CUSTOM-MADE SCLERAL LENSES ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL CLIENTELE
Few optometrists can claim their patients will travel halfway around the world for a lens fitting, but for Dr. Greg Gemoules, the owner of Coppell Family Eyecare/LaserFit Vision in Coppell, TX, that boast holds true. Innovative scleral lens technology is what makes his practice stand out.
This article originally appeared in the April 2016 edition of INVISION.
THE IDEA: Gemoules said he came up with the idea of designing his own lens to solve existing problems for correcting complex vision disorders. With a full schedule of patients, “it was imperative I had a system for quickly addressing unpredictable challenges,” he says. So he customizes lenses rather than relying on “a one-size-fits-all or one-size-fits-many mentality.”
The Texas OD founded his eyecare business in 1984. Gemoules began focusing on specialty lenses in 2008, and he began designing the LaserFit scleral lens, which now account for two-thirds of his business. “I take partial credit for the current popularity of the scleral lens because I spoke about it and published articles about it back in 2008,” he says.
THE EXECUTION: Gemoules regards the scleral lens as the best platform to introduce custom optics using a wavefront aberrometer and a phoropter. He
says there have been tremendous advancements in machining capabilities, and that production of the scleral lens has improved in the past five years.
“Eight years ago, we investigated existing technologies being used in ophthalmology to measure the shape of the anterior eye and the dominant technology was optical coherence tomography (OCT),” he says. “We then developed a method of using these scans to arrive at the shape of the eye where we could apply a custom lens template.” However, better optics were needed to overcome the visual artifacts that left many patients unhappy with the results. Gemoules acquired an aberrometer, a device that helps him “read” these eyes, and he learned to incorporate these measurements to modify the lens’ optics to cancel out the residual aberrations.
To custom-fit a lens, Gemoules takes multiple scans of a patient’s eye with an OCT machine from Zeiss. He feeds these into a system that creates the 3-D image. He then sends this template to his lab, TruForm Optics, to make the lens. (TruForm is nearby in Bedford, TX, assuring fast turnaround times. Out-of-town patients are asked to plan on five to seven working days in the area.) “My designs are original. They come from here,” Gemoules says. “We make a new unique lens for each eye with a production run of one!” Over the past year, he has solidified his design and method so his scleral lens is now more reliable and available to more patients.
THE REWARDS: Jan Svochak, vice president of TruForm Optics, says that Gemoules is highly committed. “He has put significant investment into designing lenses for even the most challenging scleral lens patients,” Svochak says.
Many people who come to LaserFit Vision “have been around the block a time or two and could not find a solution until they came to us,” Gemoules says. “These patients will forever be loyal to my practice, at least until the technology becomes commonplace. We are not providing a routine transactional service. We are changing lives.”
“There is no way to describe the emotions that a successful result can evoke,” Gemoules adds. He believes that if ECPs aim for “200 percent satisfaction,” they, too, could build a successful scleral lens business.
And once they come in, the Vitra team is ready. “It all starts with the client, getting to the root of what they want and serving their needs,” Abernathy says. From showing each person a selection of flattering frames to explaining the benefits of premium lenses, “it’s all about finding the best look for them that is going to make them happiest.”
➤ Be an original. When it comes to vision, “one-size-fits-all” rarely works.
➤ Find a problem that needs solving and be relentless in your pursuit.
➤ Highlight success stories in your marketing.
➤ Develop an empathetic and patient-centered practice.
➤ Partner with a lab that invests in and uses the latest technology.