Have you ever wondered how the lenses in your glasses are made? You will be surprised by the number of steps it takes to produce lenses that are adapted not only to your prescription, but also to your lifestyle needs!
At IRIS, we are proud to work with Nikon to ensure that our eyeglass wearing patients receive superior visual performance thanks to the highest quality lenses. Through its focus on R&D, Nikon uses advanced technologies to design lenses that enable our patients to experience better vision.
During an eye exam at IRIS, the Optometrist will test the patient’s eyes based on their age, their needs and their medical history. Once the prescription has been established, the Optometrist will refer the patient to another team member, such as an Optician. Their role is to help the patient choose a frame that suits their style, personality and budget. At IRIS, we get to know our patients by filling in their IRIS Profile. In addition, they will help patients determine which lens options are most appropriate for their lifestyle by asking them several questions.
The order can then be sent to Nikon, along with a long list of parameters and data, allowing our partner to manufacture lenses that are very precisely adapted to the patient's needs. This data includes lens refractive power, information about how the frame fits the patient's facial features, as well as frame shape, dimensions and other more technical parameters that are relevant to customizing lenses for the patient.
Once the order is sent, lens manufacturing can begin! In order to help you better understand the precision required to design ophthalmic lenses, we’ve put together an overview of the Nikon Lenswear factory in Montreal! We bet you will be surprised by how sensitive the process is and the number of steps involved!
Following receipt of the order, the first step is to transmit the data to NODE, Nikon's Optical Design Engine. Interesting fact: it is located in Japan and remotely calculates a customized optical surface for each patient, based on their personal parameters. The NODE calculation results are then returned to the Nikon lab in Montreal so that the manufacturing process can begin.
Your lenses then go through several steps starting with surfacing and polishing. Lenses spend 3 to 4 minutes being polished before being inspected for the first time in the manufacturing process. Specially trained Nikon team members will carefully inspect the lenses several times during the manufacturing process to ensure the quality of the final product. This extremely rigorous process is one of the reasons IRIS chose to partner with Nikon for the manufacturing of its patients' ophthalmic lenses.
The next step is applying the coatings, as shown in this photo. This department is in a pressure and humidity-controlled room that limits the number of dust particles per square meter. To make the lenses scratch-resistant, lenses are successively soaked in baths containing different products before a varnish is applied.  Then, the lenses are positioned on a dome and placed inside a vacuum. This fascinating machine allows metal oxides to be sublimated and deposited on the lenses to form the anti-reflective coating. Finally, an oleophobic layer is applied to the lenses to make them easier to keep clean.
Once all the layers have been applied to the lenses, they are ready to be edged (cut) and mounted into the patient's glasses! Edging lenses down to perfectly match the size and wrap of the patient’s frame requires several machines. Once the edging is finished, only one step remains: the assembly! The lenses are inserted into the frames which can finally be redirected to the store.
All of these steps require the handling of several different materials and chemicals. Fortunately, Nikon is a good corporate citizen and modernized its factory to make it environmentally friendly. The system they use to clean used water is called LOSMA. This giant device filters the water, removing particles left behind during the various stages of the lens manufacturing process. The collected waste is then sent to the garbage. Interesting fact: only one bag of residue is sent to the garbage every day!
If you have any question regarding the manufacturing of your ophthalmic lenses, don’t hesitate to ask an IRIS Optician or Optometrist.  We also invite you visit http://www.iviewseries.ca/ to learn more about Nikon lenses and IRIS' exclusive I-View family of lenses. IRIS is proud to partner with Nikon as better vision is our shared passion!