Article Date: 12/1/2005

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Putting AR Inside The Lens
Introducing the world's first anti-reflective lens.
TONY BACIGALUPO, O.D.

Advances in technology have improved many of the problems with anti-reflective coating on lenses — smudging, crazing, flaking and peeling. However, one thing still has been missing: the ability to dispense this quality product in a manner fast enough to meet many patients' expectations. Until now.

About six years ago our practice decided to make the move to in-office lens fabrication. We evaluated our options and installed the Q-2100R casting system by Optical Dynamics. This technology has given us a competitive advantage and added thousands of dollars per month to our bottom line. When we heard the company was introducing an in-office AR system, we knew we wanted to add it to our practice arsenal. Having the ability to offer AR lenses in a couple of hours versus a week or more helps us to continue to grow that segment of our business.

Thinking outside the box

The new lens is fabricated with anti-reflective properties rather than applying a traditional coating to a finished lens. The nanoCLEAR AR system works (exclusively) in conjunction with the company's Q-2100R casting system and is actually the first step in the lens-making process, whereas traditional AR is usually the last. The system itself is highly computerized. A staff member simply dials in the patient's Rx, selects the appropriate molds and places them into the nanoCLEAR AR system. With the press of a button the system cleans, dries and applies a multi-layer nano-particle infused AR chemistry and hard coat to the molds. When the 40-minute cycle is completed, the system signals the operator. The staff member is free to perform other duties during the process, making it user friendly in the office.

Ease plus benefits

The nanoClear AR works with the Q-2100R casting system.

From there it's a simple process to assemble the molds, fill with either a high-index clear or photochromic lens material and cure the lens in the casting system. The entire mold preparation and curing process takes about an hour. When complete, a pair of high index AR lenses, ready to edge, emerge.

The benefits of producing an AR lens versus adding an AR coating are many. The AR, hard coat and UV are physically and chemically part of the lens. The lens also has hydrophobic-like properties built in. The lenses clean easily and stay clean longer than traditional AR lenses, plus the hydrophobic properties can't wear off. Optical Dynamics offers a two-year warranty on the finished lenses.

You don't need a "clean room" environment, but you do need a degree of cleanliness. The combined nanoCLEAR AR and Q-2100R require about four feet of counter space. The nanoCLEAR uses standard 110V power and comes with its own internal washing system. The AR chemistry comes in tubes that contain enough solution to make 10 pair of lenses. My staff mastered the entire operation in less than an afternoon.

It's all good

For a Q-2100R owner like me, the cost is less than $20,000. That makes the technology well within reach of the average independent practice. The cost of producing high-index AR progressive lenses in my office is a fraction of what it once was. Our office can provide a new level of customer service; we are also growing our AR sales, boosting our revenue and even reducing our lab bills. I guess you can eat your cake and have it too! OM

DR. BACIGALUPO IS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE WITH THE EYECARE GROUP, PLLC, IN DYERSBURG, TENN. CONTACT HIM AT TLUPO@ECGTN.COM.



Optometric Management, Issue: December 2005