A Private Affair: The Rise of Private Labels in Independent Labs

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Monday, August 2, 2021 1:45 AM Private label brands, also known as house brands (or somewhat less kindly, generic products) are a common feature of grocery stores, providing shoppers with a lower-priced alternative to well-known and trusted brands. Often they are relegated to the lower shelves, with brand names occupying the coveted eye-level spots. Optical labs have sometimes referred to themselves as “grocery stores,” offering their customers a wide range of branded products to suit their preferences. As relationships with manufacturers evolved, some labs would give a particular name-brand prominence over others. Often labs would also offer a private label as a lower-priced, lower-shelf alternative. Today, some independent labs are flipping the script on brands, positioning their private-label in the foreground as their go-to product line, while offering established brands as alternatives. To understand this new phenomenon, we spoke to three independent lab execs whose labs are using this approach and having success with it.

As Online Sales Grow, Labs Adapt to New Service Requirements

By Sarah McGoldrick / Contributing Editor
Monday, August 2, 2021 1:44 AM Despite a slump in optical retail sales caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a strong year for online optical sales. Total optical retail sales fell 17.4 percent from December 2019 to December 2020 and $36.05 billion in retail revenues during the same period, according to The Vision Council’s VisionWatch report for Q4 2020. Yet online sales of eyeglass frames topped 9 million pairs during the same period, a 22 percent increase over the previous year.

Family Business: Lab Leadership Across Generations

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:30 AM The optical industry is often viewed as a family: it is relatively small, as industries go, and it often seems like everybody knows everyone else. But many optical businesses, including labs, are literally family affairs passed on from one generation to the next, creating a continuity of culture and customer relationships. To understand the attraction, advantages and the rewards of working in the family business, VM spoke to four lab leaders who are following in their parents’ footsteps and creating new ones of their own.

The Human Factor: Lab Functions That Resist Automation

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:29 AM The first two decades of the 21st century have seen many new developments and large investments in lab automation. Automating functions increases efficiency, reduces turnaround time and points of failure in lens fabrication and finishing, and almost everyone who knows the lab business would agree that the changes are for the best.

Start Me Up: What it Takes to Launch a New Rx Lab

By Jeff Hopkins, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, December 22, 2020 6:29 PM With the optical lab landscape seemingly dominated by manufacturers’ networks and a few large independent labs, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is no room in the market for new players. Yet optical veterans continue to find fertile ground for the establishment of new small independent labs, and success is following.

At Your Service

By Andrew Karp / Group Editor, Lenses & Technology and Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Monday, November 2, 2020 12:30 AM In the first days of the coronavirus pandemic, as states and municipalities began issuing shutdown orders, optical retailers and optometric practices across the country went into shock. With many offices closed and eyeglass shipments disrupted, the situation was chaotic. “When everyone literally had the rug pulled out from under them, no previous systems you had in place were going to be helpful when you’re winging it,” recalled optician Ruth Domber, who co-owns 10/10 Optics, a popular optical boutique and optometric practice in New York City.

ODs Can Employ Social Media Content and SEO to Leverage Specialty Expertise

By By Zvi Pardes, EyeCarePro.net, Contributing Editor
Monday, November 11, 2019 12:28 AM EyeCarePro, which works with optometric practices on their web and digital presence, started ODSpecialty because we were working with clients who more and more weren’t being served by our general marketing format. They were less interested in general care patient growth and had specific medical services they wanted to make a larger part of their practices. There was nothing out there to make this happen for them, and it took a specialized content approach to make it happen.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Dr. Shalu Pal’s Instagram Page Is Emblematic of Her Jovial Team

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Friday, August 30, 2019 8:00 AM TORONTO, Ontario—Going to the doctor’s office can be quite daunting to some. The experience can be impersonal, with practitioners who are matter of fact and impersonable. And let’s face it, the whole thing can culminate into a dire diagnosis. Shalu Pal and her team at Dr. Shalu Pal & Associates in Yorkville, Toronto, are aware of this and have made it a mission to give you major FOMO through their Instagram page, helmed by Pal herself. The page is a fun outlet for the practice, intended to lure you and curb your reservations about doctors and the often harrowing experience of being in an examination room.

Maryann Youssef, OD, Is All About Educating and Traveling

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Thursday, August 8, 2019 9:00 AM Dr. Maryann Youssef may be a novice to the social media game but judging by her page, she’s got the formula figured out. A graduate of the Western University of Health Sciences, this Florida native created Doctor.Maryann eight months ago in an effort to connect with patients outside the exam room. Since then, the page has garnered over 1,000 followers and counting. “I started my Instagram page as a way to share my passion with patients outside of the exam room,” she explained. “At least once a day, I have a patient say, ‘Wow, I never knew you could check all of that in an eye exam!’ Optometry is undervalued, and that is in part due to the lack of education we provide to our patients. I'm trying to do my small part in changing that.”

Audrey Raley, OD, Is the Doctor Next Door

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Friday, August 2, 2019 9:00 AM Audrey Raley, OD, created her Instagram page, Doc_Raley_OD in May of last year as a way to let her friends and family follow her journey into entrepreneurship with the opening of her own practice, Refined Eye Care. Almost a year later, Dr. Raley opened the doors of Refined Eyecare to her patients and as her practice has gotten on its feet, so has her presence on social media. “I created my IG page as an announcement of the decision I made to open cold,” she stated.

Elena Pryadkina Is Living Her Life in Color

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Thursday, July 25, 2019 10:00 AM Elena Pryadkina’s Instagram page, EyeAmElena is as colorful as her sense of fashion and it is clear for anyone who stops by the page that she is quite the fashionista. A second-year optician student at Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia, she converted EyeAmElena from a personal page to a more optical focused page in order to show her passion for eyewear. Pryadkina found herself falling in love with the profession in 2016 when she took a job as an office administrator in a local independent optical store. “I had never enjoyed working until I started working there and that’s how I knew opticianry was a good career to pursue.”

Panel Explores Actionable Ideas and Themes From Summit Presenters

By Sara Bonizio, Contributing Editor
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 2:57 PM Howard Purcell, OD, FAAO, president and CEO, New England College of Optometry, helped attendees extract valuable ideas from Weinswig and Sarasohn-Kahn’s presentations. Together with Ann Hoscheit, OD, FAAO, Dave Brown, president and CEO of IDOC and James Rosin, co-president of Rosin Eyecare, he explored the topics in the keynote presentations and discussed how attendees can take away actionable ideas and information from the Summit to help them compete in this new customer- and patient-centric environment. He also recognized the importance of current and future optometry students to be able to rely on the continued relevance and future existence of their chosen profession, as new technologies affect its evolution.

Student Innovators of the Year Present Their Inventions at the VM Summit

By Gwendolyn Plummer, Contributing Editor
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 2:56 PM NEW YORK—Three optometry students, each representing a different school of optometry, were recipients of this year’s Student Innovator of the Year Award at the VM Global Leadership Summit. Named after Rick Bay, former publisher and president of Review of Optometry and Review of Ophthalmology, the Foundation’s Student Innovator of the Year award aims to support optometry’s next generation. This year’s winners were Christian Crespo, representing SUNY Optometry; Mahsa Katherine Masoudi, representing UC Berkeley; and Dmitriy Richter, representing the New England College of Optometry.

Turning Data Wealth Into Patient Health

By Sara Bonizio, Contributing Editor and Mark Tosh, Senior Editor
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 2:52 PM In the final Summit session, “Turning Data Wealth into Patient Health,” Amy Heymans (Cueva), founder and chief experience officer of Mad*Pow, spoke about the unique methods her company uses when working with health care clients, noting that “changing real-world behaviors” is central to addressing the key challenges facing both society and business. Mad*Pow’s methods draw upon design concepts and motivational psychology to help patients achieve greater health and wellness, financial wellbeing, education and sustainability.

Kimberly Chan, OD, Is All About Creating a Work-Life Balance

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Monday, January 21, 2019 12:32 AM Kimberly Chan, OD, fell in love with her profession when she got her first pair of contact lenses as a young girl. With contact lenses, Chan, who has had bad eyesight since she was six-years-old, felt as though a new world had opened up to her; suddenly, she didn’t feel restricted by her thick glasses and was able to explore her potential in sports and other hobbies with a new boost of confidence. Years later, she got her Doctor of Optometry Degree from the New England College of Optometry and currently practices in her home city of Toronto.