About the glasses–or spectacles if you prefer–perched on my nose as I sit here typing, I have this to say. I absolutely love them. If, in the process of aging (as I am), one is forced to wear eyeglasses every waking moment–to read–as well as to see far and near, then those glasses should be so comfortable that they subconsciously disappear and one never has to think of them at all, except to clean them once in awhile.
Mine are mounted in a green colored, very thin, titanium frame that weighs mere ounces. They have flexible earpieces without hinges, and they stay in place on my face without leaving deep grooves on the mastoid bones behind by ears as all others did. I’ve been wearing them since early 2003, and decided quite some time ago that I never wanted to wear a different pair.
A year or so ago, I began to notice an occasional blurring of vision when looking far off–such as in movie theaters from the back row, and my eyes watered a bit at those times. Since it had been three years since my last eye exam, I thought it might be prudent to check with eye doctor. Therein lay the rub. Since we have little or no coverage for eye examinations (unless they’re due to disease), Hubby called around to find the best price for said eye examination. The highest was up to $200, depending on what had to be done, and the lowest was $82 at a local eyeglass dispensing store, you know the kind. They’re everywhere. He chose the least expensive and made an appointment for December 1.
Right up front, I told the optometrist I didn’t want new glasses, just an examination to be sure my eyes were healthy, and I mentioned the occasional problem seeing at a distance, and conceded that it might be simply because I didn’t clean them well and often enough. After the exam, the optometrist handed me a paper and told me to present it to one of the girls up front, who would help me. After I did what he stated, it looked like I was going to be forced into a new prescription without even being told that I needed them.
I told the girl up front, presumably an optician, that I wanted the new lens to be exactly like the old ones (axis rotation, curvature of the progressive bifocal, type of lens, etc.) and I wanted them mounted in my old frames. Of course that was possible! Arrangements were made, money passed hands, and two weeks later I went to the laboratory to have my new lens mounted while I waited.
As soon as I put the new ones on, I knew something was not right. The left eye felt as if it were being drawn out of my eye socket by a terribly strong eye magnet. Looking through the right eye was much like looking through a magnifying glass. In order to read, which was difficult at best, I had to keep jiggling my head slightly from side to side.
“You have to give them a chance,” the pretty young optician says. “You’re so used to your old lens, you’re going to have to wear them a few days to get used to them. You’ll have to trick your brain into accepting the information the new lens is feeding it. After a few days you should be fine.” It sounded like bunk to me, but I was raised to be an obedient girl, so even now that I fit the more definitive term of old girl, I resolved to give them a try.
That resolve lasted exactly as long as it took us to drive home. I went straight to the telephone, dialed the eyeglass lab and told them I’d be back the next morning in spite of the predicted snowstorm to have the left lens replaced as it was the one giving me the most trouble. That done, and to make a long story short, after repeated drives across town every few days to have adjustments, I was talked into trying two or three more lens remakes, because the optical store did not give refunds, and they would remake them as many times as it took to get them right. Admirable to be sure, but I really doubted their ability and my sanity for going along with them for so long.
So I began to do some research. What I learned amazed me. First of all there’s a very high percentage of optical remakes, I wish I could remember the percentage but can’t, but simply learning this consoled me in that I know I’m not alone in the problems I’ve had. I could almost, but not quite, forget about the looks I got that suggested perhaps the problem was in my (old) head!
In some states, and Utah is one of them, opticians are not required to be licensed and may not even require special education. Some advertisements for opticians that I read stated experience preferred but will train, hence the expression in the optical business: flipping burgers on Monday, dispensing glasses by Friday. I’m not suggesting the several opticians I worked with aren’t capable of good work, but I am suggesting that they should be trained and licensed after passing certain standards in the field.
After the third pair of glasses, and an additional purchase at the same store of a NEW frame because it was thought that could be the problem, I tucked the new glasses into their case and started carrying them in my bag as a possible replacement should the old ones get broken. My mind continued to mull the problem, and a lot of sleep was lost until I finally faced the fact that they were so bad, I would never use them. I said as much to Hubby, who was sick of my complaints at that point. He remarked in his cavalier way that we could just mark the whole affair up as a $300 mistake. What cannot be cured must be endured was his take. Instead, I decided to make last-ditch effort.
I made an appointment with an opthamologist at the renowned eye center at the University and called the eyeglass store to tell them I would not be able to use the new glasses they’d sold me and the only thing I knew to do was to have an independent examination at the eye center and try to figure out what my problem was, and that I would be in touch afterwards. To my surprise, they then offered to return all my money, even that I’d spent on the new frames I didn’t want.
The second examination at the eye center revealed that my vision–with my existing eyeglass Rx–was 20/20. There was a small change in the astigmatism but not enough to warrant new lens at this time. Without the glasses, the Rx was nearly the same as it was three years ago. The occasional blurring could be due to pollen or polution or–most likely–the dry air. They gave me a sample of eyedrops to alleviate the problem.
My research revealed that optometrists, opticians, anyone who takes part in dispensing your new glasses at many if not all of these optical businesses that proliferate cities far and wide, make varying percentages of the money you pay for glasses. Nothing wrong with that IF you really do need new lens, but it suggests that if they don’t find a reason for new glasses, they make less money. In spite of my telling the optometrist I only wanted an eye exam to see IF my eyes were healthy and IF the occasional blurring in distance might mean a change. Ethically, he should have told me that I did not need new lenses, that my old ones gave me 20/20 vision. Instead, he prescribed strong distance and closeup and changed the axis. Whether that, or wrong measurements, resulted in my fiasco, I should never have had to go through two months of self-doubt. That, as it turns out, was worst thing that happened.
I cannot tell you how good it felt to learn that my eyeglass adjustment problem was not because I was a neurotic aging old lady, but just that I simply did not need a lens adjustment, only an occasional application of eyedrop moisture, and perhaps more routine cleaning of said lens. Here’s hoping I’ll be wearing these old new glasses I’m barely aware of for a long, long time. And when I do need another eye examination, you can be sure the cost factor will NOT be the deciding criteria for who does the examination. Experience is indeed the best teacher.