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[Ed. Note: This is #2 in the "Glasses Stories" series. Bill is wearing his "SoHo" frame from in his publicity shot.]

"You grow up watching Star Trek, listening to Joy Division, and have a website and email address before most people could even spell Internet, and suddenly you have a reputation as a nerd. Dork. Geek. I've worn glasses since I was about 20 and they have become a part of my personality as a mystery writer. After wearing the same ones for years, the magic was gone. I found my next perfect pair via and Ira and I'm grateful that I can grab something groovy, something out of the ordinary and not have to break the bank."
Creator of the Denton Ward and Monty Crocetti mystery series

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The good people at 39DollarGlasses have popped for a big prize for a lucky contributor to the "Glasses Stories" section. Not only do you get the thrill and exposure of getting your face pasted on the busiest economically-focused-online-eyeglasses-blog on the planet and the ability to make a difference for the thousands of people who are contemplating this idea, you're also helping me out with some additional content -- and I APPRECIATE IT.

So, join Beth and send me your photos, or better yet post them to the GlassyEyes Flickr group and forward me the link along with your name, email address and your story (keep it around 500 characters if you can).

All entries must be in before November 10th -- the one-year anniversary of the blog entry that started this whole thing.

Enter early and often.

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[Ed. Note: This is #1 in the "Glasses Stories" series. Beth is wearing her new "Madrid" frame from]

There are several reasons I ordered, or more like a perfect storm of reasons. The main one is that I am one of the millions of Americans with no health insurance, thus it's vital for me to seek out alternatives to expensive vision care.

I'm an administrative assistant by trade. Although I much prefer to wear contacts, they don't work well for long hours of reading from a conference room screen.

For the record, I had a healthy dose of cynicism for the whole 'too good to be true cheap glasses' gig, but after seeing so much positive feedback, I figured what the heck, it was forty bucks, and I'd take my chances.

I haven't had new glasses in almost fifteen years, as my limited funds have always been earmarked for contacts. I couldn't be happier with the quality or the turnaround on the glasses I ordered.

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It's been a year since "the incident" that sent me careening into this world of "alt-eyeglasses". I figured apart from the much needed updating of the look and feel around here, I'd add a few new wrinkles and tools aimed at making all of this less confusing and more inviting.

New Feature Roundup
There are a number of new features I tossed in in hopes that you'd find them as useful as I have.

How It Works
I haven't done a very good job at aggregating the various "how-to" and definition postings into anything that a person could take a quick look at and move forward on. For people with more simple prescriptions and a broken pair of glasses on their desk, I think this will help get the ball rolling a bit more quickly.

The forums and retailer reviews have been around since day one, but the links were a bit difficult to find. No longer.

Script Keeper
This is an exciting one for me. I've lost my prescription a few times over the years and frankly, don't really see a need to carry it around in my wallet any longer. I built a simple little application that will allow you to keep your prescription handy wherever and whenever you feel the itch to order a pair. This one will show some additional features and improvements over the next few weeks.

Get The Word Out
Another new feature, this one is pretty simple. Send out the word to all of your farsighted and nearsighted friends. Let them know that you know the score and that they can too. This has been a highly requested feature and only takes a moment.

Glasses Stories
We've got the forums and the reviews, and we've even got the Flickr Group. But I thought it would be great to have a place for people to show off their new specs with a quick picture and a paragraph (try to keep it close to 500 characters) describing something interesting, fun or surprising about the experience of buying glasses online. Send them to Prizes will be awarded to get the ball rolling.

The remaining buttons couldn't be more obvious and I'm sure there are only a few of you who managed to claw your way all the way through this.

Anyway, I'm excited for the changes and hope that you continue to find this the go-to spot on the web for information regarding affordable eyeglasses online.



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It started with a post proclaiming my satisfaction with my new glasses -- eyeglasses I got at an excellent price, online. It's caused quite a stir, and opened up a whole lot of information that (if the email and comments I've received are true) has saved hundreds of people, hundreds of thousands of dollars (and made me a whole slew of new friends).

I never meant for this to consume me the way it has. I was shocked when I realized the extent of the markup on frames and lenses. I realize that this isn't the only industry with astonishing markups, but this is one that hit me close to home:

"As a retired Minneapolis optician I can tell you first hand that we bought our lenses in bulk and most single vision lenses cost less than $2.00 a pair, Bifocals and progressives cost us as much as $6.00 a pair. Frames ..Name brand, up to $10.00, same quality generics cost us much less. Online is the way I buy all of my eyewear, New glasses in under two weeks!"

Is the markup on certain other human necessities (I'm not talking about designer styles here) as high? Perhaps, but after getting email from retired optical professionals and insight into the thoughts and practices of some people currently in the industry:
"A pair of SV (single vision) stock poly Alize cost me $34, and carry a 2 year warranty. We sell 'em all day long for $199/pair, for a profit of $165/pair. Our capture rate for AR (anti-reflective coating) is about 90%. Also stock poly non coated, cost $6/pair and sell for $109...

Now show me the math where you can beat the $165 profit on a pair of SV (single vision) lenses. If you can, I'll still love you in the morning."

I couldn't let it go -- and I'm really glad I didn't. Head to the mall. Ask for some prices, you'll see that this is the rule rather than the exception.

It's making an impact. As the volume of forum posts, reviews, and "thank you notes" (I love reading these over my oatmeal each morning) increases, the volume of angry anonymous posts and email from optometrists increases as well. We're starting to show up on corporate bottom lines.

Luxottica is the 900-pound gorilla in the optical industry, controlling huge chunks of the market from design, production, sales and even the insurance side -- and they're being allowed to swallow more and more companies working towards their monopoly.

So, after being screwed for years by this industry (and seeing it ramp up aggressively on the greed) I decided it was time to help find alternatives rather than contribute to it any longer.

Realistically though, the response I got initially (and continue to get) from all of you has been my fuel. I really appreciate it and will continue to try to gather the information we need to make the best decisions.



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2.0I've been working on a whole mess of stuff for the site over the past couple of weeks. I was going to do a relaunch last Friday, but something got in the way of that. Looking at the calendar, I realized that this whole thing started on October 24, 2006 when my glasses snapped in two -- on my face.

What better way to mark an anniversary than to correspond the relaunch to that momentous date? I can hear a lot of muttering out there... you were thinking cash, or roses, or a nice evening away from the kids?

Anyway, the site will look different starting on Wednesday, but I think the new features and better navigation will be a welcome change. I'm excited -- I hope to reach many more of my bespectacled brethren (and "sisterthen") in the next year.

Thanks for all of your help this past year.

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I recall the beginning of my search for online eyeglasses, and the confusion I had. How would I know that they'd look good on me? How do I read my prescription? There were so many questions and less information.

Things have gotten better in just the last year. The retailer websites have some better information, and now there is a wealth of information in the forums of this site. Have a question? Someone WILL answer it if you post it.

Follow these crucial steps and I think you'll be thrilled with the results:

  1. Get your eyes checked. This is important from a prescription strength and a eye health perspective. Keep a schedule and get this done annually -- yes, I've changed my tune a bit on this.
  2. Get your full prescription. You paid for it. Make sure you leave with it. If you didn't bring it with you, give them a call. The law says they need to provide you with it.
  3. Get your Pupillary Distance (PD). This isn't a part of your prescription by default. See here for some ideas on getting this measurement. It's important and it's not that difficult to get for a single vision prescription (bi-focal or multi-focals require a bit more expertise).
  4. Get your frame measurements. There are a couple of good ways to do this. I liked my old frame style, so I knew that frames with similar measurements would likely end up being decent looking. If you're looking for something new, find a pair you like at the store and write down the measurements from the frame. In either case, the measurements are typically stamped inside the temple and/or on the bridge.
  5. Find a frame. Hit the websites listed to the left and start browsing. You're looking for sizes as well as style here -- don't forget that! If the site offers a way to drill down to a temple size, for instance, use it! It will save you a ton of time. There is no reason to look at all of the 130mm temple-lengths when you need a 140mm.
  6. Choose your lens options. I was oversold on "featherwates" and hi-index lenses for years. Depending on your prescription strength and the lens size for the frames you're looking at, you may be fine with the standard thickness lenses. I like anti-reflective lenses and I'm amazed at how much I like the photochromic lenses. With the low cost of these glasses, pick up a pair with sunglasses lenses. I don't buy lenses that don't include UV protection -- neither should you.
  7. Order up! Use a credit card (not a debit card) to aid in unlikely event of problematic resolution issues. Pay a couple dollars extra for faster shipping from a number of the retailers.
  8. Wait. This was the hardest part for me -- mostly because I was without a spare pair. It gets easier when you're not in that pinch.
Good luck and PLEASE let us know how it goes in the forums. They're a valuable resource because of your input.

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These are meant to be quick-hitting, simple, and fun. I'm thinking a picture and a quick paragraph (no more than 500 characters).

They'll look a bit like this:

I didn't go in to the Optical 4 Less site looking for a pair of glasses with yellow lenses, but factoring in the shipping and the fact that I wasn't going to have to pay it (from Hong Kong) if I added the second pair, I had to go for it. Also, what was I doing above my chin?