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Specialty and Vocational Lenses

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Specialty Lenses

A patient comes in and wants a Rx in a Dive Mask, or to put bifocals in swimming goggles or wants a triple tint, a jeweler comes in and needs that mini telescope put in his eyewear or you have an extremely high plus/minus (+16.00 or -16.00) or need prism put in their bifocals or have a + and – Rx- What do you do? These types of Rx’s are up to 5% of the eyewear market and can be an important marketing tool for the eyecare professional. It is important to know where you can get these Rx’s made or to be able to ask a knowledgeable lab person if this can be done.

Due to the amount of handwork, labor and knowledge, the production of vocational and difficult prescriptions such as the above cannot be made by most optical labs, so they send it to labs such as Quest Specialty Lab an independent lab noted for difficult to do specialty labwork. If any of you have ever worked in a lab, you know what I’m talking about. I started out this business in a lab and we used to do Slab Offs (I hated) it’s tedious, you polish, calibrate, re-polish, calibrate again …. if a lab doesn’t have the right tools or knowledge they have to keep remaking the lenses creating an expense in time and materials. There were times we had to redo a Slab Off 6-7 times. (Ugh, brings back memories)


Based in Largo, Florida, Quest Specialty Lab saw a need for an independent specialty lab to cover 1-5% of the Rx’s and set up their lab in 2003. Their normal jobs are what most optical staff will never see, high minus, strong cylinders, myodiscs, high pluses, lenticular lenses, high prisms, prism’s in bifocals (yes you can do that).

What I think is intriguing is the Vocational and Sport Performance Eyewear products they offer. Musician lenses, Pilot lenses, Diving Lenses, Jeweler Lenses, Swimming Goggles


Eye Bogglers

597, 109 Active Certified Pilots in USA (2006)

1.3 Million Active Divers in the USA (estimated 2007)

66, 256 Jewelers in the US (Manta)

130,000 Professional full Time Musicians - not counting part time etc..

3.3 Million Low Vision and Blind people in the US who could use a variety of low vision Rx lenses in creative ways.


When speaking to Michael Walach at Quest Specialty Lab, I was most impressed with his ‘I Can Do It ‘attitude, meaning, you have a challenge, they will try to find the optimum and most effect solution. What I think- Give Michael a call, find out more about his products and services, put the information into your office brochure, website, blog, make a section in your dispensary on Vocational Eyewear and start letting your patients know the availability of these services from you and try to capture this potentially lucrative market.

FYI- Slab Off Info - A doctor will order a slab-off when a patient has anisometropia, which is a great difference between the prescriptions in each eye, (i.e., right eye -4.50, left eye +0.50), and is wearing lined-style multifocal lenses or progressive addition lenses. When a patient has a large difference between the eyes and wears an addition lens, the resulting prismatic effect can create enough image shift through the combined prisms of distance and near lenses that the wearer has double vision. One eye perceives the object in one place, and the other eye perceives it somewhere else (double vision). Slab-off alters the shape of the prism wedge, bringing the two images back into alignment, reducing the vertical imbalance. Source (opticianonline.com)

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