Andrew Karp

Andrew Karp, Group Editor, Lenses & Technology

Andrew has reported on many facets of the optical industry for Vision Monday and 20/20 Magazine since 1987. He specializes in covering the latest developments in ophthalmic dispensing, spectacle lenses and treatments, lens processing technology, optical laboratories and wearable technology. Andrew edits VMail Technology, a weekly e-newsletter that spotlights new products, software and online applications for labs and dispensers. He helps plan and produce Vision Monday’s annual Global Leadership Summit. Contact Andrew at

Take a Virtual Lab Tour

By Andrew Karp
Friday, January 11, 2019 11:13 AM As Vision Monday’s lenses and technology editor, I visit a lot of optical laboratories. Viewed from outside, most labs are unremarkable. Often located in industrial parks or on side streets, their drab exteriors give little indication of what goes on inside. Step onto the production floor, though, and you’ll see a scene humming with activity. Technicians are loading generators, edgers and coating machines, job trays are moving along conveyors, quality inspectors are checking lenses for flaws and Rx orders are being packed for shipment to customers. It’s an optical ballet in which every movement is carefully choreographed, and it requires skill, energy and careful attention to detail to execute.

Busting Silos With Blockchain

By Andrew Karp
Monday, December 17, 2018 12:30 AM I’ve never spent much time on farms. But I know a silo when I see it. I spotted one the other day at my doctor’s office. The receptionist handed me an iPad and asked to enter my medical history. Height and weight. Major illnesses and surgeries. What medications do you take? Are you a smoker?

Happy Work Anniversary

By Andrew Karp
Friday, December 7, 2018 10:21 AM It used to be that work anniversaries were typically celebrated on milestone years. After 10 years on the job, a loyal employee might receive a plaque commending them for their years of service. A quarter century’s worth of work might be rewarded with a ceremony at which the boss makes a speech and presents the employee with a gold watch inscribed with their name.

Can You Stomach Eyeballs?

By Andrew Karp

Friday, October 5, 2018 3:45 PM Anthony Bourdain was famous for eating almost anything put on his plate, as long as someone considered it edible. In one episode of his CNN series, “Parts Unknown,” he ate a seal, including the eyes, which his Inuit hosts consider a delicacy. His verdict: “Not bad.”

Eyeing the Future, Shamir Looks to Lenses and Beyond

By Andrew Karp

Friday, September 21, 2018 12:05 AM KIBBUTZ SHAMIR, Israel—Shamir Optical Industry has a well-earned reputation for its innovative spectacle lens designs. Although the Israeli company has produced lenses since the 1970s, it distinguished itself in the late 1990s with its progressive lens designs, and then in the early 2000s with its pioneering freeform technology and personalized designs. Since then, Shamir has created an extensive product portfolio including everyday lenses such as the Autograph line of progressives, performance lenses such as Attitude, occupational lenses such as Smart Office, and freeform bifocals and single vision lenses. All are derived from Shamir’s proprietary technologies such as Eye-Point Technology, Intellicorridor, As-Worn Quadro and Natural Posture.

20/20NOW Pursues Expansive Approach to Telehealth

By Andrew Karp, Group Editor, Lenses and Technology

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 12:05 AM NEW YORK—Three years ago, as ocular telehealth began to attract widespread attention throughout the eyecare industry, the focus was largely on “store and forward” technology, which involves collecting clinical information and sending it electronically to another site for evaluation, and the then new technology of visual acuity testing via computer or smartphone.

Rx for Success

By Andrew Karp and Jeff Hopkins
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:30 AM NEW YORK—In today’s ultra-competitive service economy, the pressure to deliver products and services when, where and how consumers want them—the so-called “Amazon effect”—impacts all suppliers. Eyecare professionals and optical retailers are feeling the heat, and so are the labs they depend on.

Automation Provides a Platform for Innovation

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:29 AM Optical labs became increasingly automated in the latter part of the 20th century, thanks to the spread of computer controlled machines, advances in lab software and a streamlined approach to production that eliminated steps in the manufacturing process.

Suppliers Help Labs Meet the New Service Mandate

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:28 AM “The Amazon effect has been growing rapidly in the optical lab industry. As we’ve modernized equipment and processes, the demands grow, not only for quality but also speed and transparency. We’ve enabled a more demanding consumer by providing them faster turnaround of very sophisticated lens products. This overall improvement and modernization has helped us grow the industry.

LMS Puts Lab Managers in Control

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:27 AM All labs, no matter how big or small, depend on a Lab Management System (LMS). LMS software enables managers to control Rx processing, accounts receivable, inventory management, order tracking and sorting, production and interface with laboratory equipment.

How Digital Lens Processing ‘Democratized’ the PAL Business

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:26 AM Bob Niemiec is a keen observer of the optical lab industry, having managed labs for major retail and managed care companies during the course of his career. Now working as a consultant, Niemiec offered his perspective on how digital spectacle lens surfacing and automated finishing processes have reshaped the lab business.

Coburn Technologies: Hearing the Voice of the Customer, Large and Small

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:25 AM NEW YORK—For Alex Incera, president of Coburn Technologies, the process of innovation begins with the voice of the customer. “They’ll talk about things like serviceability—the ability to extract data and the ability to incorporate that data into their own systems and reporting.” From there, Coburn extrapolates from the need to “deliver the tools that the customer may never have even envisioned when they made the initial request.”

Independents Differentiate Themselves With Specialties

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:24 AM A common strategy for labs seeking to differentiate themselves from competitors is offering specialized products and services. The advent of new technologies and the creation of new product categories has created opportunities for labs to distinguish themselves while developing profitable niches. Two labs that have successfully pursued this approach are Rochester Optical in Rochester, N.Y., which produces prescription inserts for smart glasses, and Vision Dynamics in Louisville, Ky., which specializes in glass lenses.

Strengthening Supply Chains and Creating New Business Models

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:24 AM The consolidation of the wholesale lab sector in the 1990s and 2000s by vertically integrated suppliers created powerful lab networks while thinning the ranks of independent labs. In the past decade, optical labs have faced rising capital equipment and labor costs. Those factors, plus the pressure to process high volumes of work for managed vision care customers, have pushed labs to improve supply chain efficiencies and, in some cases, develop more streamlined business models.

New Study Provides SWOT Analysis for Labs

By Andrew Karp
Monday, September 17, 2018 12:23 AM NEW YORK—Jobson Optical Research and the Vision Council’s Lab Division conducted an online survey in August, 2018 to gain an understanding of how optical laboratory executives view the current business climate for labs, and how well they think their company is prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities they encounter in today’s optical market.