By Susan Tarrant
Why pair that fab frame with a flat, clear lens when you can increase the luxe with lenses that pop? Here, some suggestions for lens add-ons that also bring on the style
Eyewear can be a means of creative expression as well as a medical device. But that creativity doesn’t have to end where the frame meets the lens. When conceived with an imaginative mind and made with contemporary finishing techniques, lenses can be just as eye-popping as frames.
“It was no coincidence that early opticians were also jewelers,” says Ralph Kent, sales manager at Luzerne Optical Laboratories in Wilkes-Barre, PA. “They presented glasses as a piece of jewelry and showcased the precision involved in the manufacture of the product. With all of the options available to the patient today, your lenses are still individually handcrafted.”
PREMIUM LENS DESIGNS
No matter how luxurious your eyewear looks, if you can’t see through it properly, no amount of cool add-ons is going to make a difference. That’s where contemporary lens technology is making a huge impact, and that’s where dispensing luxury lenses should start.
Free-form and digital lenses provide visual solutions heretofore unheard of. So, though the term luxury eyewear can include the whole package and style, luxury sales should start with the technology behind the vision.
Tracy Mast, ABOC, of Smoke Vision Care, with three locations in southwest Michigan, approaches the patient thusly: “I ask them, ‘Do you want lenses that are ground, or do you want lenses that are sculpted with a diamond-tipped stylus to your specific needs?’ Then I talk about the cool tints and bevels: ‘Not only is it fierce and edgy, it’s going to be the best possible for your vision,’” says Mast. “To me, that’s what luxury is: having it all.” And if the patient isn’t really into the “fierce and edgy"? Bring the creativity down a notch and focus on making the “luxury” all about the technology behind the optics.
For those ECPs and patients with a creative imagination and a desire to produce or lenses that pop, the possibilities abound.
BEVELS. Like the bevels of a fancy mirror, these are chiseled, angled edges that add style. They can be tinted for added oomph or left clear for a more subtle treatment. Bevels aren’t just for drill-mount styles, however.
“People think that if they go with a full frame, they are stuck with just a regular lens look,” says Charlie Blankenship, ABOC, of Spectacle Shoppe, which has four locations in Minnesota. “But I put fashion bevels in a lot of full-frame styles, and they look great.”
TINTS AND MIRRORS. Subtle tints, bold tints, full-lens color, or a gradient: they are all possible and all add style to an indoor lens.
To make a tint really unique for the patient, try a gradient style that’s different from the usual horizontal. Choose a gradient that starts at the temporal edge and fades in toward the center, or one that moves diagonally or just hovers around a corner.
LENS TATTOOS. Tattooing a lens embraces the same concept as skin tattooing, and it’s made possible by advances in drilling equipment. The process involves drilling only slightly (maybe a millimeter) into the lens multiple times in whatever pattern or design you choose. After coatings and optional tint is applied, an edge pen is used to fill in the impressions with color.
SHAPES. Custom shapes can be big sellers with drillmount or semi-rimless frames. It’s a customization that can be easy and subtle, or more intricate, depending on what you and your patient can dream up.
“I never use the lens shape that comes with the [drill mount] frame,” says Tommy Libert, ABOC, owner of Central Eyeworks in Phoenix. Instead, he works with his patients to create whatever shape they want.
JEWELS. A very popular upsell that adds luxury to lenses is tiny gemstones, jewels, or crystals countersunk into the lens’s temporal side, bottom, or top. It is possible via a countersunk hole option on edgers, and allows ECPs to add sparkle, color, and style to any lens.
EDGE TREATMENTS. Edge paints and other edge treatments will not only add style to drill-mounted lenses, they help hide the thick edges resulting from some Rx’s.
CLIPS. Custom-made clips can match or even augment an existing frame/lens. The clips can be made in any shape (including custom designs), color, and coating.
In-house finishing labs can produce all of the above lens looks, depending on equipment and skill level. A lab, however, can also become a partner in producing stylish lenses, as many have talented lens artists at the ready or can arrange for another lab to produce your look. EB
The lens market
The Rx lens market has seen an increase in dollar sales over the past two years. A large part of that growth can be contributed to rising prices of lenses as a result of the proliferation of premium lens designs and products.
$10.85 billion — total sales
14.3% — growth from 2011
50% — of polled consumers are “likely” to spend more out-of-pocket for premium or high-quality lenses
17% — of polled consumers are “very likely” to do the same
Source: The Vision Council’s Vision Watch study, May 2013
Don’t ignore the anti-reflective coating when dispensing luxury lenses, our ECPs warn. Of course, AR should be a part of every lens dispensed, for the visual benefits alone. The aesthetic benefits are an important element as well. But not all AR treatments are created equal; so…
Here are two main reasons for opting “up” with AR:
THE ‘PHOBICS.’ High-end AR treatments are highly hydrophobic and oleophobic. The better the AR quality, the more resistant to dirt, dust, smudges, water, and scratches.
EYESTRAIN AND EYE DAMAGE. AR is going is help patients with eyestrain by reducing glare from computer screens. But today there are several high-end AR treatments that also provide protection from UV and high-energy blue visible light (HEV). This aids with eye fatigue and helps attenuate the damaging rays emanating from so many of our backlit digital devices.