Style Junkie: Seeing is believing

A visit to the Opticana factory in Petah Tikva was a real eye-opener.

Women wearing glasses 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Women wearing glasses 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ever wonder how your eyeglasses are made? As a lifelong short-sighted person, it is surprising that I never paid much thought to the question. For me it was just one of those unexplainable things, like radio waves and black holes.
Then I learned that Opticana, one of Israel’s leading eyewear companies, makes Seiko lenses here, and I had to see how a machine can produce those complicated prescribed lenses I so desperately need.
Contrary to my long-time perception of Opticana’s being mainly a fashion eyewear chain, the company was founded by owner Meir Rassin as a clinic where he diagnosed eyesight problems and prescribed glasses and contact lenses mainly to people with special needs. Rassin, who worked as a chief consultant in a hospital, decided only later, when more and more patients wanted his advice on which frames to choose, to get into the fashionable side of optometry. A few years later, as the business began to take off, a new slogan was adopted that is used to this day: “Opticana – the passion for glasses.”
For the past two decades, Rassin’s team of professionals has been providing advanced optometric services in the stores, including diagnosis of vision and fitting of suitable eyewear, while Rassin oversees his small empire of eyewear from the central offices and factory, located in Petah Tikva. With laboratory and service people working in almost 80 stores throughout the country, Opticana employs close to 600 workers.
But the reason for my visit was the impressive achievement of getting a license from the Japanese company Seiko to produce multifocal lenses in Israel. “This license was given to only seven labs in the world,” says Rassin proudly. “There are two labs in Japan, three in the US, one in Germany, and now one here in Petah Tikva.”
He adds that the company invests a lot of time and money to improve the product and service. “A collaboration with a leading company like Seiko is only natural for us. I now believe that we are able to produce the best lens there is in the world today.”
Opticana’s factory opened in 1994 and serves its stores around the country. The lab produces close to 13,000 lenses a month, working from three in the morning until 11 at night. The process starts with a thorough check-up by an optometrist in the store. The results are sent to the company’s central computerized system, together with the model number of the frame chosen. The details are fed into the machine that cuts and polishes the lenses. The advanced equipment that Opticana recently purchased allows for free-form optical technology that produces multifocal lenses automatically. All the procedures, including cutting, polishing, coating and tinting, are done by machines that are operated by software provided by Seiko. The speed is amazing. One can get a pair of multifocal specs made within 24 hours, and soon, I am told, it will even be faster.
“A client will be able to walk into the store in, say, Jerusalem, in the morning, go to a meeting in Tel Aviv and pick up the glasses there a few hours later,” says Rassin.
The ready lenses are placed in the frame, cleaned again and checked by the quality control team, and then packed to be delivered to the store. Customers are entitled to change eyeglasses, for any reason, within 14 days of purchase. They also receive a warranty. When changing frames, the customer pays for the difference in price or is credited with the difference if the new frame costs less than the previous one. Alternatively, the customer is given a credit slip that is attached to the invoice, which can be used in any Opticana store.
Opticana is a representative of many designers such as Cartier and other leading fashion houses. I like Opticana’s own brand, Koya, which is as good in quality and design and costs half or even less. I was also impressed to learn that customers are entitled to a free optometric examination one year after purchase.
My prescription and details of the examination are now saved in Opticana’s computer database, allowing for appropriate follow-up. The visit to the factory left me very impressed. I now know how my glasses are made and cannot wait for a chance to get a new frame soon. I have my eye on a pair of sunglasses I intend to purchase as soon as summer is here. I hope it can accommodate my complicated multifocal lenses. ■