I want what I want…alternately titled Progressive Lenses are the Devil’s Handiwork

I know, that title sounds a little bratty. But let me explain…some of you who are friends with me on the book of faces may have seen my rant recently about my newly acquired progressive lenses. Over the last decade my eyeballs went from “Hey, I can read and see everything just fine, no glasses needed” to “Huh, Honey, would you hold this menu up over there on the other side of the table for me so I can read the wine list.” I was puttering by with glasses you can buy in a three or four pack at Costco and it was fine. But two years ago I realized I hadn’t had an eye exam in several years and maybe it would be a good idea for a professional to tell me exactly what strength lens I need and to confirm I don’t have glaucoma. Things like that. 

Selecting an optometrist or ophthalmologist is like finding a dentist. You have a hundred choices, they all deliver the same services and you hope you pick one that doesn’t have stinky breath. They get REALLY CLOSE to your face when doing the various exams.

The first visit was OK. He sort of scoffed at my Costco purchased glasses, but in general I liked him and he didn’t have stinky breath. He gave me a prescription, stuck those dilating drops in my eyes and pointed me at a wall of frames. Really? You want me to pick out frames while in a state of diminished vision? I did pick out a pair, which sadly I misplaced not too long after I acquired them. But they were rage inducing, so maybe it wasn’t really so mysterious that I “lost” them. The frame was slightly too small for my noggin, and they would sloooooowly push down my nose while I wore them, pinching my temples in the process.

I eventually invested in some slightly more expensive but fabulous glasses from EyeBobs and loved them.

Eventually I went back for another visit. I took Cooper too, as he had not yet had an official eye exam. I confessed to having lost my frames, showed him the ones I had, which were not inexpensive (but not $300 either) and again, he scoffed. We did the routine of dilating my eyes and pointing me at the frames again. He gave Cooper an exam, good news is he has no need for glasses. Braces, yes, glasses no.

This time he informed me I not only need a reading prescription, but a slight distance prescription. Time for progressives. Oh goody. Or the exact opposite of that.

If you have never had progressive lenses, I recommend you research them. Watch these videos about what they are and how they work. Had I watched them I probably would not have chosen to go with them.

I think if you are someone with really bad vision and you need a distance and reading prescription, and are embarking on glasses, you will probably love progressive lenses. I still have pretty decent distance vision. When I put the new glasses on, the reading part was almost useless to me. You are instructed not to move your head, just your eyes. But when I did that, all of the area to left and right was blurry. Turns out there is “distortion” in a progressive lens on the outside edges. I do not know why, it is “the way they are made.”

I took my glasses back. I explained my problem. That wearing these glasses made me want to punch things. I asked about alternatives. Bifocals, with a line. But not a bifocal that goes all the way across the bottom of the lens. “Pfffttt. We haven’t made those for 30 years” I was told. But why? Why is the industry standard a form of lens that actually makes it hard to see in your peripheral vision?

I am getting my way, partially. I am getting bifocals, with the largest area of bifocal they can do. But you would think I was asking them to replace my iphone with a land line that has a corded handset. “We are unfamiliar with the dimensions, because we never make or order these any more.” Well now you will know. Because I wasn’t paying over $300 for a pair of glasses I didn’t want to wear.

But my point, and I do have one, is why can’t I ask for what I believe is completely reasonable? A pair of glasses that gives me a wide area of coverage for reading and for distance? Why is the industry standard something so weird and limiting? I don’t accept the argument “You’ll get used to them.” I don’t WANT to get used to seeing LESS. I want to see everything as clearly as possible with as little irritation and effort as possible. I should be able to move my eyes side to side and SEE WHAT I AM READING CLEARLY.

The end of this story will be that I find a new optometrist. I don’t need to for a year, but I will find a new one. One that doesn’t dismiss my lovely EyeBobs readers, who is willing to consider all of the options when putting me in glasses. Someone who respects what I would like to experience as the consumer and the one with they eyeballs who has to live with what I purchase.

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