Behind many successful eyecare practices and optical shops is a prescription laboratory that stands ready to handle almost any job it is asked to do.

Although extreme or unusual prescriptions are usually done by specialty houses such as Quest Vision Care in Largo, Fla., many labs say they often process challenging prescriptions that test the ingenuity and lens processing prowess of their production team.

To get an idea of the technical feats labs regularly perform, I asked a few lab managers to describe the most challenging job their lab has recently produced, and explain how it was done.

—Andrew Karp

Scott Balestreri
Badass Optical
Oakland, Calif.

“I processed an order combining 36D of prism diagonally. It required a specialty lab to surface the lens after I coordinated with the dispenser about the very specific size frame selection. We then had to make determinations about how we wanted to cut that lens into the frame so that it would be wearable and light as possible. The patient did achieve fusion of their double vision.”

Bill Heffner IV
IT and Marketing Director
FEA Industries
Morton, Pa.

“The most challenging job we've had recently was for a practice in the Midwest. They had one of these wrap sun frames that the patient insisted on, and they were having trouble getting lenses for it that would work. The frame itself was not the problem, it was everything else about the job. The patient's prescription was around a -5.00, and they were insisting on a glass progressive lens.

They had attempted to talk the patient out of it, but once people try glass, it can be difficult to get them to go back to other materials. They also had problems finding someone that could do this job for them, and since we're the only lab that's able to offer something like this, it's fortunate we were able to find each other in the first place.
The first challenge we had was seeing what lenses were actually available that will meet the criteria, and really, there weren't any. In order to have an option in a wrap, glass sun lens, we needed to use one of our Eagle freeform designs. The next challenge was being able to put the patient's prescription on the lenses in the base curve that was required by the (rather large) frame.

While we had an answer for the lens design to use, we then ran into the problem where the lens blanks weren't going to be thick enough to work, as the higher base curves aren't expecting you to need inches of edge thickness. In order to solve that problem—because we weren't about to admit defeat—we applied a digital lenticularization process to the lens, essentially making it a myodisc that was optimized to the shape of the frame. This made it possible for us to blend the edges, making the lens edges thinner.

This helped to not only overcome the issue of the lens blank not being thick enough, but also making the final lenses thinner and smoother. This secondary benefit became immediately noticeable once we edged the lenses. Had we made these lenses without an edge blend, they would have jutted out from the frame so far that they would have pressed against the patients’ face.

By taking these steps, we were able to get the lenses created in a way that not only did it work, but it actually looked good. Most cases would have resulted in this job either not being possible, or ending up weighing too much due to the glass lenses. We were able to use freeform processing to not only make the lenses, but thin them and make a better lens and a happy customer.”

Ronald LaCross, Jr.
Certified MEI Technician
US Optical
East Syracuse, NY

“Due to our knowledgeable finish staff with the use of the MEI edgers, we meet challenging jobs head on. We do a lot of non Rx-able sun frames, and non- ophthalmic frames that require special edging,” said LaCross (pictured at right). “One example is the Mykita Studio frame. It’s considered a groove snap-in, and its round shape can cause lens movement, which is a challenge. The customer Rx was -5.00.”

Watch this video to see how the original Mykita lenses turn in the frame.

Ralph Cotran, vice president of US Optical, offered another example of a tough job. “We recently had a wrap required job with OU of minus 7 with a 3.50 add. Other labs would not do it and if they did they struggled with thickness. With our Freeform Wrap HD and MEI edgers we were able to make it cosmetically pleasing and the customer and patient were happy. Our lab manager, Jay Sagor (pictured at left), was able to walk it through the lab and adjust the generators as needed.”

Christopher Anderson

VP of Operations
My Friend’s Lab
Dallas, Texas

“We had a new account that sent over an online order that required a prodigious amount of prism and other complexities. Instead of just starting the job, as some wholesale laboratories do, we stopped and made a phone call. This one phone call created a wealth of knowledge that wasn't clearly communicated on the original order.
We handled this by having the optician call the patient back into their practice. When the patient was in their office we had the optician call us to confirm the base curve, material selection, exact and precise PDs and seg heights and position of wear measurements. After the optician gave us all of these measurements it created a brand new order.
The optician was fairly new to the industry, so we helped with basic lifestyle questions and information about the previous eyeglasses the patient had purchased from other offices. By doing this we found out the patient could not wear certain materials, and was very particular to base curve. These details, along with other discoveries we made helped us produce a pair of lenses that the patient was very happy with. She insisted that the optician give her our lab’s number, which she did.

This was one of the best calls I have ever taken. The patient was in tears and expressed her gratitude for our service and willingness to go the "extra mile" to ensure she could see perfectly out of her new prescription. She explained she had not had this kind of experience in the past and has had to just ‘try to get used to the changes’ in her prescriptions. She was never able to see well out of her glasses, nor had she experienced this type of service before. ‘These are the best pair of glasses I have ever had!’ she told us. Needless to say, this made our day. We were happy that her tears were because of sheer appreciation and gratitude.”