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Digitally Customized Lenses: It’s High-Definition for Your Eyes

Think about the first time you saw high-definition television. Remember how it made your old analog TV picture seem drab and blurry? High-definition made colors brighter, shapes sharper, and brought everything keenly into focus. Now imagine having the same experience with your glasses. Sure, you can probably see fine with the ones you have, just like watching analog TV was fine when that was all you had.

But what if you could upgrade to high-definition for your eyes?

Free-form Technology

There’s a new technology that could change the way you see—forever.

It’s called “free-form,” a revolutionary digital manufacturing process that uses computer-aided design and surfacing to create high-level, customized eyeglass lenses with your unique prescription.

Think of it as a tailor for your eyes. Just like you can take an off-the-rack pair of pants and have it customized to fit your specific measurements, you can now have lenses made customized for your specific prescription and frames.

Getting Your Glasses: The Step-by-Step Process
Traditional Free-form
Step 1: The Prescription Step 1: The Prescription

Many of us don’t stop to think about how our prescription is determined. Using a combination of subjective patient feedback (“I think ‘2’ is better than ‘1’”) and objective readings from diagnostic equipment, your doctor makes their best recommendation for treating your “refractive error”—like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and/or presbyopia.

This refractive error is then expressed in units on your prescription called “diopters”—the amount of correction you need for normal vision. Dioptors are rounded to the nearest quarter, meaning you’ll see numbers on your prescription like +2.0, +2.25, -4.50, or -4.75. The result? The visual acuity through your glasses is compromised (just slightly) because your doctor can only correct your vision to the nearest quarter diopter.

Your eyes are digitally scanned by specialized, automated equipment that collects a number of data points on each eye. This data helps the equipment’s software find the prescription that will not only account for your refractive error, but also the unique variations in the shape and surface of your eyes. The resulting prescription is written to 1/100th of a diopter, which provides the best balance of vision at all pupil sizes, improving night vision while preserving daytime vision.

Step 2: Frame Selection Step 2: Optimizing Your Lenses to Your Fit and Frames

After your doctor determines your prescription, you meet with an optician who helps you select frames based on your face shape, personal preferences, hobbies, etc. The optician also takes into account the complexity of your prescription. For example, not all frames can accommodate progressive or high-index lenses.

Once your frames are selected, they are sent to the lab for the lenses to be manufactured.

Once you select your frame, several new measurements can be made, including how close the frame sits to the front of your eye, how the frame is angled in relation to your eye, how the frame wraps around your face, and even how you tilt your head. These customized measurements ensure that when you wear your new high-tech glasses, your prescription will be as clear as it was meant to be.

Step 3: The Manufacturing Step 3: The Manufacturing

Your glasses arrive at the lab. Here, your lenses are created using rigid tools that can create lenses to within 1/10th of a diopter.

Your glasses order is sent to a lab where your lenses are created on a computer-driven, free-form generator that can read and respond to your new, high-tech prescription written to 1/100th of a diopter.

Additionally, the lenses are created to account for the variations in your eyes across the surface of the lens. This may not only help you see better, but help you see better across more of your lens.

Benefits of Customized Free-form Lenses

Many leaders in the vision industry expect free-form technology to be the next revolution in vision correction.

In addition to the improved visual clarity that customized free-form lenses provide, you will enjoy:

  • Exceptional night/low light vision:
    • Free-form lenses can reduce glare and halo effects caused by light sources at night, such as car headlights
  • Exceptional contrast perception:
    • Free-form lenses can sharpen vision
  • Exceptional color vision:
    • Free-form lenses can maximize the optics built into your lenses, providing brighter and more intense colors

    While everyone can benefit to a certain extent from customized lenses, people with complex prescriptions and progressive wearers will notice the greatest visual improvements.

    Ask your VSP doctor if you can benefit from free-form technology and take your vision to the next level!