Article Date: 10/1/2011

Redefining Optical Measurements
tech time

Redefining Optical Measurements

A new system provides your practice with three distinct advantages.

Scot Morris, O.D., F.A.A.O.

This month, I want to explain how virtual dispensing systems are changing the way many doctors treat their patients' visual needs.

Before we start, let me say these devices will not replace your opticians. A well-trained optician helps choose the correct frame design and style for the prescription. In fact, with today's digitally surfaced spectacle lenses, the optician is critical, as proper frame fitting and adjustment must happen before any patient measurements are obtained.

As more digital lens designs are introduced, you have an increased variety of lens options to prescribe. Yet unless you can obtain extremely accurate measurements, many of these new lens designs aren't an option. In fact, many of the new digitally surfaced lenses require pantoscopic tilt, eye rotation and frame-wrap measurements.

Enter the virtual dispenser, a system which provide three distinct competitive advantages:

► enhanced measurements
► more product options
► better branding.

They measure up

The virtual dispensers accurately measure vertex distance, eye rotation, pantoscopic lens tilt, frame wrap and monocular interpupillary distance fitting heights—all within 0.1mm. More accurate, detailed and consistent data than can be acquired with a pupillometer and a PD stick alone, the measurements provide the patient with a more customized fit for digital lenses.

Why is it important to offer these new lenses? First, the visual quality is far superior to a traditional lens design. Plus, they offer a higher profit ratio—even with managed care plans, which consider these lenses higher category options.

The marketing edge

In addition, virtual dispensing systems offer practice branding or a marketing edge, if you will. Talk about high tech: With the systems, our opticians can demonstrate to patients how their measurements are affected by a myriad of factors, including the head position at the time of measurement, the adjustment of the frame, etc.

Many of the devices include mirrors or digital capture, so the patient can see how they look in the frames from various angles and with various enhancements. This unique patient experience can set a practice apart. The result? Our system is responsible for one new patient referral every two weeks. This alone recovers the device's monthly cost.

The systems of the major players—Visioffice, from Essilor, the i.Terminal, from Zeiss and the Optikam, from Optikam Tech Inc.—vary slightly in price and features. So, do your research.

Please be aware

Some of the devices are affected by glare, so place your machine with its camera facing away from windows to decrease the amount of ambient glare. Also, the measurements can take three-to-four minutes per patient, so when your optical is rocking, it may slow your opticians.

We've had four instances in the last 1,450-plus patients in which the measurements were inconsistent—far fewer than prior to using the device. In these instances, we defaulted to manual measurements. And although your opticians may feel the technology will replace them, it instead enables them to get more accurate readings and increase their capture rates and sales.

In short, these systems are the “now” of the optical world, earning you higher income by providing higher quality products that enhance your patient's vision. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: October 2011