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INDUSTRY PROFILE

FEA Industries
Cutting Edge Lab Technology

EyeCare Professional’s Paul DiGiovanni, LDO, speaking with Bill Heffner, IV, I.T. & Marketing Manager, FEA Industries.


Bill Heffner, IV

What’s new at FEA?
We've recently added a number of new freeform machines from Schneider, including two generators, two polishers, and a robotic laser engraver. We're investing heavily in technology so we can be at the cutting edge of the optical industry. This equipment makes it possible to keep our costs down and increase our efficiency. We've also just introduced a new way of surfacing traditional progressive lenses, which we refer to as “personalized” progressives.

What is a personalized progressive lens?
A personalized progressive lens is a melding of traditional progressive lenses with the latest in lens surfacing technology. We take traditional progressive lenses to the next level and make them as good as they can possibly be. With the traditional way of surfacing a progressive lens, you would take your progressive lens blank of choice, like a Younger Image, and surface it with one curve for the sphere power and one curve for the cylinder power. This results in one point of the lens being the optimal prescription, which is the optical center. As the patient's eye moves away from the optical center to the periphery of the lens, they start to see more and more blur and distortion.

Personalization takes in to account the movement of the eye, the vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt, and the wrap angle of the frame to correct for this distortion. It compensates for all of these variables to ensure that the power that the patient actually sees is the power that they're supposed to see. In essence, this makes a traditional progressive lens into a compensated progressive lens.

Isn't this just another way of saying that your progressives are 'digitally surfaced'?
No. Digital surfacing is just a more precise way of traditional surfacing methods. Just because a lens has been “surfaced digitally” doesn't mean that it is a free-form lens, or that it is a compensated lens. While a digitally surfaced lens can boast an accuracy of up to 0.01 diopters, it still suffers from having peripheral blur and distortion because there's no compensation for the change in curves and powers as the eye travels towards the edges of the lens.

I understand that this is a FEA exclusive. Please explain the technology involved in manufacturing this type of lens.
The difference in the technology that we're using now, as compared to the traditional way lenses are surfaced, is that our technology recognizes the way the human eye moves. Traditional lenses are made so that they read the correct power at the optical center, when read by a lensometer. The human eye is certainly no lensometer, and will be looking out of the lens at all manner of different angles. Our calculation software takes into account all of these different angles, and makes the lens power at each individual point correct for that patients' prescription.

Does FEA also offer this personalization for other lenses, such as bifocals (FT 28s)? Is the same process used?
Yes. By the end of the year we will be offering personalization on other multifocal lenses, which includes bifocals and trifocals. These lenses have been virtually the same for a long time, but now we're able to build a better bifocal. As there's still a large number of people that prefer to wear these lenses over progressives, we wanted to be able to offer them the option to upgrade their sight. This offers them better vision across the entire surface of the lens, while still being the bifocal that they're used to wearing.

How is FEA able to deliver this type of technology?
Through our partnership with Indizen Optical Technologies (IOT), we've been able to apply the concept of free-form surfacing to traditional lenses. We've done some custom programming on our end to integrate our system with theirs so that we can bring their Digital Ray-Path calculation technology to both traditional progressives and bifocal lenses.

How will FEA's personalizing of conventional progressives reduce non-adapts?
The main advantage of this is that you're able to offer your patient a better lens while keeping the same brand of progressive that they're already wearing. Instead of trying to sell your patient on the idea of a high-end free-form progressive lens, you can still keep them in the VIP that they've been comfortably wearing for fifteen years and offer to make it even better. Personalization works very well in wrap/sunglass/sport frames as well, as we're able to take the angles of the lenses into account when we surface it to ensure that the patient has the best vision they possibly can, even at the edges of the lens. For patients new to progressive lenses, the ECP is able to use the type of progressive that they feel best suits the lifestyle of the patient, and then make the optics of that lens even better.


Job tray being blocked and placed on a conveyor belt to be surfaced by one of FEA's four Schneider free-form generators.

Explain the technology and new colors for your Independence A/R coating.
We're partnering with Leybold Optics to produce the best possible anti-reflective coating that we can. Over the past two years we've invested close to two million dollars in our in-house coating facility in order to create a superior product. To ensure this, we put every Independence-coated lens through one of our thermal dip hard-coating machines. This is the basis for a superior anti-reflective coating, as opposed to the UV-based backside spin coatings that most other optical laboratories use. We're so confident in the performance of Independence that we send out our samples with steel wool, so you can see what we're talking about. Since some people prefer one A/R color over another, depending on lens color, frame choice, and personal preference, we wanted to make sure that we could offer a superior coating that could appeal to everyone. To this end, we offer Independence in blue, green, and gold, all of which come with a lifetime warranty.

Can you explain the promotion you will be running on your personalized progressive lenses in October?
We don't want people to take our word that personalization makes progressive lenses better; we want people to try it themselves. We're going to be offering personalization for free, through the end of October, whenever anyone orders a traditional progressive lens from us. That's it, no strings attached.

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