Saturday, November 28, 2009

Four Eyes

Yours truly is a near-sighted Style Spy. (I can only spy what's very nearby, unless I'm wearing glasses or contacts.) I've been wearing corrective lenses since I was twelve years old. I came by it honestly -- both my parents were four-eyes, it was only a matter of time for me. I remember the first time I actually put on my glasses -- it was so wonderful to be able to see that I've never felt in the least resentful about them. Given that I've gotten increasingly near-sighted with time, I'm downright enamored of my eyewear these days. Thank god I wasn't born two or three centuries ago, or worse yet, two or three millenia. I would have totally been saber-toothed tiger lunch. I literally cannot see my hand at the end of my arm without my glasses on. (Okay, I can see it. I just can't count the fingers.) And no. I'm never going to have the Lasix thing. Because it's a laser. ON MY EYES. No, thank you. Plus, I'm already storming down the middle-aged hill toward bi-focals (there are readers scattered all over the house these days), so really, what's the point? I'd still need glasses half the time.

So I don't mind needing my glasses & lenses, and I don't even mind wearing them. (All this bitching & moaning about not being able to see the moment your eyes pop open in the morning bewilders me -- what's so great about being able to see before you've had coffee? And gee, does that reach over to the nightstand to pick up your glasses and put them on your head really interfere that much with the beginning of your day? 'Cause if it does, you need to roll back over -- you're obviously not getting enough sleep.) What I do mind? Is PAYING for them. Good googly-moogly, glasses are expensive!! The last pair I bought was at least five years ago and I got them at one of the mall places and I waited until they were having a half-price special and they were STILL about 200 bucks. I don't know anyone lately who's gotten out of an optician's office for less than $400 -- I have a friend who just got progressive bifocals and just his lenses were over $500! It's insane! I have literally thousands of small plastic items in my home that cost pennies to produce -- you cannot make me believe that my eyeglass frames are really worth $250. And contacts -- sheesh, I pay almost $30 a box at my optometrist's for a box of 6 lenses. (And I have a different prescription in each eye, so it adds up quickly, let me tell you.) They are little blobs of mostly water and some sort of polymer and they've been mass producing these things for how many years now? And they still want nearly 5 bucks a piece for them? Ya know -- I may not see so good, but my sniffer works juuuuust fine and that? Smells like a rip-off to me.

So a few weeks ago I was at a party and someone complimented a friend on her nifty eyeglasses and she told us something that got me aaaaaall excited. She got her eyeglasses online, and they were cheap. Not kinda cheap for glasses -- seriously cheap. Way less than I'd pay for dinner on an average Saturday night. And they were so cool! Apparently, a lot of people feel the way I do about spending so much money for their glasses, and there are several many discount eyeglass sites on the ol' Series of Tubes.

Hot damn.

My friend recommended a site called Zenni Optical, and so I hot-footed it (hot-laptopped, really) over there as soon as I could. There was a bit of a delay because when I dug out my prescription I found that it did not have my pupillary distance on it, which you need to order glasses. (I solved this problem by asking the nice lady at the optical desk at Costco -- where, by the way, I'm now buying my contact lenses for about 6 bucks a box less than at my optometrist -- and she held a little thingamajig that looked like a Viewmaster up to my eyes and pushed a button and then wrote it down for me.) No kidding, friends, they have glasses on this website that start at EIGHT DOLLARS A PAIR. And yes, that is WITH lenses. Prescription lenses. I bought two pairs of glasses for just over $24, which included shipping. It took a bit less than three weeks for them to arrive, but arrive they did, in nice little hard-shell cases wrapped with dustcloths.

I got a pair of metallic purple wire rims:

and a pair of BRIGHT red plastic frames, just for fun.

See, these are the kind of glasses I'd love to have but never do -- BECAUSE THEY'RE SO DINGDONGED EXPENSIVE.

Now. These are not brilliant, high-quality glasses. Actually, the wire rims are pretty nice -- they feel pretty sturdy and have good springy-ness in the hinges. The red plastic ones have a heft that's roughly equal to a Scotch tape dispenser, but for eight bucks I'm really okay with that. The prescriptions are right -- I have no trouble seeing out of these glasses, they do not give me a headache or any other problems. And they're fun! Here -- see what you think:

The purple ones are better for wearing. The bridge of my nose is extremely narrow, so glasses with an adjustable nose piece are a good idea for me. Plus, these are just a little larger, so they give me better peripheral vision. That lack of peripheral vision is one reason I almost never leave the house in glasses -- I wear my contacts outside the house and my glasses in.

I also tend to like wire frames because they "disappear" more from my field of vision -- I don't notice them as much.

Unlike these bad boys:

(It's not the glasses that are crooked -- it's me.)

which are very present. It takes me a bit after I put them on to stop noticing the frames at the edges of my sightline. I also think I might need to get some of those foam pads to prop them up a little, they tend to slide down my needle-nose.

But they're fun, aren't they? Again -- this particular pair aren't what you'd call sturdy. But ya know -- I'm not eight years old, I'm hardly ever on a trampoline, I put them on once and take them off once and that's it. I don't need titanium-reinforced, gale-force-wind-withstanding, crush-proof, survive-a-nuclear-blast glasses. I just need something to put in front of my eyes so I can see my television. They have more expensive frames on offer on this site and when the novelty of these has worn off I'll probably get some, but for the first run I went with cheap; and it was the best 24 dollars I've spent in a long little while.

I will also offer the caveat that my prescription is pretty straightforward -- single-vision lenses with one correction. (I'm very near-sighted, but I'm only near-sighted. No astigmatism or anything else.) I cannot speak to how well they'd handle anything more complicated than this. But, hey -- for the price it's really worth a try. I know my mom is planning to give them a whirl, and she's got a much more complicated scrip, so we'll see how that goes. It is a bit weird and risky-feeling to order glasses without trying them on, but they have very good photos of the frames, and very thorough measurements. I measured the glasses I already had and then went with frames that had similar numbers, and it worked pretty well, as you can see. I'm sure every optician in America will disagree with me on this, but I really feel okay about them. I need to get the earpieces on the purple ones adjusted a bit because they squeeze my head more than I'd like, but I'm thinking the nice lady at Costco is going to help me out with that the next time I go there to buy 17 pounds of coffee, enough toilet paper to make a bed out of, and sweet bell peppers by the bushel. (Costco cracks me up. I love it, but it cracks me up.)

So has anyone else tried one of these discount sites? If so, how was your experience?

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Analytic Approach to Style said...

I think I like the red one better, so flattering. and it really fits your face in every aspect, like a natural part of it, so it's also great for everyday wear. metal frames make you look really smart, though.

Toby Wollin said...

I'm going to tell you a family secret: My father was an ophthalmologist and it drove him absolutely nuts that even the frames were priced at such an outrageous price. He saw it was a racket, which it is. The other thing is that it is not as if lenses are still being produced by skilled Munchkin lens grinders (my Dad's guy, Mr. Purser, was a genius, but going to see him was like entering the witch's cave..). This is all automated. So, basically we're being totally ripped off because...they can. It's just a pair of glasses. It's not a prosthetic leg made of titanium.

StyleSpy said...

AAS -- why, thanks! I was actually kind of surprised by how much I liked the red frames, given that i bought them sight unseen.

Toby -- Ah-HAH! I suspected as much! So do you wear glasses, and if so, where do you get them?

dot said...

Hey Amy! (Happy Thanksgiving to you too, btw!! Was thinking of you but didn't get a chance to send a message).

I didn't know you were nearsighted, too!

As a kid I always wanted glasses because of a semi-albino friend around the corner named Amanda (she moved away when we were about 12, I have no idea her surname). She had glasses, white blond hair, couldn't go outside cause she burned, broke her legs, got chicken pox, when they took the plaster cast off, she still had chicken pox on her leg, and I wanted everything she had because she was so sweet!

I did get the pox, but not the albino stuff, survived childhood without breaking any limbs, but I did get my glasses! I'm not as bad as you, I can see without my contacts (I use disposable and yes, it's just an expense i don't even think about) but I didn't know bout the online thing: that's fabulous! I'm wearing the same round tortoise shell frames since 1997 (Boots - and they were out of style then, hence being the cheapest pair) but I kind of love them: they're so nerdy they're almost cool. I never wear them out, tho: not yet, waiting another 10 years. Question: how do you get a prescription to give it to the online people? I bet if I ask Boots it will cost as much as a new pair of glasses.

I LOVE the red/purple ones! It's nice to see your lovely face. You've got the humour in your eyes that I assumed you've have from your writing.

Oh! Forgot why I came here. The muff thing. Sorry to go on so long but it's uncanny that you remember yours - even the lining! I have such a vivid image: and because everything had to be fair, my sister & I had matching ones: white, with that white elastic string to hand from the neck... I think it was a girl's head for the doll but I'm confusing it with our magic easter bunny hand puppets in fake white fur, which I do still have here in London. Somewhere.

Okay it's official: the planet's longest comment! Amazed it hasn't cut me off. xox

Karen Minturn Brown said...

that website was fun! Almost makes me sorry I just had multifocal lenses implanted for my cataract surgery - not. The cost of eyewear is a racket, but the availability of internet sources should knock that out pretty quick. I like both of yours; good choices.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to be trying that web-site pretty soon. Time for a prescription update for me and I've been putting it off. Thanks for the tip! LA

rosarita said...

Thanks so much for this post! It would never have occurred to me to order glasses online. Our prescriptions have to be pretty similar, and I really like the pairs you chose. I wear contacts to work but take them out as soon as I get home and I really need some variety in the frame department.

CompassRose said...

I don't think those online eyewear sites work in Canada. I'm probably more nearsighted than you, and my LENSES alone usually cost upwards of $500. My last pair had to go to Nikon Japan to be ground, because apparently Nikon Canada doesn't do that high a prescription on high-index glass.

I don't know if I'd want to buy a pair of glasses without trying them on and having a long brood at the mirror, though, even if they were eight bucks.

marjorie said...

i LOVE the red glasses on you. who'da thunk? if you'd asked me if i'd ever have chosen red frames i'd say ugh, sally-jesse raphael (what with me being elderly and all -- remember her?) but no! you look smart and playful. and for 8 bucks? score.

Deja Pseu said...

Hey those are cute! Love the red ones especially.

I'm one of those near-sighted + need-readers + astigmatism types, so my lenses tend to be pretty expensive. We have an optical plan from my work insurance but it only covers the bare minimum.

Between my complicated prescription and my tiny head, I find I need to buy my eyewear in person so I can try on and have the earpieces adjusted once delivered. A co-worker of mine recently found an optical shop that's MUCH less expensive than the one I've been using, so am definitely going to go have a look-see there.

All Women Stalker said...

Your glasses look really nice. I wish I could have the guts to wear corrective glasses for my nearsightedness. But I've read a lot of articles saying that it worsens if you use glasses. I'm kinda undecided about the matter. What can you say about this?


StyleSpy said...

Denise -- I don't know what "articles" you're reading on this, but they're obviously not based on any sort of science. If your vision is impaired, wearing corrective lenses will not make it "worse." That's an old-wives tale. Get some glasses or some contacts and start seeing the world clearly! You'll love it!

Pearl Westwood said...

I love both pairs, I like how much you can change your image just by switching pairs. I dont need glasses but I went with my friend recently to get her perscription sunglasses and I couldn't belive how expensive they were! Surely when you actually NEED something it should be much fairer priced x

dana said...

I've become a fan of the "dammit, I wear glasses, they're here and they're loud" aka the opposite of the vanity/Sarah Palins.
Go for contrast! Just like in your clothing! You rock the red ones!

And yes, I'm now so nearsighted that I have to stow the specs in the bedside drawer lest the Bean knocks them on the floor. When that happens, I have to get down on hands and knees and feel for them. Darn cat.

That's Not My Age said...

Hello Style Spy - I've just found you! Like the blog and the red frames (they're a good shape & I much better to make a statement than go for the invisible look don't you think?.

Duchesse said...

Amazing! The red ones are adorable, the wire frames make you look more 'strict' (in a good way). You can also get great frames on eBay, once you know your size. of course you have to get lenses put in but you can get really high end frames and still save a fortune.

It is also a lie that frames 'date'. Well some do, but it takes a decade or more if you choose well. Like Toby says- big scam in that biz!

The Photodiarist said...

I like the first pair better. . .