Sunday, March 09, 2014

I Hate New Eyeglasses

One of the great things about being old-ish is that my eyes have started to stabilize. No more major bi-annual prescription changes that require hours at the optometrist's office and a never ending supply of lenses. However, like all things, glasses wear out even if the prescription lens is still current.

Dealing with Change
My last pair of glasses -- minus the lenses -- lasted me four years. It's not that the frames were so amazing that I just couldn't let them go. No, it was because I didn't want to deal with getting accustomed to a new set of frames.

Glasses are very "personal" because they hang right on your face and usually stay on every waking hour of the day -- my days are usually split between contacts and glasses. They make contact at multiple points on the head in order to keep them attached to one's head and properly positioned. I used to have the optician get them just about right, go home, then complain for the next two years about how my glasses are uncomfortable and suck. This is actually how I came into my previous pair of glasses.

The Four-Year Pair
The pair before the last was plastic and never sat on my face well. They kept sliding down my nose and annoyed me enough that I tried to adjust them myself at home. Surprise, surprise: I cracked them at the nose bridge. At that time, I was unemployed and unattached to any insurance plan. Worse of all, the incident occurred on a Saturday, so shopping day became Sunday. Trying to be quick and to support "local business", a replacement pair was acquired for the low price of about $450 despite choosing one of the cheapest frames in the store. Most of the cost was with the lenses at tad over $300.

Unfortunately, after a four year run, the paint started chipping on the temples where my sideburns made contact with them. It probably didn't help that I've been shaving my head for a few years now (i.e. stubble = like sandpaper). Time for a new pair.

Buying Glasses Online?
Still being a bit (more than a bit) perturbed at how much I've been paying for glasses, I finally decided to try buying online. Some of the selling points of buying locally are that one can try the glasses immediately and have an optician adjust them to suit each individual. As a wearer of glasses for more than a decade, having stepped on and "fixed" a few pairs, and done some of my own adjustments on a few recent frames, it seemed like no big deal. Being able to purchase working glasses for 1/3 or less of what I usually pay was the main reason though.

A few hours of browsing later and I narrowed it down to a few frames around the $100 mark. Lenses would only push the final cost up to the $150 range. I settled on a frame manufactured in Europe.

New Glasses: Two Degrees of "Acclimatization"
They arrived amazingly quick considering that they were purchased from the other end of the country. Once they got here, I tried them on and knew immediately they were too tight. Only the nose pieces were adjusted initially as I was hoping to keep them as close to "pristine" and "original" as possible. Most of my focus was on getting used to the lenses. Despite being the exact same prescription as my four-year pair, it still felt like I was looking through coke bottles for the first few days. I did not notice much of a difference between these el cheapo lenses and the $200+ sets I had in my last frames. The anti-reflective coating on the more expensive lenses appears to be slightly better (i.e. reflect less).

But as the days wore on, the frames ate away at me. I started messing around with the temples and the temple tips. One of the worst things about being old-ish is that I've grown impatient and less complacent: if it bugs me, I'm going to do something about it. Thinking back, the three previous sets of eyewear (all sunglasses) I bought were adjusted just as anally for days on end until I gave up. I think I'm at that point now with this pair. Back and forth it went until I decided to just leave it alone.

Lessons Learned
A big mistake I made with my newest glasses is that I got a frame without, I think, spring hinges. It didn't seem like a big deal when I saw that "feature" on the product page. To be honest though, I don't think I've ever had a frame without spring hinges -- you don't appreciate it until you lose it? What the springs have helped with in my old glasses is their ability swing outwards and fit my wide head more easily. The temples on this spring-less pair don't swing outwards beyond a straight locked position, which requires the entire frame to stretch -- much stiffer. Come to think of it, I believe I've tried glasses with spring hinges that don't swing outwards much, if any, and they were always too tight.

Since this first online pair was relatively cheap, I decided to buy a second pair for even cheaper for backup. This one should have spring hinges. Fingers crossed and I hope these ones last a while...

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