How many ODs embrace technology?
Lens and frame technology has come a long way since the days of glass and metal, says Phernell Walker II, ABOM, NCLC, of Portland, OR, at Vision Expo West in Las Vegas. Today, lenses and frames aren’t mere aesthetic concerns. They are tools for improving the way opticians deliver eye care across lens quality, frame choice, and integrated health monitoring.
“The 21st century optician has to understand what’s new in technology. We have to understand what people want,” he says.
An eye on lens technology
Lens technology is in an exciting place today. With advancements in material science, treatments, clarity, and shape, modern lenses have led to options that, 20 years ago, could never have been imagined.
“We’ve come a long way — not only in the materials we use, sustainability and so forth — but also the shape, the geometry,” Mr. Walker says. In fact, lens design optics are improving so fast, possibly faster than opticians can handle.
Mr. Walker explained that these digital lenses challenge the status quo of measuring in diopters and verifying via lensometer.
“The lensometer is limited. The increment that it can measure is limited,” he says. “Today, opticians can cut 4.00 D and 5.00 D lenses down to 1/1000ths of a millimeter.”
Mr. Walker also noted that atoric lenses were among the most advanced options available to opticians.
“The best surfaces that we have today are toric tangential geometry,” he says. These lenses eliminate nearly all off-axis blur and aberrations beyond what most conventional lenses achieve.
He also detailed several advancements in sunwear technology, including dielectric designs that eliminate specular reflection, thin film coatings, and better blue light filtration treatments.
Framing a solution
Frame materials, styles, and designs are expanding fast. Though certain standbys are still popular (and zylonite isn’t going anywhere), opticians can expect to see a broad spectrum of new materials to enter the scene, such as translucent materials, nylon blends, wrapped frames, and laminates.
With new materials on the market, it’s important for opticians to understand what options are available to them and make those choices clear to their patients.
“Some people need a lot of help, but unfortunately, they get help from the wrong places,” Mr. Walker says.
And given that patients have more choice than ever before across lenses and frames, opticians will have no shortage of options for meeting their patients’ needs.
Technology trends in eyecare
Technology has an increasingly important role to play in eyecare. Mr. Walker described how frames equipped with new internet-enabled devices could be used to expand the optician’s role as a healthcare provider.
“It solves a problem, not just sight,” he says.
These wearables provide real-time data that clinicians can use to improve patient outcomes—particularly valuable for patients who struggle with ongoing health concerns.
“We’re even seeing technology that helps with diabetic patients,” he says.
Beyond that, opticians can expect to see further adoption of telemedicine channels and optical camera technologies that improve quality of care.
But more than anything else, Mr. Walker asks opticians to keep the lenses in mind.
“We’re trying to make lenses sexy, one pair at a time,” he says.