LAB: U.S. Optical
East Syracuse, N.Y.

Ron Cotran, vice president


“Digital lenses mean more personalization for the customer. We can even make it more personal because we can put the patient’s initials on the lens because we’re already engraving the reference markings, like with Zeiss Individual. You can even add the retailer’s name. It’s a branding opportunity.

“Our invoice work ticket has both a prescribed prescription and compensated prescription on it. Let’s say you order minus 2 sphere. The actual compensated Rx could be 1.92 with a 12 cylinder or a quarter cylinder, or frame tilt. If an optician reads it he’ll say it’s off axis, or it should be a sphere. It can still can be confusing for some people. When we have someone who is just starting to use a compensated Rx, we train them how to work with it.

“Another area we feel our relationships with customers has become closer is single vision free-form. There’s a lot of money that’s being left on the table with younger people, those who are under 45 years-old. Many of them have iPhones or iPads. They’re into digital technology, so why not offer them single vision free-form digital lenses that are more precise, especially on stronger prescriptions? A practice could easily increase sales by $150,000 a year and only increase its cost by $15 to $20 a pair. We’ve introduced Shamir Autograph single vision and Shamir Attitude for wraps, Zeiss Individual single vision and Zeiss 3D, and Seiko Super MV single vision 1.67 aspheric.

“Single vision free-form is also great for wraps. We have an Mei System edger. Coupled with the wrap compensation you get in free-form, it produces a beautiful sunglass lens. You’re able to control edge thickness and other parameters, so you can do a lot of 6- and 8-base wrap lenses you couldn’t even do two years ago for sunglasses.”

Customer Comment:

Mikki Freidkin
Optician and co-owner, with William McConarty OD,
Village Eye Center, which operates two locations in
Maryland and one in northern Virginia.


“When we started working with free-form, we found it to be an independent’s dream because of the personalized service and amount of care we put into each patient. Because of how technical these lenses are we had to change a lot of the way we look at a typical progressive. It used to be you didn’t have too much control over the end quality result, but now we have enormous control. Patients are satisfied with the results. They say, ‘I’ve never had vision like this.’

“With the compensated Rx, you have to take a leap of faith in people who are making the lens for you. Our lab, U.S. Optical, is a true partner and has the same concern for each individual patient. They are there at a moment’s notice to problem solve, if necessary.

“Although we got hit with the recession, our numbers continue to grow. We are probably dispensing 99 percent of our progressive in free-form. I base this growth entirely on the fact that we’ve embraced this new technology.”

Customer Comment:

Maggie Sayers
Master optician and development coach at Treasure
Coast Eye Associates, a Vero Beach, Fla. practice
owned by Brice Roselli, OD.


“Digital and free-form have helped opticianry move into the twenty-first century. We can explain the technology to our patients, and fill their needs for high definition vision and comfort. It gives opticians an opportunity to set ourselves apart and be leaders.

“Our U.S. Optical rep does a tremendous job of educating us about digital lenses and free-form surfacing and explains how to talk to our patients about the lenses confidently and authentically. U.S. Optical’s website also has an online tour of the lab, which I use for my CE education courses.”

“I use a distometer to measure vertex distance and another tool to measure pantoscopic tilt. Then we generate a detailed printout, which I ship to the lab, along with frame. There is no phone communication with the lab. I always rely on the lab if I need to have something particular, like a certain edge thickness in a particular mount. I call it in and they can just key it into the computer and find out what the thinnest edge is or what the finished job is going to look like. The lab and I support each other to bring everything together for the patient. The teamwork approach is wonderful.”