Empire Optical: Tulsa’s Advanced Eyeglass Store

The eyeglass lenses we produce in Empire Optical’s store are made using the most technologically advanced process available, giving you the best vision currently possible. Also – we are the only retail lab in Tulsa with this technology (insert mic drop here).

However, before we talk about the amazing technology of freeform lenses, you need to know a little more about the history of eyeglass technology.

Lens Technology Basics

Corrective optical lenses have been made since around the year 1,300 in Italy. Lens technology was largely limited until modern manufacturing processes evolved the science in the early 20th century. For approximately a hundred years after that, most lenses were created using an effective but relatively simple process of “grinding” symmetrical curves on the back side of the lens in order to create the desired power. That’s pretty boring I know, but I need some setup, maybe even a drum roll. Just know that your eyeglass prescription contains two primary values, Sphere and Cylinder. If you don’t believe me, just look at your prescription and check it out. You’ll see SPH and CYL values, in that order.

So, these two symmetrical curves were generally ground on the back side of your lenses in order to create an “accurate” corrective lens. However, this accuracy was only created right at the center point where the light travels through in a straight line.

Try this small experiment. Take your eyeglasses and move them back and forth a little on your face – do you notice how your vision changes and sways as you look through your lenses at an angle? That just lets you know that if you look through your lenses at an angle, like out to the side, you start to notice changes in power and the addition of optical aberrations. This is a limiting factor of the “traditional” optical processes of the last hundred years or so – machinery just couldn’t make lenses that would account for these changes.

 

The Introduction of Freeform Lenses

This was all cool until… Science. Boom! The advent of CNC technology started to open up new possibilities and allowed us to create machinery that cut more complex curves on the back side of the lens. Using computing horsepower and high-speed diamond cutters, we can now manufacture extremely complex curves to compensate for these changes in viewing angle. As long as we can collect the proper data, we can now produce eyeglass lenses that are orders of magnitude more accurate with fewer aberrations. In our industry, we call these “freeform” lenses. If you want to see an extreme example, just stop in to the back of our store, and we’ll hand you one of our calibration lenses – it’s a beautiful sine wave used to test our process every morning before we begin our work.

Empire’s Freeform Lenses

So, what’s so cool about freeform? For you, it means that you will have more accurate, wider fields of vision in every prescription. The tolerances on our machinery just jumped from tenths of a millimeter, to microns. Sorry, I’m geeking out here, but a micron is equal to a particle of smoke, and that makes it a huge, albeit tiny, deal. We have been operating and perfecting this process for the past five years and continue to push the envelope in our production capabilities. When you come to the back of our store, you will hear the gentle “whir” of our high-speed CNC machine cutting someone’s beautiful lenses. At Empire, expert opticians craft lenses to your specifications – because we care enough to make the very best.

Whir away little freeform generator and dream your little micron dreams…
Stop by Empire today to see these amazing lenses and how they could help you gain crystal-clear sight.