Late last year, Adlens introduced their Focuss (AKA AdlensFocuss, AKA CustomFocuss) glasses in a trial release through test partner Lenscrafters. These glasses are unique in the market in that they combine a standard optometrist eyeglass prescription with an adjustable focus mechanism allowing full visual range without the need to resort to multiple pairs of glasses or progressives / bifocals. We reviewed that trial product on this blog.
After a brief trial run in November – December 2014, Adlens ended the test program to collect their lessons learned and prepare for a full production run. In early June, Adlens announced that they were ready to initiate production, and now the first sets of glasses are rolling off the assembly line. I obtained a pair earlier this week and can now report some results. The glasses were delivered in an impressive package befitting a high end optical product, including a nicely designed case, tote bag, cleaning solution, cleaning cloth, and even a thumb drive. The thumb drive contains a professionally done promotional video that looks like it may become an advertisement, and a registration form. Of course what matters most is not the packaging and accessories but rather the quality of the product within. The news there is good which I share below. However it should be pointed out that at present Lenscrafters is not distributing the production run of Focuss. Instead, distribution is rolling out through a small but reportedly growing list of independent optometrists, and when needed, through direct sales from Adlens.
Most of what was detailed in the previous review remains unchanged. Focuss remains a great product with essentially the same design, features, and limitations of the test run. However, there are some differences worth mentioning, which I would summarize as: sharper optics, lighter weight, and a more refined finish.
- Sharper optics: The key feature of Focuss is a “focus zone” which consists of a variable membrane embedded within a lens sandwich, offering the ability to focus the glasses at different distances. This focus zone is tighter in the production glasses than in the test run glasses. This is a very difficult thing to quantify without access to optical measuring equipment, or to show photographically because the zone is necessarily transparent, however I had previously noted that the test run glasses had a slight rippling or texture that was (just barely) noticeable in certain conditions of lighting and focus and detracted from the overall optical sharpness. Happily that is no longer the case as the focus zone on my production pair is clear and smooth. Also, the edges of the zone appear to be sharper resulting in less distortion at the periphery. This can be seen in the image to the right which shows a comparison of the test run glasses versus the production run glasses. For this photograph, both glasses have been elevated above gridline paper to the same height and both have focus wheels zoomed in as far as possible to maximize any distortions. Click on the image to enlarge to full size where you will be able to see the greater distortions present in the test run glasses.
- Lighter weight: I hesitate to mention this issue because the difference is negligible, but I do so for completeness. The test run glasses weigh in at 55 grams / 1.98 ounces. The production run glasses weigh in with one fewer gram: 54 grams / 1.93 ounces. Admittedly this is not a big difference but every little bit helps. I’ve been wearing these glasses daily for eight months and find them generally comfortable (once the nose buds are properly adjusted) but there is no question that they are considerably heavier than conventional glasses. As such, any relief in this area is greatly appreciated.
- More refined finish: The test run glasses were very solidly constructed and held up very well for me despite my having accidentally drop-kicked them across a concrete floor (an action that would have completely destroyed the now-defunct SuperFocus glasses). That said, the fit and finish were a little rough around the edges, belying a custom manufacturing process with room for evolution. In the picture to the right (again, click to enlarge), the finish is rough on the test run, but much smoother on the production run. In practice, this is not visible when worn because it’s on the inner side of the frames, but it does speak to the state of manufacturing. Also in detail it can be seen that the frame itself is slightly more refined which probably accounts for the slight weight drop. Further, the test run frames had internal components of the structure clearly visible through the frames and this is no longer the case. Without disassembling the frame I can’t tell what these components are, but certainly the production run has a cleaner look.
There remain open questions about the AdlensFocuss product and the plans of the company moving forward. I’ve submitted some of my questions to them and hope to have a response. If I receive one I will share it in this space. In the meantime, AdlensFocuss is a great product and I have no hesitation in using it or recommending that others consider it as a superior alternative to progressive eyeglasses.
Update 7/20/2015: Q&A with Adlens
David Hunt from Adlens was kind enough to answer a few questions I had put to him based on some of the conversations I’ve had with current and potential users of the AdlensFocuss product. I will share those questions and answers below.
CPS: Your distribution model is a little confusing. The adlensfocuss.com web site shows about 25 optometrists offering Focuss in only about a half dozen regional areas across the country. Wide availability is obviously key to the success of the product, so what are your plans for expanding this network among independent optometrists so that it reaches a critical mass, and what are your direct sale plans to support “out of area” customers while the broader network is being built?
Adlens: For 2015 we have a rollout plan for eye care practices that staggers their implementation/training each month. By the end of 2015 AdlensFocuss will be widely available in several major metropolitan areas. While we encourage a personal interaction with an AdlensFocuss™ certified optical professional we understand that patients who live in more rural areas will need support as well. We are happy to discuss options for these patients at 1-888-459-9793.
CPS: Your partner during the test phase was LensCrafters but they are notably absent from your current network. Visibility of the product will be massively different without LensCrafters’ expansive network included in the mix. Can we expect LensCrafters to become an official distributor and if so, when do you expect that will happen?
Adlens: We are very proud of our relationship with LensCrafters. While there are no immediate plans for 2015 to expand the product line with LensCrafters we do look forward to countless possibilities for AdlensFocuss in the future.
CPS: Presumably your partner optometrists have some control over pricing. What is your current MSRP?
Adlens: Our current MSRP is $999, however direct pricing with the Boston office is currently $1250.00.
CPS: Your web site does not appear to address the issue of warranty, yet as an expensive, high-end optical product some kind of warranty plan would seem appropriate to provide some peace of mind in the buyer. What warranty do you officially offer?
Adlens: AdlensFocuss has one year warranty for all manufacturer’s defects.
CPS: Beyond manufacturing / design warranty, what solutions do you offer or plan to offer regarding situations where repairs are needed either from normal product wear or accidental damage?
Adlens: Most repairs will be made by the eye care practice or the Boston office. For anything beyond a repair a remake order will be placed.
CPS: Do you have any plans to offer multi-pair discounts, such as offering a second pair of an identical prescription ordered at the same time, at a significant discount?
Adlens: I am sure that some of the eye care practices will have special deals and offers now and in the future.
CPS: What plans do you have for marketing the product? Will it be advertised in the US?
Adlens: There are multiple plans in action to advertise the product in 2015. Just to name one, if you are in Times Square we have a recurring piece on a massive video billboard.
CPS: What are your expectations regarding broadening the range of prescriptions that can be covered?
Adlens: AdlensFocuss can be produced for anyone who currently falls within -6.00D and +4.00D (Sphere) and up to -2.00D in Cylinder with all Axis available. Also, the maximum add power is +2.50D. This covers a wide range of patients, but we will constantly strive to improve on these parameters.
CPS: Are there any plans for offering a different size or shape lens?
Adlens: Yes, anything is possible with AdlensFocuss.
CPS: Do you anticipate being able to offer a thinner, lighter frame in the future?
CPS: Although the dual-focus system works very well, there are some early users who have expressed an interest in a single focus dial for both lenses. Is that likely to become an option in the future?
Adlens: I don’t want to rule anything out, but AdlensFocuss will continue to evolve and diversify based on patient feedback.
CPS: Is there anything else in the future plans of the product line that you’d like to share with our readers?
Adlens: Just a very sincere THANK YOU for your interest in Adlens and Variable Power Optics™. We are available in the Boston office at 1-888-459-9793 for anything you may need.