By Margery Weinstein
Review of Optometric Business
Advanced Vision Technologies (AVT), a manufacturer of specialty contact lenses, including a variety of GP corneal, scleral and custom soft lenses, expanded its facility in Lakewood, Colo. The expansion was intended to enable more space for the lens design and manufacturing process, and for training doctors and serving patients.
The company’s home office, laboratory and manufacturing facility had been in a state of evolution for years, starting with a 3,500 sq. ft. office, which was upgraded in 2014 into a space the company owned, rather than leased, says AVT Co-Owner and President Keith Parker. “It worked out great for our office and clinic, and was in a locality that made it easy for patients to find us, but we lacked room for the expansion of our lab. Fortunately, we had space behind our building, and we knew it was zoned for expansion.” That enabled the company to expand into a 7,200 sq. ft. facility.
A key objective of the expansion was to enhance the company’s lens design capabilities. The additional space has made it possible for AVT to add a high-tech lathe to its manufacturing floor. “When we moved in we had only one lathe, and it had gotten to point where we needed a backup lathe. We were getting busier, so right before we were complete with the expansion we ordered the delivery of our second lathe. We since have purchased a third lathe and are currently testing new technology of even more advanced lathing capabilities with a fourth,” says AVT Co-Owner and Vice-President Janine Bugno. This is all due to the company’s growth in manufacturing capability due to high demand from customers.
The high-tech lathe will allow AVT to better accommodate its customers’ most challenging cases. “It utilizes IOL and contact lens technology on one lathe,” says Parker. “It allows us to do advanced designs for patients who need non-symmetrically shaped lenses. It’s a very advanced lathing capability, and it’s unique to our lab.” AVT’s expanded lathing capabilities also will make it easier to create truncated soft, GP corneal and scleral lenses. “We have more design capabilities than we have ever offered before,” he adds.
The lathing technology upgrade will enhance the company’s ability to serve a vast array of patients. “There is no doubt we are going to broaden our product base to accommodate not only disease and irregular eyes, but to have the capacity to produce even better fine-tuned lenses for normal eyeballs,” says Parker. Integral to the creation of more high-performing lenses for normal eyes is the plan to expand into the Ortho-K market, which Parker says is a natural fit for AVT. “Our industry hinges on myopia management,” he says, with the huge growth opportunity myopia management offers ODs and contact lens manufacturers. Parker says much of the company growth that led to the expanded facility is linked to the specialty lens market. “It’s driven by growth in the specialty lens area—growth in corneal GP, scleral and custom soft lenses. Ortho-K is a gigantic part of that growth.”
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The expanded lens design capability will solidify the company’s already well-known reputation as the people to turn to for lenses for nearly any patient. “Doctors know, if you have a lens or a cornea you are struggling with, call AVT because they can do anything,” says Bugno, noting the research and development the company regularly does, creating contact lenses for research purposes for animals ranging from horses to mice.
As the company seeks to develop ever-greater contact lens designs for a diversity of patients, it also considers the new space a prime opportunity to enhance its training programs. “We set it up for training for practitioners and their staff,” says Parker. “We want to make AVT a resource facility, for education and to hear us present the latest in advanced contact lens technology.”