Article Date: 4/1/2012

True-Blue
instrument focus

True-Blue

Edging System provides profitability for high-volume in-house prescriptions.

Anthony J. Rudick, O.D.

Like many other practices, we had outside labs fill our patients' spectacle prescriptions. Unlike other practices, however, my practice has several rural locations, which has enabled a high capture rate of in-practice spectacle sales. In addition, many of these patients are private pay. Their prescriptions vary, given the practice's partnership with ophthalmology, and we have a high rate of post-op cataract prescriptions. The private pay and pseudophakic patients result in a higher-than-average percentage of single vision lenses in which stock lenses can be used. Due to these facts, I decided to cut out the middleman (i.e. outside labs) and install an edging system. After seeing the Mr. Blue Edging System in action at a trade show, I decided to buy the device, and we've been using it happily since August. After considering all options, I settled on Mr. Blue largely because the staff at Essilor was very supportive to a young doctor just starting out. They offered many suggestions and spent a lot of time with me.

Here, I explain why you should consider the System.

Overview

The Mr. Blue Edging System is comprised of a tracer/centerer/blocker and edger. It contains two 10-inch touch screens, a built-in remote maintenance module, downloadable software updates and remote trouble-shooting. The System is designed for small B-dimension lenses (demo- or pre-cut) down to 17mm. It traces all frames up to a base 9 with automatic binocular tracing in 3D. Lens centering is automatic or manual, depending on operator preference, and lens blocking is automatic, facilitating operator training.

The edger, which provides 3D bevel profiling, features a variable geometry bevel to enable lens customization. In addition, its tools inclines up to 30°, and it simultaneously traces front and back lens surfaces. This creates a better fit for the lens into virtually any frame. Also included: standard, milling and Edging Assisted System (EAS) cycles. The milling cycle is waterless and cuts super hydrophobic and highly curved lenses sans lens slippage. (If you operate an optical lab where you see patients, you'll really appreciate the milling cycle because it significantly cuts the odor that can stem from super hydrophobic lens cuts. The Edging Assisted System cycle is an option to avoid slippage on very thick super- hydrophobic lenses that don't lend themselves to milling.

Mr. Blue Edging System
TRACER/CENTERER/BLOCKER
WEIGHT: 55lbs
DIMENSIONS: 12.5” (W) X 20.5” (D) x 27.5” (H)
EDGER:
WEIGHT: 150lbs
DIMENSIONS: 22.5” (W) X 19.3” (D) X 27.5” (H)
SYSTEM COST: $65,000

In addition, the system contains a library of lens shapes (a flower, etc.) and drilling parameters (the ability to do partial inlays, such as a crystal or jewel). Having the ability to create unique lens shapes, in particular, has created patient excitement and some word-of-mouth referrals. Further, the device can acquire a photo of an existing lens that may no longer be available from a manufacturer, and recreate it.

Procedure

One operates Mr. Blue by first tracing the frame. Then, the automated blocker blocks the lens in the appropriate axis for the desired prescription. The operator then places the lens into the edger and begins the edging process. All commands for operation are done through the device's user-friendly touch display.

Our optician, though still learning, runs an average of three-to-four jobs per hour. This is an average, including multifocals, PALs, etc.

Training

Essilor representatives presented to the practice a couple times and spent the day with our optician walking him through the device's use. A proficient optician (one with a basic understanding of optics, lenses and frames) could probably learn how to operate the device's basic functions in roughly three hours, as it is very user-friendly. The steepest learning curve: when to order stock lenses instead of surfaced product for the lab. The margins can decrease greatly when the lens-ordering process is incorrect.

We have hired a senior master optician as a consultant to train our staff and help with the transition.

Return on investment

The Mr. Blue Edging System costs roughly $65,000. How soon a practice will see a return on its investment depends on its volume of in-house jobs. Our situation is a bit anomalous, given we have seven different locations in a rural area. Our capture rate of patients who undergo complete exams and then purchase glasses with us is almost 90%. Right now, our optician is performing about 220 jobs a month in single vision, multifocals and progressive lenses. Based on this data, I believe I'll see a return on my investment in one year (March 2013), not including the tax advantage of full depreciation the first year. (The Mr. Blue system comes with a full service warranty that lasts one to two years depending on which purchase package you choose.)

Because the Mr. Blue Edging System provides tracing, centering, blocking and edging in one device, along with unique attributes, such as a shape library, the investment has been well worth it for our rural, high-volume practice. OM

DR. RUDICK IS THE CO-OWNER OF RIDGE EYE CARE BASED IN PARADISE, CALIF. E-MAIL HIM AT RIDGEEYE CARE@GMAIL.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: April 2012, page(s): 57 - 59