Getting new glasses is an ordeal. It calls into question two things I normally take for granted, they way my face looks and my vision.
The shopping experience is the first trauma. I went everywhere from Costco to Lenscrafters to the flagship Oliver Peoples store on Sunset Boulevard. Everything I saw was either too dull or too bold. And then there’s the problem of the bifocals, er, I mean progressives. For the uninitiated, progressives are bifocals for the vain. (a bifocal by any other name…) With progressives, I couldn’t get any frame that was too small, but with my strong prescription, I couldn’t get anything too big either. That pretty much rules out the field.
Is it wise to bring someone with you when shopping for glasses? Yes, if you have a friend that knows your taste and is honest with you. I tried bringing my kids a couple times, but it was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved. If you don’t have anyone with you, you’re at the complete mercy of the salesperson. I don’t know that I want the look of my face for the next five years to be that strongly influenced by a salesperson. And yet, without a fashionable friend, that’s what I was reduced to.
When I was in college, I used to get a pair of glasses, frames and lenses, at For Eyes for $40. I’m dating myself, I know, but I kid you not. Now, glasses cost a bloody fortune. Which raises the stakes on making the right choice. The lens choice requires higher education — there’s high index, super high index, super special extreme high index, not to mention the various coatings you can get.
I went to an overpriced boutique near my house and put myself in the hands of a capable salesman. For some reason, I was liking everything I tried on that day. Once I decided on glasses, I turned my attention to sunglasses. Progressive or single vision? New frames? Go somewhere cheaper for the sunglasses, because they’re only sunglasses after all? Against better judgement, I chose a funky Oliver Peoples frame for my sunglasses (single vision). I say against better judgement only because I was fatigued after the long decision process for my regular glasses so I made a hasty decision. I just wanted to see, both indoors and outdoors. For a few minutes after leaving the shop, I was elated. I was getting new glasses! Then panic set in. What if I made a horrible choice? Why hadn’t I brought anyone with me?
And then my new glasses arrived. They were…..different. Every time I passed a mirror, I had to decide whether I liked them or not. More importantly, I wondered if anyone else would like them. I went to Costco later that day and felt so conspicuous that I wanted to ask total strangers if they liked my glasses. Luckily, I restrained myself. The reaction after the big reveal was mixed. Some people at work didn’t even notice. I took that as a good sign. But the best reaction came from my hubby, reminding me why I married him. All weekend, he kept looking at my face and jokingly admiring my glasses. I have no idea if he really likes them or not, but who cares? I’ll take what I can get!
The final trauma is that when you get a new pair of glasses, there is an adjustment period. Put another way, your vision is all messed up. This is especially true when getting your first pair of progressives, as these were for me. To make matters worse, I had to get used to a pair of progressives and a pair of single vision sunglasses. Every time I went from one to the other, my eyes had to adjust. I’m still scrutinizing far away signs and small print to assess whether I can see. And because neurosis is my birthright, I went back to the glasses store to make sure the prescription was right. I mean, how would you know? They could give you anything and you’d never know the difference.
All of this is to say that I think optometry is an imprecise science. All those questions about which image is clearer – they all look the same to me! And that’s what they base your prescription on! I’m resolved to keep these glasses for the rest of my life, just to avoid this experience. If I ever get used these glasses, that is…..