A look at what's new in the area of in-office lens casting
Karlen McLean, ABOC, NCLE
Optical Dynamics corporation's Q-2100R
Casting is an economic way to produce lenses. It also affords offices the ability to produce lenses for same-day delivery. Today's expanding casting capabilities include the use of mid-index monomers to create photochromic lenses, aspheric options, and progressive addition lenses.
While many independent practitioners feature in-office lens casting as part of their dispensary operations, several large U.S. retail labs utilize high- production automated casting equipment as well.
Some of the benefits dispensaries can gain from in-office lens casting include the following.
Cost. Casting offers affordable output of some of the most expensive lenses (PALs, aspherics, photochromics) to produce.
Inventory. Casting saves space by eliminating the need for having a lot of semi-finished lens blanks on-hand. In casting, those blanks are replaced by liquid monomer, and lens molds replace the large inventory of surfacing tools.
Turnaround. Casting outputs lenses on a same-day, as-needed basis, allowing ECPs and retailers to promote "same- day service," and thus better compete with larger operations.
Surface quality. Casting produces high-quality, smooth optical surfaces for improved visual acuity throughout the lens.
Size. Casting equipment comes in all sizes and capacities and can be customized to most optical environments, whether they are large, medium, or small.
Soderberg's iScience system OptiCast's OptiCast II system
ON THE MARKET
Here's a glance at what some U.S. casting manufacturers offer.
Optical Dynamics Corporation
Q-2100R: This system with a small footprint (25" x 33.5") creates up to four pairs of finished lenses in under an hour. Current options are Atoric Continual Focus, Continual Focus 18, Atoric Short-Corridor Progressive, Paradigm Short Corridor Progressive, Paradigm Progressive, ComfortTones and SmartShades photo-chromic, aspheric flat-top bifocals, aspheric single-vision, and XT-R double-sided scratch coat.
Q-2100HV: This model is a larger step-by-step system designed for high-volume lens production, featuring paperless job entry, PC-based time control, automated curing cycles and diagnostics, and scalable solutions of 100 to 10,000 per week.
Q-2100AR and Q-2100HVAR: Both of these in-office AR coating systems can be integrated into the
Q-2100R and Q-2100HV casting systems to provide AR coating during the lens forming process, allowing the coating to bond with the lens material.
Phone: 888-893-CAST; Website: www.opticast.com
OptiCast I: Designed for smaller offices, with dimensions of 48" x 45.5" x 27", the OptiCast I uses Lightwave Technology to cast lenses in less than five minutes. Advanced Lightwave-produced lenses feature a liquid molding process and UV curing. Mid-index (1.56) yield is up to 12 lenses per hour.
OptiCast II: The OptiCast II system, at 2' x 2' x 3' (without storage hutch), allows high-volume, in-office production of OptiCast's proprietary light-curing monomers. Lens molds currently available are D-29 flattop bifocal front mold, progressive front mold, aspheric single-vision front molds, spheric back molds, and toric back molds. Base curves are offered in 65mm or 75mm. OptiShades fashion photochromic monomer in 10 shades and scratch-resistant properties built into the monomer are also available.
Phone: 800-755-5655; Website: www.soseyes.com
iScience: Soderberg's iScience progressive cast-to-Rx lens is one example of a nationwide wholesale laboratory taking advantage of casting in a big way. The iScience lenses feature an aspheric design on the front surface and an atoric design on the back surface. There are three versions of the iScience lens. Ionic PALs offer a slightly wider progressive corridor and are designed to reduce astigmatic blur above the 180 degree line. Micro PALs are designed for small frames with a 15mm minimum fitting height, and BioSpheric PALs are an advanced smooth design which minimizes unwanted astigmatism. The lenses are available in a photochromic option.
At presstime, a former player in the category, NexGen Vision, had just announced a new Board of Directors and plans to continue developing cast-to-Rx products.