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Garage to Global Leader a Tradition of Innovation

Melanie Kell | 29 May 2017
Over 60 years ago, Irving Rips had a vision: he wanted to create a bifocal lens that wouldn’t give away the wearer’s age with its tell-tale lines. Irving’s desire led him to develop the world’s first ‘seamless bifocal’ from his home garage in Los Angeles. The lens was launched in 1955, and with it Younger Optics was born – so named because the new lenses would make their wearer look younger.

Younger Optics was conceived out of innovation and with innovation it has grown, expanding beyond the US to take a hold on the global lens market. In 1966 Younger was awarded world’s best optical magnifier, the following year it began manufacturing CR39 plastics lenses, while in 1968 it released a NASA anti-fog lens cleaner. The 1970s saw the release of aspheric lenses and progressive lenses, shortly followed by the Slab-off bifocal in 1982. The company now boasts one of the world’s largest bifocal and trifocal ranges in a multitude of styles: whether that is polarised, photochromic or clear.

From such humble beginnings, it was Irving Rips’ son David who transformed Younger Optics into a professionally run global business. After obtaining a business degree at the University of Southern California, David Rips entered the Younger Optics business full-time, taking on roles in business, accounting, marketing and planning. By 1980, he was reporting at board of directors meetings. He soon became assistant to the president, then assistant secretary, secretary of the corporation, and a member of the board of directors. In 1992, even before he turned 40, Mr. Rips was named president and CEO. Today Younger Optics is one of the largest privately-held ophthalmic lens manufacturers in the world.

Always Independent

Younger Optics’ began as an independent business and according to Mr. Rips, it will remain that way, despite the tide of industry consolidation. “At Younger, we sometimes feel like the ‘last man standing’… While consolidation is a natural evolution in most industries, there is always a place for those companies that see the world differently. Younger’s independence is at the heart of its creativity, both in the way it develops products, and the way it treats its customers.”

Mirroring his father’s passion for innovation, the company continues to invest heavily in research and development, pushing for the next technology that will enhance patients’ lives and differentiate practices. Reflecting on this, Mr. Rips says, “Its purpose is to find products that shake up the status quo. It is hard to do that as part of a larger organisation, which by its nature is the status quo.”

Craig Johnston, Younger Optics sales and marketing manager in Australia / New Zealand, says Younger Optics is an independent force supplying its polarised, photochromic polarised and speciality lenses to quality labs in Australia and New Zealand. “Sometimes there is a misconception that Younger Optics is itself a lab. We don’t operate a lab or compete with our customers, but I can understand how this misconception can happen in today’s environment where most lens makers also operate labs,” said Mr. Johnston. “Our expertise lies in anticipating and meeting patient needs by developing and manufacturing functional and profitable lenses.

“Younger’s independence as a lens manufacturer allows us to be nimble and responsive to patient, practice and lab needs. We work closely with our lab partners to better support independent eye care professionals, particularly with speciality high value lenses that help independent practices to differentiate themselves. Not only do our speciality lens solutions differentiate practices, the speciality solutions also assist eye care professionals in satisfying patients; even those patients with the most difficult of prescriptions.”

The Future

With lens innovation and independence remaining at Younger’s core, Mr. Johnston predicts this tradition will continue long into the foreseeable future. “We’ll continue to concentrate on our competency: developing and making great lens products. We don’t own labs or retail stores. Innovation and independence is the heart of Younger Optics. It’s what the entire company is fiercely passionate about: from the boardroom, to the research and development department, to the front line.”

The tradition of innovation continuesthis year with Mr. Johnston hinting at a new Younger Optics product launch. “In 2017, we continue to launch products that empower practices to differentiate in today’s competitive environment. But more excitingly, we have a new product that will further strengthen the lens options for independent practices’ patients. I’m going to resist saying anything further, except for: watch this space!”

Focussed on Innovation

Innovation is at the core of Younger Optics’ philosophy with major investment in research and development and in collaborations with universities and other private companies.

Younger was a key participant in the development and introduction of Trivex material, with Trilogy being Younger’s own brand. Younger also collaborated with Transitions Optical to develop Transitions Drivewear.
In recent years, it co-developed Camber digital progressive technology with Indizen Optical Technologies (IOT) – a flagship dual surface progressive for independents helping them compete in an increasingly challenging landscape.

Today Younger Optics has become one of the largest privately-held ophthalmic lens manufacturers in the world. It is the global leader in Rx polarized sunwear with NuPolar brand lenses, and a leader in speciality lenses with a slew of lens solutions to meet both common and uncommon patient needs alike.

  • Imagery from the recent Transitions Drivewear campaign created by Younger Optics in Australia.
  • Imagery from the recent Transitions Drivewear campaign created by Younger Optics in Australia.
  • Irving’s son David  Rips, today
  • Irving Rips in 1953

' Younger’s independence as a lens manufacturer allows us to be nimble and responsive to patient, practice and lab needs '