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HomemilensesRx-able Sunglasses

Rx-able Sunglasses

In Australia and New Zealand sunglasses are essential wear every day all year round. That means that most patients who enter your store for a pair of prescription specs will also need a pair of Rx-able sunglasses… double the business… double the fun… and double the satisfaction for your patients.

The sun’s ultra violet rays can cause damage to the eyes including blurred vision, redness, tearing and temporary vision loss. Medical research has firmly established that UV exposure can contribute to long term damage as well, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and in some cases, skin cancer on and around the eyelids.

What most of your patients and customers may not understand is that the sun does not have to be bright to cause damage. Regardless of whether the sky is clear and blue or grey and cloudy, those UV rays will cause harm.

That’s because light actually intensifies as it passes through the eyes. Professor Minas Coroneo of the University of New South Wales, described what he termed the peripheral light focusing effect (PLF). The PLF effect occurs when temporal light intensifies while passing through the ocular surfaces – from the temporal cornea to the nasal part of the eye. He concluded that light is 22 times stronger at the outer edges of the eyes and eight times stronger at the inner edges of the eyes. These are the most common places for eye diseases such as pterygium (a thin tissue over the white part of the eye) and cataracts to develop – and both are associated with chronic UVR exposure. This exposure comes from the light that shines through the sides of sunglasses or reflects off the back surface of sunglasses into the eyes.

The best lens option may fall flat if it is not finished and fitted in the best manner or position relating to the front or back of the frame and bevel placement. All of these are individual and critical to the finished product

According to Prof. Coroneo, ocular changes may start as early as nine years of age. Indeed, he found that 80 per cent of Australian children had signs of eye damage from UVR by age 15.

What Does This Mean?

While many consumers will choose a pair of prescription glasses for indoor use, they’ll often try to get by outdoors with a plain pair of sunnies or by squinting through their non tinted specs. Either way, they’re impacted by inconvenience and the risk of doing greater damage to their eyes over both the short and long term.

As an eye care practitioner, you have both a responsibility and an opportunity to promote the eye health benefits and convenience of Rx-able sunglasses. In doing so, you could increase your customer satisfaction and your sales – because according to the Brand Health Monitor Report of November 2005, eight out of 10 patients are keen to protect their eyes from UV – they just need to know how.

Rx-able Sunnies

Over many years, the world’s leading sunglass manufacturers have invested billions into the very best technology that enables them to deliver Rx sunglasses to maximise the wearers’ experience.

These days, some of the biggest sunglass brands go to great lengths to ensure that their frames are fitted with the highest quality lenses, manufactured in-house using their own Rx programs. Only by grinding – or cutting – and fitting their own lenses to their customers’ individual prescriptions, can they feel confident that the lenses will uphold the integrity of the brand – and therefore deliver the utmost satisfaction to the customer.

That said, almost every quality frame can be fitted with an Rx sun lens by a reputable laboratory. Typically a high quality lab will offer a broad range of options – from the most expensive lenses with the highest visual acuity right through to cheap and cheerful lenses for budget conscious consumers.

As a result, patients can choose between brands with proprietary Rx programs or frames that can have quality Rx lenses fitted by a reputable independent lab. It all comes down to lifestyle and budget – and your ability to find the best solution to meet each customer’s needs.

Rx-able Programs

Bolle, McCann, Mako, Serengeti, Spotters, Maui Jim, ck Calvin Klein, Oakley and Shaan have all invested in authentic Rx-able programs. As an optometrist, this makes your job simple – all you need to do is help your patient choose the frame they most want, then send the prescription to the frame manufacturer.

You’ll usually receive the customised product back within one to three weeks, and your customer will be assured that they’re benefiting from sunglasses fitted with premium lenses manufactured using the highest quality technology that maintain the integrity of the brand.

Rx-able Lenses

When it comes to recommending Rx-able lenses, your job is more complex because the final outcome – and therefore your patients’ satisfaction – will depend on their ability to communicate their precise needs and budget.

Global lens manufacturers Essilor, Carl Zeiss Vision, Hoya and Younger Optics all provide excellent high-end sun lenses that can be fitted into most frames. Not only can these lenses be fitted by the large lens manufacturers, but they can also can be fitted by the smaller independent labs like Opticare, Jack Chapman and Precision Optics.

To determine the best lens for your patient, start off by talking to them about where and how they’ll use their glasses – for instance, whether they drive a lot, compete at sport, fish or play golf. This will help you determine the quality and style of lens they need. Then you’ll need to discuss cost – keeping in mind that some customers will have just spent the majority of their eyewear budget on specs for indoors and have little left for an extravagant pair of sunnies.

Jack Chapman’s Director, Brendan Burke, says that it’s vital that optometrists recommending rx-able sunglasses advise their patients on an individual level, taking into account both their prescription and their preferred frame.

That’s because the prescription will, to a great degree, dictate the style of frame required. “The Rx may negate a frame because of the base curve needed to make the lens – high minus lenses are crafted on flatter front curves, so a wrap may be out of the question. Similarly some shell materials will not hold a flat lens or their shape as summer approaches. If the frame is large, a reasonable plus prescription will mean a finished lens may appear too thick. A frame with a large diagonal, high Rx and a narrow Patient PD will not give a great finished appearance,” said Mr. Burke.

“The best lens option may fall flat if it is not finished and fitted in the best manner or position relating to the front or back of the frame and bevel placement. All of these are individual and critical to the finished product.”

Polarised Lenses

The effects of glare can be very extreme on everyday vision and can cause eye fatigue from squinting, or can completely block vision. Whereas regular tinted lenses simply reduce the amount of visible light – they do little to eliminate glare – polarised lenses block blinding glare, making them the best solution for everyday outdoor visual needs.

As polarised lenses grow in popularity and are being offered by an increasing number of lens manufacturers, it is easy to begin to think that all of these lenses are manufactured the same, and are of equal quality and similar performance.

This is certainly not true. When you recommend a polarised lens and decide on the lab that will grind and fit them, you need to consider performance factors that contribute to the finished product such as optics, polarising efficiency, colour consistency and heat stability. The most important element is the polariser – a unique thin film incorporated into the lens structure.


Studies have shown that substantial damage is caused by the light rays permeating into the surface of the eye from the side of the face. It’s not surprising then that wraps were designed to help protect the eye from this occurrence. However these fashionably curved frames place additional demands on lenses and until recently, optical performance has struggled to keep pace.

Fitting conventional lenses in a wrapped frame has, in the past, led to severe aberrations, power error and induced, unwanted prism – the main reason why people who wear prescription wraps report a reduction in visual quality, a reduced visual field and discomfort, even headaches.

Now, leading lens manufacturers have overcome these problems to deliver single and progressive lenses for wrap sunglass frames.

Free form software incorporates the wrap angle into the calculation from the very start for a customised optical design, fulfilling the requirements of the lens to the eye’s centre of rotation by repositioning the lens optics to ensures that the change in centration does not lead to new aberrations.

This ‘real time’ approach to manufacturing allows each prescription to be customised, delivering correct prescription power for angled and/or wrapped lenses and eliminating the induced prism caused by angled and/or wrapped lenses. In addition, the oblique astigmatism of angled and/or wrapped lenses is eliminated, resulting in wide, clear fields of view and minimal chromatic aberration.

A Positive Difference

As an optometrist, the opportunity you have to make a positive difference to your patients’ eye health and lifestyle, simply by advising them on their best options for Rx-able sunglasses, is profound. The beauty is that in doing so, you’ll also create long term patient loyalty which will have an equally positive impact on your own business success.

1. www.visioncareeducation.com/no-feece/course3.asp

Rx-able Programs

MCRx Sunglasses

McCann Optical has a lens fitting service for all of its MCRx frames, which includes tinted, polarised, transition, and drivewear lenses, in single vision and freeform multi-focals in various indexes. The MCRx range is backed by McCann’s “no nonsense” warranty.


The Mako RX range includes eight frames, two of which suit six base and the remainder that take eight base lenses. Four frames are from the classic Mako range and four from the latest range developed by Mondottica since taking over the brand. Mako Rx-able single vision and progressive polarised lenses are manufactured by Shamir Laboratories. Using freeform technology Mako can offer progressive polarised photochromic lenses in lightweight eight base wrap sunglasses.

Mako (Distributed by Mondottica AUS 02 8436 6666


The Serengeti NXT PhD Rx lens combines with Shamir’s Compensated FreeForm lens technology to create an individual prescription profile that is then modified to compensate for the wrap angle of the chosen frame. Built off the Serengeti NXT PhD lens platform, this prescription lens is made from Trivex material which delivers visual acuity (Abbe Value of 45), durability, impact resistance and is 8 -19 per cent lighter than other synthetic materials.

Available in single vision and progressive lens design, polarised or non -polarised driver (brown) or CPG (grey).


Spotters has manufactured scriptable sunglasses for well over a decade and claims to be the only remaining manufacturer that provides prescription eyewear in a glass lens material. The ‘penetrator’ lens offers the single vision power wearer a high contrast glass photochromatic polarised lens.

Spotters also offers CR39 lenses for customers with single vision, multi-focal and/or bi-focal requirements; this hi-tech composite material is scratch resistant; lightweight and available in all three colours – grey (natural), brown (high contrast) and copper (high contrast vivid bronze). Lens fitting can be completed in 24 hours.

GenOp Sun.Rx

General Optical has introduced the GenOp Sun.Rx program exclusively for independent optometry practices. They have combined six styles from their most popular sunglass brands including the ck Calvin Klein range. The comprehensive range of single vision and freeform progressive lenses are available tinted or polarised.


While most of the Oakley sunglasses are Rx-able, one model, the Oakley Scalpel, is engineered with XYZ Optics to maintain clarity along the entire 8.75 base curvature. Pure plutonite lenses filter out 100 per cent UV and Oakley’s polarisation technology eliminates haze and optical distortion. An Iridium lens coating further reduces glare while balancing light transmission. Available with +2.00 to -4.00 combined power.


The Magic RX Sun is a prescription only range of sunglasses that Shaan consigns in store using a front curve specific blade cutter to cut (not grind) the lens edge, so there is no rounding of the lens bevel. This results in a tight fit and close interface with the groove of the frame. The company’s 20mm diameter cutter facilitates bevel reproduction on high base lenses and enables complex shapes to be edged with accuracy. Shaan supplies tinted, polarised and Drivewear lenses in all designs, material types and indexes.

Maui Jim

Maui Jim’s sunglasses can be fitted with single vision and progressive lenses. Ray-tracing technology derives a sophisticated algorithm which facilitates full width visual acuity at all angles. Freeform lens design lowers distortion and eliminates the ‘swim effect,’ allowing immediate adaptation to prescriptions and compensation for wrap-induced prism and power.

Bill Bass (Distributed by VMD AUS 07 5594 9845)

MCRx (Distributed by McCann AUS 03 8773 4500)

Spotters (Distributed by Spotters AUS 03 9728 2055)

Rx-able Sunglass Lenses


Hoya has combined digital surfacing and coating technology with NuPolar polarised technology to release a range of single vision ‘HOYA NuPolar’ lenses. These polarised lenses block out 100 per cent of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays and intense glare.


Xperio Transitions SOLFX Sunwear is a photochromic, polarised lens that adjusts to varied lighting conditions. On one hand, the polarised technology increases contrast and reduces blinding glare while on the other hand, the lens adapts to varied lighting conditions using photochromic technology from Transitions Optical. Lenses are available in Ash and Caramel polarised photochromic filters; in 1.50 index SFSV with Rx ranges from -7.00 to +6.00.

Carl Zeiss Vision

The Carl Zeiss Vision Loop is a new lens for wrap frames. It comes in progressive and single vision freeform designs that are customised for the wearer and frame. The script and design is incorporated onto the back surface of the lens.

The company says this approach to the lens means the customer receives a “correct prescription power for angled and/or wrapped lenses” as well as “elimination of induced prism caused by angled and/or wrapped lenses, elimination of oblique astigmatism angled and/or wrapped lenses, wide and clear fields of view and minimised chromatic aberration.”


Younger’s NuPolar lenses retain their colour under elevated temperatures often required for hard coating and AR processing. The possibility of the lens and polarising film delaminating over time is eliminated thanks to an integral chemical bond that is formed during the manufacturing process.

Opticare Hi-Vex Lens

Opticare’s Hi-Vex lens for prescription sunglasses is designed for rimless and nylon fitting. They can be tinted and have inbuilt UV400 properties. With a specific gravity of 1.25, Hi-Vex lenses are very light. An ABBE value of 46, makes the lens clear and ten times stronger than 1.499. Hi-Vex complies with FDA Impact Resistant Regulation 21 CRF 8014410 and does not react to acetone.

Opticare can tailor make single vision and freeform progressive lenses up to a power of -8.00 D to a six base sunglasses fit using it’s SlimLite process which can be applied to all Younger Nupolar and Drive Wear lenses.