SightCare Members Visit Premium Lens Manufacturer – Optiswiss

August 2023.

High Summer, the perfect time to visit the historic and beautiful city of Basel, Switzerland.

SightCare members, Sukie & Stephen Woodhouse from Woodhouse Opticians share their experience of an unforgettable trip to the scenic city of Basel and their visit to the high end independent Swiss lens manufacturer Optiswiss.

After meeting the Deepcove Optical team at the SightCare Conference in 2023 and learning about the products and services they could provide, we made the decision to change our lens suppliers after 35 years! That’s a big step to take but as an independent practice. Optiswiss and Deepcove spoke to our hearts as brands that really supports the needs of independents like ourselves. In addition, we were looking for suppliers who openly evidenced their sustainable approach to production rather than hide behind rhetoric.

After using the products happily for 6 months we were delighted to accept an invitation from Deepcove to visit the Optiswiss factory and experience firsthand the production process.

We wanted to share our experiences with other members, as we think Optiswiss and Deepcove can offer SightCare members a really smart way to differentiate themselves, receive excellent customer service and offer patients premium lenses.

Getting to Switzerland

As this was an educational trip we decided to bring the whole team and extend the duration, so we could fully explore the city. We started our trip by meeting up with Jack Carter from Deepcove at Manchester airport and with just a short 2-hour flight later seeing us land in a roasting hot and sunny Basel-Mulhouse-Airport. Eager to see the sights, we set off into the centre of Basel, utilising

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the ultra-efficient and tourist friendly (aka free) tram service. I should add that Basel, and Switzerland in general, is focused heavily on sustainability and this matches our ethos here at

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Woodhouse, putting the planet first. This was one of the many reasons why we saw Optiswiss as a good fit for us, utilising innovative methods to reduce their carbon footprint and offer a more sustainable way of lens production. We made our way to the busy centre of Basel enjoying Swiss delicacies including a huge Halbemeter Cordon Blue at the Zum Braunen Mutz restaurant. I should note that each dish is intended to feed 4 people with Abi and Jack giving it a good go!

After our hearty Swiss meal, we clocked up some steps walking around and stopping off for a “bier” or two with a stunning view of the Rhine. Having the time to bond with Jack, our Business Development Manager allowed us to ask lots of questions and build on the confidence in their support further.

Optiswiss Factory Tour.

Optiswiss was founded in 1937 in the heart of Basel and in 1981 relocated to its current location at 26 Lyon-Strasse in an industrial neighbourhood near the main railway station.

Greeted by the Optiswiss team, we made our way around the factory exploring all the intricate details that go into manufacturing our premium lenses. Understanding how and where the lenses are made allows us to really strength our confidence in what we’reoffering to our patients.

We started at the very beginning of the lens journey. The building is compact and as production continues to increase there is a focus on automation where lenses travel via a network of conveyor belts. SFSV blanks are automatically blocked then travel up through the ceiling to the main production floor. We counted at least 9 freeform generators, which work 24 hours a day and 6 days a week. There is even a dedicated freeform generator for high end freeform mineral lens which still has a strong following with German opticians.

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Working our way through each separate stage of production. We had the pleasure of understanding how the closed water circuits work. These closed circuits take heat from the production process and use that to heat the building, whilst also filtering water so it can re-used. Optiswiss in constantly looking for ways to reduce its environmental footprint.

Lens inspection is now driven more by AI than the human eye. This appears to be the direction Optiswiss is taking with investment in very fast and efficient machine lens inspection and checking. However, to ensure the world-renowned Swiss precision, the lenses are still checked by fully qualified professionals before leaving the factory.

The only areas we couldn’t visit was the coating department which is a clean room environment and the rather intriguing and secretive 3D printing area where Optiswiss are working with some big tech companies to incorporate head-up displays into prescription lenses. It was a glimpse of the future, but only by peaking though the locked door.

Luxexcel and Optiswiss partner over prescription lenses for smart glasses (aop.org.uk)

Optiswiss are one of the largest and last fully independent lens manufacturers in Europe, producing over 8000 lenses per day.

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The factory houses an impressive level of automation which enables the company to maintain efficiency and contain costs, even if Switzerland is a high wage and high-cost economy.

We probably should not have been surprised at the calm precise efficiency; it was all very Swiss.

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Freeform Generators – Optiswiss Factory Basel

Exploring Lyon-Strasse

As we had some time after our visit and as the Optiswiss factory is still only 5 minutes from the centre of the city this industrial area is now also home to many trendy restaurants, bars and on the same street as the factory an amazing store called OFFCUT that collects and sells used and unwanted materials and thus turns the un-wanted back into the wanted. Home | OFFCUT It also houses a very cool indoor tennis court with an amazing wooden roof.

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Indoor Tennis Anyone? Re-using spaces seems to be an accepted process in Switzerland.

Basel Old Town

We wanted to utilise our full ‘free’ day with lots of sightseeing and activities. To start the day we embarked on a food tour enjoying locally produced food and drink, which we simply would have overlooked. Luckily, the sun was shining and we had nearly thirty degrees of heat whilst enjoying the sights. This just made the River Rhine all that bit more appealing. Thankfully, Basel has over two hundred fresh water drinking fountains with it being such an environmentally focused city.