This month, we focus on specialty lens manufacturer TruForm Optics. I recently had the pleasure to speak with TruForm’s President, Jan Svochak.
Mr. Svochak, please tell us about your company in terms of its history and direction.
TruForm was founded in 1976 by my father; he passed away in 1982, so we’re on our second generation of contact lens manufacturers. TruForm is a family-owned business that has grown to 30 employees.
Our focus has always been entirely on specialty lenses. And, 90% or better of the lenses that we produce are lenses that we developed ourselves. We don’t distribute or license. We don’t give lip service to innovation; we develop everything that we do.
I am the primary Research & Development person, and that is how I spend most of my time. I believe that TruForm is the only lab that has developed its own computerized lathes. We can develop our own hardware, our own software, or our whole manufacturing system using software that we write ourselves. Many of the designs that we produce cannot be manufactured with the software that’s commercially available to specialty lens labs. We have access to all of that, but we’re not limited by it. This gives us more opportunity for innovation. For instance, we were the first to bring quadrant-specific technology to the industry. We’re the first lab to design lenses from optical coherence tomography instruments. And, we’ll soon be the first to make high-order wavefront correction commercially available in scleral lenses. We have eight patents that cover multifocals and sclerals, and then we have the quadrant-specific patents.
We don’t focus on just one area such as ortho-k or sclerals; we offer the full range of specialty lenses. We also aren’t distracted by other areas of business such as distribution or ophthalmics. Producing specialty lenses is all that we do, and I think that enables us to provide better delivery and service time, too. We’re able to keep the costs lower to the practitioners who use our lenses because we’re not paying royalties.
We also have a great consultation team that works closely with our customers. When they have unmet needs, we use that feedback to enhance existing products or to help in developing new products. It’s a symbiotic relationship between our customers and our consultants.
Tell us about any new products or new developments in which TruForm is involved.
As I mentioned previously, we’ve been working for years to develop high-order wavefront-guided scleral lenses. I think we’re finally there. We’re getting some good feedback, and we’ll be launching this likely in the second quarter 2019.
By the same method, we’ll also be able to offer offset optics, multifocals, or torics. We’ll eventually be able to produce multifocal high-order wavefront scleral lenses.
Tell us your vision for the contact lens field in the short term (less than 5 years) and in the long term (20 years from now).
I think there are some unknowns in that we don’t know what type of material development or surface treatments may enable us to do things that maybe we can’t even envision right now. We’re not aware of all of the chemistry involved and what that’s going to give us to play with in the future. But, I think that diagnostic equipment is key—achieving better fits and optics through the diagnostic equipment, automating in that way. That’s where I see the development getting much better in the next five years.
Over the long term, I’m always reading about lenses under development that have chips and other technology. I know how difficult it is to get the chemistry just right in all of these materials, so I have a hard time imagining it. But who knows? It will be interesting to see whether it’s possible. CLS