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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. 



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7 comments:

At October 6, 2008 at 8:14 AM Tom said...

I also recommend a quick self portrait with your digital camera or phone. Grab five or six pair, pop 'em on, shoot, switch, shoot, then put your own glasses back on and review. You can even ask the friendly salesperson to shoot the pics for you, if you like.

 
At October 6, 2008 at 11:06 AM Ira said...

@tom,

Good idea.

But wait, you then get the priviledge of choosing between $200 frames?

;-)

 
At October 8, 2008 at 5:15 PM Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right. I HATE HATE HATE going into the store and not being able to see anything.

 
At October 9, 2008 at 3:16 PM J.P. Vonderhaar said...

You didn't mention the further complication of dilated pupils! I can see fairly well without my glasses as long as I'm not looking at something much more than arm's length away, but if they've dilated my pupils, forget it, I might as well be blind.

 
At October 12, 2008 at 10:55 PM cartasmias said...

I've lately taken up the digital photo approach at the store. It works OK, and I can go home and show my wife, too. The other option is that many optometrists will give you a trial pair of contact lenses (or bring your on if you have them) to use while you try on glasses. Works wonderfully.
Meanwhile, I'll only go to the optical store now to see how a frame style looks on me, then find a similar version online!

 
At October 21, 2008 at 12:47 PM Anonymous said...

I know you will more than likely NOT post my comment. 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. Nothing makes me more upset than having to use MY inventory of frames, MY knowledge, MY time to help people buy their glasses online. 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.

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 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.

 
At October 26, 2008 at 1:50 AM Jana, Certified Medical Assistant said...

I have an odd shaped face and recently changed my hair color.... darn good thing I DIDN'T FOLLOW YOUR POOR ADVICE! I wanted a diffrent look, and I've lost weight since my last frames.. so my old style doesn't look good now... Good thing I went and tried them on! Something i was sure would look good didn't even fit properly, and the ones I thought I'd hate.. I loved! PS I spent $129 got all the bells and whistles and know they're adjusted to fit me and I didn't have to wait days.. I got them in 45 min! When I got them I loved the look, got the sides adjusted right there and silicone nose pads put on in place of the hard ones. I didn't see as clearly as with my old set and thought it was just needing to get used to the new prescription... my liscensed optician that dispensed them checked me and asked me to focus and was the one who suggested that the script might be wrong... If I'd bought online I'd never have known it could be wrong! I went back to my eye doc and sure enough... my astigmatism was upsidedown! I took them back in the same day and got the correct lens put in with only 30 min wait and NO CHARGE... THANK YOU LENS CRAFTERS!

As a Medical assistant I know enough to know that Opticians have to be trained and licensed just like I do and I find it quite disturbing that only one of the sites you're promoting auctually asked to be sent a copy of the LEGAL PRESCRIPTION... How do I know they're getting it right and not SCREWING with my eyesight! It's still medicine for your eyes and there ARE LAWS governing them.. expiration dates etc... You wouldn't mail order a prosthetic arm would you???

It sounds like you didn't do alot of research before going shopping... I did my research... did you know that the same company that owns LensCrafters owns Pearle, Sears and Target too? Did you realize that Sears has complete pairs for 69 and you know that your're being taken care of by someone who's licensed to dispense the medicine for your eyes? Hmmm guess that means that if you're ok with the $59 sets plus $16 for shipping you should be ok with their $69 sets right? If you want the Lexus of glasses go to lens crafters... if you want a Chevy or Ford go to Pearle or Sears or Target or For Eyes...

My advice.... from someone who at least has some form of medical training.... buy the cheap frames from the sites and take them to Lens Crafters or another similar store and have a licensed, professional available to you immedately lab make the lenses.... it's your sight you're gambling with, and I'd rather keep mine in the best shape possible!

 

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