A Day in the Life: Optical Fabrication

Published: Aug. 15, 2020 at 6:46 PM CDT
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FORT SILL, Okla. (TNN) - We are back with our series on Fort Sill: A Day in the Life. This week, 7News reporter, Hunter McEachern, learned about the Optical Fabrication Lab on Fort Sill, which makes prescription glasses not only for the Army, but other military branches, as well.

Prescriptions are constantly coming into the single vision lab from all over the world, but it’s no problem for the crew at Reynolds Army Health Clinic.

“Once we get this, this tells us exactly what we’re going to do and LMS transmit all that doctor’s information to this readable format for us. This tells what frame we need, what lenses we need.This is one of the few labs that’s 100% polycarbonate. All our lenses are polycarbonate lenses. We try to give the soldiers and airmen the maximum protection for their eyes,” said Anthony Townes, the Ft. Sill Optical Fabrication Lab Manager.

Once they get the lenses and frames together, they unwrap the lenses and make sure what is pulled is correct to the tray.

Next, they block the lenses with this little piece of plastic. The machine then takes that information and ensures the prescription is correct on the lens.

Once they are all blocked, they’re off to another machine for cuts.

“This is going to cut it to the shape of the lens. That same computer already told each machine what frame it’s going to be,” said Townes,

The next steps are deblocking and inserting the lens into the frames... to ensure a proper fit.

And from there, mounting and a final inspection.

“Just giving it a last minute polish, double checking the prescription, making sure everything looks right,” said Specialist Byron Farnsworth, the Optical Fab Lab Production Specialist. “We’ll scan it out from our system, and then going from here, kind of the final product, it’s gotten cleaned, it’s gotten inspected. Everything looks right. We just put the finishing touch on it.”

The eye wear is then separated into its proper bin, and mailed out.

“Obviously training being our priority, we can turn around our glasses within a few days. Standard as far as anywhere between a week to two weeks is what we try to really press for to get glasses in and out of our lab,” said Specialist Farnsworth.

The lab is not only timely, but efficient.

“We do anywhere between, if all the machines are running and we’re fully staffed, we can push out about 300 a day,” said Townes.

The lab staff say they take pride in their work, knowing that they are making an impact.

“It’s a very unique, very skilled job. You know, we always talk that we provide the sight to fight for the Army behind the scenes for our front line soldiers and our soldiers that are providing care throughout our clinic here at Reynolds, as well,” said Specialist Farnsworth.

In addition to the prescription glasses that double as safety glasses, the optical fabrication lab also makes all kinds of eye wear, like lenses for different masks utilized by the Army.

Tune in next week for our final story in our A Day in the Life series. We’ll be showing you what it’s like to work with Fort Sill’s historic Half Section.

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