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I got an email a couple of weeks ago asking how "Project Dean" ended up. It has been awhile, and my first thought was to pass along the link in the previous sentence to all of the articles -- and then I realized that I had never finished the series. I stubbed in the title for this piece and it got buried under dozens of other posts.

We live a few hours away from Dean and when the glasses were ordered, we had a plan to swing by his house on the way to the in-laws, but it never happened. I talked to him on the phone after they arrived from 39 Dollar Glasses and apart from a minor adjustment, which his eye doctor was gracious enough to do, they were perfect

Dean doesn't have a camera -- so it was nearly lost to the ages, until (thanks to his neighbor) I got a photo in my email yesterday.

Here it is.

More importantly, it's been four months of daily wear and they're still pristine. Proof that you can have success with progressive lenses online.

I got another comment from a practicing optician. It started in much the same way requests pour from the lips of my three children:

I know you will more than likely NOT post my comment.

It's always obvious to me when I get a comment from someone who hasn't spent any time looking at the content of the site. NOTE: This site is littered with comments from people on all sides of this issue. Comments like these are gold. Of course, I'm going to post it.

It continues:
I've read your edit. I'm sure you've been bombarded by hords of us in the industry. What you need to understand is that we're fighting for our jobs. I'm a licensed Optician. I have been working in the industry for almost 20 years.

Then hopefully you were smart enough to plan ahead and sock away some of that money you were making on my $400 glasses. People, by the thousands, are learning about this site -- and the reasonably priced options over there to the left -- each day.

On to his first gripe:
Nothing makes me more upset than having to use MY inventory of frames, MY knowledge, MY time to help people buy their glasses online.

I tend to get worked up when I discover I've been getting screwed for years and not even knowing it.
Hundreds -- thousands of people have been walking into your store for the past 20 years shelling out ridiculous sums for the privilege of being able to see. We're not coming in to buy shiny knick-knacks for the mantle, we can't see and you've had us over the barrel for it. You'll excuse me if I don't worry too much about someone taking back a dollar or two of your time.

And the gouging continues:
The practice I work at, we do not release pupilary measurements at no charge. We have a fee associated with that information. It is not included in your routine eye exam.

Yeah, you should definitely charge extra for that. That's an extra inch or two the optometrist might have to bend down to read that little number on the refractor. Do you think this is a still a secret? The cat is out of the bag.

Let's toss in some fear:
My big quandry is this....where do you go when you need your glasses adjusted? What happens when you need a nosepad? Or a screw has fallen out? How are you sure that your glasses have been made properly? Do you then seek out your optician and expect him/her to help you out? Really, what do you do?

I don't have a problem with paying for any of these services if I feel I need them -- and some truly do. I'm not, however, going to pay an extra $350 for what equates to a half-assed extended service plan. It doesn't take a "rocket surgeon" to pop a new screw in or replace a nose pad. Heck, even other adjustments aren't impossible (there are all sorts of videos online -- from opticians -- explaining how this can be done at home with no special tools).

And the summary:
I want patients to LOVE their glasses. It doesn't matter to me how much you spend or don't spend. It could be $100, or $1,000. I don't make commission. I'm proud of what I do. I don't want to see my job go through the window because it's been outsourced to the big manufacturing shmoes. I'd love to read a response from you. I'm not trying to bash what you're doing, I'm only stating my case. I think everyone should hear both sides of the story.

I appreciate that you take pride in your work -- it's a horrible thing not to be able to do so. I also hope that you understand that the economics of the situation have changed. I expected the price of eyeglasses to come down when Lasik began to pick up steam -- oddly the inverse has been true -- at least as far as the traditional eyeglasses stores are concerned. I also expected to see fewer eyeglasses stores -- that has been the case. One of the only things propping up this business model is consumer ignorance (and complacency) and an aging population.  

Some would look at this as an opportunity.

It's a new world out there, we're all dealing with jobs leaving the country. This isn't something isolated to the optical industry. I'm a software developer, maybe you've heard how that's been going for the past few years. 

I don't have any ill-will towards you or anyone in your field. It's business -- but it's changing. I'm thrilled to now be able to afford eyeglasses, and many thousands of others are too.

We all need to adapt or we're going to "die".

I lived for years with one pair of eyeglasses at a time. This is the model that I'd argue over 90% of eyeglasses-wearing Americans live by. First of all, eyeglasses are traditionally expensive, and secondly, they're really, really expensive. Who buys two pairs? Rich people, unlike me.

This online eyeglasses thing is a huge deal for us "common people", but there is a catch. Even with fast shipping, it's going to take a week (maybe two). Why wait when you don't need to? You can get a spare pair now starting at less than $8 (from EyeBuyDirect), but even at a multiple of that low, low price, you really ought to prepare for that "uh-oh" moment on which the jerks at LensCrafters have based their profiteering for years.

The high cost of eyeglasses has been a brilliant marketing move for them. Make eyeglasses so expensive that people won't have a backup and when those break, they'll be desperate for their "next fix", and we'll be the only ones here to serve them.

Thank goodness we're free of them.

Take stock in your eyeglasses stock. You can deck yourself out in a couple of pairs, and a sunglasses for each car and still have money left over for that iPhone you've had your eye on -- or maybe fill a cart at the grocery store, and be able to see what you're putting in it?

I spoke with Andrea Cooper a month or so ago about the online eyeglasses thing and she popped it into the November 2008 issue of Reader's Digest. The GlassyEyes mention is on page 180 in the "Get a Great Deal on Anything" article (available at

I guess it should come as no surprise that a thirty minute conversation would be condensed to 130 words in of all places, Reader's Digest -- it's not like I expected the cover or anything. ;-)

I'm excited because this kind of exosure should help introduce the concept of online eyeglasses to an entirely new audience -- and potentially live in the waiting rooms of hospitals and dentist's offices for years (and years).

If you get the Reader's Digest, or know someone who does, pass along the page number - 180!

Another nice corresponding illustration, this time by Istvan Banyai.

A special thanks to my neighbor, Pokey for the "spare" copy.

Clicked over to Goggles4U this morning and was struck by the "Best Sellers" area. I was able to get a screenshot of the top 7 most popular frames they list on the site (there are 8 -- the 900 pixel height of this laptop has always been a sticking point with me). Fully six of the top eight are reminiscent of the Palin eyeglasses wardrobe (both current and historical).

The other women's frame makes me think of Tina Palin, er.. Fey.

That "most popular" frame is the maverick of the bunch. Perhaps McCain, has done a slight update from the following stylish number:

I spent a half hour or so at a couple of eyeglasses shops at the local mall this weekend. I haven't found myself spending too much time in stores such as these in the past couple of years, but I needed to do a little research for a new blog I'm working on (more on that in a few weeks).

The thing I'd forgotten was how much it sucks to try on glasses. It's horrible. For me, I can't see a thing without my glasses, so once they're off, I'm effectively useless. 

When the "optician" (who is wearing pleated khakis, with penny loafers -- WITH PENNIES) tells you they "look nice -- very stylish", I tend to hear a voice in my head say, "NEXT!

So the drill went as follows:
  1. Put current glasses on.
  2. Scope for a contender.
  3. Clasp frame in left hand, use right to remove current glasses.
  4. Put on new frame with dummy lenses.
  5. Grope for mirror. 
  6. Lean in within 6 inches of mirror.
  7. Make determination based on this silliness.
  8. Repeat.
  9. Cave in to exhaustion.
Throw in the outrageous cost and it quickly becomes about as fun as a root canal.

One of the most common questions I get in all of this is, "How do I know if they'll look good on me?" I have a number of pat answers based primarily on the idea that you should definitely use a frame you like as a template for lens shape and size. More recently, however, I tend to lean towards, "how do you know if the frames at the store will look good?"

Realistically, the "virtual try-on" technologies in use at a number of the retailers are a much better way to actually SEE how the frames are going to look. I've tried most of them, and they work -- they really do. For a first timer, or anyone else unsure, I highly recommend giving this a try. 

Part Three in a multi-part series on prescription eyeglasses-themed Halloween costumes. I know it's still a month away, but the eyeglasses featured in these posts will take a few weeks to arrive. ACT NOW!

The glasses for this ensemble are bold -- awesomely so. Start a new look, it's about time you did. Seriously, look in the mirror, those wispy wireless jobbers might be fine for the board room, but when was the last time you were in the board room?


via boingboing tv

via Make
Super-blogger-illustrator-magazine-editor-robot-maker Mark Frauenfelder is one of my favorite web personalities. He's the most (capital 'R') Renaissance of all internet Renaissance Men. He started Boing Boing, was editor of Wired Magazine, started and edits the deliciously nerdy Make magazine, is a fantastic illustrator (see his iGoogle theme here), and most importantly, often wears glasses proudly and prominently.

When trying to emulate the "Mark" look, you need to go big, plastic and classic -- with the frames. He's likely to wear the Ray Bans (very easy to replicate at a bargain price), but he'll throw a change-up every now and then to something a bit wackier.

Throw in a mussed up hairstyle, a bowling shirt or interestingly patterned short-sleeve (untucked and in ample supply at the thrift stores this time of year), maybe a remote control with a big antenna and you're good to go. Your mileage may vary, but my crowd will likely be able to identify the inspiration of my costume -- especially if I can talk my youngest into going as a smoking fish, and the others into going as robots.

Up here in the frigid North country (in those short sleeves), it's going to take a full thermos of espresso to make it around the neighborhood on Halloween. That lab coat is starting to look like a good idea.

Here are those FakeBans ($29) from Optical4Less again. I can attest to the solidity of the frames. They're my current favorites in the sunglasses arsenal:

Add a second pair (perhaps from the $15 Overstock section) and you can skip the shipping. I typically go the Shuron route for my bold, plastic, prescription eyeglasses frames, but I've also gone free -- twice.

Regardless, whether you want to be like Mark or not, a bold pair of frames is a must for your eyewear wardrobe.

Check him out on The Colbert Report, and this old Apple "Switch" commercial: