Many Opticians and those working in the industry never see inside of a lab or even see a lens blank. I am fortunate to work in an Optometry practice where we edge lenses in house so I get to see and troubleshoot many different things. In thinking about those who may not get to see this, I thought, why not talk to someone who works both in retail and in a lab and share some knowledge. Perhaps if retail and lab workers think about each other we can all work together to make our jobs easier.
Many labs will privately discuss these matters with their accounts but will not go on the record with such honesty. Meet Akeel (a.k.a. Mr. 0ptix) – an ABO certified Optician who wholesales lenses, works in a lab, has created his own frame line, and works in retail optical stores! His mission too is to bring the optical world together; Our mission is to help the people see.
Here is what I asked Akeel:
What is the most common error that prevents eyeglasses from being made?
One of the most common errors that prevent eyeglasses from being made in a lab is because of missing information. We receive the prescription, however the sender forgot to write PD, did not specify another important detail or ordered things that are incompatible. This causes delays because now a lab representative has to call you… sometimes they are busy handling other matters and simply running production, and now this order with the missing information goes on the back burner. I urge all glasses order senders to double and triple check that all information is on the order and correct. If you have a question on compatibility, please call and ask before sending the order. We do sometimes get overwhelmed with so many orders.
How does base curve impact the finished product and the prescription? Is it better to specify the base you want or is it best when the lab chooses? (obviously the optician needs to know what they’re doing in this case)
First, I would check the prescription and see if it is a high plus or a high minus before sending to the lab. Second, I would check the face front of the frame. If it has to much curvature in the front front then yes, you should specify the base curve. Its always best to send the frame to the lab to alleviate any mishaps. We don’t want to run a easy job twice because of questions. WE WANT TO AVOID DELAYS!!! Once we receive the frame, it is easier for us to choose the base curve. The base is very important because you don’t want the front of the lens to be sticking out or more commonly when inserting the temples go SUPER wide. It would be helpful if the opticians working at the senders office knows base curve measurement (with a lens clock) because not all labs ask for the frame and if you provide a base curve then it stops errors and delays.
What is a recurring thing you see in the lab that you want opticians/lens orderers to know?
MISSING INFORMATION! This the most recurring and simplest issue to resolve, yet I get so many of these minor problems that turn into a major problem. Why is it so easy to correct you say? Because all you have to do is read over the lab order and before you send to the lab. If something is missing, we cannot fill in the missing information for you. If we do, there is slight possibility it may not be what you intended to order; We might give you poly instead of CR-39 on a groove job. Yes, that’s not what you intended to order, but we filled in the blank! Please, please I urge everyone to triple check their orders before sending. COMPLETE ORDER FORM= FASTER SERVICE
What do you wish people would know about working in a lab?
Most labs do not operate on weekends, consider this for processing time when ordering. This means 3-5 business days does not include the weekends. If you ordered a job on Friday, please do not expect it to be done the next Monday. It will not have been processed because of the weekend. Another thing I wish people knew about a lab is that we have THOUSANDS of orders a day. All orders will be processed and handled in a timely manner. If you call that does not mean that we will push your job your order to the front of the line. Yes, everyone’s orders are important but if we jumped everyone’s orders, we wouldn’t get any work done. If a job is a RUSH, please specify and we will do our best to accommodate your needs. We are here to serve you, but please be mindful.
What are some ordering errors you see that should be avoided?
One common error I see often is the use of CR-39 lenses for special frames and drill mounts. Of course we can make it happen for you, but chances are that the lens will crack,break or flake. Your patient is going to return unhappy because they spent money. If they are willing to spend the money, please go with at least polycarbonate lenses. Now if the prescription is too crazy, high plus then you know it will be too thick in the nasal. Try to talk the patient into a full frame. It’s easier, and avoids any unnecessary headaches.
Another common error I see is that stock lenses are not available with prism. Prism is usually induced by surfacing a lens. If you need prism in a stock lens then you need to decenter them yourself or simply have it surfaced. Lastly, PLEASE double check your entire order before sending to make sure everything is correct.
You work in both retail sales and in a lab, what can you say about each?
I love working in both sides of the optical field. I love working in a surfacing laboratory because you see the intricate work that goes on behind making a lens. You have a piece of paper with just a prescription, and to turn that into a lens is pretty remarkable and awesome. You will learn all the processes behind making glasses and what errors look like, which you won’t be able to tell in a retail side of things. One thing I will say is that if you do not like being in one position for a while, then the lab is not for you. Growth is slow, BUT the experience is PRICELESS. On the other hand, retail is amazing because you learn how to style patients and help with picking glasses. This is fun because everyone has a different style and personality. In the retail space of things, growth is faster and easier as co-workers are moved around or move up the ladder.
Tell us something we may not know about coatings or materials.
There are a lot of cool things to know about coatings. One cool thing to know is that all polycarbonate lenses are hard coated. If you want polycarbonate lenses for tinting, please specify as that is a different type of coating. Also, we have many (I MEAN MANY) different types of anti-reflective coatings. We have our house anti-reflective along with name brand AR’s – Please do not just write A/R. Different A/R coatings do different things (Prevencia, Glacier Plus, EX3, DuraVision Blue Protect, etc) we won’t substitute an expensive coating with a lesser one so please specify.
How do errors get out the door?
Errors can get out for many reasons. One reason is that a order was not supposed to be rushed but was because the sender called and said that the customer is leaving tomorrow. The lenses may not be in stock so we have to substitute with something that is not what the prescription called for. Now you have a lens, but it is too thick or too thin. This is called a “FORCED ERROR”. We would usually order the lenses and then wait to surface. In this case, we were forced to rush.
Another reason for errors to go out is training of new individuals. During training, sometimes the trainee is not familiar with All THE TOLERANCES or processes. I apologize if anyone has received a lens slightly off axis or cylinder is off by a .125.
One last one, because I can go on and on, is receiving a job not complete. This is THE MOST COMMON error. If a job needed to be tinted, but you received it without tint. When you check the paperwork, you forgot to specify tint. Errors go hand in hand with lab and retail. Sometimes errors are our fault and other times it’s just simply completing the ordering form correctly.