Thema Eyewear’s V.E.A. (Virtual Eyewear Assistant) was born out of the company’s dream to produce a pair of glasses perfectly tailored to each individual customer. The V.E.A. system uses Thema’s software and hardware to take precise biometric measurements for each customer; it then interprets that data, offers choices to the patient, and then customizes the perfect frame. In-office, the scan is conducted on an iPad, and captures about 500,000 points on the face to then choose eyewear styles that will fit the user’s face.

In response to COVID-19, Thema explored yet another avenue in virtual try-on: the company launched the V.E.A. app, available on the Apple App Store. Here’s how it works: ECPs are given a link to share with their patients, which will allow the patient to download the V.E.A. app for free. Once the app is downloaded, patients can see a preview of any iGreen frame on their own face from the comfort and safety of their own home. Through the app and the ECP, the patient can then order a highly customizable iGreen frame, which Thema will ship from its Miami, Florida factory within a week of the order date. The app allows ECPs to continue to sell extremely customized frames safely—and allows patients to experience the V.E.A. technology no matter where they are.

Christian and Brooke Hargrove, ABO certified opticians and co-owners of Empire Optical in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been using Thema’s V.E.A. for years now in-store. Christian told VM, “In 2019 we had the chance to tour the Thema factory in Miami and we were really drawn in to the story of their craftsmanship—especially the fact that they could make custom combinations out of thousands of different zyl options. When they announced they would have a custom virtual app, we jumped at the opportunity to involve our customers in this process.”

The Empire Optical team set up the V.E.A. and a custom Thema lightbox, “so people could ‘touch and feel’ the raw materials they were choosing,” Christian explained. “Needless to say, it makes for a very fun sales experience and our customers are happy to tell others about their ‘virtual’ experience of making their own iGreen Custom frame in our store. Sales have significantly increased, with no sign of slowing down. I think this virtual technology will be a highlight of our product mix. Millions of frame combinations with almost no inventory cost—now that’s what I call a win-win.”