,” he says. “Unfortunately, most ECPs probably don’t know much about them and when a lens can’t FeatureSidebarhelp, they often say there’s nothing more they can do.”

Optometrists and ophthalmologists tend to stick to lens options because it’s what they know best, says Bruce MacKenzie, western region manager for Canadialog, a Toronto-based provider of LV solutions. “Many are reluctant to get into LV because they think too much time and effort is required. As a result, they miss a good opportunity.”

Sher suggests practitioners invite reps from LV companies to demonstrate their products, ask about their most commonly used devices and start testing them out.

Companies like Canadialog, Eschenbach Optik of America, as well as Cecitech and HumanWare, both based in Quebec, welcome the opportunity to work with ECPs. HumanWare, which is owned by Essilor, is focused on working more closely with ECPs, says Canada Sales Director Steven Philips. Eschenbach’s Low Vision Rehabilitation Program for ECPs and rehab professionals consists of product information, training, and ongoing consultative support.

“Essentially it’s a turn-key program for aspiring low vision practitioners looking to add LV services to their practice,” says Ryan Heeney, national sales manager, Canada, for Eschenbach Optik of America, Inc.

While there are many devices on the market you don’t need to stock everything, says Sher. “The technology may seem intimidating but it’s well within an ECP’s scope of understanding. You can also take continuing education courses to learn more.”

Sher says that while working with seniors can take more time than with other patients, it’s very rewarding. “You need patience because it may take longer for them to figure things out. But it’s so satisfying when you can help people to participate again in activities they enjoy and improve their quality of life.”

Here’s What’s New in Low Vision Devices

There is an ever-expanding array of LV solutions on the market, ranging from $50 handheld magnifiers to closed-circuit TVs (CCTVs) that run from $600 and up. The correct choice of device depends largely on the task being performed and the type and degree of vision loss of the patient, says Tim Gels, marketing manager, Eschenbach Optik of America.

“Low vision aids are like a tool kit and different devices are needed for different tasks. For a short-term task like reading a prescription pill bottle, a hand-held magnifier is ideal. For a longer-term task such as reading a book, a stand or spectacle magnifier or a CTTV is better. To help read ticker-tape news at the bottom of a TV screen, a telescopic device is best. A telescopic vision aid can also help with intermediate distance tasks, such as computer work or playing cards.”

Many LV patients purchase three to five devices for various tasks, depending on their activities, says Gels.

Here’s a look at some of the latest LV solutions.

Company: 20/20 Accessory Source
Product: Cocoons Low Vision

Improving sensitivity to contrast is important for people with low vision and requires the use of special optical filters. Low Vision Cocoons are available in four of the most commonly prescribed tints – Boysenberry (plum), Lemon (yellow), Hazelnut (amber) and Orange. Each tint is specifically designed to absorb different amounts of the visible light spectrum. For example, a patient may respond best to the reduction or elimination of scattered blue light, which creates distortion by making the definition of objects less crisp; Hazelnut and Orange lenses from 20/20 Accessory Source are extremely effective for blocking blue light.

The Low Vision Hazelnut lens provides 18 per cent light transmission and 100 per cent UV and infrared protection. It blocks 98 per cent of blue light and all visible light up to 400 nm. These are good general purpose glasses, providing good visual acuity and excellent glare protection. They are very useful for those with retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathy, pre-cataract and glaucoma.

Low Vision Cocoons with Orange filters have 34 per cent light transmission and block 100 per cent of blue light and all visible light up to 520 nm.The lenses enhance contrast and provide protection from glare. They are helpful to individuals with macular degeneration.

The Lemon lens provides moderate blue light filtering, which is ideal for reading and watching television. Lemon provides 82 per cent light transmission and blocks 100 per cent of UVA/UVB light and all visible light up to 450 nm. It helps increase contrast indoors, but should not really be used in direct sunlight. The tint is better for low light conditions, unless specifically ordered for outdoor use by a low vision specialist.

The Boysenberry lens is ideal for reading and watching television. Boysenberry has 15 per cent light transmission and provides 100 per cent UVA/UVB protection, while blocking all visible light up to 521nm.

Company: Canadialog
Product: MAGic Screen Magnifier

MAGic screen magnification software helps people with low vision view text and images on a computer screen in large size, while hearing the content spoken through a speech synthesizer, if purchased with the speech option.

MAGic lets you magnify a computer screen from 1 to 36 times its usual size. Mouse and cursor enhancements help track the location of the mouse pointer and cursor on the screen. MAGic lets you change the colour of these enhancements, apply transparency effects, adjust their size, and more.

Other magnification features include the Quick View Frame for monitoring important areas of the screen, a Locator feature to help find items, keyboard panning controls, tracking and synchronized highlighting.

Product: RUBY

The RUBY video magnifier is Canadialog’s smallest, most portable handheld magnification solution. The 4.3-inch, full-colour, high brightness video screen makes it outstanding for reading bills, mail and cheques. It fits easily in a pocket or purse.

RUBY XL HD is the new version of RUBY. It has a 5-inch colour HD display that highlights the finest details. You can zoom from 2x to 14x in books, photographs, newspapers and more. 20 high-contrast colour modes allow you to adjust text to your vision.

RUBY XL HD is easy to learn and use. It is equipped with a built-in stand to hold the screen at a natural angle, sliding effortlessly across a document as you read. The command buttons have contrasting colours and tactile cues that make the controls easy to operate. The convenient fold-out handle has two positions for a firm, balanced grip while reading cans and bottles or when reaching to read items on shelves.

With the ability to save 80 images and USB transfer capability, the Ruby XL HD offers clients more features to make their reading experience easier, more useful, and more enjoyable.

The small size allows it to fit in your pocket, making it an ideal travel companion.

Company: Cecitech
Product: VOICEYE™ 

VOICEYE™ is a smartphone application that enables those who are visually impaired or dyslexic to access printed information using a two-dimensional bar code that is implanted on each printed page.

Users can download the free VOICEYE app from the App Store or Google Play. Once a document is produced with a VOICEYE code, the user can access it with a smartphone, tablet or computer by scanning the code at the top right corner of the page. The text contained in the code is then available on the device. There is no need for a data or Internet connection to decode a VOICEYE code, since the code itself stores the data.

Text can be displayed on the device’s screen in five high-contrast text viewing modes and read aloud with TTS (text-to-speech) software. The scanned information is also retained in the device’s history for easy access later.

In South Korea, the VOICEYE solution has been successfully used in schools for the blind, universities, publishing companies, newspapers and elsewhere. The Korean government uses VOICEYE on official documents, such as social security information and tax bills.

In 2012, VOICEYE won the Bett Award in the ICT Special Educational Needs Solutions category. Bett is an annual trade show in the U.K. that showcases the use of information technology in education.

Product: Zoomax Snow

Zoomax Snow is a pocket-sized, handheld video magnifier that combines quality and low price. It is the lightest device of its kind and easy to use, with only three buttons (for magnifying levels, changing colour and font).

Snow offers a high-quality image and up to 16x magnification in a compact and stylish design. It features 10 viewing modes and smooth magnification adjustment. Freeze frame captures images for comfortable viewing and the user can zoom in/out or change the viewing mode of the still image. It is possible to view images on a TV screen by connecting Snow to the television with a cable. Snow’s rechargeable battery lasts 3.5 hours with continuous use.

Company: Eschenbach
Product: Smartlux Digital

The SmartLux Digital is a revolutionary, portable video magnifier that features a 5″ LCD thin-film transistor (TFT) display. It provides 5x, 7x, 9x, or 12x magnification (even less when used in hand-held mode), along with five different viewing modes: full colour, black on white, white on black, black on yellow, and yellow on black.

Illumination is provided by two hi-tech, surface-mounted-design (SMD) LEDs that last up to 50,000 hours. Three different illumination settings are available (100 per cent, 75 per cent and 50 per cent) and the LEDs can be turned off to avoid screen glare while looking at mobile phones, etc.

Images can be captured on the device and up to 20 can be stored with the ability to change the viewing mode and magnification of those images.

SmartLux Digital features a generous depth of focus and includes a stand that, in its fully extended position, is ideal for reading. In its half-extended position it is ideal for writing. When folded down, the SmartLux Digital is perfect for spotting objects a few feet away like posted restaurant menus, supermarket shelf prices, etc.

The screen is hard-coated for protection and made with an additional anti-glare layer of film. The device is completely portable and fits in a purse or large pocket. The automatic shut-off feature will activate between two and five minutes of non-use to save battery life. The SmartLux Digital comes with a two-year warranty.

Product: Diffractive lens

Eschenbach’s ultra-thin diffractive lens was designed to use in certain of its optical magnifying devices such as eyewear and telescopes. The lens is up to one-quarter the thickness of a comparably powered refractive lens, which makes it lighter and thinner, thereby improving cosmesis – the cosmetic look of the device. Because the new lenses are the same thickness as regular reading glasses, people are more likely to wear them than traditional refractive lenses.

Product: Cera-tec©

Eschenbach has also developed the cera-tec scratch-resistant lens coating. The patented coating minimizes scratches by up to 50 per cent and extends the life of the magnifier.

Company: eSight Corporation
Product: eSight Eyewear 

eSight Corporation has launched eSight eyewear, a device that enables some patients with low vision or legal blindness to see. eSight eyewear, which looks like a pair of fit-over sunglasses, uses a high-resolution video camera to capture what the wearer is looking at and deliver the images to a computer. Those images are processed and then projected, in real time, onto two LED screens inside the eyewear, allowing eSight to provide as near-normal vision as the wearer’s conditions permits.

Even in damaged or diseased eyes, eSight can digitally optimize video in a way that awakens the residual function of the remaining, functioning neurons or cones. The eSight-enhanced image causes the remaining photoreceptors to send an improved signal to the brain.

Unlike other assistive technology, eSight is mobile, hands-free and it auto-adapts to work effectively with near, far and mid-range tasks.

eSight has been shown to help people with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, Stargardt’s Disease, ocular albinism, Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, cone-rod dystrophy and other low vision conditions. It is best suited for visual acuity between 20/60 and 20/400.

eSight eyewear includes the patient’s prescription lenses and is custom fit for maximum vision and comfort. It is available in select low vision clinics in Canada and the U.S.


• Magnification from 1.5x to 14x

• Auto-focus enables wearers to quickly change their view

• Separate contrast and brightness features accommodate different lighting

• Freeze capability allows wearers to capture a still shot of an image

• Six custom colour modes make reading easier

• Software is easily updated via computer to keep eSight current

• Unique tilt feature enables wearers to alternate between walking and stationary activities like reading or watching TV

Company: HumanWare
Product: Prodigi™

The new Prodigi personal vision assistant won the Silmo d’Or Award for innovation and creativity in Low Vision technology at Silmo 2013. The Prodigi product line consists of three models: the Prodigi Duo, the Prodigi Tablet, and the Prodigi Desktop.

The Prodigi Duo is a 2-in-1 desktop HD digital electronic magnifier that incorporates a tablet docking station and a screen device (either 20” or 24”). This allows the user to have both a big-screen desktop device, and a go-anywhere magnifier at about the same cost as a traditional desktop system.

Both devices use Touch and Tap technology, and HumanWare’s unique Diamond-Edge Text™ format, which can be magnified up to 80x with no loss of text quality. Several different reading formats can be customized, and there is the choice to turn on the speech capabilities, if the user prefers to listen. Prodigi can also store documents and recall them for reading or listening at home or away. Start-up and training time is simplified with Prodigi’s built-in tutorial wizard, which also sets preferences for the user’s specific reading requirements when it is first plugged in and turned on.

The Prodigi Tablet is a handheld magnifier capable of the same functions as the Prodigi Duo, but in a portable, 5-inch touch screen LCD package that weighs about eight oz. The Tablet is capable of magnification, optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech, storage and more, inside a sleek, portable device.

The format of the Prodigi Desktop is similar to the Duo, but it is streamlined and doesn’t offer the tablet. The starting price is one-third less than traditional CCTVs.

Sharpening the Sensory Edge

By JoAnne Sommers

featureWith colourful paintings adorning the walls, Persian rugs carpeting the floor, the scent of incense wafting through the air and Billy Holiday crooning in the background, Envision Optical Designs in Vancouver’s trendy Kitsilano neighborhood offers a feast for the senses.

Owner Monny Nahoum’s store is a great place to find the latest in designer frames from Europe, Asia and North America. It is also an excellent example of sensory marketing in action.

Sensory marketing, whereby multiple senses are stimulated in order to heighten a product’s appeal, is an increasingly popular technique for enhancing consumer experience. Many well-known companies have leapt aboard the sensory marketing bandwagon: Singapore Airlines has a signature scent which makes frequent flyers feel more at home and enhances their flying experience; Starbucks has soundtracks to complement the smell and flavour of its coffee; and Westin Hotels and Resorts feature warm lighting, beautiful botanical arrangements, signature music and scents, all designed to create an emotional connection with guests.

Traditionally, most marketing efforts were directed at the eyes and ears, while the other senses were largely neglected. Today, with the competition for consumers’ attention so intense, there’s a growing belief that no sense should be left unstimulated.

“Whether it is the colours one sees, the packaging one opens or the music in the store, each experience draws, engages, and leaves behind an indelible trace,” says Aradhna Krishna, professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and author of Customer Sense: How the 5 Senses Influence Buying Behavior (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

At a time when online eyewear dispensing poses a significant challenge to bricks and mortar dispensers, sensory marketing offers the latter a valuable opportunity to distinguish themselves by creating truly memorable in-store shopping experiences.

As the 2011 Customer Experience Impact (CEI) Report from RightNow Technologies noted, “Today it is nearly impossible for companies to sustain differentiation based on price or product. That leaves only one option – the customer experience. Customers want personal and engaging experiences that develop into relationships.”

They’re willing to pay for it, too: 86 per cent of consumers surveyed for the report said they would pay more for a better customer experience.


feature2Nahoum, who was a fashion photographer and style consultant, before opening Envision Optical Designs in 1988, says his store’s sensory elements help to create a warm, inviting atmosphere, which his customers savour. Everything – from the lavender and geranium incense to the lush jazz soundtrack to the paintings by talented local artists – is designed to contribute to a stimulating and enjoyable shopping experience for his customers.

“It’s about more than just trying on a pair of frames,” says Nahoum. “I get very positive feedback from people who tell me they look forward to visiting and seeing what’s new in the art gallery.”

The art gallery ties in with Nahoum’s approach to eyewear, which he calls, “art for the face.” And the environment puts customers in a positive, relaxed frame of mind, which is important, “because it takes about an hour when I work with someone new.”


The atmosphere at the 165 IRIS eyecare locations across Canada is also designed to put customers at ease so staff can discuss their needs and determine which products will best fill them.

“Patients are seated in a living room-like setting and offered a beverage,” says Dr. Daryan Angle, vice president of Professional Relations with IRIS the Visual Group. “The atmosphere is warm and homey because we want to establish a level of trust with them.”

Angle says the company tries to engage the senses as a way to enhance the customer experience from the first contact right through the fitting process.

All of the company’s stores are recognizably IRIS locations, he adds. “The look is high-end with dark oak finishes combined with rock faces. Our soundtrack is classic light pop, designed to appeal to our target demographic, which is women 35+. And we’re working on perfecting a scent for our locations. The challenge is that some people have allergies and we want to be sensitive to that.”

It’s important to strike a balance when it comes to the senses, however. “To engage the sense of touch, for instance, we shake hands and take their arm if it’s appropriate. But we’re always careful to respect the customer’s space.”

Angle sees the sensory approach, “as one way to differentiate ourselves. With the rise of online dispensing the experience must be better than it was a few years ago. To achieve our average eyewear transaction of more than $700, you need to create a special atmosphere without going over the line.”

In the long term, IRIS believes its approach will result in a higher average customer purchase.

“We also think it will lead to more frequent purchases so it will contribute to sales growth. Despite the current pressures on the industry, we’ve maintained market share and grown a little. Our focus on customer experience has been crucial to that. When things improve, we will have maintained our loyal customer base and created a much stronger connection to them, which will position us for further growth.”


Marie-Sophie Dion has created a unique minimalist experience for customers who visit her four Bar à Lunettes locations in Quebec.

The walls are white and each room is large and airy, with ultra-high ceilings and curved feature3walls. Large windows admit plenty of natural light, and big LED spots on the ceiling direct a « natural » light colour onto the walls, creating a reflection and brightening the room. Dark wooden floors add warmth to the decor.

Acrylic rods suspended from the ceiling showcase frames and sunglasses. In the centre of the showroom is the bar, with dark wood counters and 10 stools made of white leather and stainless steel.

“I want our decor to please customers who appreciate modern, avant-garde design,” says Dion, whose locations include Montreal, Saint-Lambert, Laval and Sherbrooke. “And I want people to feel they are not in Canada, but on a journey somewhere, with no country or period attached to the moment.”

Music is very important to Dion, since the stores are so large. “Without it, they would feel cold and empty. We have an itunes music radio channel and the style is electronic lounge.”

Dion says she is developing a personalized fragrance to complement the customer experience. “It is a citrus scent because the lemon is part of our concept’s image: the eyewear “bar”. And lemons are the only fruit you need when opening a bar.”


Three optical businesses – three different approaches to sensory marketing – and each as unique as the clientele they are designed to attract. The lesson is simple – appealing to the senses pays off. How do you stack up?

Putting the “Pop” in POP

Point-of-purchase materials (POP) play an important role in creating a stimulating sensory environment for consumers. Appealing window treatments draw people into your optical store, while attractive display systems, pleasing images and engaging educational tools all contribute to making it a memorable experience.

“POP is an excellent way to attract, educate and inform consumers,” says Glen Eisenberg, president of Montreal-based Precision Advertising, whose clients include WestGroupe and IRIS, the Visual Group.

In general, POP enhances the presence of a brand or product line, says Eisenberg. The challenge is ensuring that the messaging is relevant to consumers and communicating it in a way that resonates with them.

“If there are 1,000 frames on your board representing 60-70 brands, anything that brings a brand forward will make it stand out,” he explains. “If you add strong, relevant messaging about the brand proposition, it creates an additional impression beyond the product itself.”

Many manufacturers are developing innovative POP displays, including window units that help to create an interesting merchandising story, says Eisenberg. For all of the WestGroupe brands, Precision Advertising has developed a suite of materials, including banners, counter cards and ancillary products, which sales reps can use to create such a story, either in windows or inside the store.

“This is a core part of WestGroupe’s marketing strategy,” says Eisenberg. “They want to impact customers who visit the store at a sensory level.”

WestGroupe also provides its customers with behind-the-scenes video from fashion photo shoots, says Bev Suliteanu, vice-president of product development. “Many of them use it, along with our campaign video, on their in-store video monitors.”

IRIS, the Visual Group uses LCD screens to explain the features of its digital lens products to customers, says Dr. Daryan Angle, vice-president of professional relations.

“It’s difficult to communicate the benefits verbally,” he says. “Using programs from Zeiss and Nikon we can show the higher contrast, sharper colours and wider fields of view available with these products.”

The systems can be programmed to change as new promotions become available, Angle adds. “It’s cheaper than printed materials and the high-resolution images are more eye-catching.”

Transitions Optical’s Marketing Manager Isabelle Tremblay-Dawson believes that it’s more important than ever for optical customers to have the best possible shopping experience, since those who do are more likely to recommend the store to family and friends and to return themselves.

“We need to differentiate our brands based on the customer experience, as well as the products we’re selling,” she says.

To facilitate that, Transitions offers a wide range of POP materials and patient education tools that demonstrate the benefits of its products. For instance, the company provides clients with UV demo light units and lens cards, which demonstrate the benefits of photochromic technology in-office.

“It can be difficult for patients to understand the technology if they get only a verbal explanation. With our tools, the ECP can place the lens card, which holds a regular, semi-finished lens, in a UV unit to show it activating and then fading.”

Other POP materials include window clings that tie into the look and feel of Transitons’ “Life Well Lit” ad campaign. “They help patients make the connection between our mass media campaign and the product in-store,” says Tremblay-Dawson.

Marchon has an innovative way of keeping its clients up to date with fresh POP material. “Each season, select accounts receive a USB key that activates Lacoste’s 4-piece integrated video display,” says Marketing Manager Kristina Simeone. “It’s a great display, featuring music as well as images, that started with Lacoste’s Magnetic Frame collection in 2012. This year, accounts received a key to access the video celebrating Lacoste’s 80th anniversary.”

The window displays, counter cards, cubes and window clings for Marchon’s brands are especially popular with optical stores in Canada, says Simeone. “Accounts are realizing the benefits of improved communication and are seeking materials with an added benefit or “wow factor”. The video display educates the audience on the brand while creating a stronger relationship with each consumer.”

Tura, Inc. reflects the quirky, playful nature of the Ted Baker Eyewear and LuLu Guinness eyewear brands with dynamic POP, says Marketing Director Lidia Parisi.

Ted Baker is positioned as a brand with attitude, appealing to a broad target audience of men and women, both young and the young at heart. Its « out of the ordinary » philosophy is reflected in the POP, which includes a small suitcase and trunks that are, “very quirky, just like Ted Baker,” says Parisi.

The iconic image of LuLu Guinness is a large pair of red lips, which reflects the designer’s individual style and glamour. The red lips are incorporated in a three-piece display and logo ID for the brand.

“We want our POP to have standout value,” Parisi says. “It’s more interesting than traditional merchandising stands and people love it.”

Sàfilo’s POP reflects the company’s position as the purveyor of exclusive luxury brands and helps to create a positive first impression of optical stores that carry them, says Wendy Bertrand, the company’s Toronto-based in-store visual merchandising specialist. “Our products, their packaging and the store environment all reflect that position,” she says.

Sàfilo creates a marketing plan for each account annually, which specifies how the various visual elements will be used. Says Bertrand: “We show clients what’s available for premium displays as well as what’s upcoming and we change it seasonally. For key accounts, windows are changed four to five times a year, using different brands.”

Lighting and movement provide important visual appeal, she adds. “Movement, either in windows or in-store, catches the customer’s attention. Lenticular displays can be used in the front window so the store attracts passers-by, even when it’s closed. Lighted sign holders and Illuminated light box posters are important to accounts, as are videos specific to our brands: our trend video, which talked about the different brands and eyewear trends for summer, was very popular. All of these elements enhance the customer experience and impact the bottom line positively.”

Engaging the Senses

Paco Underhill is president of New York-based Envirosell, an international marketing company that specializes in analyzing the interaction between people and products in commercial spaces. Underhill, who has worked with optical retailers around the world, including Canada, is also the author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (by Simon and Schuster, 1999).

“Every merchant in 2013 is trying to think about all the senses,” he says. “They recognize that managing the customer’s sensory experience can be a powerful subliminal tool. But it often takes a very light hand.”

Here is Underhill’s advice for creating a positive sensory experience for your customers:


Lighting is among the easiest and cheapest ways to improve the quality of the customer experience, he says. Pay attention to the quality of the lighting and match the colour “temperature” to the environment and your customer mix: generally, the more pink-skinned your clients, the warmer the lighting should be, and the more olive-skinned they are, the cooler it should be.

“It’s a matter of making people look as good as possible while they’re wearing your frames,” he says.


Having patients try on frames of different weights is one way to involve their feeling sense, says Underhill. Another is to physically adjust the glasses on the patient’s face.

“Explain that the more money they spend on frames, the lighter they will feel on their face,” he advises. “The time and care you take at this point will earn you customer loyalty.”


There are two elements to this. The first is to eliminate unpleasant sounds. Carpeting can help to absorb sound in a noisy showroom and white noise units also absorb noise and contribute to a peaceful atmosphere.

The second element is music, “A sound track of some kind adds to the pleasure of being in a space and it can be customized to the time and the day,” Underhill notes. “For instance, you might want to play the Beach Boys or Death Cab for Cutie on a Monday morning but Sinatra on Saturday night.”


This can be important in an optical setting where machines are operated, notes Underhill. “You may be oblivious to it but others will notice,” he says.

The underlying smell should always be clean, he adds. “Make sure that any scent you introduce is subtle. You don’t want to overwhelm people. And remember that some people are allergic to scents so ensure that it’s gentle.”

• Taste

You can appeal to your customers’ sense of taste by offering them tea, coffee or a soft drink as part of the welcome process. This helps to put people at ease and gets them talking about their work, lifestyle, etc., all of which has a bearing on their vision needs and challenges.

“When the saliva glands are working, the wallet is looser,” says Underhill.

It’s Time to Celebrate the Leading Men in the Optical Industry!

By Paddy Kamen

Envision: seeing beyond
magazine sent out a call for nominations for men who lead in different sectors of our industry last March. The response was terrific and the nominees were notified in early June. Each one of their stories is truly inspiring. We congratulate these individuals on being nominated by their peers. And the honourees are…..

Category: Designer
Mike Christiansen

Helping people feel great about their appearance is Mike Christiansen’s goal and he achieves that in spades with his optical frame designs.Venus Eye Design is the business founded by Mike and his wife, Brandi, 13 years ago, and he designs all of the company’s eyewear.

“I was working in the industry for other companies and my customers were expressing an interest in frames that no one was creating. I established Venus so I could give them what they wanted. We’ve grown tremendously and six years ago we opened our first eponymous boutique in Edmonton, carrying only Venus brands. We then expanded into Kelowna as a test and, now that we have established the formula with our two stores, we’ll be expanding both nationally and internationally.”

Christiansen must be doing something right to have enjoyed such success. What is his secret?

“I’ve been a strong advocate of colour since I began designing. Once people see what colour can do for them, they love it. Colour makes people happy because it helps to sculpt facial features and enhances eye colour and skin tone. We put our customers in front of the mirror and say ‘look what a bit of colour does for you’.  Invariably they say ‘Wow’.”

There’s a strong emotional component to Christiansen’s design aesthetic. “Our product has more value, I believe, because it is based on how it makes a person feel, rather than relying on a logo or current trends. My designs have stood the test of time for over 13 years and not one has been discontinued. We even have people converting from contacts because Venus glasses improve their appearance.”

Word of mouth is the greatest boost to Christiansen’s success. “We have people travelling from Europe to visit our boutiques, because we have a unique offering. Venus has become an international brand name. It is exclusively distributed and not sold just on price,” he says.

Venus has eight collections, most of which are unisex. The latest is Neutrino, launched in June 2013. “It has a lot of bright translucent colours that let light through,” says Christiansen. “They are softer on the skin tone, with a twist of retro styling, emphasizing the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.”

It’s a source of pride for Christiansen that anyone can find the perfect eyewear from one of the Venus collections.

“I don’t think there are many other brands that have created an entire spectrum of product with such buzz and forward thinking as we have. Venus collections cover everyone from the six-month-old infant all the way up through the six-foot-eight guy with the 62 eye size. And we do it all in style. I have focused my brands and lines to fill the gaps in the market. That is why we’re so successful with our boutiques: the whole extended family can walk in and find something. I don’t know of another label that has achieved that.”

Mike Christiansen is indeed a designer of note and his ambition knows no bounds: “I only hope I can continue to accelerate the industry and put Canada on the map internationally,” he says.

Category: Entrepreneur
Francis Jean

Francis Jean loves his people: that is the key point he was eager to make when speaking with Envision: seeing beyond magazine about his nomination for this feature. “There are 1,300 people who work very hard every day to build IRIS The Visual Group and I appreciate their effort so much,” says Jean, the company’s president and CEO.

Well he might, as IRIS is the largest eyecare network of optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists in Canada, all working under the same brand. “Branding is everything today and the best way to compete in this increasingly difficult industry,” says Jean. “People know and trust the IRIS brand and this only gets stronger with time as we increase our presence in the market. When people ask me what I do for a living, I say, I am a brand builder and I am very passionate about my work.”

The story began in 1986, when Jean opened his first optometry practice in his hometown of Baie-Comeau,QC. He then founded a buying group, engaging several like-minded optometrists who adopted the IRIS trademark in 1990. Since then, IRIS has established itself as the most important branded group of optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists in the country.

Jean decided on a unique business model, one that creates opportunities for independent eyecare professionals to join IRIS and become participating shareholders. “This was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” he says. “I have seen many joint practice groups fail for lack of strong leadership and internal strife. It is much easier to run a successful business of this size with the structure we have created, one where all 110 owner / partners are intimately involved in various committees and decision-making processes. I take advice well and have nine amazing vice-presidents leading this organization with me.

Everyone is very committed to the success of the company and we become better together.”

With 165 locations across Canada, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The company promotes collaborative eyecare, bringing optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists together for the good of the patient.

Three simple values motivate Francis Jean and his team at IRIS: passion, honesty and respect. “We have a strong family culture and we are intent on continuous improvement,” he says. “We track everything in great detail and thus can easily see how everyone on the team ranks. There is a focused effort to learn from the best performers in each area of the business.”

Teamwork extends into Jean’s charitable work, which is hard work indeed. Inspired by his brother Remi’s battle with cancer, Jean has cycled thousands of miles to raise money for cancer research. In 2011, the two brothers and a friend cycled across Canada in 58 weeks. When Envision: seeing beyond magazine caught up with him this summer, he was riding from Vancouver to Jasper, AB, and back, a ride of 2,000 km. These trips have raised almost $200,000 for cancer research.

It’s hard to find a more enthusiastic and energetic entrepreneur than Francis Jean. “I feel 22 years old,” he exclaims. “I’m in great shape!” And, just to make sure I didn’t miss his key point, he adds: “I love my people!”

Category: Leader
Ali Khan

One sure sign of a leader is the ability to bring together people who appear to have very different agendas and align them behind a common purpose. Yavar Ali Khan has done this on both a macro and a micro scale. From his own family to his professional life, Khan is truly a leader.

As one of the founders (along with Dr. Murray Hulbert and Dr. Patrick Quaid) of the Canadian Coalition of Eye Care Professionals (CCEPro), Khan devoted countless hours to its inception and ongoing success. Modeled on the Ontario-based government lobby and consultancy group, the Society of Eye Care Professionals, CCEPro has 1,000 members from across Canada, drawn from optometry, opticianry and ophthalmology. The simple existence of this group is remarkable, given the history of conflict between the professions. The coalition works collaboratively on eyecare issues with the goal of upholding high standards of patient-centered eyecare across Canada.

Khan also brings Canadian optometrists and opticians together through The Khan Group’s Academy of Ophthalmic Education and Optifair trade shows. These events bring continuing education to both professions under the same event umbrella.

Living the proverbial immigrant story, Khan arrived in Canada from Hyderabad,India in 1968 with less than $10 in his pocket. He applied for a job in an optical lab, a position for which he had minimal experience. “I arrived on a Thursday and by Monday I had a job,” he explains. He remains grateful to Dr. Sid Faibish who gave him his first job, and who subsequently recommended that Khan undertake opticianry training. Within five years, his leadership skills became obvious.

When Ryerson University needed to revise its opticianry curriculum in 1976, it turned to Ali Khan. When he finished this task, Ryerson president Walter Pitman gave him a lifetime achievement award in teaching and curriculum development. Pitman also recommended Khan to the Ontario health minister, who appointed him to the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers in 1979. These distinctions and responsibilities came his way after only a few years in Canada.

Doing his best in everything he undertakes has been Khan’s guiding value throughout his life. On the personal front, he had a responsibility to his family in India when he first arrived here at age 24. “My father was a wealthy industrialist who lost everything during the partition of India in 1947. He died when I was 15 and at that point I undertook to work hard and restore the family to a place of security. I worked with diligence to achieve that goal.”

Khan’s example has rubbed off on his two sons, an optometrist and an optician. Both have served as leaders of their professions.

Charitable fundraising is another area in which Khan shows leadership. He has raised over $100,000 for vision-related charities through the Eye Ball Gala, an occasional event held most recently in Toronto in April 2013.

What will Khan’s legacy be? “I want to help achieve the highest standards of practice and the best possible education for ECPs. I also hope that each profession understands the value of its contribution and that they work together collaboratively for the public good.”

Category: Humanitarian
Claude Chagnon 

Claude Chagnon began looking at the world through different coloured glasses about 10 years ago. That’s when he went on his inaugural optical mission to Mexico with a charitable organization called Santa-Cruz. His first big discovery was that he received more than he gave.

“We went to a poverty-stricken region of Mexico. One of my first patients was an old man who was very myopic. He was illiterate and I wondered how improving his vision would help him. He was so excited when he got his new glasses and shared with me that he is a farmer and would now be able to see his cows grazing in the mountains.”

Chagnon, born and raised in Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, was imbued with a helpful spirit from an early age. He credits his parents as an important influence. “I heard my mother say many times, ‘We have to give back what life has given to us.’”

When he was 13, Chagnon needed glasses. His father took him to an ophthalmologist who gave him what Chagnon felt to be a cursory examination. “Then I heard from several of my friends that they went to an optometrist, so I asked my dad if I could go, too,” says Chagnon. “I was impressed with the time the optometrist spent with me, and his explanations of my condition. I decided then and there to become an optometrist and never waivered from that goal.” Studies at the University of Montreal’s School of Optometry led Chagnon to his professional designation at age 23.

The optical mission work began about a decade ago when Chagnon was employed at Costco and the departmental administrator there suggested he consider volunteering. Chagnon says he ‘caught the volunteering virus’ and it has stayed with him ever since. “I saw so many people who, although they were just myopic or hyperopic, could not see, study or read,” he says. “Our work helps them to discover the world. It is like putting on a light in a darkened room.”

The experience transformed him. “I discovered how privileged I am and how easy it is to take our many blessings for granted. Going on an optical mission can really change your values and your perception of modern life. I know I have changed a great deal as a result of this work and I am so thankful for it.”

As Chagnon points out, most poor people in the world don’t have the opportunity to see eyecare professionals. “They can’t afford an eye exam and some people don’t even realize that glasses can help them see better.”

To date, he has travelled to Mexico, Ecuador, Romania ,Morocco, Tunisia and Peru. Like all volunteers with Oeuvre VOSH Santa-Cruz (the organization is now a chapter of VOSH: Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), he pays his own airfare plus a $300 donation to the organization on each trip.

“It’s the need that keeps us going back,” he says. “And the people appreciate it so much: they hug and kiss you, and often they cry. It’s very dramatic and heart warming.”

Category: Trailblazer
Alan Ulsifer

Trailblazing requires vision, planning and a lot of plain hard work to hack out a new path. But first it requires motivation and Alan Ulsifer has that in spades.

It was a strong sense of motivation and purpose that led the Saskatoon-raised, Waterloo-trained Ulsifer to the Alberta city of Airdrie to join his first practice in 1990. After four years, he moved to Grand Prairie, a city known for its strong entrepreneurial spirit. There he established a partnership with two other optometrists. They thrived and began opening up locations under the name Northern Vision Centre, which developed into one of Canada’s largest independent optometric practices.

That level of success would have been enough for most professionals, but Ulsifer came up with an even better business concept in 2006.

“I was at the Las Vegas Vision Expo show and I came to understand free-form lenses and the software that created them, and I saw the opportunity to vertically integrate the optometric practice and really create value,” says Ulsifer. “I returned home to Alberta and shared the vision with my partners. We then invited 10 other practices to join us in a two-day meeting to talk about market challenges and opportunities. I didn’t have high expectations but I felt we had to try.”

Everyone at that meeting ‘caught the bug’ and agreed to form a new company; thus, FYidoctors was born. It took about two years to set up the infrastructure and plan, says Ulsifer. “We were now one company and we needed common accounting practices, a new lab and a distribution center,” he notes. “We started our own free-form lab in Burnaby, beginning with a 3,000-square-foot facility. Now we have 10 times that amount of space in a fully robotic lab and exclusive Canadian distribution of 15 products.”

As CEO of FYidoctors, Ulsifer led the largest corporate merger in Canadian history, based on the number of companies involved. How’s that for trailblazing? He was awarded the Ernst and Young Emerging Entrepreneur Award for the Prairie Region in 2008 and the overall Canadian Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Award in 2012.

With 107 practices from the Maritimes to B.C. currently in the fold, FYidoctors is now set on a steady and aggressive course of acquisitions. An Internet-based public portal will soon be launched, with an emphasis on serving existing customers with branded frames and lenses, and new technology that will allow Burnaby-based opticians to do virtual measurements and let the patient shop online for the perfect frame for her specific needs. The online option will be supported by the bricks and mortar locations and vice versa.

What does the word ‘trailblazer’ mean to Alan Ulsifer? “Game changer, sh*t disturber,” he says with a laugh. “Any good business needs to rethink itself and adapt to changing times. I think our team has managed to change the game within an industry that was slow to transform. We have found and continue to find opportunities within the eyecare industry, while always putting patient care first. While I may complain from time to time, I find juggling the many aspects of this business really fun and exciting.”

Spoken like a true trailblazer.

In closing, congratulations to our honourees for service, risk-taking, leading others, creating value and inspiring us all to reach our highest potential!

Meeting the Blue Light Challenge

By JoAnne Sommers

These days, it’s impossible to escape blue light. TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets and e-readers bombard our eyes with blue light emissions day and night.

Electronic devices aren’t the only culprits. Energy-saving light bulbs (notably LEDs) may be “green” but they also emit a significant proportion of blue light (also known as High-Energy Visible [HEV] light). While present in natural light, blue light occurs in abnormal proportions in artificial light sources.

Blue/HEV light covers wavelengths from 380 to 500 nanometers (nm). Although the eyes’ natural filters block UV light, they do not block blue/HEV light, meaning it is able to pass through the cornea, the crystalline lens and the vitreous and potentially damage the retina. HEV light is toxic for the crystalline lens and retina which can lead to retinal cell death and early cataract formation.

Now, multiple lens manufacturers have developed new products designed to address the dangers posed by blue light.

Dr. Francine Behar-Cohen is founder of the INSERM (French Institute of Health and Medical Research) 598 Unit, which is dedicated to the physiopathology of ocular illness. She says that HEV light has long been identified as the most dangerous light for the retina. “After chronic exposure, one can expect… (long term)… growth of macular degenerations, glaucomas and retinal degenerative diseases.”

There is also a growing body of evidence that cumulative lifetime exposure to blue wavelength light increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to Alexander Wunsch, a German photobiologist and physician, energy-saving lamps, and more generally fluorescent lamps, emit light containing an excessively significant proportion of short wavelengths.

“Chronic exposure to a short-wavelength light highly contributes to macular degeneration,” he says.

Blue light, which scatters easily, can also reduce contrast and add to eye fatigue, or digital eyestrain, which is now the number one computer-related complaint in the U.S.

Nor is digital eyestrain limited to adults or the workplace. Because of their growing use of digital devices, children are also at risk.

The problems don’t end there. Evidence is mounting that exposure to blue light may lead to a whole host of other concerns. The Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Letter says that at night, light disrupts the body’s biological clock – the circadian rhythm – resulting in sleep problems. Research shows that it may also contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

“Blue wavelengths – which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and mood – seem to be the most disruptive at night,” says the Letter. “And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.”

Such an aggressive visual environment calls for special lens products and several companies have responded accordingly.

In 2012, Nikon introduced SeeCoat Blue to the Canadian market. It was the first in a new category of functional anti-reflective (AR) coatings that reduce blue light, while enhancing contrast and helping to reduce digital eyestrain, says Tibor Martz, director of Nikon’s Technical Assistance Groups.

“We wanted to eliminate a portion of the harmful blue light with a product that, unlike a sunglass, can be used indoors,” he explains.

SeeCoat Blue is a lens coating specifically designed to filter HEV light, as opposed to a tint, adds Martz. On the front and back of the lens the AR is applied in such a way that it effectively eliminates a portion of blue light in the 380-500 nm range. The amount of blue light that is blocked varies, depending on the intensity of blue light present.

According to the ISO (International Organization for Standardization), blue light hazard function peaks at 435 to 440 nm, while LEDs peak at 440 to 455 nm.

SeeCoat Blue effectively improves contrast and reduces ocular stress, says Martz, while combining all the benefits of the latest coatings: scratch-resistance, anti-glare, dust elimination and antistatic properties. It also reduces the proportion of HEV light reaching the retina in order to protect visual health.

SeeCoat Blue is available on all Nikon Rx lenses that are also available with SeeCoat Plus.

The market for SeeCoat Blue is wide open, says Martz. “It includes kids who play video games, as well as both eyeglass wearers and non-wearers,” he says. “It’s largely untapped, much like the market for sunscreen in an earlier era.”

Essilor’s Crizal Prevencia™ is a clear lens that features selective photo-protection. Selective AR technology filters out harmful UV and blue-violet light while allowing essential light, including blue light, to pass through, and ensuring excellent transparency.

The lens, which will be launched in September, provides the best protection against UV and blue light, says Sakina Barrault, Essilor Canada’s senior brand manager.

“Crizal Prevencia is unique in that it only blocks the blue-violet light (415-455 nm) that damages retinal cells, while letting essential light, including blue-turquoise, pass through,” she explains.

Blue-turquoise light, which is in the 465 to 495 nm range, aids the pupillary constriction reflex and activates melatonin, which regulates mood, cognitive function and memory.

“Crizal Prevencia blocks twice as much blue-violet light as its competitors while allowing good colour perception and vision and keeping the lens transparent,” says Barrault. “Essilor has done tests with the Paris Institute of Vision which show that those who used Crizal Prevencia had a 25 per cent decrease in the death of retinal cells. At that rate, it could alleviate the cumulative risk of AMD.”

By blocking blue-violet light, the lens improves contrast and alleviates eye fatigue, adds Barrault. “It also benefits from the UV protection of Crizal lenses, giving you clarity of vision, while it eliminates glare, scratches, smudges, dust and water.”

The AR layer on the backside of the lens features Broad Spectrum technology, which virtually eliminates UV rays reflected into the eye from that location, she adds. “Ours are the only lenses with backside protection, which means they provide complete UV protection.”

Crizal Prevencia has the same availability as Crizal Forte lenses.

“It’s designed for adults, especially those over 45, who are more prone to cataracts and AMD than younger adults, as well as children, whose eyes allow in six times as much radiation as adult eyes,” says Barrault. “AMD results from a cumulative effect so the sooner you start to reduce risk, the better.”

HOYA’s Recharge™ is an anti-reflective lens treatment that reflects harmful blue light away from the eyes, while ensuring that the portion of blue light needed for optimal contrast and other health benefits is allowed to pass through the lens.

“Recharge reduces blue light by about 30 per cent in the HEV light range (380 to 500 nm),” says Maria Petruccelli, director of the professional business division, HOYA Vision Care Canada. “It increases contrast and visual sharpness, reduces glare, and provides a measure of protection from blue light risks. It also provides HOYA AR quality on physical attributes, including adhesion, scratch resistance, longevity and cleanability.”

Because Recharge helps to protect against the accumulated potential harmful effects of blue light, it may be prescribed for HEV light reduction to lower the long-term risk of blue light associated with retinal damage and cataracts, she says.

The eye has many natural defences against UV rays and blue light but they deteriorate as we age, Petruccelli notes. “The eye loses its ability to absorb rays harmlessly and releases them as free radicals. So Recharge adds a new health dimension to the benefits ascribed to lens coatings.”

Recharge is available on all HOYA FreeForm lenses (progressives, ST and single vision). “We also included our targeted designs for computer wear-TACT and Nulux Active. We want as many patients as possible to enjoy the benefits of blue light reduction.”

In June 2012, Eye Solutions Technologies LLC announced the launch of the BluTech Lens™ with H.E.L.P. (High Energy Light Protection) Technology. These patented lenses filter high-energy blue and UV light using ocular lens pigment (OLP) combined with melanin infused in a high-impact lens material (ANSI standard Z87.1).

“This is a breakthrough technology that could provide a medical benefit to millions of patients,” says COO David Israel. “We isolated the pigment in the crystalline lens of the eye that provides natural blue light filtration and combined it with melanin, to create what we refer to as ‘nature’s sunglass.’ It filters out light in the 400 nm range while allowing good light (in the 450 nm range) to come through and maintaining natural colour vision and improved contrast sensitivity. This makes them ideal for everyday wear.”

The Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test is the standard for measuring colour vision. A normal healthy eye makes one or two mistakes on the test and BluTech lenses get the same result, says Israel.

The lenses have a high Abbe value – 46 – for optimal clarity, combined with improved contrast and glare reduction.

BluTech lenses are designed for a wide range of wearers, from children through seniors, he adds.

“One market is kids, since they’re born without ocular lens pigment, which develops as they get older. Another is older people, particularly those predisposed to AMD, which includes people who have a poor diet, smokers, etc. Scientific studies point to blue light as a significant factor in the progression of AMD so it makes sense to try to protect their eyes.”

BluTech sun lenses are available polarized, and in either a brown or grey tint. Indoor lenses have a light brown tint, which is visually soothing to the wearer. “We have finished lenses only for indoors, and plano lenses for indoors and outdoors,” says Israel.

Centennial Optical recently introduced BluTech lenses to Canada and Rick Leroux, the company’s director of marketing and communications (Lens Division), says the early response to the product is very positive.

“Patients are requesting BluTech lenses from optometrists so there’s consumer demand for them. And the optometrists who dispense them are pleased with the results.”

Anyone can benefit from BluTech lenses, he adds.

“There’s a bit of an epidemic of AMD in North America and with the population aging, growing numbers of people are at risk. Anyone with a family history of AMD has a high level of risk and those with lighter-coloured eyes are at a somewhat greater risk of developing AMD. Plus, people of all ages are subjected to a great deal of blue light indoors. BluTech lenses represent an effective preventative measure without any side effects.”

The outdoor version provides up to UV500 protection and has a pleasing brown tint, he notes. “They are polarized with 80 per cent light absorption to eliminate glare, and they provide good contrast, colour and depth perception.”

The finished indoor version comes with an AR coating on both sides and features a slight brown tint, which can help to alleviate eyestrain.

Centennial’s BluTech product offerings are available in a wide range of finished, semi-finished and custom lenses.

Signet Armorlite introduced BluTech lenses to the U.S. market in 2012. The company uses BluTech Hi Impact 1.56 (indoor and outdoor) and BluTech 1.50 materials, says Associate Product Marketing Manager Lynne Roberts.

BluTech 1.50 (indoor) is available in Kodak Unique™ progressive lenses; Kodak Precise® PB and Precise Short PB progressive lenses; the Kodak MonitorView™ Lens (computer lens); and the Signetek™ processed Single Vision Lens.

BluTech Hi Impact 1.56 (indoor and outdoor) is available in Kodak Unique™ Progressive lenses; Kodak Precise PB and Precise Short PB Progressive lenses; the Kodak MonitorView™ Lens (indoor only); the Signetek™ processed single vision lens; and the Signetek processed Flat-Top 28.

“Our lenses use different forms of pigments combined with Kodak lens designs, which we consider a huge selling point,” says Roberts. “Consumers recognize and trust the Kodak name and many people are very loyal to the Kodak Unique lens design.”

The company has had a great response to the lenses, she adds. “Everyone is excited about BluTech, particularly because it has the potential to help those with a genetic predisposition to AMD.”

Look What’s New in Lenses

Company: Oakley
Product: Sport Specific Progressive lenses

Oakley’s Sport Specific Progressive lenses are designed for the way presbyopes need to see when cycling, golfing or fishing.

Oakley’s cycling lens was designed so the distance zone is significantly wider, the periphery clearer, the intermediate longer, and the near electronic zone is sized just right for the computer.

Golf lenses require clear vision in a large-enough distance zone vertically and horizontally to see the flag while standing at the tee. There, the chin is down and the ball needs to be seen clearly; when you’re putting, approximately the same distance is required, combined with the same need for clear vision. Finally, full add power is needed for scoring.

Oakley True Digital Golf is designed with a wider distance, while it increases the availability of the intermediate. The rate of power change is slower and stabilized for a longer intermediate. The rate of change ramps to only about half the add power, about 13 mm below the fitting cross. This is more consistent with golf’s “far mid-range” requirement, i.e. seeing the ball clearly while putting through the “putting zone” or at the tee, about four to five feet away. Oakley True Digital Golf finishes with a small add for scoring or reading the club’s menu.

Oakley True Digital Fishing provides a wide distance for a broad area of visibility and a large near for baiting, while providing enough intermediate and overall clarity for boating tasks. By extending the length of the intermediate, peripheral clarity can be enhanced while controlling usefulness of the near.

For complete product specifications, visit


Company: Rodenstock
Product: Multigressiv MyView 2

In June 2013, Rodenstock will release the Multigressiv MyView® 2, with new technology that implements different cylinder powers and axes between the near and distance: all in one progressive lens.

Listing’s Law is the principle that governs three-dimensional eye movements. The eye rotates with three degrees of freedom: it can rotate about: 1) a vertical axis to generate horizontal eye movements, 2) a horizontal axis to generate vertical eye movements, and 3) the line of sight to generate torsional eye movements.

MyView 2 corrects for the effect of Listing’s Law, says Rodenstock National Sales and Marketing Manager Martin Bell . “The rotation of the eyeball when viewing away from the standard gaze causes the relative astigmatic axis to change. If the prescription axis on the lens does not match the prescription axis on the eye itself, then the effective astigmatism reaching the retina is not fully corrected. To achieve sharper acuity, this axis change, both at near and at distance, should be corrected.

Multigressiv MyView 2 lenses will have the prescribed axis in the central area of the lens. This axis will be compensated according to Listing’s Law, giving a different axis in the distance periphery and another axis in the near zone. This compensation will give the wearer the effective prescribed axis in all areas of the lens, resulting in up to 25 per cent better vision in the near and intermediate zones (over Rodenstock’s MyView design).


Company: Transitions Optical
Product: Transitions Vantage lenses

Transitions® Vantage™ lenses are revolutionary everyday adaptive lenses designed to both darken and polarize upon UV exposure to deliver noticeably crisper, sharper vision, even in the brightest outdoor glare. They not only adapt to changing light but also increase polarization as they darken, optimizing the angle at which light reaches the eyes to help control glare and light scatter.

The lenses feature variable polarization; they start out virtually clear/non-polarized indoors; outdoors, they darken and polarize. This technology provides the first polarized product that can be worn everyday as an alternative to ordinary, clear lenses.

Transitions Vantage is an everyday lens for patients who want superior vision and those who appreciate a vibrant visual experience, as well as early adopters who enjoy using the latest technological innovations, says Isabelle Tremblay-Dawson, Transitions Optical’s marketing manager for Canada.

They are available in single-vision and progressive lens designs from Carl Zeiss, Essilor, HOYA Vision Care and Nikon Optical, among others, she notes, adding that Transitions Vantage lenses come in most materials; eyecare professionals (ECPs) can contact their lab to determine specific availability.

Transitions Vantage™ demo tools (demo lens card and glare simulator) are also available for purchase.

For further information, visit the Transitions website at


Company: Younger Optics
Product: Transitions Drivewear

Details:This fall, Younger Optics will release Transitions® Drivewear® sunglasses.

Drivewear sunglasses mark the beginning of the rebranding of the company’s highly successful Drivewear lenses. They are an extension of the Transitions Drivewear line, says Uzo Ubani, Younger’s country manager, Canada.

“For the first time patients will be able to visit an optical store and buy a pair ofplanoor Rx Transitions Drivewear sunglasses, in a fully branded Transitions Drivewear frame,” he notes. “In the past, they were only available as Rx semi-finished lenses.”

Drivewear lenses combine Transitions photochromic technology and Younger’s NuPolar® polarized lens technology to create a dynamic sun lens that will darken behind your car windshield, says Ubani. And while they were originally envisioned as driving lenses, Drivewear works well for a variety of activities, he adds.

“Golfers say they help to reduce their handicaps; Drivewear is also popular with boaters, fishermen and cyclists, among others,” he says. “Anyone who works outside in a dynamically changing environment can benefit from them.”

Transitions Drivewear lenses are activated by UV and regular ambient light, changing colour, depending on light conditions, because of their Transitions photochromic component. On an overcast day they are green/yellow, which brightens the environment, soothing the eyes and making it easier to drive in overcast conditions. In bright sunny conditions, they turn a copper colour inside the car and when you wear them outdoors in the sun they turn a dark reddish-brown.

Accessories: Giving Customers What They Want

By JoAnne Sommers

Accessories for eyewear just make sense. They combine the benefit of impulse purchases (usually good for both consumer and retailer – just think of the last candy bar or magazine you bought while standing in line at the grocery store) with the allure and seduction of fashion, and the necessity of tender loving care for those expensive lenses.

And make no mistake, people get a thrill from wonderful packaging. Apple was on to that some time ago and they’ve made an art of it. Leaving any store with something elegantly packaged and tastefully branded just makes us feel special.

Then there’s the matter of looking good once purchasers get home with their treasures, then head out into the world with their glasses. Will they be wearing matching jewelry? Today, there two companies leading the way with wonderfully hip jewelry that complements eyewear. And when a woman takes her eyeglass case out of her bag, does the case make an impression? Does the cleaning cloth speak taste and refinement while mentioning the name of the optical retail from whence it came?

There are so many good reasons to sell accessories in the optical store. Here are the latest products from Canadian accessory manufacturers and distributors, so you can plan ahead with ways to wow your customers even further.


Shilling Optical wants their customers to ‘give away something better,’ and, according to President Howard Shilling, the best cleaning cloth on the market is the microfibre cloth from Microclair. “They use only high-end Japanese textiles with 50 per cent nylon. The high proportion of nylon is what is needed for coated lenses. Other cloths are 80 per cent polyester and because of that, they don’t do the job anywhere near as well. If you sell a product that’s hard to clean, which coated lenses are, how can you not give them the tools to clean them properly?

“Our clients see the value in giving high-end cleaning accessories to customers with their eyeglass purchase,” says Shilling. “Especially when they are custom labeled to reflect the high-end integrity of the business. And the percentage value of this gift is totally in keeping with the cost of the eyewear purchase.”

Eyeglass cases with extra attention to detail are the other key piece of the Shilling offering. “We always present products in a nicer way, so, for example, we have cases available with inserts so the case can be adjusted for the particular frame, ensuring that the frame always fits well within the case.”

With 75 case models available from Shilling, there are bound to be a few that really stand out. One is a novelty case that, when open, looks like a ladies’ high heel shoe. This makes an attractive display item in the store. The reversible case is popular with kids. And the ‘Animal’ case in printed vinyl mimics the animal prints often found on eyeglass temples.

Doc & Associates is a Montreal-based eyewear and accessories importer and distributor. Over the years, founder and President Doris Ouellet has observed a growing and changing accessories market, making the eyewear business increasingly fashion-oriented.

“Accessories are a big part of a worldwide sales phenomenon and, more than ever, non-prescription sunwear and readers are used as fashion accessories to complement a look or add to a garment style. So if retailers are smart, they can increase their sales by understanding this new trend and capitalizing on it. They need to be more creative and start thinking out of the box. Readers are a good example of expanding your offering to include items that customers want and need.” 

Doc & Associates offers the Simon Chang readers collection. “He gives reading glasses a fresh look,” says Ouellet. “These are a far cry from traditional reading glasses. All Simon Chang glasses are constructed of the finest handmade optical materials and feature optical-quality and distortion-free lenses. Each pair is designed for fit and comfort.” In addition, non-Rx sunwear under the label of the British pop singing group One Direction is available from Doc & Associates.

Centennial Optical’s Bruno Gismondi is director of marketing for the company’s frames division. Two years ago, he launched custom-printed cloths and cleaning solutions. “In addition to our price point, the main attraction is that we customize everything with whatever the customer wants. One client did a Christmas cartoon image on one side and his hours of operation on the other side, and gave it away as a Christmas promotion to new and existing customers. These things have a long shelf life and people use and appreciate them.”

Also from Centennial are fashion eyeglass cases.Linda Mulford-Hum, director of frames, shops for the latest case trends at international shows like Mido and Silmo. “We try to offer something for everyone,” she explains. “From the basic cases to those designed with fashion trends in mind. This spring and summer, we have polka dots and metallic case covers, and denim is big as well.”

Mulford-Hum is seeing a shift in popular styles toward semi-hard cases. “They’re not as bulky and people prefer that. If you have a case for sunwear and one for glasses, you need a big purse. Collapsible cases are popular, too. And fabric coverings are coming back, which is fun because you have more options in fabrics.”

Personalized cases are also in vogue and make for good, inexpensive advertising, points out Mulford-Hum. “It’s not only the customer who sees the case but so do her friends when she takes it out of her purse.”

Cynthia Shapiro, founder of Europa International and Cinzia Designs, was one of the first to recognize the viability of readers as fashion accessories. Her business acumen led her to see the demographic trend toward people needing readers and she realized that there was nothing attractive on the market, let alone good quality at a reasonable price.

When she began her reader collection, the market only had readers available in black and brown. Now, high-fashion, optical-grade readers and sunglasses for both men and women are available within the flagship Cinzia and Trendies collections. While Cinzia tends to be more conservative, with pieces designed to appeal for many years to come, Trendies offers light-hearted and playful pieces in line with the most current colour trends and fashions.

Shapiro also saw the link between fashionable readers and jewelry, initially using necklaces as a way to hold readers when they weren’t being used. “There’s a very good market for this combination and we started selling them in clothing and accessory boutiques. At first, eyewear retailers couldn’t see it but they came around and now optical sales are strong.”

Today, Shapiro’s collections have expanded to other accessories as well. As she says, “Just as there is an outfit for every occasion, so there is a scarf, necklace, watch, handbag and attractive reader case for every woman with Cinzia readers.”

Shapiro’s collections are distributed in Canada by Cenoco.

McCray Optical Supply has new sports cases for the upcoming season, with loops so customers can attach them to belts, gym bags or purses. “They’re made from semi-hard, lightweight neoprene,” says Operations Manager Shiu-ChiMo.

Metallic and floral print cases match trends in apparel. “We have lovely, bright colours for the ladies for spring and summer,” says Mo.“And although darker colours are consistently popular, it is always easier to find a brighter case in one’s purse.”

McCray also carries a variety of sunglass cases for the larger, deeper sizes of sunwear. “We’ve been getting a lot of requests for these. We have faux snake prints and black patent in leatherette. We even have extra large sizes,” notes Mo.

Cases, cloths, cleaning bottles, and even bags can be personalized. The artwork is done by McCray’s in-house designer with fast turnaround times.

Chains and cords with semi-precious stones and baubles are available from McCray in many different styles. Non-woven, reusable bags are available for product presentation. “These are durable and small,” notes Mo.“If you personalize them, they become excellent advertising because people definitely re-use them.”

A new anti-fog gel cleaner will be introduced soon, in a squeeze bottle sold in a kit with a cloth. And for summer, check out their new floater cords. “These are invaluable for people who spend time on or around the water,” explains Mo.

New readers are also available from McCray, with bright design elements on the temples, while most of the readers have spring hinges. 

La LOOP, the New York-based innovator of eyewear-related jewelry, has become an international presence in high-end optical accessories. These are the solution to the everyday problem, ‘where did I put my glasses’, while also being an invention worthy of a presence in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Their patented technology consists of hinges on either side of every loop. The hinges work with gravity and swivel in every direction, moving with the wearer. The glasses stay securely in the loop, flat against the body and easily accessible. The loop sits at the bottom of these stylish necklaces.

La LOOP materials are of the highest quality. Pearls are real freshwater pearls, shells come from the beaches of New Zealand, leather is from Italy, and the silver is sterling quality. Handmade in the U.S., new collections are released twice a year, designed by founder Elizabeth Faraut and her team. One recent new design is the Le Collier Reader Necklace, which has two +2.0 magnifying lenses. Another new model, the La LOOP Monocle combines fun colors like fuchsia and turquoise of the round crystal monocle with the quality Italian leather of the necklace.

La LOOP is worn by celebrities, including Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Heidi Klum, and is sold in stores and specialty boutiques around the world, including Bon Marché in Paris, Harrods in London, Optical Shops of Aspen and Bergdorf Goodman in America.

Ronor International has a new Essentials line. “We cannot imagine a consumer buying eyewear today and not receiving a case,” says General Manager,  Accessories Division, Martin Pauzé.  “While everyone is offering a case these days, our customers like to offer unexpected extras to their customers: the cloth and cleaner packaged together in a nice bag. Added to expert, personalized service, these extras would definitely differentiate the independent practice from the competition, helping to increase customer loyalty, while promoting the practice.”

A revolutionary new biotechnology-derived cleaner is also available from Ronor International. MULTI CLEAN +, is free of chemicals, including VOCs, and independently certified as safe for AR coatings. “It is the safest cleaner for the environment and perfect for consumers who are sensitive to chemicals, as it is hypoallergenic,” explains Pauzé,

Reading glasses from Ronor International in a wide variety of colours and shapes make the I Need You collection shine, according to Pauzé.  The collection features standardized PD (31/31), aspheric lenses with anti-scratch coating, in compliance with CE standards and come with a one-year warrantee against manufacturer defect. “The POP display that fits 24 readers ensures effortless sales!” he adds.

Microclair is one of the leaders in the Canadian optical accessory market, all the more so for manufacturing their products here at home. They have also become leaders in the eco-friendly products field.

“As a socially responsible company, we have replaced all our vinyl packaging with cardboard obtained from sustainable forests,” explains President Leila Fakhouri. “We’ve also created a hard case made from an eco-friendly plastic.”

Of course, the premium microfibre cloth for which Microclair is so well known is also eco-friendly in that it is reusable. “We’re working hard to get the whole product line into environmentally sustainable materials. We got out on the front edge and the response is very encouraging.”

Microclair’s anti-fog treatment, introduced in 2012, is a long-lasting formula and safe for use on all types of lenses. “It is very popular with sports people,” says Fakhouri. “Our promotional program offer includes a matching cloth and a cleaner, personalized in all pantone colours using water-base inks that are safe for the environment. Our bottles are all refillable, giving customers a good reason to come back to your store. Quality and design are our specialty. Our prices are only slightly higher than the competition, and you get amazing packaging and high-quality, Canadian-made goods.”

Hilco was built as a solutions company for the eyecare profession, with innovative tools and safety eyewear that lead the industry, and practice brand-building ideas that are a real focus for its customers, says Canadian Sales Manager Don Coulson. “We recognized that independent ECPs had to be concerned about branding their businesses in light of big box retailers who have massive ad and marketing budgets. What are customers walking out of the store with? If they don’t have a lens care kit for their frames, or something to protect their eyes while playing sports or from UV rays, then the practitioner is not meeting their needs or doing their job. And everything that leaves with that patient is a chance to brand the practice.”

Hilco recently solidified its presence in the branding field by acquiring i-Promotions, a St. Louis-based supplier of eyecare supplies, accessories and promotional products. President Bob Nahmias says, “i-Promotions adds practice identity and logo creation services and expands our product range to printed materials and thousands of promotional products for in-office use or community outreach.”

Coulson defines an accessory as, “anything the patient walks out with that isn’t the optical correction eyewear they came in for. Most patients who need safety eyewear for hobbies or sports don’t necessarily know they need it when they come in for their regular glasses,” he explains. “And if the ECPs have the product and ask the right questions, they will be serving patients better and maximizing revenue opportunities.”

Prisme Optical Group has a beautiful collection of readers. “We had these specially made for us, to serve the practitioner who wants to carry better quality readers,” says President Richard Stortini. “It is our contention that specialty stores should carry quality product to distinguish them from the cheap stuff that is so widely available. The Lecto Color collection reflects this philosophy.”

The Lecto Color collection has readers in both acetate and stainless steel, for men and women. Stortini says, “We have some great shapes and funky colours. Customers love to pick them up as an extra pair for the car, bedside table or purse. The frames are so nice that some people want to put Rx lenses in them.”

Prisme continues to sell over 50 different models of chains, as well as cloths for private labeling. “One of our customers put a painting by her husband on one side of the cloth and her store information on the other,” notes Stortini. “It made for a very impressive take-away gift for her clientele.” He adds that the investment needed to acquire a good selection of quality accessories is actually quite low but that the yield at the end of the year in terms of add-on sales can easily be triple the investment. “Plus, you’re providing your customers with products they want and will value.”

Gifts, upsells, add-ons… however you look at it, the time is now to make sure customers know they can count on you for all their eyewear needs, and then some!

Ophthalmic Equipment Takes a Giant Leap: Who Benefits?

By Paddy Kamen

We’re seeing a renaissance in the ability of new ophthalmic equipment to diagnose and refract. Does this mean a bigger investment for practitioners? And how do end users benefit?

When something such as our ability to observe disease within the eye takes a giant leap forward, I think we can rightly say we have a paradigm shift on our hands. Such is the case with optical coherence tomography (OCT), a new technology that began as a research tool and leapt into optical practices a mere six years ago.

Tools for refraction have also taken giant strides forward with the commercialization of wavefront aberrometry. We cover this development later in this story, but first: OCT – what is exactly is it?

The word ‘tomography’ means imaging and is used in medicine to connote taking pictures of the interior of the body. OCT takes high-resolution, cross-sectional images of biological systems by measuring reflected light; it has been used to study the human eye since 1993.

Dr. Ralph Chou, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry, says, “OCT looks through interference effects at the reflection of light off the various structures within the retina or cornea, and can resolve on the level of micrometres, so we’re looking at individual cells. It represents a quantum leap in what we are able to detect because we can actually see where changes have occurred in the living eye, without inconveniencing patients. We can now watch, monitor and see whether a treatment is working or not.”

Are OCTs becoming the new standard of practice? Chou says that while the cost of the equipment is prohibitive for many, “You must, at a minimum, be able to interpret OCT images. It is becoming the standard of practice and the level of care we have to understand and deliver. Even if you don’t have an OCT machine, you need to understand it so you can counsel the patient accordingly.”

Richard Maharaj notes that OCT is already becoming the new standard south of the border, especially in ophthalmic practice. The clinical director at eyeLABS optometry and dry eye clinic in Brampton,Ontario says, “Not many in optometry practices have OCT equipment yet, but sales are on the rise. In Ontario, where our scope of practice has changed, a lot of my colleagues are looking to purchase.”

Wavefront aberrometers also represent quite a jump in assessing vision. Ralph Chou explains: “Aberrometers project beams of light through the pupil. They don’t just measure at the very centre of the pupil but at a number of different points. Depending on the instrument, it can measure several thousand or more points within the pupil. The instrument has its own computerized system to analyze the findings and see which aberrations are dominant and which are not.”

Chou says that aberrometers are becoming more common because they have so many different uses.

Wayne Stobie, director of marketing for Innova, agrees with Chou and adds that aberrometers were originally designed to measure the eye for the most effective refractive surgery. Subsequently, they have been used for premium cataract surgery, and more recently, for wavefront-guided refractions for spectacles and contact lenses.

Maharaj takes a ‘devil’s advocate’ point of view on the subject of the relationship between measuring equipment and lenses: “The vendors who provide the equipment have also, in many cases, developed lenses to correct the aberrations they have just identified. So they’ve created their own market, which is very clever. At the same time, I have put patients through wavefront refraction and they have been astounded with the resulting quality of their vision. It definitely makes a difference to some patients. I wonder if we should recommend this all the time or just for patients with higher aberrations? »

Mayur Desai, owner of Toronto-based Downtown Eyecare Associates, purchased the Zeiss iProfiler® in 2009. Why did he make this investment? “I wanted to offer the best technology to help us provide comprehensive, hospital-grade diagnostic testing for the patient during the course of the eye exam,” he explains. “I was also aware that patients were having trouble getting access to the best testing within the traditional healthcare model. Typically they can wait up to three months for appropriate testing in Ontario.”

Desai gives the Zeiss i.Scription® Rx as an option to all his clients, informing them that it would be the best lens choice within a range of options. “What makes the lenses unique is that the optical aberration measurements give the lens an accuracy of 1/100 of a diopter. They are the most highly customized lenses available,” he explains.

Desai adds that people who have trouble reading in low-light conditions and have problems driving at night are perfect candidates for this technology. “This is because the aberrations become more problematic when the pupil is dilated. The system corrects for these types of imperfections.”

Since he initially purchased his aberrometer four years ago, Desai sees more of his colleagues investing in similar equipment, in addition to OCTs (which he also has). “They clearly want to raise the level of care in their practices,” he notes.

Ralph Chou weighs in on the benefits to the end-user obtained from the use of wavefront aberrometry: “There’s no doubt in my mind that new lens products designed from aberrometer readings will give patients the best possible correction that technology can deliver. The question is, will the patient put out the money for them?”


In the rest of this article, we survey various new equipment options available to eyecare professionals (ECPs).  We cover a wide range of equipment, including several OCT machines and aberrometers, plus edgers, surfacers, and even an iPad application for office use.

Innova has provided ongoing equipment consultancy and support to Canadian eyecare professionals since 1986. Their engineers work with clinicians, helping them integrate technology into their practices. Wayne Stobie, Innova’s director of marketing, is particularly excited about the new systems from Nidek.

“OCT is quickly becoming the standard of care in practices acrossCanada,” notes Stobie. “In only six years we’ve seen huge developments in the quality and quantity of OCT technology, and the instruments are now affordable for every office. Our Nidek RS-3000L boasts next-generation SD-OCT design functions, including dizzying measurement speed (53,000 Hz), 6+1 layer segmentation, and 50 X HD macula scans. In addition, the RS-3000L has intuitive reporting, incorporating normative databases to ensure that treatment decisions can be made with confidence.”

Innova also offers the OPD-Scan III, a unique, advanced vision-assessment system that combines topography, wavefront, autorefraction, keratometry and pupillometry. As a stand-alone unit, or when combined with a Nidek refraction system, the OPD-Scan III optimizes efficiencies and helps to provide excellent eyecare while growing the practice’s optical revenue through increased directed dispensing. Stobie explains: “Nidek products work and speak together to walk clinicians through the whole refraction process, whether they are measuring for corrective laser surgery (Nidek makes a laser), cataract surgery or for eyeglasses or contact lenses.”

Essilor offers new tools to help eyecare professionals measure wrap, vertex, pantoscopic angle and eye rotation centre, with the ultimate aim of creating a superior visual experience for clients. The Essilor Visioffice® is for professionals who want to showcase their skills, while providing products that are better adapted to each consumer.

Visioffice performs and records up to 20 measurements, including the real 3D position of the unique eye rotation centre for each eye. The system recommends the best lens solution for every prescription, while also giving the client personalized, interactive demonstrations of the effects of different lens options. The system also takes photos of the clients in different frames, so that they can compare them from an aesthetic viewpoint. Visioffice is designed specifically for the high-end Varilux lens specialist. The newly introduced Swing3 is a similar measuring device geared to the entry-level market.

Continuous interaction between Essilor’s lens development and software application teams ensures that the new lenses and measuring instruments that make those lenses come to life are developed in tandem, explains Michel Cloutier, national director of instruments for EssilorCanada.

Also look for Essilor’s soon-to-be-announced entry into examination equipment. “We are building a variety of products, starting with auto-refractors, and training the presentation team,” notes Cloutier.

Visionix is a Luneau company in the same family as Briot and Weco. Visionix founder, Marc Abitbol, pioneered the first wavefront product for industry applications in 1997 and the first full refraction line based on wavefront in 2009. Joel Kozlowski, North American director for Visionix, says the L80 ARK Topo/Wave+ provides a 1,500-point measurement in 10-12 seconds. The single measurement gives daytime and nighttime refraction, in addition to corneal topography data, and full ocular aberration data. Based on the ‘gold standard’ Hartmann-Shack sensor, the L80 is fully automated, adds Kozlowski. “The limitations of traditional measurement devices no longer need to constrain us. With the L80, you get a much more accurate measurement, and it is priced significantly lower than the competition.”

And from Weco, the E6 edger is the fastest retail edger today and therefore the most productive, according to Sebastian Pena-Feldmann, product manager at Luneau Technology. “Due to the smallest edging wheels in the market, the bevel edging is perfect, even on high curved lenses. And the SD technology for complex shapes is absolutely innovative and cannot be found in this capacity anywhere else in the market. While capable of the most complex types of jobs, the easy-to-use interface offers confidence and skill for the edging optician.”

Topcon presents an innovative and stylish operating experience in the new KR-1 Auto Kerato-Refractometer and the new CT-1P non-contact tonometer with built-in pachymeter. With a history of dedicated service to eyecare professionals since 1963, Topcon positions itself as the leading distributor of ophthalmic equipment and supplies inCanada. These devices prove the point. More compact than previous models, they feature fully automated operation with an easy-to-use colour touch panel, which replaces the traditional type control lever. The adjustable control panel can be positioned in any direction. These machines are designed for flexible layout and incredible space savings, especially if they are combined. They can be installed in many different positions in the examination room: side-by-side, 90-degrees, or even face-to-face.

Peripheral ocular pathologies may go undetected but for Optos®’ patented ultra-wide field digital scanning laser technology. The newest addition to the Optos family of retinal imaging devices, Daytona provides simultaneous, non-contact central pole-to-periphery views of up to 82 per cent or 200 degrees of the retina, displayed in one single capture, compared to 45 degrees achieved with conventional methods. This desktop model offers multiple wavelength imaging, including options for colour, red-free and autofluorescence with green laser light.

The Optos 200Tx device was designed specifically for ophthalmologists and vitreoretinal specialists. It offers multiple-wavelength imaging, including options for colour, red-free, fluorescein angiography and autofluorescence with green laser light. With its advanced features like eye steering and ResMax® central pole resolution enhancement, it helps practitioners discover more evidence of disease and guide their treatment decisions.

All images are available immediately and stored electronically for future comparison or telehealth applications, and are compatible with image management and electronic health records (EHR) systems.

CobaltDS is the name to remember for surfacing systems from Coburn Technologies. The new system is based on considerable research and development. What sets the Cobalt apart? “There are several critical differences between the new Cobalt system and other high-volume digital surfacing systems,” explains Curt Brey, vice-president of marketing and business development. “The Cobalt uses a new cold mist cutting technology, which combines the benefits of a dry cut generator with those of a wet cutting process. It therefore eliminates the need for a large, high-maintenance water reclamation system, yet it produces a surface finish that may be the best in the industry.” 

The Cobalt leaves the final polished lens virtually haze-free without the need to apply hard coating for optical clarity and produces better-cut and polished free-form lens results. Brey adds that the Cobalt is ideal for ECPs who are looking to bring their lens surfacing needs in-house, and for existing lens processing labs. “This system is fast enough to support a production environment, but small enough to accommodate limited space, with a lower cost of entry than comparable systems.”

Optical practices with substantial clientele over the age of 45 can serve those clients better by offering Eschenbach Optik low vision aids. Eschenbach makes it easy to ascertain and fill a patient’s needs with their EasyVision and Low Vision Programs. As Canadian National Sales Manager Ryan Heeney points out, “Our diagnostic dispensing system finds an appropriate solution quickly, determining what device is appropriate and what level of magnification is needed. The system allows for successful patient outcomes, whether the solutions are intended to complement surgical or therapeutic treatments or in cases where the use of magnification is all that is available to help the patient accomplish their visual goals and activities of daily living.”

Eschenbach Optik has a proud history of innovation. “We have introduced a number of firsts to the marketplace, from the incorporation of diffractive lenses in magnifiers, to the creation of a patented cera-tec® hard lens coating, to the introduction of progressive readers. Our products are distinguished from the competition due to their high quality, as they are made inGermany according to ISO9001 standards. In addition, our EasyVision and Low Vision Programs are differentiated from others in the market due to the ongoing consultative support that is included with the programs.

Nikon is leading the way with the use of Apple’s iPad as a clinical device. The Nikon Imagine-i application (app) is an interactive demonstrator application and an exciting presentation platform. “With the iPad being so portable, lightweight and easy to use, it just makes sense for practitioners to use them in the office or store,” saysAngela Marsellos, director of marketing and communications. The app demonstrates the quality of Nikon products and helps eyecare professionals explain the advancement in lens technologies and show benefits in an engaging way.

“This app is for any practice that wants to set themselves apart by being able to really show patients the quality behind the products they offer. Cutting-edge, highly graphical and interactive, the Nikon app allows eyecare professionals to engage with their patients, and gives patients the information they need to make a more informed decision,” adds Marsellos.

The Nikon Imagine-i application is available as a free download on iTunes, but a password is needed to access the professional simulation tool. The password is available for purchase only through Nikon Optical Canada. Eyecare professionals will want to contact their Nikon representative to inquire about purchasing the password.

Also look to Nikon for a measurement device as an iPad-based solution, expected to be released later this year.

Western Eyecare Instruments (WECI) distributes diagnostic and other leading-edge instruments for eyecare professionals from all three disciplines. Recent products include the PLM 6100. “This is the latest auto-lensometer on the market,” says President David Black. “It makes reading the three main types of lenses easy and efficient, and is priced to accommodate even the tightest of budgets.”

The PLC 7000 is WECI’s most popular LCD flat screen auto-projector. It is more cost-effective and versatile than its predecessors, say Black, who is also happy to be selling the Potec auto-refractor keratometer. “This is fast, easy to use, and will print out the objective prescription. The patient simply focuses and the instrument does the rest. Among other things, it will refract over IOLs, read contact lenses, PD and take pictures of the anterior of the eye.”

The challenges for ECPs when considering what equipment to buy, and when, are considerable. There is no doubt a ‘salivation’ factor when presented with so many options that will save time and create better patient/client outcomes. How to choose? That is the subject for another article!

Luxury Tells a Tale: The Best of the Best Stories in Luxury Frames

By Paddy Kamen

Caviar Collection mod. 5570

Luxury frames tell a story. There’s a narrative attached to prestigious eyewear collections that confirms the wearer’s sense of identity, and that story is just as important as the frame material, the hinges, the adornment, design or lenses. In fact, the story may be the only thing that really matters to the consumer!

Eyecare professionals (ECPs) must, of course, understand these stories, for consumers who know what they want will make sure they find it – somewhere, anywhere. It is also true that the ECP, by virtue of professionalism, values the more tangible aspects of luxury: the fit, the craftsmanship, the subtle or not-so-subtle aspects of superior design, the artistry and fine materials that make a luxury frame so much more that the sum of its parts. This is where taste triumphs over spin – not that marketing isn’t still a necessity in this day and age.

In this feature, we present an array of luxury collections that will turn the heads of consumers with the refinement and means to choose from among the finest eyewear offerings in the world. We’ve paired down those offerings to a select group.  Many of them are handcrafted, all are created with great artistic integrity and fine workmanship. We have included frames made from precious metals,  buffalo horn, fine woods and the highest-quality custom acetates, along with adornments that include gems and crystals. We hope you enjoy this look at the best of the best.

Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes luxury in this diverse world of ours, and eyewear is no exception.

Richard Stortini, president of Prisme Optical Group, notes, “A lot of people associate luxury with precious metals or refined materials but it is also defined by craftsmanship. Some will also associate luxury with brand names but the quality that may be conveyed by those names in apparel, for example, does not necessarily translate into eyewear.”

Bob Karir, president of Karir Fashion Eyewear, with three stores in Toronto, agrees. “I find that some of the big brand names have exclusivity in their apparel but not in their eyewear. They usually have only one store per major city for apparel and accessories, yet they place their eyewear in many locations. If a frame is mass-produced and doesn’t have an aspect of exclusivity, then for me it does not represent the highest luxury.”

Karir carries frames made of precious metals but doesn’t see a huge market for them in this country. “It’s different in emerging economies where they sell very well, indeed. Here, if people have thousands of dollars to spend on eyewear they typically prefer to spread it out and buy several different pairs for different uses and occasions.”

Young people are ‘brainwashed about labels’, according to Karir. “It is important to them that their peers see them wearing an expensive label. We carry the big name brands in our Yorkdale Mall store because our clients are younger adults in their early 30s and they most definitely want to show off labels. In our downtown and Yorkville locations, however, shoppers are older and more sophisticated and they will reject a frame that has a logo. These are very different markets with totally different thinking.”

Karir’s personal taste and sense of luxury leans toward…“funky and different luxury frames. For me, luxury is about exclusivity rather than mass-produced product, and innovative design rather than precious metals and diamonds. We have some custom collections from small suppliers that are very exclusive. Nice, elegant, well-made and exclusive: to me, that is luxury.”

Mylene Laoun is merchandise consultant at Georges et Phina, a family-run eyewear distribution business and the buyer for two stores in Montreal under the name Georges Laoun Opticien.

For Laoun, luxury is often about design and innovation. “Luxury can be understated: if I’m wearing a funky dress, I could choose to wear a more subdued frame with shape and movement, but if I’m wearing a simple dress, I could enjoy some artistry on my face. Of course, there are no rules – for my next outing, I could choose to do the complete opposite!

“Those who come to our stores are generally not looking for conservative luxury frames but rather for something more edgy. We don’t define luxury by the conventional measures or brand names, but rather by materials and workmanship. As important as it is for me to sell outstanding frames, the eyewear should not lead the face but arrive with it.”

Amin Mamdani, director of operations with Toronto-based Josephson Opticians, articulates a useful distinction between luxury and premium frames. “For me, a frame can be very high-end in terms of best materials, quality and brand presence; but luxury goes beyond that and adds elements of detailed work with 18-karat gold, sterling silver, solid wood, stones and embellishments. Premium frames are priced from $300 to around $700, while luxury frames start at $600 and go up to $3,000 or more.”

Mamdani explains how customers might weigh their options when it comes to making a high-end purchase: “Fashion is more about replacement than longevity. Do I want a $1,000 frame with a classic look, made from silver, or do I want to spend $500 apiece for two premium frames so I can have two looks or replace them within a year? It depends on where your store is located and your demographics. Some Josephson stores focus on luxury and premium frames and others sell frames based on elements of creative design and fun.”

What’s on Offer?

One undisputed leader in luxury frames is Chopard. This fabulous collection is built on a solid history of creativity and craftsmanship, which began in 1860 when watchmaker Louis Ulysse Chopard established his watchmaking business in Paris. The company has been in the hands of the Scheufele family since 1963. These descendants of a dynasty of watchmakers and jewelers from Germany have made Chopard a global name in fine watch and jewelry-making.

Each Chopard frame is handmade in Italy and takes 200 hours to create. The range and quality of the materials and finishes is simply stunning and includes the finest Wenge, Bubinga and Padauk woods from Africa, 23-karat gold, palladium, rose gold, Swarovski crystals, genuine gemstones, Mazzucchelli acetates and river diamonds. These are jeweler-quality luxury frames.

Chopard is distributed in Canada by Ronor International. Popular models made with 18-karat gold and adorned with diamonds include Time, Tulip and Star Dust.

The Marciano collection from Viva International is a sophisticated and subtle take on luxury with the modern, international woman in mind. These glamorous frames have a feminine retro feel to them, in refreshingly classic shapes with a unique and polished touch. Italian handmade acetate frames are accentuated with faceted Swarovski crystal stones and Mother of Pearl details. GM 168 and GM 185 are particularly outstanding examples of this classy collection.

The Charmant Group is decidedly focused on premium frame materials. “We are a frame manufacturer, not a licenser,” explains Adrian Maas, president of Perfect Optical, distributors of Charmant in Canada. “For us, the expression of luxury is found in two collections: Charmant Z for men and Line Art, for women.

Both collections are made with Charmant’s proprietary titanium alloy, Excellence Titan. “This is a complete memory metal that is revolutionizing the industry,” saysMaas. “After eight years of research, Charmant has created a completely nickel-free alloy which is hypoallergenic, and yet also allows the designer complete liberty.”

New manufacturing processes were also developed in the creation of Line Art. “It’s an entirely new welding process that was developed by laser specialists in Japan. No one else in the world can do this,” states Maas.

Charmant’s heavy investment is paying off handsomely. The company won the Eyewear of the Year 2013 Award for one of the optical frames in its top-of-the-range brand CHARMANT-Z at the IOFT 2012 trade show inTokyo. The judges honour distinguished new products that excel in design and/or function, and are scheduled to be marketed in the upcoming season. The Grand Prize Award was presented for the high quality of the innovative LINKS function, a patented flex mechanism that provides quality, smoothness and flexibility. “One can feel the extremely comfortable grip, which is surprising considering the light weight of the frame. In spite of the lightness, the temples have a very unique and voluminous design,” the jury commented.

Line Art, made from Excellence Titan, was launched at Silmo 2012 to wide acclaim and is enjoying stupendous market success inJapan, with a population that is very technology-driven.Maassays that in the over-$500 retail product category for frames, Line Art has captured 26 per cent market share. “The product clearly resonates with Japanese consumers. This is utter market dominance.”

Canadian designer Mehran Baghaieof Spectacle Eyeworks has accomplished something wonderful by laminating fine wood onto buffalo horn frames. “The material and fine workmanship of these frames is of the highest quality. We started with two models, Skaay and Gwaii, and will introduce the Persa-Loen and Homa very soon,” he notes. 

Who but Henrik Ørgreen would think to add minute diamonds to the top of a frame eyewire, where they will seldom be seen? This Danish designer is recognized worldwide for his design aesthetic. Here we have two special edition frames, one for men and one for women. The women’s frame is made of a combination of 100 per cent pure titanium and beta-titanium and is precision-plated in precious metal: gold and palladium. The men’s model is composed of a combination of 100 per cent pure titanium and beta-titanium and is precision-plated in precious metal: gold, palladium and ruthenium. Subtle and distinctive.

Ørgreen is represented in Canada by Prisme Optical Group, headed by Richard Stortini, who also brings an impeccable and more conventional luxury brand forward with the made-in-France Cogan collection. These 22-karat gold frames, embellished with diamonds, are unique works of art, says Stortini. “They are based on key values of precision, distinction and pleasure,” he adds. “True luxury.”

Minimalist elegance comes to us from FRED, an historic and prestigious house of fine jewelry based in Paris. All the craftsmanship, artistry and perfectionism that has distinguished the FRED brand since its inception over 60 years ago is applied to the eyewear. From the choice of materials, to the faultless design and skillful application of precious metals – 18-karat gold, platinum, ruthenium, palladium – FRED are the only frames with 5-micron-plated metal on each eyewear component (including temples and endpieces), confering on them the jeweller’s hallmark.

Precious woods are also an intrinsic part of the FRED collection. Very fine-grained mahogany and ebony are high-density woods and therefore resistant to deformation over time. They also allow for perfect polishing, bringing the wood to its ideal luster.

Leather (supplied by a factory that specializes in leatherwork for the finest watch brands) and Mazzucchelli acetates fromItalyare also used in FRED eyewear frames, which are distributed inCanadaby Importlux. This is a strong line for men, which also features exquisite frames for women.

Tura Elegance is created by a Venetian designer for the woman who is looking for something special. These frames are 100 per cent handcrafted inItalyand submitted to extreme quality control. Swarovski crystals are handset into the five models in the collection, with one piece holding 144 crystals. A special treatment is applied on the surface of the crystals to ensure quality and most frames have a flex hinge. The result is a collection that is strikingly beautiful, fashionable and easy to wear.

Sylvain Carne is the agent inCanadafor renowned luxury brand Gold & Wood, as well as the luxury company, Leisure Society. Carne picked up the Leisure Society collections last year at Vision Expo East inNew York, after following their work for a couple of years. “What most impressed me was the technology behind this brand. They make incredibly complex frames of acetate and titanium that are then engraved and gold-plated. Only one factory in the world can produce frames to this standard. They end up with a product that is unique. You just have to hold them to know that it took a lot of work and ingenuity to create these frames,” says Carne.

Leisure Society frames are available for both men and women, with the best sellers being theOxfordand Vanderbilt models. The whole collection has a retro, 1950’s look. All titanium used in Leisure Society frames is 100 per cent pure, with gold plating in 12-, 18- and 24-karats. Accent materials include etched buffalo horn insets, diamonds and precious metals.

Gold & Wood, Carne’s other luxury brand, is well-established globally as the maker of handmade frames as unique as they are luxurious. “Even the same model and colour choice will portray subtle differences as a result of the patterning in these natural wood and horn materials,” explains Carne. “B-16 is a good example. This is my best seller; a gorgeous wood frame for the man who wants a chunkier, retro look. From a distance, it looks like a heavy acetate but is in fact light as a feather. You don’t get better quality than Gold & Wood.”

The Caviar Collection®, from UltraPalm, defines luxury with a series of glamorous frames for women that are bound to attract the most flattering attention possible. Some designs are complex, others are simple and pretty, but all are dripping with luxurious Austrian crystals. Pieces for men are, of course, more subdued but no less striking. Marketing coordinator for Caviar distributor UltraPalm, Lionel Cohoone, notes that Caviar frames are indeed exclusive. “Only 4,000 pairs of each model are created and this limit adds to the value. Luxury, for me, connotes something that is not widely available. When you wear Caviar frames it’s like wearing a one-of-a-kind. Combine this with extreme design details and Caviar’s rich history of making eyewear and you have a luxury product that is second-to-none.

Born-in-Canada eyewear company Claudia Alan Inc. recently introduced five new styles to its AYA Optical Collection. The new line includes two limited editions,Sitkaand Langham, featuring natural buffalo horn and bamboo materials and sophisticated retro styling. TheSitkafeatures a keyhole bridge and rounded silhouette, while the Langham is more rectangular. Both have horn front pieces and bamboo temples, and each design is available with either a light or dark-coloured face. Beautiful raven artwork etchings by native artist Corinne Hunt (co-designer of the 2010 Olympic medals) bring a third element of beauty to these eco-chic frames.

President, Carla D’Angelo, notes: “Luxury in eyewear is definitely about quality of materials: in this case one-of-a-kind horn materials. These frames are handmade and each takes about two days to construct. We are careful to select only the best portions of the horn so that patterns are appealing on the face. Claudia Alan has created a unique and luxurious product. We are proud to have combined safe, natural and renewable materials with indigenous-influenced art and quality craftsmanship in our AYA frames.”

Canada’s ECPs by the Numbers

By JoAnne Sommers

Envision: seeing beyond  magazine recently conducted the first-ever survey of Canadian eyecare professionals (ECPs) to find out who they are and what’s on their minds. In the following story, we share some of what we learned.

The survey yielded a great deal of information. So rather than presenting all of it, we decided to focus on the points that we believe will be of the greatest interest and value to eyecare professionals. This story covers a number of topics, including challenges and opportunities, marketing strategies, Internet and social media usage, and customer service.

We hope it provides you with food for thought as well as action.

Canada’s ECPs consider the Internet both an opportunity and a threat, according to the results of Envision: seeing beyond  magazine’s 2012 survey of the three Os.

Asked to identify the greatest challenges facing ECPs, fully 68.7 per cent of people who responded to the question chose the Internet. Consumer education, with 11.9 per cent of votes, ranked a poor second.

At the same time, the Internet was the most popular choice among those who specified where they think future opportunities in the industry will come from. 15.7 per cent of respondents chose the Internet, second only to the 18.7 per cent who said they were unsure where those opportunities might lie.

How can we explain this dichotomy?

In the sense that the Internet is used as a dispensing vehicle for glasses and contact lenses, it represents a threat to both ECPs and consumers, says Ali Khan, chairman of theAcademyofOphthalmic Education.

“The Internet has created a two-tier system that allows a big company such as Coastal Contacts to hide behind it and dispense illegally everywhere inCanada, exceptBritish Columbia.”

At the same time, Khan said he welcomes the Internet as a communications tool. “Today everyone needs email and a website to do business,” he explains. “It’s a faster, more economical way to communicate with clients and a great marketing tool.”

But while Khan might consider email access and a business website indispensable to optical professionals, not all ECPs seem to agree. Somewhat surprisingly, 11.2 per cent of survey respondents indicated their practice still did not have Internet access, while more than one-quarter (25.8 per cent) of the people who answered the question said they didn’t have a website.

Interestingly, these results are in line with those of a recent Jobson Internet survey, which found that more than 22 per cent of the U.S. ECPs surveyed did not have websites.

Dr. Patrick Quaid is an optometrist with IRIS The Visual Group inGuelph,ON, and co-chair of CCEPro. He expressed shock at the number of ECPs who said they did not have an Internet presence. “It probably has a lot to do with the ages of the ECPs who responded to the survey,” he says, noting that more than two-thirds of them (67.2 per cent) were aged 40 or older.

Dr. Quaid says that some of the fear of the Internet is justified, since the public is not being educated about the risks of buying online from unregulated vendors. At the same time, he adds, “The Internet isn’t going away. If we embrace it in a controlled, sensible way, we can harness its power, while keeping the best interests of the public at heart.”

Dr. Diana Monea was blunter. “If you’re not computer-savvy, you’re useless and if you don’t have a website you may as well close up,” says Dr. Monea, an optometrist who owns Eye Health Centres, a full-service vision care facility with locations inCalgaryandRegina.

Her advice to ECPs: “We can’t compete with Internet retailers in terms of price so we have to provide great service. If you educate your contact lens-wearing patients about eye health, for example, you shouldn’t have a problem with online competitors.”

While CCEPro co-chair Dr. Michael Naugle agrees that ECPs should strive to provide outstanding service, he cautions that it’s easier said than done.

“Exceptional customer service is hard to deliver. Many eyecare providers think their service is exceptional but, if measured against that of non-optical retail entities, it would not compare.”

Dr. Naugle thinks that one way to counter the Internet threat is to offer the newest technology available to the eyecare industry. “We should also have a more “value-based” option for the 20 per cent of the market who are price-sensitive,” he says.

James Hollstein, owner/optician of Crystal Vision inRosetown,SK, has adopted this approach.

“We can compete with Internet sellers by offering essentially the same product (that we normally sell) but at a lower price. We provide professional service and make sure the customer is satisfied but we don’t offer the usual two-year warranty and we charge for parts. Our advantage is that we offer a little more than Internet retailers do but at a comparable price.”

Canada’s ECPs could learn a lot from watching their European counterparts, says Dana Sacco, a registered optician with Rossland Optical inWhitby,ON.

“Europeans understand the online market better than we do and they’re ahead of us in terms of combating online sales. They do that by aligning themselves with top lens manufacturers and educating their customers about the benefits of various lens products. Online companies aren’t yet in a position to compete with that.”

That advantage won’t last indefinitely, however, so now is the time to develop that expertise, she says. “This is the greatest advantage that independent ECPs enjoy. We need to educate our patients and improve their experience with us by leveraging our knowledge and access to specialty products.”

Customer service is critical to the success of today’s optical professionals, agreed Dr. Trisha Beal, a partner at Brant and Paris Family Eye Care, located in Brantford and Paris,ON.

“Independent ECPs don’t have the buying power of chains but they can counter that by offering outstanding service. We have to take time to provide our patients with the information they need. If they don’t understand what we do as optical professionals and recognize the importance of our role in the industry, we won’t be successful.”

Dr. Beal says practitioners can use the Internet to make service faster, more convenient and more accessible. “Patients visit my website to do research and order contact lenses. They appreciate the convenience of ordering online and we can take the opportunity to book a checkup with them.”

The website has been a big success and Dr. Beal recently ventured into the world of social media, creating a Facebook page. That places her among the 44.2 per cent of survey respondents who said they use that social medium. Only 12.1 per cent reported using Twitter, while 11.9 per cent said they use Google+. Just 7.9 per cent reported using LinkedIn and a scant 2.1 per cent said they used Pinterest. Meanwhile, more than one-third (37.4 per cent) of respondents said they didn’t use any social media.

Just six months after creating her Facebook page, Dr. Beal says it’s too early to tell how successful it will be, but she noted that several of her colleagues have successfully run contests, which asked patients to like them on Facebook.

When it comes to marketing, Dr. Beal thinks word of mouth advertising still works best. “We’re out in the community, supporting children’s and adult’s sports teams and sponsoring events like lawn bowling tournaments and curling bonspiels. We advertised in golf course guides this year and contributed to school silent auctions. Advertising – whether it’s in the Yellow Pages or newspapers – is expensive and I prefer to give something back to the community.”

Dana Saccorelies on word of mouth for all of her advertising. “I didn’t spend anything in 2011-12 except for the cost of maintaining my website,” she says.

Sacco, who uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, adds that social media marketing casts a very wide net.

“Internet marketers leverage social media in a global way. Recently, a $25 pink ribbon campaign from Coastal Contacts went viral on Facebook. Few independent locations can make that kind of an impact but I firmly believe it’s possible if we plan for it.”

Such a plan could include making a commitment to messaging on a regular basis, blogging, dedicating a percentage of advertising dollars to Internet ads, etc., Sacco says.

The Envision: seeing beyond survey showed that newspaper advertising remains the most popular form of marketing for 50.2 per cent of respondents, followed closely by the Yellow Pages with 49.5 per cent. Direct mail was next at 36.3 per cent, while Internet advertising ranked fourth with 22.5 per cent.

“Newspapers have a short shelf life compared to magazines,” notes Sacco. “I’m not suggesting the elimination of newspaper advertising, just that taking a balanced approach that includes online media is a good idea.”

Michael Naugle was not surprised that the majority of ECPs still use newspaper and yellow pages as their main marketing tools but notes that, “there is growing evidence to show this is misaligned with the reality of marketing effectiveness. The best return on investment is from marketing to your own database of clients/patients.”

Portrait of an Industry

There were compelling reasons for undertaking the first-ever survey of Canadian eyewear professionals earlier this year, says Martine Breton, president of Breton Communicationsand publisher of Envision: seeing beyond magazine.

“Over the years,Breton Communicationshas been a trusted source of information onCanada’s optical industry and, as a result, we have received numerous requests from both ECPs and suppliers for industry statistics that weren’t available anywhere.

“Providing industry stakeholders with the information they need has always been one of our goals, so conducting the most comprehensive survey of Canadian ECPs ever done made good sense. And with the major changes that have taken place in Canadian vision care over the last few years, accurate data is, now more than ever, vitally important.”

The survey took a fairly broad brush approach to its subject because it was breaking new ground, says Breton. “Now that we have the results as a point of reference, we’re thinking of conducting more specific surveys in the future,” she added.

Over 130 questions under eight major headings – demographics, the Internet, sales, services, training, human resources and marketing, as well as questions on the challenges and opportunities facing ECPs – were formulated by Breton Communications staff, with input from industry suppliers.

The number of responses far exceeded expectations, Breton notes. “More than 950 ECPs from across Canada completed at least part of the survey and almost 550 did the whole thing. I’d like to thank those who took precious time from their busy schedules to answer our questionnaire. For many, it was a lengthy process and simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers weren’t always an option. Everyone at Breton Communications appreciates the time, thoughtfulness and honesty of the respondents.”

Just over one-third of survey participants (37.4 per cent) were Ontario-based;Quebec was second with 27.9 per cent and B.C. was third with 16.8 per cent.Alberta placed fourth with 8.8 per cent, while Manitoba(2.2 per cent) andNew Brunswick(1.9 per cent) ranked fifth and six respectively.

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said they were opticians, while 22 per cent were optometrists; 5.2 per cent were optometric assistants and just under one per cent were ophthalmologists. 7.4 per cent identified themselves as “other”, including managers, sales reps, students and educators.

Independent retailers made up about two-thirds (65.8 per cent) of the respondents, while those working for chain (three or more) stores accounted for 30 per cent of the replies and department stores represented 3.8 per cent. Among the independents, 34 per cent of retail locations were optometrist-owned and 65 per cent were optician-owned.

Sixty per cent of our respondents were female and interestingly,Quebec accounted for the entire disparity in gender: 75 per cent of respondents from that province were women, while men and women accounted equally for the responses from the other provinces.

Dr. Patrick Quaid, an optometrist with IRIS The Visual Group inGuelph,ONand co-chair of CCEPro (the Canadian Coalition of Eyecare Professionals), was surprised that the proportion of women wasn’t higher since, “Seventy to 80 per cent of students at theUniversityofWaterloo’sSchoolofOptometryare women.”

The gender shift could mean that many new optometrists will enter the workforce on a part-time basis, since many younger women also plan to have children, Dr. Quaid added.

“The industry needs full-time, committed ECPs and female optometrists need to be encouraged to become strong entrepreneurs and realize that they can have both a career and a family,” he says. “This is vital to the health of the profession.”

The survey’s results also revealed a graying industry: more than two-thirds of respondents (67.2 per cent) were aged 40 or older and just 31.7 per cent were 39 or younger. So it’s not surprising that 45 per cent of respondents have practiced more than 20 years while 28 per cent have spent 11-20 years in the field. The smallest category was those with five years or less of experience – they accounted for just 13.2 per cent of responses.

Despite the economic challenges of recent years, news on the sales front was fairly positive. Asked to compare overall sales in 2011 with those in 2010, 8.1 per cent said they were significantly higher and 33.9 per cent said they were slightly higher. 19.3 per cent of respondents said sales were about the same and only 28.1 per cent said their 2011 sales were lower.

Those results surprised Dr. Michael Naugle, co-chair of CCEPro. “Increased sales do not match what the manufacturers/wholesalers are saying regarding growth,” he says. “Maybe it’s because those who responded to the survey are ahead of the curve or at least with the curve.”

Celebrating Women in Canadian Optical

By Paddy Kamen

featureLast March, Envision: seeing beyond magazine sent out a call for nominations of women who are leaders in various sectors of our industry. The response was terrific and the honorees were notified in early June.

Each of their stories is truly inspiring. We congratulate these fine women on being nominated by their peers. And the honorees are…

Category: Entrepreneur
Wendy Buchanan

Listening to our instincts about where we can best serve others while realizing our potential is something that many of us aspire to.Wendy Buchanan has lived this process and her successful career path proves the wisdom of her approach.

Wendy started out as dental technician – not a great choice for someone with her love of social interaction and an entrepreneurial streak. Then a friend who knew a successful optician suggested it might be a good career for her. “I spoke to him and he offered me a job in his lab. I worked there on the weekends while doing my dental assistant job; then he moved me into the store part time. I enjoyed the challenges in the optical field so I obtained my opticianry diploma from Georgian College.”

Good move but that wasn’t all. Buchanan eventually tired of retail. “I couldn’t see myself doing that for another 20 years, so I trained to be an image consultant and began my own business. Clients asked me to help them choose eyewear and over time, I realized I could be an image consultant for eyewear alone, running a mobile eyewear boutique. When I left my retail job in 1998, I had no clients so I began networking through the fashion industry, starting out with a dozen frames on consignment.”

Buchanan simply loves the job she created for herself, going out to meet with clients in their homes and offices. “It’s about matching the eyewear to the individual’s face shape, personality, wardrobe and career. My clients come to me for every season and for specific events, such as weddings. I provide the personalized, individual touch that people can’t get in a store and many clients buy two or three pairs at a time.”

Having the flexibility to make her own schedule suits Buchanan to a ‘T’; she can take time off during the day for special school events with her children and makes a point of a weekly golf game with friends during the summer. She also enjoys the freedom to make her own business decisions as well as individual decisions that are best for her clients. “I’m not bound by bureaucracy, politics, procedures or store policies. If an opportunity comes up I base my decisions on how I feel. I don’t need to analyze the pros and cons just to please someone else.”

Fun is also key to Buchanan’s success. “The clients and I have a really good time and we both get excited when we make changes. It’s a positive and fun experience.”

In 2007 Buchanan started training other people to help their clients choose eyewear. She created and sells BeSpectacular™, a training system that helps fashion consultants and eyecare professionals take the guesswork out of choosing the perfect frame.

What is the biggest contributor to Buchanan’s success as an entrepreneur? It’s simple, she explains: “The biggest thing for me is to pay attention to how I feel about things, trust my instincts and base my decisions on them.”

Category: Leadership
Christine Breton*

Young people are typically full of energy, yet few lead organizations before they’re 30. And Christine Breton admits that her age was a bit of a handicap when, in 2001, she became general manager of Montreal-based Opto-Réseau at age 28.

Opto-Réseau is a buying club and business ‘banner’ group (each member owns their store under the name Opto-Réseau). Optical retailers can join the buying club only or become full members using the Opto-Réseau banner (along with buying club privileges). When Breton came on board the business had 14 full members out of a total of 20 buying group members.

How was Breton’s youthful enthusiasm received? “Sometimes, too much energy and too many new ideas disturb the established order, but fortunately, with time I learned to better calibrate my efforts in order to accomplish my goals,” she explains.

And accomplish them she certainly has: Opto-Réseau now has 53 full members and 30 buying group members.

How did she do it? “We revamped the program completely,” says Breton. “We developed a portfolio of tools to help our members, including media promotion, training and customized management tools that include finances, inventory and human resources, in addition to our excellent clinical management software.”

Breton is quick to point out that she didn’t achieve this single-handedly. “Everyone on our team has worked extremely hard to deliver the goods and for that I am enormously grateful. We’ve grown from a staff of three to 11 employees.”

Current challenges for Breton include ensuring that all members receive the ‘human touch’ from her staff. “It was one thing to provide that when we were small but now that we have 53 outlets, it’s more of a challenge. This is definitely the most important thing for us and it’s what we are known for. We want our members to succeed with their customers so we lead by example.”

The realities of today’s market make the services of Opto-Réseau valuable indeed. “The market has been tough for many people. Today, each customer is hard to win and you have to be well-organized to reach them,” says Breton.

‘Effort’ is a key value for Christine Breton. “I thank my parents for instilling it in me. Change doesn’t happen without effort. I see this effort from my head office team and I’m very proud of them and what we represent.”

Teamwork and flexibility come into play in Breton’s family life as well. “Having children has brought me a lot more humanity and patience. And I have to add that I’m very lucky to have married an amazing man with a big heart, who is patient and understands that I need to invest myself fully in my work to be satisfied.”

Still young at 41,Christine Breton can look forward to many more years of productive work, especially in light of the fact that her energy and drive remain in full force. Opto-Réseau and Quebec’s eyecare professionals are fortunate to have her!

*Note: Christine Breton is not related to Envision: seeing beyond publisher Martine Breton.

Category: Trailblazer
Dr. Diana Monea 

Imagine taking out a loan to start a business back in 1978, when interest rates were an incredible 24 per cent. That’s when Diana Monea, then 22, and a new graduate of the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry decided to launch her first practice in Regina.

“I had little to my name besides my license to practice but fortunately, a female loans officer believed in me. I promised to work really hard and pay it back.”

From that first practice, this farm-raised trailblazer began traveling to underserved rural communities throughout southern Saskatchewan, eventually starting two additional practices in Calgary. There she lives with her husband, Don, a computer engineer, who runs the business operations behind the scenes.

Diana Monea has really led the way in bringing optometry to people wherever they are. In addition to 34 years of optometric practice, she served the elderly community at a nursing home in Regina for 15 years. She also worked with inmates at a correctional facility for over a decade, and as a low vision consultant at the Pasqua Hospital in Regina for many years, assisting both children and adults with visual handicaps to live as independently as possible. Her Calgary clinics also offer comprehensive health services to people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her work also includes service as the chairperson of the Eye See Eye Learn programme, an eye-health programme for children in Alberta. In association with Essilor, every kindergarten child in Alberta has access to a free eye examination and those who need them receive free eyeglasses.

‘Street kids’ have also benefited from Monea’s efforts. As part of a Calgary-based charity programme known as Anna’s Vision, Monea provides eye exams and free glasses. “I say to them, ‘We’re going to get you seeing properly so you can be anything you want to be’. I want them to know that someone believes in their potential. I had one young man from China who didn’t speak English and could not see. After getting his glasses, he emailed me later to let me know that he had learned some English and that he found employment. That was so exciting.”

It’s hardly surprising that Diana Monea was the first optometrist in Canada to create a website dedicated to providing eye heath information ( And in 2000, she was the first North American optometrist to profile case studies in optometry, drawing from an extensive database of over 200,000 eye exams she has personally performed. Monea has presented these cases at many professional conferences over the years, to much acclaim.

You may have guessed by now that Diana Monea is motivated by strong altruistic values, in addition to being incredibly ambitious. “My career has given me many blessings and I really want to give back and make a difference. Especially when I’m mentoring young grads, I emphasize that a wonderful practice isn’t about money but about helping other people. When I get up in the morning I say, ‘Great, I have another day to make a difference!’”

Category: Research and Development/Design
Beverly Suliteanu

Few women today begin working in the family business at the tender age of eight but Beverly Suliteanu fondly remembers how it all began for her. “Our family would rent a ski cabin for the winter and during the Christmas holidays, Dad would bring three-ring binders and all the pages for the Western Optical catalogues. My brother and cousins and I would sit on the floor and put them together. We were each paid a nickel per catalogue.”

The company her father, Rodney, began in 1962 is now known as WestGroupe and Beverly is vice-president, responsible for marketing and product development. The firm has expanded in a fashion-forward direction under her guidance but the transition wasn’t seamless. “My first model was too loud and colourful for our customers at that time. It wasn’t the runaway bestseller I had anticipated,” she says, with a smile.

Both Beverly and her brother Michael, the company’s president, shared the goal of creating brands with the ability to go far beyond the conventional concept of a house brand. “In order to continue to grow and evolve our company, it was necessary to move beyond the value segment of the market, which was our strength. We focused on developing more of our own products and slowly we began to change our product positioning and company image,” she explains.

The big turning point for WestGroupe was the launch of KLiik Denmark in 2004. “I took everything I had learned about product, from the manufacturing of our house brands to the licensed brands we distributed for other companies, with the goal of creating a unique, fashion-forward, quality collection for the Canadian market,” she recalls. “The fact that it has resonated around the globe still amazes me. The brand is now sold in 40 countries.”

Suliteanu followed this success with Fysh (for boomer-generation women) in 2006 and Evatik (for men) in 2010. Each collection bears her signature creative stamp.

Traveling internationally for the business is a big part of Suliteanu’s job and her MBA in marketing and international business from Queen’s University helped prepare her for this role. Initially she accompanied her father and brother on buying trips to Italy and Asia, and as her experience grew, she assumed the leadership role in this area. Were suppliers comfortable in dealing with a woman?  “It’s been an evolution but it was up to me to make sure they understood the role each of us plays in the company,” she explains.

Suliteanu continues to grow in her role. “I am definitely more confident now and trust my instincts. I push the limit a bit more when it comes to design and colour.”

Recently married and a part-time stepmother to twin pre-teens, Suliteanu is committed to carving out more personal time in her life. “In the past, work tended to outbalance my personal life. I’m making much more of an effort now to have a more balanced life and enjoy my new family.”

From her love of working on catalogues as a young girl to her life now as one of Canada’s leading designers and brand creators, Beverly Suliteanu has come a long way indeed. Let’s see what she comes up with next!

Category: Educator
Sheree Watson

Sheree Watson learned the art of a successful career switch out of necessity, and now shares her hard-won wisdom with the opticianry students she teaches.

“Although I began a career in nursing, I married young and wanted to be home with my kids,” says Watson. “Then I was diagnosed with cancer and my life shattered. I found myself on my own with four sons to support. I needed something that was physically undemanding and opticianry fit the bill, so after obtaining my diploma, I opened an optical store in Gibsons, B.C. in 1993.”

For a woman going into business for herself in the 1990s, it wasn’t easy getting a bank loan. “I wanted to work for myself and prove I could survive in a man’s world,” she says. “I had the shop for more than 10 years and it met my needs in terms of family life. I didn’t work evenings and my sons could come by after school and do their homework in the back of the store. Likewise, I could take paperwork home and do it in the evenings. It was very successful and I enjoyed the work.”

When Watson was asked to teach at the B.C. College of Optics (BCCO) in Surrey, she was initially reluctant. “I wanted to make sure my kids were finished school before I took it on full time, but when I did, it was fantastic and has proven to be a very positive development in my life.”

The main influence on Watson’s values growing up was her grandmother, with whom she lived until age six. “I also spent most of my summers with her,” she recalls. “She let me know that nothing was too hard for me if I just put my best foot forward. ‘You’re not made from sugar,’ she would say, and she led by example, working hard and giving her fullest to whatever she was doing. Everything in my life has stemmed from her influence.”

Watson, in turn, influences her students profoundly and they speak glowingly of her dedication to their success. Many of the students who enter the six-month diploma program choose it because it allows them to return to the work force quickly.

“I’ve taught optometrists and ophthalmologists, dentists and engineers from other countries who need a new career in Canada. Our program at BCCO may be shorter but it doesn’t compromise on knowledge or practical experience. I’ve worked very hard to make the program applicable to the work environment. For example, I’ve honed the practicum component so students will gain the experience needed to apply their skills.”

Seeing her students become opticians is Watson’s greatest reward.  “I love to see them gain knowledge of optics and learn to apply it. I’m so happy that I chose this career at a point where my life was very difficult. It’s been wonderful for me and for many of my students as well.”

A hearty thank you to all our readers for nominating these amazing women. Thank you, also, to our honorees: we appreciate you taking time from your busy lives to share your personal stories with us. Inspiration is the music in life that keeps us going: each of you has inspired us, as you have countless others.

New Lenses: When They Come Knocking, Do You Let Them In?

By Paddy Kamen

featureWhen the lens sales rep comes knocking, do you flip the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’? And if you let the rep in, do you glaze over because you find it almost impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff in new lens designs and materials?

Do eyecare professionals (ECPs) feel truly competent when it comes to understanding the fine points of new lens technologies? Dr. Ralph Chou thinks not. The associate professor at University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry notes, “One of the problems facing the industry is how to keep innovations coming and make practitioners understand that they are indeed innovations. When manufacturers come out with something they claim is new and different every six-to-12 months, many people in day-to-day practice have a hard time understanding what exactly is new and improved about any particular lens.”

Steve Levy agrees. As the owner of LF Optical, a small chain of four stores in the Toronto area that carry a wide range of lens products, Levy employs eight opticians.  He says it is ‘extremely difficult’ to understand the finer points of distinction between new lens offerings. “One has to take a leap of faith to believe that one product will actually perform significantly better than another. With frames you can touch and feel and see the differences in material, design and quality. With new lenses, you have to be convinced that the distortion levels will be significantly better when each lens itself looks pretty much the same as any other.”

Levy also believes that fitting to the proper PD and height is just as important, and perhaps even more so, than lens choice. “An expensive lens poorly fit will perform worse than an inexpensive lens that is well fit.”

Chou thinks that manufacturers should communicate more clearly the precise optical value of their lens products. “Much educational material from manufacturers falls short in explaining what the lens accomplishes optically. I recognize that there are intellectual property considerations but eyecare professionals need to know what approach the company has taken in making the product in order for them to determine what lenses are suitable for their patients. When you look at the lens designs from an informed perspective, there are some really interesting innovations offered by all companies and they are distinctive. In order to understand these innovations, both prescribers and dispensers need to be better educated in lens technology.”

Clearly, a willingness to learn and be open to new lens technologies on the part of ECPs is the other part of the equation. And here Chou points out a sad reality: “Many optical professionals use only one or two manufacturers’ lens products and are not interested in looking at alternatives no matter what. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault but if you have success with a product, it is understandable that you tend to use it time and again. You don’t have to think much, people are busy and inertia sets in. The reps can’t even get in the door in many instances.”

If you’ve read this far you are probably one of those ECPs who is truly interested in opening your mind, if not your door, to new lens products. Let’s see what’s on offer.

What’s Out There?

Riverside Opticalab is an independent lab that has been a leader in free-form lens technology for several years. Says VP of Research and Development Bruce Calhoun, “We enjoyed success beginning with our first generation Persona lens and are now into the fifth generation and still working on new creations. Our customers and their patients embrace it.”

Calhoun notes that an independent lab like Riverside can bring a product to market rapidly. They are, for example, the first lab to bring the new Transitions® Vantage™ lens to market in both single vision and in their own Persona family of lenses.Riverside also recently added a new propriety lens material known as HI-VEX. “HI-VEX is very friendly for offices that do their own edging,” explains Calhoun. “It is edged and tinted easily and is also very lightweight.”

Alain Després,Riverside’s vice-president of marketing, notes that quality control is key to Riverside’s success. “We have sophisticated quality control and audit check measures to ensure a reliable product. We take our business very seriously and our customers know that we are responsive if they need anything special or out of the norm.”

Hoya Lens Canada was thrilled with their ‘Best New Product’ award at Vision Expo East 2012 for the HOYA Distortion-Free Optics™ with the Avantek™ Mounting System. Distortion-Free Optics integrates lens materials, design, treatment and mounting system. In addition to eliminating the need for obstructive screws, wires or rims, the Avantek Mounting System offers superior durability in comparison to drill mounts. Hoya Canada Director of Marketing Maria Petruccelli says this package features a titanium-alloy frame in eight colours that beautifully showcase lenses that are absolutely distortion-free. “With the Avantek system, there’s no longer any reason to impede the wearer’s vision with screws and plugs on the lenses.”

The Avantek system uses tabs edged out from the lens, rather than screws or plugs. “Why drill holes into expensive premium frames when you don’t have to?” adds Petruccelli. “And from the ECP point of view, there is no need to tighten screws or replace plugs.”

Petruccelli notes that the Phoenix proprietary lens material is perfect for the Avantek system. “It also has an Abbe value of 43 so the visual clarity is excellent. The combination can really set a practice apart.”

Innova Medical Ophthalmics, the Canadian owned supplier of diagnostic and surgical equipment to the optical industry, took the bold step of opening a new lab facility and independent company – Occulab, in Montreal last November.

Why take this bold step in an era when the number of independent labs is dwindling? Wayne Stobie, director of marketing, explains: “We were hearing from ECPs that they want more choice. We decided to invest in the very best state-of-the-art technology available in North America. Our fully automated lab generates free-form lenses including a complete high-end coating facility. We offer edging, remote tracing and web ordering, so it is simple for people to do business with us. Our first priority is unrivalled quality and we’ve gone through a long quality control process with our new lens material known as Quatrex, which offers the benefits of Trivex® but none of the limitations. Many types of free-form lenses designs are available, including progressives geared to lifestyle, computer and sports, as well as special customized lenses upon request.”

Signet Armorlite’s Canadian Sales Manager Roberto DiFelice notes that their best seller by far on the digital front is the Kodak Unique, a full backside progressive with six corridors, starting from 13 mm fitting height. Why is it so successful? “The Unique is a design that works for most patients and it doesn’t require any extra dispensing measurements or equipment,” explains DiFelice. “The technology selects the corridor length for each patient’s Rx based on the frame size, monocular PD and fitting heights. This ensures the best overall visual performance for nearly any B measurement, large or very small.”

DiFelice adds, “The visual quality is often compared to single vision, while being a progressive. There is easy adaptation and a smooth gradation of the power across the surface, giving sharp, clear vision near, far and in-between.”

The Kodak Unique is available in many lens material options and multiple indices in clear, photochromic and polarized.

Rodenstock has a new interactive lens design technology — the Impression FreeSign®. “The dispenser designs the lens interactively with the client present,” explains Martin Bell, sales and marketing manager for Rodenstock Canada. The FreeSign program makes a complex calculation based on the wearer’s current prescription, her lifestyle needs and of course the prescription, and then comes up with a design that the practitioner and patient can view on the screen and discuss. It shows the visual field, which can be adjusted as new factors are brought into consideration.

The optics can also be adjusted for the base curve of the frame. “No matter what base curve you choose, the client will have the same excellent visual experience,” explains Bell.

The value of the Impression FreeSign is seen in the example of one patient, a truck driver, whose peripheral vision needs include both outward and downwards movements for a clear view of side mirrors while driving. “With the FreeSign program I can take that into consideration and customize the design so that his unique needs are met,” explains Bell.

There is no cost to have the program installed and Rodenstock supplies training. “But it’s not for everyone,” notes Bell. “We only want it in stores where a premium is placed on developing a relationship with the customer.”

Seiko has a new computer lens, the PCWide, available from Plastic Plus. “This is the perfect solution for anyone spending a number of hours a day at a desk,” says Plastic Plus President Paul Faibish.

The PCWide provides the benefits of a single-vision and no-line variable focus lens by using reverse power accommodation technology to control lens power in a precise manner. Sharp, clear vision at computer monitor distances allows wearers to adjust instantly to the smooth power transitions in the extra-wide intermediate portion of the lens. “This is a relatively inexpensive purchase that maximizes vision during the day,” notes Faibish. “And it gives the dispenser an opportunity to sell an extra pair of glasses that will provide immediate benefit to the customer.”

Look also for the Seiko Wrap Tech Thin lens, a free-form panoramic, aspheric and asymmetric design that corrects power error and astigmatism across the lens surface. “For high-base lenses there is nothing like this technology, which achieves the most aberration-free vision in a lightweight, thin, high-index material,” explains Faibish. “Fashionable curved frames require this lens, which is available in clear, polarized and Transitions.”

Nikon Optical’s Technical Consultant Chantal Gravel is understandably proud of the Nikon Optical Design Engine (NODE), which optimizes lens design. “All of Nikon’s research and development for every kind of lens, including cameras and telescopes, is automatically accessed by the optical division through the NODE system. Every time we receive a request to make a pair of lenses, all the order information – measurements, PD, frame dimensions and so on goes through the system and each lens is individually optimized and sometimes personalized, depending on the patient’s needs and ECP instructions.”

With SeeMax POWER AP, a personalized progressive lens, the combination of NODE optimization, advanced personalization and fitting parameters improves the field of vision by up to 20 per cent compared to the original SeeMax Power. “This is the ideal progressive lens for patients seeking the highest visual quality,” says Gravel. “We offer a good quality product for everybody but our major strength is sophisticated bi-aspheric technology. We produce the most sophisticated lenses so that ECPs have access to the latest technology for their patients.”

The name Oakley is synonymous with sports and three new sport-specific progressive lenses enhance Oakley’s reputation as the go-to company in this arena. Oakley True Digital Cycling, Golf and Fishing lenses are tailored specifically for each sport so that presbyopic athletes and enthusiasts enjoy their activities even more.

Each sport requires a different type of straight and peripheral vision and Oakley’s innovative technology optimizes for the vision needs critical to each sport. Light-filtering technology further enhances the sporting experience: reducing glare for cyclists, enhancing the image of the ball against both sky and greens for golfers, and reducing reflected glare for fishers. Even deep-sea fishers have a lens that deals with the intense midday sun when on the water.

Back surface reflections are addressed via Oakley Stealth™ AR, which improves overall lens clarity, in addition to front-side mirror coatings that reduce glare and balance light transmission. These lenses also look very cool – and that can’t hurt!

Younger Optics knows that NuPolar Trilogy provides unprecedented comfort and visual acuity in a lightweight lens product that meets the needs of virtually every customer. “In today’s competitive market you cannot afford to have a customer who is dissatisfied,” notes Marketing Manager Robert Lee. “On the other hand, satisfied patients are returning patients.”

Now that Younger can combine polarization with Trilogy, the sales opportunities are much expanded. “The last thing you want to see is a customer walking through your door with a pair of delaminated polarized sunglasses in their hands,” explains Lee. “This problem is now solved with Trilogy Polarized lenses.”

Trilogy lens material also provides excellent optical quality while being chemical- and impact-resistant, and providing UVA/UVB blocking. “Nor will it crack and break around stress points like some inferior materials,” adds Lee.

Anyone with edging on their minds needs to know about the WECO Edge 680, the newest patternless edger from the German brand WECO. Released in spring 2012, the Edge 680 gives the gift of high productivity combined with perfect edging results. Operators love the total control afforded by this machine, with a large, tiltable, intuitive touch-screen, which allows for easy use of the step-down beveling feature. High curve applications are accomplished with great ease, as is high-definition angled drilling and grooving. Speed and agility marry quality in this device, which is compatible with an extensive range of centering and tracing devices.

Another edging innovation comes from Briot USA. The Emotion, launched at Vision Expo East 2012, is an all-in-one technological wonder with features that include shape modification, customized grooves and angled drilling. With a simple touch screen interface, the Emotion represents the best in easy-to-use technology. You’ll no doubt be smiling as you meet difficult edging challenges with this advanced device.

Essilor is leading the sun protection field with the development of an Eye-Sun Protection factor (E-SPF) rating system. The impetus for the development of this system was the fact that a recent consumer survey in Europe showed that more than two-thirds of consumers are not aware that clear lenses offer UV protection. At the same time, more than 90 percent of respondents believed that such a system would be helpful.

Essilor’s E-SPF provides an objective, science-based index for eyewear, certifying the UV protection of a lens. Values vary from 2 to a maximum of 25 for clear lenses and 50+ for tinted as well as polarized sun lenses. With an E-SPF of 25, Crizal UV lenses reach the best level of protection in the clear lens category and outperform other lenses on the market. The E-SPF system is propriety to Essilor.

Also look for the Optifog™ lens from Essilor, which addresses the problem of lenses fogging up when the wearer moves from cold to hot temperatures in humid environments. Optifog lenses will be helpful for drivers as well as in professional (e.g. surgical) and industrial settings where foggy lenses can be problematic.

Vision-Ease Lens works for the working person with Continua FSV Safety Plus lenses, now available in both plus and minus powers. These are high-impact, 2.0 mm lenses aimed at industrial accounts where protective eyewear is both necessary and effective in reducing personal injury. The product excels because the thinnest point on any part of the lens is 2.0 mm, giving maximum protection and reducing the chance that a frame would become dislodged upon impact.

Continua FSV Safety Plus lenses are now available in +3.00 to -6.00 sphere to -2.00 cylinder. Safety Plus lenses in the range of +2.00 to +3.00 sphere and 0.00 to -2.00 cylinder have slightly flatter front curves than those previously produced.

Transitions Optical continues to break exciting new ground in lens technology with the development of Transitions® Vantage lenses with variable polarization. Leave it to Transitions to create a lens that polarizes gradually in response to light conditions. The Vantage is an everyday photochromic lens that starts out virtually clear and non-polarized indoors. When the wearer is outdoors, the lens responds by darkening and polarizing, optimizing the angle at which light reaches the eyes to help control glare and light scatter.

The molecules in conventional photochromic lenses darken in a random pattern, creating an even tint. The photochromic molecules in Transitions Vantage lenses not only darken, but also align to create polarization. This means Transitions Vantage lenses have a level of polarization that depends on the amount of UV exposure – the darker the lens, the more polarization there is.

Variable polarization provides added glare protection over and above traditional photochromic lenses. With AR added, Transitions Vantage lenses help to manage glare in all its many guises.

Kudos to Transitions – changing the paradigm once again!