Keeping track of “most read” stories is a thing for many people in the publishing world—it gives us a sense of what is resonating with our readers and guides us as to what interests them as consumers of our print and digital products. As journalists, reader preferences also alert us as to what’s top of mind for our readers and what types of business tools they might need to navigate today’s ever-changing business landscape. Today, we take a look back at our most read Today’s Read features for 2021. The subject matter runs the gamut from a couple of lab guys getting into the movie business (seriously) to the far-reaching effects of digital eye strain due to—you guessed it—the pandemic. For a look back, here are our Top 5 most read VMAIL Weekend features so far this year.

From Processing ‘Scripts’ to Reading Scripts: How 3 Ex Optical Lab Owners Found Success in the Film Biz
By Andrew Karp

It’s a plotline straight out of the movies. Three former optical wholesale lab owners leave behind the daily grind of making prescription eyewear to become producers of independent films featuring Alec Baldwin, John Malkovich, Kurt Russell, Marisa Tomei and other big name screen stars.

Like the legal disclaimer seen at the start of many movies, this story is based on actual events. In fact, the main characters—Michael J. Rothstein, formerly Hirsch Optical in New York, Mike Palkovicz, formerly of I-See Optical Lab in New Jersey and Greg Ruden, formerly of Expert Optics in Illinois—are real people who are well-known to many in the optical industry. How they landed their dream job is the true story of three middle-aged guys who each sold their successful family business to an international conglomerate, invested some of their profits in an indie production company, took a leap into the unknown and landed on their feet. In my conversations with this trio of ex-lab execs, I learned that the transition from producing prescription eyeglasses to producing independent films is not as unlikely as it might sound. Read More

Digital Eye Strain—Another Pandemic Pain Point
By Mary Kane

We’ve all seen those notifications and displays on our phones tallying up our average screen time for the week. I don’t know about you, but I find it a bit jarring some weeks to see how much time I am spending on my phone. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Ever since we went into lockdown last March, we’ve all been spending way too much time not just on phones, but on electronic devices in general—including laptops, ipads and TVs. And once you add in children learning remotely on screens, you have a recipe for digital overload throughout the entire family. Here are some eye opening statistics about the rise of Digital Eye Strain (DES) and some advice from several eye doctors on how to combat the problem.

According to new data from Eyesafe, a leader in screen time and blue light solutions, and LG Display, a cutting edge display company, people have been spending 13+ hours per day on screens since COVID-19 emerged—up 30 percent from last year. As a result, eye strain has become the #1 pain point for device users, with 59 percent of people experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain. Read More

Searching for Fresh Answers to The Question: Why Are Glasses So Expensive?
By Andrew Karp

How often has this happened to you? You’re relaxing with friends or family, and someone shows up wearing a new pair of glasses. Naturally, you notice and say something like, “Those new glasses look great on you.” They reply, “Thanks. I paid a lot for them, so they better look good.” Then there’s a short pause, followed by what I call The Question: “Why are glasses so expensive?” 

I usually take a deep breath before responding. Then I give this little speech: “A nice looking, well-made pair of eyeglasses is one of the most important items you can own. It’s the result of a lot of research and development, manufacturing expertise and, often, craftsmanship. For it to function properly, it needs to be custom fitted for you by a trained, experience professional. Isn’t all that worth paying for something that enables you to see the world, and influences how the world sees you?” I’ve been giving my speech for so long I’m afraid it’s getting stale. I wanted to freshen it up, so I asked some of my optical friends how they respond when asked The Question. Here’s what they told me. Read More

As Vaccines Roll Out, ECPs Get in Line
By Gwendolyn Plummer

NEW YORK—Across the country, COVID-19 vaccine rollout has kicked off. Most states are still in the early phases of vaccination, which usually includes older, more vulnerable members of the population, and certain frontline and health care workers. In many states, those health care workers include ECPs. For many, receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is a cause for hope, joy and celebration. Although we’ve lived through unimaginable terror and grief for the past 10 months, vaccination is a sign both of how far we’ve come and how far we can still go. To honor the science that got us here, many in the optical community have taken to social media to share the news of their vaccinations—and to share what The Cut is calling “The Vaxxie,” or the Vaccination Selfie. Here, we’re diving in and taking a look at The Vaxxie in the optical community. Read More

Summer Reading: The Books People in Optical Are Reading Right Now
By Mark Tosh

NEW YORK—With the unofficial start of summer just a week away, what better time to start putting together a summer reading list? Although now that many venues and outdoor activities are reopening to larger crowds, we admit summer reading might not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list this year. Still, there are enough good, thought-provoking business titles circulating right now to capture just about every special interest. For one, we like the premise of “The Future is Faster Than You Think,” which looks at how technologies will “completely reshape every industry and society over the next decade.” Hard to ignore this one, right? (And it’s on the reading list of IDOC’s Dave Brown, as noted below.)

But don’t just take our suggestions for your next book: Here’s a roundup of what VMAIL Weekend learned when we asked several people in the optical business what books they have read recently, want to read or just have in the stack by their bed. Read More