With all the high-index lenses available today, it’s become a challenge for eyecare professionals (ECPs) to decide which one(s) to use. That’s because each has a special appeal. To find out how ECPs are managing the use of high-index lens materials, here are three members of the Optical Retail Business Alliance (ORBA) to answer some questions. Their answers show some interesting trends.
Madeleine Kruhsburg, Owner, Optique of Denver, Denver, CO
Dan Schmidt, Owner/Manager, Soto Opticians, Sarasota, FL
Mickey Bradley, Owner, Patrick Optical, Fort Worth, TX
How do you decide which high-index lens material to use?
Kruhsburg: I prefer to use high-index for all prescriptions over +/-2.00D. Part of that decision comes from being in Denver, where the sun shines over 300 days a year. When I explain to my patients that high-index lenses give them the UV protection they need along with a thinner lens and less weight, 95% take my suggestion.
Schmidt: The prescription is an obvious choice as well as the type of frame that we’re using for the patient. I feel that vision is far better with high-index lenses than it is with polycarbonate products so we use more of it. Since we specialize in rimless eyewear, we use high-index primarily for that purpose. We also specialize in edge coloring for fun rimless designing so thin is essential for this eyewear category.
Bradley: Frame choice is very important, especially for drilled mountings that need lens strength to resist cracks and breakage at the drill points. Finished edge thickness is the next consideration. With weaker prescriptions, Trivex® is the ideal lens material. Polycarbonate is acceptable for some drill or chord-mounted jobs too. I’ll also use 1.74 due to the thickness of prescriptions with significant power.
What qualities do you look for in a high-index lens material?
Kruhsburg: I look for impact resistance in children’s and sports eyewear. A high Abbe value is also essential in high-index lenses, as is the durability of the anti-reflective (AR) treatment and of course, how thin the finished lens will be while providing the highest optical quality.
Schmidt: Clarity of vision by far plays the biggest role in the sales of high-index lenses. With the majority of our patients being seniors, that’s an important factor due to the aging of the eye. Ease of drilling is important too since we do a lot of rimless eyewear. High-index lenses help keep the weight and thickness down for these creations.
Bradley: Impact resistance and thinness are big for us. We find 1.67 index lenses are the best for drilled rimless frames. With a usage of over 85% AR, we find that tinting is not much of an issue. In the few cases of needing to tint a high-index lens, there were no significant difficulties. Scratch resistance hasn't been an issue either, perhaps because we always supply the best quality lenses we have available.
What are your most utilized high-index lens materials?
Kruhsburg: Mostly 1.60 and 1.66 all in single vision and progressive designs. I also think HOYA VISION CARE, North America’s Phoenix™ is fantastic.
Schmidt: The office mostly uses 1.67 and 1.60 high-index materials, and in that order. The reason they sell so well is because we educate patients on the merits of these materials. We mainly use Essilor of America, Inc.’s lens products, which include these high-index materials. There is no free lunch when it comes to lens quality. There are a lot of competitors and I think most high-index materials are pretty similar so the designs of the lenses are as important as the materials themselves.
Bradley: We use 1.67 Essilor lenses most often because we do a high percentage of drilled rimless. These lenses have proven to be the most durable for rimless, with no issues of cracking around the drill holes. Polycarbonate in Essilor LiteStyle® is the next most used material. It has great impact resistance, and with compression mounted rimless, cracking around the holes isn't an issue. Younger Optics’ Trilogy® is the next used material, which is best choice for screw-mount drilled rimless. With a more significant Rx, patients would be guided to 1.67 index to reduce thickness.
Do you use the same markup for your high-index lenses as you do for lesser priced eyewear?
Kruhsburg: We use a different markup for high-index lenses versus CR-39® material. Since the high-index lenses also contain UV inhibitors and offer less weight, there should be a difference in markup. I have made an average price for high-index lenses based on the Denver retail optical market in order to be competitive with businesses in my area while receiving a fair price for the added high-index features.
Schmidt: The office employs a formula of 2x+, which means we multiple the wholesale price of the lenses and add a fixed dollar amount to it. That fixed dollar amount is not the same for all lens categories. This creates somewhat of a sliding scale.
Bradley: We normally mark up conventional lenses 2.5x. With high-index lenses often being much more costly at the wholesale level, we mark up only 2x to keep the price competitive. With better quality frames, the price can be significant, so a less aggressive markup is justified to keep the total price at a level more affordable to a larger segment of the customer base.
What demonstrations do you use to help patients understand the value of high-index lens materials for their particular
Kruhsburg: A chart by HOYA shows different powered lenses in different lens materials to explain the uniqueness of high-index materials. We also use a rimless frame with dissimilar index lenses in it but with the same power. This makes it easier to show and tell about the features of high-index lenses. Of course we tell buyers about the UV inhibitors in the high-index materials, the lack of weight, and the cosmetic advantage of thinner lenses.
Schmidt: We’re not really using any for high index. Our explanation of high-index lens features usually convinces patients to buy it. However, I think a video loop that shows the difference between two lenses mounted in a frame might be helpful for ourdispensary computer.
Bradley: We have lens demonstrators but we are now using the Essilor Visioffice® unit that has demonstration videos. As well as being able to demonstrate thickness, the unit also offers a comparison of weight based on a range of prescriptions. Our Visioffice unit has been much more effective in helping the patient select the lens best suited for their eyewear needs.
What options do you add the most to your high-index lens materials?
Kruhsburg: Ninety-eight percent of all lenses that go through Optique of Denver have an AR treatment on them. I would not sell a lens without an AR treatment, especially a high-index. Why have reflections on a beautiful lens? I feel the clarity is better with AR treatment, and that is why we supply eyeglasses in the first place…to see better!
Schmidt: Transitions® and AR, and we very much like selling Transitions and AR together; it’s our premium combo. The AR treatment does a great job on high-index lenses to make them cosmetically attractive and provides better vision too, which is a high priority for my office.
Bradley: We have had an 85% AR usage ever since we went to a package price for different lens materials. The AR is always optional, but when new patients to this technology are shown the benefits, they almost always choose the improvement in vision and added durability that premium AR offers. Photochromic lenses are often selected, but more are choosing polarized for a dedicated sunglass.