Digital Immersion
Despite growing pains, new technologies expand labs’ capabilities
Cutting Edge Upgrades Mean Better Service
Vision Monday

Published August 2010


aug_2010_digital_immersion“I’ve been in this business for about 34 years, and this is really fun,” said Fussell. “I’ve already seen a blended myodisc done on minus eight on six-base curve that looked like a minus three. Down the road, we’re going to see things that will be mind boggling.”

Robertson is a relatively recent convert to digital surfacing, having purchased equipment and begun production in the fourth quarter of 2009. The lab is running Schneider equipment and C.C. Systems LMS, which is integrated with Shamir’s Prescriptor system, the calculation engine for Shamir Autograph free-form lenses.

Part of the challenge with selling free-form lenses is educating the lab’s accounts about the differences between free-form and conventional lenses, Fussell said. “When we get calls from customers, they understand they’re going to get a compensated power because of position of wear technology. They know they can’t read it exactly on a lensometer .

“I have seen compensated axis that is different by as much as 10 or 12 degrees,” Fussell continued. We give them a compensation sheet that shows them what it’s supposed to be. Our customers are very trusting, though, because they know our quality. Over time, the retail community will invest in digital machines that will do a better job of verifying the prescriptions. But as of now, the cart is before the horse.”

Like other lab managers who have embraced digital surfacing, Fussell attests to the fact that the learning curve is steep at first. “The machinery is a good bit more complicated,” he said. “Our surface manager spent a good part of the first 120 days literally doing it all himself and looking at every job. He had to look at the laser engraving and make adjustments, because dip coating as well as different materials and lens designs affects the depth of the engraving. For example, Zeiss is different than Shamir.”

Fussell credits the digital technology with significantly improving Robertson’s ability to service its accounts. The ability to make a lens on demand rather than having to pull it from stock or else order it is a big plus, he said.

“Now, the materials are always on the shelf,” noted Fussell. “For example, in the summertime, a patient might be going on vacation and need a Transitions Brown 1.67 in a 3.50 add. Not too many labs have that on the shelf. With digital, you can get started on it right away and save a day or day-and-a-half. You can also take that puck [lens blank] and make it into four or five different lens designs. You look through charts and say, “Maybe Zeiss has got some product extensions that they didn’t have in traditional areas that we can make. The sky’s the limit.”

Robertson also uses digital surfacing to create private label lenses. The lab recently introduced Cozē, its own brand of customized, free-form progressive lenses which feature what Robertson calls Customized Optical Zone Enhancement.

“Cozē progressive lenses exceed the performance of conventional premium progressives, and do it at a moderate price,” said Fussell, adding that Robertson also offers Cozē HDW for seasoned progressive lens wearers and Cozē Single Vision which features an atoric digital back curve and outperforms standard single vision lenses, according to Fussell.

By Andy Karp (Interview with Mike Fussell about Digital Surfacing)