Sometimes, it’s not until you’re forced into a situation that you begin to enjoy it.
I’ve never been one to sing the praises of progressive lenses.
Although I’ve successfully prescribed thousands of pairs of progressives to many happy patients, my personal experiences have been less than satisfactory. I’ve tried numerous top end progressive designs from leading manufacturers. Those companies enthusiastically told me I’d love their designs and encouraged me to try their latest high tech offerings. Most provided tiny reading zones and so much distortion it frustrated me no end. I always reverted to my Zeiss Business, Office Individuals and more recently, a pair of trusty Nikon Web occupationals, for all my near point needs. I suffer from a low degree of hyperopic astigmatism, resulting from my form fruste keratoconus (FFKC). I generally cope unaided in the distance, with 6/6p vision.
As a pilot might say, I rely on my ‘Mk1 Eyeballs’ for distance vision and only need occupational lenses for dealing with the delightful presbyopia.
…DriveSafe lenses get my unequivocal vote…
Success at Last?
Just before migrating to Australia in November 2016, a colleague and expert dispensing optician – who I was fortunate to work with in my first optometric job in NZ in 1994 – offered to make me some specialised Zeiss progressive lenses. Knowing my aversion to progressives and non-adaption hassles, he suggested I try the Zeiss DriveSafe progressive lens design. He assured me I’d like them as they have minimal distortion, wide field and a low shoulder. He did warn me that they were not touted for prolonged near vision and computer work, being more suited for general use. Seeing the dashboard, a wide field for rear-view mirrors, occasional smartphone use, GPS, and using EFTPOS when refuelling are some of the core strengths of DriveSafe.
I opted for one pair of rimless Transition VI lenses, as well as a larger dedicated sunglass pair for the car and hot, bright Australian summer days. I also decided to obtain a pair of Office Individual lenses for prolonged reading, writing, editing and computer work.
On receiving the spectacles I was immediately happy with the DriveSafe lenses. I was surprised at how good they were at near, with a wide field of near/intermediate vision and minimal distortion or ‘swim’ effect. Unfortunately the recommended polarised sunnies were partly blacking out my GPS app on my iPhone, so I had them remade in non-polarised 75 per cent brown DriveSafe form.
Despite being rather good, I still reverted to my Nikon Web lenses for most of my day and was still using my trendy, round-segment bifocal sunnies for driving. Alas the new progressives tended to get minimal use.
Old habits die hard!
Get With The Program
A few weeks ago the frame supporting my trusty occupational lenses spontaneously fractured and I was forced to wear my DriveSafe progressives for all my needs. In a nutshell, I’m super impressed with these lenses. I’ve hammered out thousands of words on my keyboard, surfed hundreds of websites and done plenty of administration. I’m delighted to say they have over-delivered, providing countless hours of comfortable posture and asthenopia-free near work. I’ve found them way better than my bifocals for driving, seeing my dashboard and GPS. They work equally well when shopping.
They are way better than all the other progressive lenses I’ve tried, where I’d always found the near-zone limited to an area about the size of a fifty-cent piece.
DriveSafe also performed well during a recent trip in an experimental aircraft to the outback. I’ll be sharing that story with you in the next edition of mivision.
Specialised anti-reflection coatings and filters help reduce reflections and filter out some of the problems associated with modern LED and Xenon lights. They reduce flare around lights, which I noticed especially beneficial in Sydney’s numerous tunnels – the aberrations associated with my FFKC make me more prone to flare and glare.
Personally, DriveSafe lenses get my unequivocal vote. If you haven’t tried or prescribed them yet, I’d say give them a go.
Optometrists are like elephants. They have long memories and may refuse to deal with a given company, based on some perceived slight, sometimes going back decades. Numerous optometrists whinged about a contact lens company imposing a charge on trial lens deliveries, unless accompanied by a substantial revenue order.
Most of us understand there’s significant cost surrounding trial lens supply but never the less, practitioners take umbrage at these seemingly petty charges, and competitors take advantage.
There’s also been some recent chatter on the Ausoptom List, with people expressing major distaste for a change in the supply chain of a particular company’s lubricating eye drops. It seems that the supply of these eye drops has moved from its optometry to pharmaceutical division. This meant some practitioners had to apply for new accounts, via a pharmaceutical distributor, and pay a higher price.
Some of the affected practitioners, who apparently don’t understand the divisional structures, are threatening to dump all aspects of business with the company. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face, but that’s how emotional some optoms get.
Don’t these large multinationals understand the importance of customer service and loyalty? No doubt there would have been better ways to implement and communicate the changes. These companies have advisory boards consisting of respected practitioners. If asked, they’d quickly let the company know that changes like this will not go down well.
The cost associated with resultant lost revenues could well be greater than the cost of supplying trial lenses, or lost sales of eye drops, when practitioners shift to other brands.
It costs less to keep existing clients happy than to try and get new ones.
A contact lens company recently embarked on a TV advertising campaign for their excellent daily disposable contact lenses. Marketing is great but nothing gets a practitioners’ dander up more than having a company impose a ‘free trial’ on them. We’ve told them that for decades but it seems that high staff turnover means there is little institutional memory these days.
We all provide a ‘free trial pair’ of lenses, however, as practitioners, we should charge the professional fees associated with the consultations. A contact lens trial does not consist of tossing a free pair of contact lenses over the counter. For contact lenses to succeed, a proper optometric consultation must be performed, including specialised measurements and a thorough examination of the lids, ocular surface and tear film.
The company could easily have avoided the flack they received from optometrists by simply saying ‘Free Trial Pair – Professional Fees Apply’.
See you Around?
I have a few conferences coming up in places as diverse as Hamilton Island, Sydney, Johannesburg and Perth. Catching up with friends and colleagues is always a highlight.
The International Cornea and Contact Lens Conference (ICCLC), takes place in Sydney from 8–10 September. I’m delighted to be sharing the podium with a great bunch of speakers. The topics are diverse and you’ll hear the very latest on myopia control, research, clinical practice, RGPs and soft lenses. The much anticipated and recently released DEWS II report will also be discussed. Check out the program and register via the Cornea and Contact Lens Society (CCLSA) website.
Don’t miss out on what looks like an exciting program.