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Field Trip!

Expert Optics Lab

Who would have guessed we would still get field trips in grad school? It was definitely a pleasant surprise. The second years all hopped on a coach bus last week and visited an independent laboratory, Expert Optics. Even after four quarters of optics classes, we still have so much more to learn about lenses.

We were greeted by the president of the company, and got fed lunch before the tour got started.

So after lunch, and a short introduction to the lab, we got to take a tour of the place and see how lenses are treated (tinted, coated, cut, etc.), from when it was still a hockey puck sized lens blank to when it’s ready to be put into a patient’s frame.

Fun Fact: The lab had rounded corners between the wall and the floor so that dirt/dust don’t get trapped in between, and the facilities are cleaner.

This is where the anti-reflective coating process begins.

The computer that controlled it all.

Machines in just one of the rooms in the lab. There were many more!

The trays of lenses go in this machine to be covered in a blue protective tape so that it doesn’t get damaged while it’s being processed.

See the blue tape?

I must admit, I was really tempted to push one of these buttons, as it reminds me of the infamous detonator button featured in many cartoons.

Green trays of lenses fed into the machine through a conveyor belt.

Here’s one more expensive, interesting-looking machine that is much more efficient at processing lenses. Even though there are newer machines, the lab kept some of the older traditional ones that can do more complicated jobs that others aren’t able to do.

At the end of our trip, we even got a parting gift of freebies to take home! A lot of students lose the ruler that measures the distance between a patient’s pupils, so we can never have enough of them.

We learned quite a few things today: the advantages of ordering lenses from an independent lab as opposed to a corporate one, the entire process of putting a lens in a frame that meets a patient’s visual demands, the cost and man-power involved in running a lab and so much more. Depending on the practice, a fairly large proportion of expenses could go towards lens orders from labs just like this. So while I’m not sure whether I’m going to be able to be an independent optometrist or work for a corporation, I’m certain that if I’m given the chance to visit the lab that makes lenses for my patients, I would definitely want to take the time to do so.


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