To become an in-office lens manufacturer, it’s crucial that you first understand how we got here. The more you learn about lens manufacturing history, the better you’ll understand the power of the pivot over the years. We would like to start by showing you the first lens manufacturing models introduced in the US and to do that we need to take you way back to 1916.



To become an in office lens manufacturer, it is important for you to understand how we got here. The more you understand about how we got here is the more you will understand about the power of the pivot in lens manufacturing history. We would like to start by showing you the first lens manufacturing models introduced in the US and to do that we need to take you way back to 1916. Post World War I .

optical Glass lens manufacturing workshop 1910

World War I cuts off America’s traditional lens sources in Europe. This motivates the Bausch and Lomb team to launch first volume factory production of ophthalmic glass in the U.S. 

1916- World War I Glass Lens Lab Emerge
videoblocold vintage television set retro color tv oldschool

Invention of the television creates a public need for distance glasses in addition to reading glasses.

1926-TV Usage Introduces The Need For Distance Lenses
well made polarized sunglasses jfk in wayfarers image via ny glass

Having been credited with the introduction of the optical industry dating back to the 1800s when a jeweler evolved their skill into eyewear manufacturing, AO Launches Cool Ray sunglasses. These are the first polarized sunglasses on the market.

In 1959 a patent is issued to Clarence Kanolt of Yonkers, New York where he describes a lens where the "power which increases gradually and continuously from the top of the upper sector to the bottom of the lower sector and has no discernible line of demarcation along the vertical axis" This begins the understanding of progressive lenses.
cr 39

The Pittsburg Plate Glass Company introduced CR-39 as a lightweight plastic lens- a move that cemented plastic as a popular lens material. Up until this point, most lenses were made from crown glass or flint glass.

1961-PPG Introduces Cr-39

With a 1.59 index of refraction, they were applauded their durability.    As many new things in the optical world, polycarbonate lenses were first met with skepticism. Now, however, they are the often the lens of choice for children and high-risk individuals. 

1983- Gentex Corporation introduces first polycarbonate lens
Grinding LensesManufacturing ParticulateControl

Computer numerically controlled cutting (CNC) was being used in the aerospace and automobile industry. CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) technology was used in the production of devices needing high precision lenses.

1985- OptoTech’s founder Roland Mandler started using CNC in optics
high index 167 progressive lens

A major industry breakthrough, Optima combined the three most sought-after eyeglass lens benefits – lightweight, ultra thin and truly distortion-free optics – into one lens product. Not only was the lens lightweight and very thin, it also delivered an unprecedented level of optical clarity when compared with other high index plastic materials. The lens dramatically improved the cosmetic appearance of the eyes and glasses and eliminated many common eyeglass complaints – the rainbow swim effect (associated with polycarbonate lenses), peripheral distortion, magnification and minification of objects and the bug eyes or coke bottle eyes look.

1987- Optima Inc. launches HYPERINDEX 1.60: a lens that is designed to be lightweight, thin, and distortion free
pure office3

Optima Inc. introduces the first high index progressive lens. Named HYPERINDEX® 1.60 Progressive, the lens was designed to provide relief for near, mid-range and distance while also remaining thin and light.

1990- First progressive lens is introduced to market
free form lenses

It was suggested that leading equipment manufacturers of lens manufacturing machines should consider developing equipment that could cut ophthalmic lenses with complex surface geometry to prescription

1991- Marc Savoie started testing the feasibility of Free-form
polishing aspheres

This was made possible by highly advanced generators. As the technology advanced, so has the equipment. The interest among the laboratories is extremely high, limited only by the cost of the investment, a minimum of $400,000 to well over $1 Million.

2000- Zeiss and Rodenstock came out with the first progressive lenses using direct-to-lens surfacing

A patent is issued to Zeiss 1992. Seiko receives a similar patent in 2000. Both describe progressive lens manufacturing.

The industry ultimately pays royalties for many years to both companies.

2001 The race for lens manufacturers to develop a more advanced digital lens portfolio is in full swing
Optometrist Dr. Larry Siders gives up successful practice to form NCRx Optical Solutions Inc. Begins development of better ways to make lenses.
2002 Dr. Larry Siders
Lens Generator Equipment

NCRx Optical Solutions commences development of its unique surfacing and polishing machines.

2017 A new leader which innovated the first compact in-office free form system emerges.