Amcon exhibits at the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Amcon exhibits at the American Academy of Ophthalmology

Once again, Amcon is on the move.  This week we are going to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).  The AAO is “the largest national membership association of Eye M.D.s, which are medical and osteopathic physicians who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care.”

Over the past few years, we have gained many new ophthalmologist customers due to our extensive pharmaceutical offerings and increased interest in own brand of diagnostic strips which motivated our decision to exhibit at more ophthalmology-related events.  At this AAO, we have partnered with another St. Louis-based business, Crestpoint Ophthalmics, a leading distributor in ophthalmic surgical devices, with whom we are sharing two booths.

So if you happen to be at AAO this weekend, please stop by for a visit.  You can find Amcon at boot 3102.

Posted by: juliegriffey | October 13, 2014

Producing your personalized optical products even more efficiently


Amcon’s new imprint managing system

Customized lens cleaner, cloths, flat packs, cleaner kits, and other optical products are a big part of what we do at Amcon, so it’s absolutely imperative that we produce these orders as efficiently and accurately as possibly. For this reason, we have launched a new internal software solution for managing imprint orders that we affectionately call, “Amcon IMM” (the Amcon Imprint Manager).

The Amcon IMM has been a challenging application to build because it involved so many different departments at Amcon with very different needs.  Some of the tasks that IMM facilitates are:

  • Sales rep entering the order
  • Accounting verifying that customer is not on a credit hold
  • Sales rep communicating with art department regarding screen needed
  • Art department notifying sales and production that screen has been made
  • Sales rep managing screen approval process with customer
  • Production team accessing orders that need to be produced
  • Production team recording inventory used in production processes for accounting purposes
  • Production team notifying shipping department when order is produced
  • Shipping team providing details regarding when and how order is shipped.

As you can see – this has been a monumental project building and debugging the system and getting everyone trained to use it.  However, the impact has been well worth the effort, and our customers are reaping the benefits.  Now, every Amcon sales rep can see the status of an imprint order.  Are we waiting for approval on the screen or is it in production?  With a few mouse clicks, this information is easily accessible.  And because we are communicating more efficiently about each order, orders are getting out the door in your hands more quickly.

Holiday Lens cleaning KitsI realize that you may be just getting into the Halloweens spirit, but it’s actually time to start thinking about the winter holidays.  Imprinted holiday lens cleaner is a great giveaway for your patients to show your appreciation for their business throughout the year while giving them a reminder to come back.

It’s quick and easy to order your custom holiday lens cleaner.  But, to help put you at ease, I’ve complied some answers to the most common questions we receive regarding our imprinted holiday lens cleaner.

Why do I need to order my cleaner so early?  We require a 28 day lead-time on all imprinted lens cleaner orders.  However, we always do our best to exceed your expectations on turnaround time.  If you order your imprinted holiday lens cleaner now – you will have it in early November, just in time to kick off the holiday season.

What if I don’t use all my cleaner this year?  That’s not a problem.  Just put whatever you have left away for next year.

What if I want to design my own holiday lens cleaner? Do I have to use your stock designs?  Of course not.  For a screen charge of $25, just provide your preferred single-color vector art, and we can create your own unique personalized holiday lens celaner.

Do you sell any lens cleaning cloths that coordinate with holiday lens cleaner? Yes – our new line of Simply Kleen microfiber lens cleaning cloths come in red, green and blue which coordinate well with the stock designs and have a bright, festive, feel.

Do you have any personalized holiday lens cleaning kits? Yes – these are new as well.  We now offer a very inexpensive frosted, imprinted boutique bag containing personalized holiday lens cleaner and a coordinating lens cleaning cloth.  Place these kits around your retail area and you have quick and easy holiday decorations.

To learn more about other imprinting options or more holiday retail items, please contact your Amcon sales rep.

Posted by: juliegriffey | September 28, 2014

Amcon Exhibits at Vision Expo West

amcon-at-vewThe Amcon crew made it to Vegas and back for Vision Expo West and by all accounts it was a fruitful trip. This year we debuted a larger booth, a tower of eyeglass lens cleaner and the legendary Amcon Roulette Wheel.

I checked in with the Amcon sales reps upon their return and here’s what they reported as the hot items from Vision Expo West 2014.

  • Pharmaceuticals! With rampant nationwide shortages on many of the popular optical pharmaceuticals – customers were happy to see that Amcon carries many of them AND we have them in stock!
  • Exam equipment and accessories! With the larger display space we were able to showcase our flippers, trial frames, eye models and pupilometer, which led to a lot of questions from customers re: our entire line of exam supplies.
  • Lens cleaner, lens cleaner and more lens cleaner! Our cleaner tower definitely grabbed people’s attention and provided us with a great opportunity to showcase our great pricing and versatile imprinting options on our alcohol and ammonia free AR Kleen lens cleaner.  Visitors loved receiving a Thank You Lens Cleaner kit that we gave away at our booth.

As always – our guests loved spinning the Amcon roulette wheel.  Depending on where the wheel landed, we gave away varying discounts and free shipping.

Thank you to all who visited us in Vegas.  See  you all on the East Coast this spring at Vision Expo East.

Posted by: damienstahl | September 22, 2014

Can’t find phenylephrine? Look no further…

phenylephrinePhenylephrine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution sounds like a mouthful but is actually meant for your eyes. It may be hard to say but it is even harder to find right now.

Phenylephrine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution is a sterile solution that is used as a vasoconstrictor and mydriatic. In other words, it is used to dilate the eyes and may be applied for wide angle glaucoma, refraction, ophthalmoscopic examination, and general diagnostic procedures.

Many procedures necessitate the use of Phenylephrine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution which makes it a staple item for many optical offices. The problem is that there is a current shortage.  This is because many manufacturers have stopped production. Currently, there is only one FDA approved manufacturer. See link for further details…

The good news is that Amcon has inventory on hand (actually it’s in the refrigerator) and ready to ship to those professionals licensed to purchase pharmaceuticals. Please contact us at 1-800-255-6161 or go to if you would like to place an order.

vegasIt’s Vision Expo West week in Las Vegas!  And you better believe it –  we’re going to be there. Each year we try to bring something bigger and better than what we’ve done in the past and this year is no exception. Here are three reasons why you should come check out our booth (LP-11109) at Vision Expo West.

1) We’re bringing back the Amcon Roulette Wheel!  We had so much fun last year with our Amcon roulette wheel that we are bringing it back again. When you place an order at our booth you will get a chance to spin the wheel to either receive a discount off your order, get free shipping or win a great price.

2) We’ve got free (and A LOT of) lens cleaner!    In setting up the booth this year we decided that we needed an interesting focal point that would help communicate the fact that we have the highest quality and best priced lens cleaner in the business.  So… we built a tower of different sized lens cleaner. If you’ve never used Amcon’s lens cleaner, this is the perfect opportunity to try some. Just please don’t knock down our tower.

3) We’ve doubled the size of our booth! This means we have we have many more products on display, so you can get your hands on a lot of the items you see in our catalog. A bigger booth also means more space for us to visit and get caught up – come by and say hello.

Now you have no excuse, come over to Amcon’s booth (LP-11109) at Vision Expo West and say hello to your Amcon friends.

Contact Lens Box StickersYou can learn a lot about Ancon products by hanging out in the Amcon warehouse. Just last week I was chatting with long-time employee, Pat, in our warehouse while she was packing up an order of red contact lens box (or vial) “right” and “left” stickers.  These stickers are used to indicate which box or vial of contact lenses are intended for the patient’s right eye, and which ones are made for the left. While Pat was packing up the order, she mentioned, “we sure sell a lot of these red stickers, a lot more than the black ones.”

Really?  Her comment took me by surprise because I would have assumed we sell a lot more black ones.  We actually carry the black “right” and “left” contact lens box or vial stickers in a Spanish version (“D” and “L”), but  the red ones – only in English.

I mentioned Pat’s statement to our Director of Advertising who immediately assumed that Pat was wrong. But, nevertheless, she decided to pull up some numbers and look into it anyway. Low-and-behold – we were both surprised to learn that we actually do sell over 1000 packs more of the red stickers and than the black counterpart. Pat was right.

So why is it that our customers are buying red stickers more than black? Is it because they stand out better on the boxes and vials? Do our customers just need a little more color in their life?  Who knows – but the bottom line is… why are we not selling the Spanish version in red if that is the more popular option?

I will definitely be asking these questions at our next new product meeting, and will let you know if there are any product additions. Thank you Pat for your insightful observation.  I’m heading back to the warehouse to see what else I can learn.

prescription swim goggles

What kind or prescription swim goggles do your customers need?

New product meetings at Amcon often trigger lively discussions and many unanswered questions. We give a lot of thought to the items we bring into our product line, because we want to be sure that what we offer is what our customers actually want.

Last week at our new product meeting, we looked at some prescription swim goggles. The swim goggles we were considering had fixed powers in both lenses, which differed from prescription swim goggles we had reviewed in the past that could be customized with two different powered lenses.

There are pros and cons to both types of prescription swim goggles. The pros of the swim goggles with set powers in both lenses are that they are made already. There is no need to go to a lab, so they would be less expensive and readily available. The pros of the swim goggles with customizable lenses are that they can be made to your exact prescription.

As we debated which type of swim goggles our customers would really want, I posed the question, “what percentage of the population has an eyeglass prescription that is different in their two eyes?” How many people would even need to have their swim goggles customized with two different powers?

After pitching these questions to Google with a lack of results, I posed the same questions to my father-in-law, ophthalmologist, Tom and my brother-in-law, ophthalmologist, Paul. ( Dr. Tom said that he would estimate that more than 50% of the eyeglass-wearing population has two different powered lenses in their glasses. Dr. Paul estimated that 20% of the population has more than 1 diopter prescription difference between their two eyes.

While these numbers are much greater than what I would have anticipated, I think it’s important to keep the context in mind: how perfect must your vision be when you are swimming laps? Is it really necessary to match your exact prescription when you are under water? Dr. Paul agreed, but added, if you do buy prescription swim goggles off-the-shelf, you should buy them in the power of your dominant eye.

While our prescription swim goggle product line is still being decided, we would love to hear your thoughts. What type of prescription swim goggles would best suit your patient population? Why?

Posted by: juliegriffey | August 25, 2014

Top five ways your glasses got broken and how to get them fixed

dog chewing glassesIn honor of Amcon’s new frame repair service, I decided to do a little research on how people’s glasses tend to get broken. Even though I would love to see people take advantage of Amcon’s new frame repair service, maybe we could all learn something from other people’s mistakes and keep our frames from getting broken in the first place.

With that in mind… here are the top five ways people tend to break their glasses.

1) They fall asleep with their glasses on.  Many people (myself included) wear their glasses to read at night then fall asleep with their glasses on.  And the next thing you know, they are rolling around on top of them in the middle of the night.  Don’t think this could happen to you?  Take some Ambien before bed and then talk to me.  Trust me – I could fall asleep with food in my mouth after taking some Ambien.  Take your glasses off before you start to feel really sleepy.

2) Their kids or dogs destroy them.   Fortunately for me, this is not an issue.  No dog, and kids are old enough not to be using my glasses as a chew toy.  Put your glasses up and out of reach from these creatures.

3) They sit on them.  It’s easy to leave glasses on a chair, a bed or other surface that may come in contact with your behind.  Suggestion?  See #2 above.   Put them away or purchase a protective eyeglass case.

4) They break them playing sports.  Save your glasses for non-contact sports, and wear some contacts instead.  Sport glasses are now available that can be customized with your prescription.  I am sure many of our customers retail these Rx sport goggles in their office.  (Spoiler alert!  Amcon has been looking to bring in a line for the 2015 catalog).

5) They run into something.  This can happen, people.  Look up from your cell phone once in a while while you are walking down the street.  We can all get absorbed in a funny text exchange, but then BAM – next thing you know – your face has encountered a light post and your glasses are a wreck.

I hope this ounce of prevention will save a few pairs of glasses this week – but for the ones that need to get fixed – don’t forget about Amcon’s frame repair service.


Posted by: juliegriffey | August 16, 2014

Can pinhole glasses replace your prescription glasses?

Pinhole glasses

My daughter models some super cute pinhole glasses

Most people aren’t aware of the fact that I wear glasses.  I actually forget that I wear glasses – until I can’t remember where I put them.  For the most part I wear contact lenses – except for when it’s about 8 PM when I take them out and putter around the house in my ratty pajamas and my 10-year-old eyeglasses.  A few weeks ago I panicked because I misplaced my glasses and not having them totally disrupted my routine. It forced me to wear my contacts until moments before I fell asleep.  Annoying.

The last thing I want to spend money on these days is a new pair of glasses since I am considering lasik . Fortunately the glasses turned up after a few days – but recently I discovered a potential substitute glasses that might have helped get by when my glasses were missing.

Have you ever seen pinhole glasses? Until I was browsing a gift store in Amana Colonies, Iowa last weekend – I never knew such a thing existed. Pinhole glasses are plastic frames with tiny perforations punched in the opaque, plastic lenses. So, needless to say they look a little odd. The ones in the gift shop were especially groovy because they had St. Louis Cardinals logos on them.

Pinhole glasses work just like a pinhole occluder in that the holes in the lenses only allow a very thin beam of light to enter the eye which increases depth of field and can improve clarity of an image in eyes with refractive error. Some manufacturers of pinhole glasses claim that you can actually improve your vision by prolonged wearing of these glasses – but no one has ever proven that to be true.

Maybe I should do my own experiment and kill a few birds with one stone: have a spare pair of glasses (on the cheap), improve my vision and look super cool at the same time.

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