David Keeler, President of Keeler Instruments Inc., joined the family firm in 1965 after graduating from City College in London. Having worked in the manufacturing, optical, low vision, and instrument aspects of the company, he moved to Philadelphia in 1972 to run the U.S.-based operation. This operation supplies “Keeler designed and made” products to ophthalmologists and optometrists in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Here, David talks about Keeler’s contributions to optometry.
Eric Bran: How is Keeler continuing to fulfill its original mission?
David Keeler: Our mission has always been to constantly innovate and provide the field of ophthalmology and optometry with the highest quality durable products that in many cases last for more than 20 years. My father, Charles Keeler, originated our instrument division in the ‘20s (his father originated the optician outlets), developing a series of surgical and diagnostic products—many of which were patented to help establish a reputation for innovation and perfection.
Keeler is now part of the Halma Group that includes Volk Optical, Inc. and recently Accutome Inc. We are still committed to expanding our offering of diagnostic products. Recent introductions include designing and manufacturing the Portable Slit Lamp (PSL) Classic, the Pulsair Desktop Non-Contact Tonometer, and Keeler Applanation Tonometer (KAT).
EB: What is your role in relation to the optometric market?
DK:I have been closely involved with the optometric field over the years and have developed a close relationship with many of the schools of optometry, which we strongly support. Our diagnostic sets and indirect ophthalmoscope kits are supplied to the students. We are members of ASCO and attend its SIG events. I also continue to attend various optometric conventions to keep me close to this important market.
EB: How does the company approach product development?
BK: We have a very active R&D department in our U.K. factory and employ experts in all the required specialized fields. Keeler is well practiced in our ability to improve existing products. On many occasions, we have developed ideas that have been presented to us by doctors and this practice will continue.
EB: What are Keeler’s major developments in binocular indirect technology?
BK: Keeler has been at the forefront of indirect ophthalmoscope development since Charles Keeler introduced the Fison Indirect (still being made) in 1957. We revolutionized the convenience of using the BIO when we introduced the wireless system; we are now on the second-generation Slimline lithium battery system. Our next significant introduction a few years ago was the LED illumination option, which has now become a standard—this neutral source (4000 Kelvin, similar to a bulb) has a 10,000-hour life and no filament. Our optical system in the Vantage Plus is patented as is the HiMag attachment that provides the user with 60% more magnification. Another major development has been our Digital Vantage Plus Indirect, which is the only USB direct connection imaging system available.
EB: What’s new with the PSL?
BK:The PSL Classic is only two years old but we recently made it even more attractive with the addition of the iPhone adaptor that along with the carrying case is provided as standard with the slit lamp. This adaptor accepts the iPhone 4 or 4s and is fitted to one of the eyepieces after removing the rubber eye guard. Video or stills are easily captured for transfer to a computer.
EB: What do you feel separates Keeler from other instrument companies?
BK:We are differentiated primarily by our brand recognition worldwide. Many optometrists train on our products and are exposed to our name and service early in their careers, thus they are receptive to existing and new products once in practice. Positive product referrals from one doctor to another have and always will be our greatest asset.