Buying eyeglasses online
I’m going to buy eyeglasses online. It sounds bizarre, not trying on frames and stuff, but the last pair I got (7-8 years ago) was so expensive (almost $400) that I haven’t gotten a pair since. My back up pair is my bent glasses from … high school. That’s better than Trish though – she has no backup. It’s a bit risky for two people who can’t function without them, but we never considered possible alternatives and assumed that the next pair we got would cost just as much. (We, like most people, have no vision coverage.)
I was pleasantly proven wrong by an article in the NYT about the growing online eyeglass industry. I’d considered it briefly before, mainly to save money on the frames, but it seems that people are buying complete glasses, lenses and all, for less than $50. For that price, I can try several pairs until I get something I like that fits right.
This whole thing started with a guy named Ira who decided he was fed up with exorbitant prices. He blogged about this and got some responses from opticians and other peeps.Â The opticians would spew some hot air about this or that, and other peeps would chime in to poke holes in the optician’s arguments.Â The most telling are the comments on pricing – frames apparently cost $15 or less to make and lenses with anti-reflective coating are sold to opticians for less than $5/pair.Â The markup involved to sell them at retail is insane.
Now the big argument the opticians make is regarding fit – that you need professional fitting to make sure your glasses are on right and that the lenses are situated properly and all.Â I sincerely believe that to be a crock of shit. My glasses have fit perfectly for maybe 2 months at most before they get bent in some way shape or form and never feel perfect again. My glasses have survived mosh pits, outdoor activities (I slipping off while hiking and such) and children (babies love grabbing them – they’re so much fun!). My current pair have had a busted arm for 5 years. I didn’t want to pay $75 to get a new one and as a consequence they move around quite a bit. I still see very well, because my prescription hasn’t changed. It’s proof that the fit doesn’t have to be perfect, but the prescription does.
At this point, I do want to point out that I don’t have a problem with mom & pop opticians. I feel genuinely bad for them as they were squeezed by LensCrafters and the like before and the Internet now. They do have to cover the overhead involved with owning a store, insurance and employees.Â Unfortunately, some industries don’t weather major changes as well as others and my hope is that all the people who don’t want to take a chance on buying online go to a mom & pop instead of a chain store. (Of course, that should be the case for just about everything. )
Yesterday I had an opthalmologic visit, since our insurance covered that. I took M along to see how eyes are examined and we had a nice discussion about how the eye works using a nice diagram in the waiting room. The technician was a friendly grandma of 8 who explained a lot of stuff to M after I told her we homeschooled and he was there to hopefully learn something. She even had him sit on her lap to look at my eye through their fancy shmancy gear. He really enjoyed that part of the visit.
The doc was nothing special. Her ‘other location’ has an optician so she’s part of the old school of thought. She had to be condescending while lecturing about the fit but had no response to me countering that I could buy several pairs and still save money. I didn’t expend any effort telling her how poorly my glasses tend to fit due to what I put them through and instead I wondered if she had a professional help fit her shoes. She had a pair of super-duper-pointy fashion victim pumps, the kind that look so inhumanly designed that whoever wears them inevitably looks like Cinderella’s step-sisters from the ankles down.Â Looking at them made my toes cringe.
After dealing with her patronizing, I got my prescription but without the pupillary distance (the one thing really required for making lenses right). She had nothing to measure in millimeters and referred me to her optician. Measuring something with a ruler isn’t rocket science so I’ll have Trish do it. I could do it myself if I wanted to – take several pics of my eyes with a ruler, measure with Photoshop and take the average.
I’m gonna post some pictures of my frame and my attempts at trying on glasses virtually. I might dip a toe in the waters by trying this one website from the UK where they give away X pairs a day free (except shipping). I’m sure the frames aren’t the most attractive but who’s going to quibble at that price?