Video Visionaries Sharpen Focus on Labs

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Tuesday, October 11, 2022 12:39 AM Some of us can remember a time when video could only be seen on the living room TV, and viewing options were limited to whatever the local stations were showing. Now it’s everywhere, and anyone with a smartphone is a budding videographer. One of the benefits of this proliferation of video capabilities is that almost anyone with can share their message with the world—and they usually share it on YouTube.

Good for the Lab, Good for the Planet

By Julie Bos / Contributing Editor
Friday, October 7, 2022 8:30 AM RLab, formerly Rochester Optical, has always believed in putting its best foot forward for its customers, its people and the planet. So, in June 2020, when the lab experienced a main water line break that flooded its 30,000 square foot facility and damaged millions in equipment and infrastructure, leaders already knew they were facing a complete rebuild. But they took it one step further—viewing the challenge as a tremendous opportunity to transform its entire operations, and ultimately, achieve an aggressive goal to reach a zero-carbon footprint.

Lab Experts Agree: Automation Is Essential, But Not for Everything

By Julie Bos / Contributing Editor
Thursday, August 4, 2022 1:00 AM In today’s optical labs, automation is making it possible to perform everyday tasks more precisely and efficiently than any human could ever hope to do. Yet while automation is important, it’s not everything. In fact, there’s a strong case to be made for why the human element should never be completely removed from a lab’s operations.

Introducing Dover Eye Lab, a Rising Star Among Wholesalers

By Sarah McGoldrick / Contributing Editor
Thursday, August 4, 2022 12:59 AM In an optical market that continues to be dominated by multinational corporations, many independent optical labs are finding a niche by focusing on customer service and custom lens designs. After nearly 20 years in the optical industry, this is where Dover Eye Lab founder and CEO Scott Rosenwald knew he could corner the market.

Optical Lab Equipment Manufacturers Meet Chip Shortage Head On

By Sarah McGoldrick / Contributing Editor
Saturday, April 23, 2022 1:30 AM Microchips may be tiny, but they’ve having a huge impact worldwide, as every industry scrambles to deal with a global chip shortage. Already in short supply before COVID-19, the pandemic quickly pushed the shortage to new extremes, as everyone from car manufacturers to makers of optical lab equipment struggled to find alternative sources.

Take This Job… Please. How Optical Labs Are Coping With Labor Shortages

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Saturday, April 23, 2022 1:29 AM The story is the same anywhere you look – favorite foods missing from the grocery store shelves, restaurants and shops shortening their hours, delays in getting prescriptions filled. It’s no surprise when you consider that according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 2021 47.4 million people voluntarily left their jobs – a phenomenon known as “The Great Resignation.” The situation has affected nearly every type of business, including optical labs.

A Private Affair: The Rise of Private Labels in Independent Labs

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Monday, August 2, 2021 1:45 AM Private label brands, also known as house brands (or somewhat less kindly, generic products) are a common feature of grocery stores, providing shoppers with a lower-priced alternative to well-known and trusted brands. Often they are relegated to the lower shelves, with brand names occupying the coveted eye-level spots. Optical labs have sometimes referred to themselves as “grocery stores,” offering their customers a wide range of branded products to suit their preferences. As relationships with manufacturers evolved, some labs would give a particular name-brand prominence over others. Often labs would also offer a private label as a lower-priced, lower-shelf alternative. Today, some independent labs are flipping the script on brands, positioning their private-label in the foreground as their go-to product line, while offering established brands as alternatives. To understand this new phenomenon, we spoke to three independent lab execs whose labs are using this approach and having success with it.

As Online Sales Grow, Labs Adapt to New Service Requirements

By Sarah McGoldrick / Contributing Editor
Monday, August 2, 2021 1:44 AM Despite a slump in optical retail sales caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a strong year for online optical sales. Total optical retail sales fell 17.4 percent from December 2019 to December 2020 and $36.05 billion in retail revenues during the same period, according to The Vision Council’s VisionWatch report for Q4 2020. Yet online sales of eyeglass frames topped 9 million pairs during the same period, a 22 percent increase over the previous year.

Family Business: Lab Leadership Across Generations

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:30 AM The optical industry is often viewed as a family: it is relatively small, as industries go, and it often seems like everybody knows everyone else. But many optical businesses, including labs, are literally family affairs passed on from one generation to the next, creating a continuity of culture and customer relationships. To understand the attraction, advantages and the rewards of working in the family business, VM spoke to four lab leaders who are following in their parents’ footsteps and creating new ones of their own.

The Human Factor: Lab Functions That Resist Automation

By Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Thursday, February 18, 2021 12:29 AM The first two decades of the 21st century have seen many new developments and large investments in lab automation. Automating functions increases efficiency, reduces turnaround time and points of failure in lens fabrication and finishing, and almost everyone who knows the lab business would agree that the changes are for the best.

Start Me Up: What it Takes to Launch a New Rx Lab

By Jeff Hopkins, Contributing Editor
Tuesday, December 22, 2020 6:29 PM With the optical lab landscape seemingly dominated by manufacturers’ networks and a few large independent labs, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is no room in the market for new players. Yet optical veterans continue to find fertile ground for the establishment of new small independent labs, and success is following.

At Your Service

By Andrew Karp / Group Editor, Lenses & Technology and Jeff Hopkins / Contributing Editor
Monday, November 2, 2020 12:30 AM In the first days of the coronavirus pandemic, as states and municipalities began issuing shutdown orders, optical retailers and optometric practices across the country went into shock. With many offices closed and eyeglass shipments disrupted, the situation was chaotic. “When everyone literally had the rug pulled out from under them, no previous systems you had in place were going to be helpful when you’re winging it,” recalled optician Ruth Domber, who co-owns 10/10 Optics, a popular optical boutique and optometric practice in New York City.

ODs Can Employ Social Media Content and SEO to Leverage Specialty Expertise

By By Zvi Pardes, EyeCarePro.net, Contributing Editor
Monday, November 11, 2019 12:28 AM EyeCarePro, which works with optometric practices on their web and digital presence, started ODSpecialty because we were working with clients who more and more weren’t being served by our general marketing format. They were less interested in general care patient growth and had specific medical services they wanted to make a larger part of their practices. There was nothing out there to make this happen for them, and it took a specialized content approach to make it happen.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Dr. Shalu Pal’s Instagram Page Is Emblematic of Her Jovial Team

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Friday, August 30, 2019 8:00 AM TORONTO, Ontario—Going to the doctor’s office can be quite daunting to some. The experience can be impersonal, with practitioners who are matter of fact and impersonable. And let’s face it, the whole thing can culminate into a dire diagnosis. Shalu Pal and her team at Dr. Shalu Pal & Associates in Yorkville, Toronto, are aware of this and have made it a mission to give you major FOMO through their Instagram page, helmed by Pal herself. The page is a fun outlet for the practice, intended to lure you and curb your reservations about doctors and the often harrowing experience of being in an examination room.

Maryann Youssef, OD, Is All About Educating and Traveling

By Stephanie Sengwe, Contributing Editor
Thursday, August 8, 2019 9:00 AM Dr. Maryann Youssef may be a novice to the social media game but judging by her page, she’s got the formula figured out. A graduate of the Western University of Health Sciences, this Florida native created Doctor.Maryann eight months ago in an effort to connect with patients outside the exam room. Since then, the page has garnered over 1,000 followers and counting. “I started my Instagram page as a way to share my passion with patients outside of the exam room,” she explained. “At least once a day, I have a patient say, ‘Wow, I never knew you could check all of that in an eye exam!’ Optometry is undervalued, and that is in part due to the lack of education we provide to our patients. I'm trying to do my small part in changing that.”