Traditional AR coating is applied by a method know as vacuum AR. This process typically requires a very large capital expenditure, clean room, highly skilled production staff and takes from 4 to 10 plus hours to complete. This process begins with the lens moving through a multi step cleaning bath to ensure proper adhesion of the AR layers. Once cleaned, each lens is inserted into a spring retainer and married up with other lenses for a specific coating process. The lens retainers are moved to a degassing oven for surface optimization. From here, lenses are placed into a metal collate and set inside the vacuum AR coater. According to a recent article in Vision Care Product News, “a pump then removes the atmosphere and recreates a vacuum, where an ion-assisted gun helps cleanse the lenses even further prepping them for the treatment layers to be applied. The collate starts to rotate and an electronic beam gun focuses onto a crucible holding a series of different compounds. As the beam reaches its peak, a shutter plate swings to the side allowing the evaporated material to be dispersed and reach the lenses.” Most of these AR treatments involved oxide metals for the low index layers and materials such as tantalum and titanium for the high index layers. After the layers are processed, a final step is completed for the hydrophobic and oleophoic finish. The lenses are then shipped to the corresponding optical location and dispensed to patients. From order to delivery, the typical optical location must wait 3 to 7 business days before they can notify their patient of their eyeglass arrival.
Due to the cost and technical aspects involved with traditional AR coating, the majority of independent optical professional do not have the production volume necessary for profitability. In response, Optical Dynamics’ Research and Development team created the revolutionary nanoCLEAR AR system. This small table top unit works in conjunction with the Q-2100 Digital Lens system and employs a nanocomposite AR coating. Since this system processes films at atmospheric temperatures and pressures, the required hardware is greatly simplified reducing overall cost, training and production time
The nanoCLEAR AR process begins with the operator setting the four digital free form molds into the AR unit. The nanoCLEAR AR system pressure washes the molds for optimal cleanliness. The use of spin coat technology is then employed with the system laying down a scratch coat followed by the nanocomposite AR coating in mold. The digital molds are removed from the AR unit and a mold cavity is formed. The cavity is filled with either the clear or photochromic UV-curable monomer doped with nanoparticles. This allows us to engineer the refractive index and strength of the nanoAR films while maintaining the flexibility inherent to most polymers. Once the mold cavities are filled, they are cured in the main and post chambers. During the curing process the nanoCLEAR AR bonds with the lens material to produce an AR lens. The process is completed with a hydrophobic and oleophic top coat. In under 90-minutes, you have a pair of nanoCLEAR AR lenses to dispense to your patients.
Cynthiana Vision Center located in Cynthiana Kentucky, purchased the Digital Lens Technology 15-years ago this month. Owner, Dr. Bret Hines, an innovator and pioneer was one of the first to experience the benefits of in-office lens casting . As shared on their practice website, Cynthiana Vision believes in providing patients with thorough eye health care and provides the latest in eye care technology and treatments.
Angle Miller, optician at Cynthia Vision has been working with the technology since installation and is a big advocate of the system. “I love the speed of the lens production process,” said Angel. “It allows for a quicker order turn around over traditional labs and patients like that,” she added.
When asked to share a story of how a patient benefited from the onsite production, Angel said, “Bad weather was coming and a patient needed to travel out of state. We were able to get his lenses in a day with the nanoCLEAR unit, and he was able to avoid the snowstorm in his travels.” Processing lenses on site definitely allows for a unique competitive advantage in the optical market place.
After processing a job, your molds will normally have some monomer residue and flashing stuck to the surface. All excess debris must be removed before the mold can be used again successfully. Cleaned molds must be stored properly to guarantee mold safety while the mold is not in use. Also, proper mold storage simplifies the picking process when the mold is needed again.
Molds must be cleaned after each use. Molds should be left in the soaking bins for at least 5 minutes before cleaning. Scrub molds thoroughly with the disposable mold scrubber pads. Pay special attention to edges. Rinse molds with running water if it is available. If running water is not available, use a container of tap water. (Remember to change the rinse container water frequently.) Spray rinsed molds immediately with Q-Spray and wipe them dry. Never store a wet mold.
TIP: Thoroughly clean and dry all molds. Anything left on a mold can cause an issue the next time it is used. This includes water spots.
The Q-2100 Lens System comes with several hundred digital free form molds. It is very important that they are stored properly in order to keep them organized. Each space in the mold storage unit is labeled for one specific mold. Make sure the mold you place there is the right one.
Pick a clean and dry mold. Read the mold designation near the edge of the mold and find the proper storage location in the storage unit. Put the mold back into its wrapper and put it into the allotted space. Do not put a mold into a space that is already occupied by another mold. Be careful not to bump molds against anything while storing them.
TIP: Always store molds properly. The protective wrapper prevents scratches and can help identify molds. Return molds to their proper storage locations so you can find them quickly.
- Take mold from soaking bin and scrub
- Rinse mold
- Spray mold with Q-Spray and dry
- Place mold in protective wrapper
- Return mold to proper storage location
Be sure to perform your weekly scheduled maintenance list. Taking the time to check a few items once per week will help your equipment look better and run more efficiently. To download a new log click here < Weekly Maintenance Log.>
La Grande Family Eye Care in La Grande, OR added the Q-2100 Digital Lens System with nanoCLEAR AR to their practice 7-years ago this month. Their knowledgeable optometrists and friendly staff are eager to help their patients with all their vision needs. For this reason, the practice wanted to dispense a “high quality lens with a short turn around time to their patient base.” The purchase of the Q-2100 with nanoCLEAR AR was the perfection choice to make to make this happen.
According to the staff, “improved patient satisfaction and lower lab bills,” have been achieved by making digital lenses in house.