By Sarah McGoldrick
Lens technology has changed rapidly over the past five years. New coatings, materials and even the incorporation of digital technology is making how lens are created and worn, unlike anything the industry has experienced before.
To keep up with the constant change, research and development teams are delving even further into the world of understanding how our eyes work to come up with visual solutions that make perfect sight a closer reality.
Most people think of lens technological advancement when they think of Nikon. This company has been leading the way in developing new ways to see the world for nearly a century.
Their most recent offering is the DigiLife progressive lens featuring Equi-View Optimization (EVO) technology enhancements that make images sharper and reduce astigmatism and power errors.
“At Nikon, the DigiLife FPbackside progressive is very flexible.
It offers an extra wide availability of lens materials and prescriptions,” said Chantal Gravel, Product Marketing Manager for Nikon Optical Canada.
“It’s main feature is that it offers the widest intermediate field of vision ever. No other progressive lens offers an intermediate field this wide, it is, in fact, doubled what patients are used to getting in progressive lenses.”
The EVO high-precision spectral mapping on the horizontal plane creates an extra wide and smooth visual field.
The custom filling parameters allow patients to have the most natural, comfortable vision possible with the ability to fully optimize the back surface of each lens and create a
topography unique to every pair.
“DigiLife FP is the perfect upgrade for patients already wearing a backside progressive lens as it uses the latest digital technologies. This lens will be perfect for the patient looking for a pair of progressive lenses that will offer the best “digital” field of vision possible for their “digital” lifestyle,” said Gravel. “DigiLife FP is currently very unique, no other lens design can claim to offer this width in the intermediate field of vision.
This lens also allows the eye care professionals to fully customize the design with corridor choices, variable inset and fitting parameters.”
Digital Design
We live in a world where we are under constant eye strain. Most of our lives are spent looking at computer screens and smart phones. Nikon has created a technology that helps repel harmful blue light to prevent long term eye strain and damage.
“These are recurring issues patients have to live with. As a leader in the manufacturing process of high quality lens coatings, we constantly strive to provide treatments that resolve these issues,” said Gravel. “Today’s reality is that we are surrounded by high energy blue light, more than ever before (LED lights, digital devices, etc).”
She noted blocking part of the harmful blue light creates a better visual comfort where eye fatigue is lessened even for those using digital devices all day long.
Blue light is emitted from most modern screens built with LED backlights. They remain popular within the technology industry because they are cheap to produce and
last longer that old-style CRT screens.
The SeeCoat Blue lens improves contrasts, by cutting blue light by 10 per cent while the AR layers still allow near full light transmission.
“Several studies tend to prove that cumulative or prolonged exposure to high energy blue light can be dangerous to the retina. SeeCoat Blue should be the number one coating for patients in general to help protect their vision.”

The Freeform Revolution
For the past few years the eyewear industry has been moving in one clear direction—Freeform lenses.
The adaptability and easy wear of this type of lens has made it popular with patients and eyecare providers.
Earlier this year Shamir released their Autograph III progressive lens with countless upgrades to address the varying eye issues of patients.
“This new technology allows Shamir’s designers to control the power profile of the lens, giving variable emphasis to the power for every given point on the lens,” said Martin Bell, RO and National Sales and Marketing Manager for Shamir Canada.
“Autograph III and InTouch incorporate this unique power profile in the corridor to give the wearer a clear and easy-to-reach zone for viewing hand-held digital devices easily and comfortably. With other lenses the wearer has to lower the phone and tilt their head up to see the screen clearly. Now with Autograph III and InTouch, they can see their phone and tablet comfortably”
The near viewing zone in Shamir Autograph III is dynamically located within the lens corridor, taking into account the positive or negative power of the prescription. This reduces the need to tilt the head forward or back, or alternatively to lower or raise a book when reading in an attempt to find the right viewing distance and angle. Any postural discomfort is thereby minimized and patients are ensured a comfortably natural posture during near viewing. Plus and negative reading powers move the image that the wearer sees
so that the wearer often has to raise or lower their head in order to see clearly. Natural posture relocates this image so that the wearer can read comfortably, in their natural posture.
The technology was also incorporated into their line of golf eyewear. When on the links golfers can experience a variety of light factors as the sun moves across the sky or play moves from light to shade.
Shamir Golf uses the unique power profile to give the golfer his or her intermediate viewing zone right where they need it—five to seven feet away, where they have to see the ball
on the ground.
“This means that the golfer can stay in their comfortable playing stance and they will be able to see clearly. The golf lens works with the golfer and not against the golfer like
many progressive lenses,” said Bell adding Shamir has worked to develop its own special technology to help wearers meet all the visual challenges around them.
Shamir is one of the world-wide leading innovators in optical technology. All design and testing takes place at its lab, where there is also a completely modern digital freeform surfacing, coating and hi-tech edging facility.
“Shamir develops its own technology and over the years has licensed some of this technology to other lens manufacturers internationally,” Bell said. “The technologies are developed by studying visual habits and needs, by understanding the physiological workings of the eye and visual system and developing ways to ensure that the wearer sees exactly
what was prescribed over all area of the lens, without compromise.”
“As a company, Shamir believes that education is critical. We will spend whatever time is necessary to ensure that the dispensers of our products are completely familiar with these products. When the dispensers understand how the lenses work, they can dispense with confidence and this can virtually eliminate issues with client adaptation.”
He added, “Shamir is also launching SPARK, a digital measuring device. This is easy to use and very accurate, using only one photograph to measure PD, Height, Vertex, Tilt and Wrap, as well as all frame measurements. No additional trial frame is needed and the high standard of accuracy ensures that the lenses are ordered with exact measurements for
each customer.”

Looking Ahead
It seems as the industry looks ahead to 2014, freeform will remain the leading choice for the industry when it comes to lens technology. Vogue Optical is seeing almost an exclusive request for freeform by clients.
In recent years their lab has been upgraded to accommodate new technology and software in the world of high definition lenses. This latest equipment and software is used to
manufacture premium progressive lenses to create a wider field of vision and advanced visual acuity across the whole lens surface, both top and bottom for easier adaptation.
“It’s something new and for a lot of people this is all they are going to be selling,” said Collin Hartling, Lab Manager for Vogue Optical.
He added from the 1970s to the 1990s there was very little change in lens design and technology. “For the longest time everything was the same, but things just went crazy with freeform technology,”he said.
The incorporation of digital technology into eyewear such as the highly coveted Google Glass seems to be the next step on the lens horizon, he said this is something that still
needs a lot of perfecting before it will enter the mainstream.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a full (digital) integration in the next 10 years, though it might happen before then,” he said. “The medical part of lenses is going to be completely changed over the next 20 years and perhaps there may be a time when people won’t have to wear them.” •