The Rise of Premium Single Vision Lenses

Free-form technology lifts lenses from commodity to premium


By Barry Santini, ABOM

NEW YORK—Over the past year or so, doctors and dispensers have increasingly been hearing about patients’ positive reactions to their first pair of premium, free-form single vision (FF SV) lenses. The comments typically range from a simple, “wow” to “unbelievably clear” to “I haven’t seen this well in years!”

Why do these premium lenses inspire such positive comments? There are several reasons:

• The extreme high precision of free-form surfacing, which can produce lens surfaces over 100 times more accurate than traditionally generated lenses.

• Sophisticated lens design software that allows correction levels beyond those of even optimally fitted, corrective curve lenses.

• For the first time, it now becomes possible to optimize sphero-cylindrical prescriptions in their peripheral regions. Remember, corrective curve theory never provided for simultaneous correction of two power meridians, as found with sphero-cylindrical corrections.

• Lens material choices can be freely chosen, i.e., lens index, photochromic, polarized, etc., almost without traditional availability considerations.

• Fitting values that differ or depart from default or assumed values in pantoscopic tilt and vertex distance are possible to compensate for in the lens design software.

Lens design performance can be further optimized or enhanced using personal factors such as frame size, shape, frame curve, horizontal PD, and monocular pupil heights.

• With some designs, base curves can be individually specified. This mean that a particular frame’s face form curve can be best maintained through use of a base curve that may depart from traditional corrective curve guidelines. Premium, free-form SV lens design software can compensate for this in the lens’s design calculations.

The real “wow” clients are exclaiming about with premium, free-form single vision lenses is actually the sum of the following three factors:

1) How in the past, we lost our way with respect for the proper fitting of corrective curve lenses.

2) How ECPs detoured into the “twilight zone” of reduced lens performance by fudging lens curves, materials and designs, in order to deal with the whims of eyewear fashion, and by so doing, facilitated our patients getting “used to” substandard optics.

3) How the precision, sophistication and personalization possibilities of new, digitally-surfaced, free-form optimized single vision lenses can surpass the benchmarked lens performance standards of lens designs now nearing almost 100 years-old.

Positioning Premium Lenses

ECPs should ask themselves when was the last time they were excited to suggest anything beyond AR that would significantly improve the clarity of a single vision lens? Considering that premium, FF SV lenses are only modestly more expensive than quality finished lenses similarly optioned, the price difference they will request for these truly revolutionary lenses should counteract any resistance. If one is lucky enough to be dispensing a client’s first pair while also presenting the same to another, the “wow” reaction heard will no doubt “seal the deal” right away.

The additional time required when determining custom measurements for these premium lenses is sure to be greeted with patient comments such as, “I don’t remember you taking these measurement before.” Take the opportunity to answer with an explanation of how these advanced lenses are different from the older designs they’ve been fitted with before.

These additional measurement opportunities, referred to as “patient contact points” (thank you to Anthony Fulco of 21st Century Optics for this terrific term), are essential in enhancing the atmosphere of professionalism and trust needed to differentiate a practice within today’s competitive eyewear market.

Ultimate Seeing

Because conventional single vision lenses are basically a commodity, many ECPs understandably may question the value of premium, free-form progressives. Yet they are undoubtedly worth a try.

For value conscious or skeptical progressive wearers, try packaging a pair of premium FF SV lenses with their next progressive purchase, and position them as the ultimate TV eyewear. What progressive wearer doesn’t slide their eyewear down their nose to view their new, high definition TV better? For any prescription containing more than 0.50 D of cylinder power, presenting this class of premium SV lens is an absolute no brainer. Everyone I’ve fitted in this way has requested that I be sure to recommend this technology for all their future eyewear purchases.

The next time a client says they don’t “need” new glasses because their prescription hasn’t changed, talk to them about enjoying the new, premium free-form single vision lenses that deliver the sharpest vision ever. With the culmination of over 200 years of ophthalmic lens design, they are truly the ultimate in sight.