Behind the design of the Varilux XR with EssilorLuxottica

OT  reports from the launch of EssilorLuxottica’s newest premium progressive lens

EssilorLuxottica celebrated the arrival of its new Varilux XR series lens at a launch event hosted at Hilton London Wembley, on 24 May, attended by more than 250 practices.

Alan Pitcher, EssilorLuxottica commercial director for wholesale lenses, explained: “Varilux XR is our new progressive lens. It is easily our most premium product.”

Charlotte Timbury, Varilux product and category manager, described the lens as “the first Varilux design which takes into account a patient’s eye responsive behaviour.”

Behavioural artificial intelligence (AI) was used to understand how a patient would work with their lenses, as well as their needs and demands.

Calling the lens a “new generation in varifocal lens design,” Andy Hepworth, professional relations manager at EssilorLuxottica, reflected on the process of developing the lens.

He said: “It fascinates me hearing how much background research is done before any new launch of Varilux is made. It’s staggering how much they know about the modern day presbyope and what they need to engineer the Varilux lens to offer that end wearer.”

Five years of work went into designing the lens, OT heard.

Sebastien Fricker, research and development lens design manager for EssilorLuxottica gave insight, explaining that a study was held with 4000 wearers to understand the difficulties they have with progressive lenses.

“They told us about the problems they have sometimes with the hyper-connected life,” he said. “That was our starting point. We thought: what can we do about it? What does it mean in terms of vision, and in terms of lens design?”

Hepworth shared that several techniques were used to measure how a modern presbyope uses a varifocal lens, in order to integrate this insight into the Varilux XR.

A key difference in modern presbyopes that was revealed in the research was how they ‘zigzag’ down the lens.

“What we always felt, and what we tested in all of the many wearer trials, was that the patients used to look linearly down the lens. They would look in the distance zone, converge down through the intermediate corridor, and into the near area of a Varilux lens,” Hepworth said.

There has been a change in behaviour, he explained, “we feel it’s very much because of all the digital devices, they are getting an information overload,” adding that patients are now switching between devices and needing to capture detail quickly.

Personalisation has been an important aspect of the design process for the new lens.

Fricker shared: “Our dream is to make the lens that fits like a glove to every single wearer. That means that during the lens calculation, we need to build a model of this wearer – a digital twin.”

This requires a lot of data, he explained, “Artificial intelligence is a tool that helps us to make accurate digital twins so that later on we can make lenses that are really adapted to each wearer.”

Pitcher added: ‘The AI algorithm solution allows us to deliver a refined capture and optimisation of that patient’s binocular reality. That then allows us to provide a lens solution that works better for them as an individual.”

This provides an improved broadband vision area for the wearer, and instant clarity even in motion, he said.

To optimise the lens further, personalisation solutions are available, such as AVA and Eyecode technologies delivered by the Vision-R800 and Visioffice.

The Varilux XR is available from 1.5 Orma up to 1.74 Lineis, also available in Xperio and Transition ranges, and also comes with Eye Protect System.

Wearer trials by EssilorLuxottica found that 97% of patients that received the Varilux XR felt comfortable and adapted to the lens on day one.

Fricker highlighted: “What you should really get excited about is that, for example, 87% of the wearers prefer Varilux XR series to their previous progressive lenses.”

Of those surveyed, nine out of ten felt more reactive, even in motion, he added.

Pitcher summarised: “All of that in combination means that patients are more likely to return to their trusted eye care professional.”