The Secret to Getting What You Want When You Buy Glasses

It’s Easy But Almost Nobody Does It

When it comes to eyewear, most people think they know what they want.  But even if you do, how will you be sure you’ll get it?

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I took my car to an auto shop and asked the manager for an alignment.  He surprised me by asking what I really wanted (I wanted the steering wheel to stop shaking).  It turns out I did need an alignment.  But if I had needed a tire rotation, I could have gotten what I asked for (an alignment) but not what I really wanted (a smooth ride).

This concept applies to eyewear too.  I once saw a patient who told me she wanted to work in her garden comfortably all day.  Her light sensitivity was a challenge – the sun usually drove her indoors for most of the day.

She got what she wanted.  And, she did it by doing what almost no one else does.

She simply told me what she wanted.  Based on our conversation, I prescribed glare free, polarized sunglasses that solved her problem.  The next time she saw me, she was ecstatic.  She said her sunwear changed her life!

Ask for Benefits and Not Features

When I brought my car to the shop, I could have asked for a tire rotation and still wound up with a shaky car.

My patient could have asked for standard tinted lenses and still had light sensitivity.

In my last post I showed how you could ask for one thing (light weight lenses) and get the opposite of what you wanted (heavy glasses).

The trick to getting what you really want is this: Ask for benefits and not features.  Many eye care professionals are trained to explain benefits and not features.  It’s easier for you to understand benefits (clear vision) than features (dual surfaced free form lenses).

There are a host of lens materials and options to help you get what you want.  And you probably aren’t familiar with most of them.  But your eye doctor will know the combination that’s right for you.

You have a better chance of getting what you want when you ask for benefits and not features.  Here are some examples:

  • If you ask for light weight lenses you may get them.  But will you get the lightest?  And what if your frame is heavy?  Instead, ask for the lightest pair of glasses possible.
  • If you ask for the glare free coating you saw on TV you may get it.  But is it the best for you?  Instead  say, “I want to see as clearly as I can when I drive at night.”  Your optician will fit a high definition, glare free lens.
  • If you ask for progressive lenses for computer use, you may get them.  But what about computer glasses?  My patients who have specialty glasses love them.  Instead say, “I want to see my computer clearly and comfortably so I can stay productive.”  Your eye doctor may prescribe high definition computer lenses with blue light protection.
  • If you ask for tinted sunglasses you’ll get them.  But standard tints don’t eliminate glare.  Instead, say that you want your eyes to be comfortable outdoors all day.  Your optician should help you choose a wrap-around frame with light weight, polarized, glare free, or even mirrored lenses.

These are just a few examples of how asking for features is risky.  Instead, think about what you really want as you live your visual lifestyle.  Once you know, you’ll be able to ask for benefits and get what you really want.

Question: Is something missing from your visual lifestyle?  Think about what you really want and tell about it in the comments below.

How to Get What You Really Want When You Buy Glasses

Part 2: The Lens Features you Need

Buying glasses without knowing what you want is risky.  You may wind up with features you don’t need.  Worse, you may miss out on the one feature you want the most.

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I meet a lot of people who don’t like their glasses.  Most of them like eyewear in general.  They just don’t like their glasses.  If that’s true, then they aren’t getting what they want when they order them.

It’s more common than you think.  Just last week I wrote about a man who didn’t like his glasses because he didn’t get what he thought he ordered.  It can easily happen to you.

Same Desire, Two Different Requests

You might say, “I want the lightest lenses you have.”  You’ll get them, but if you choose the wrong frame you’ll still end up with heavy glasses.  Arguably, your optician should help here.  But many don’t.  Not because they’re incapable, but because many want to provide good customer service and give you what you asked for.

If you say, “I want my glasses to feel lighter than air,” then your optician may find a small, titanium frame that allows a smaller lens cut.  With light weight lenses, you’ll get what you really wanted.

In my last post I listed the most common lens materials.  Here, I’ll list some common lens features you should know.  You may want some, and there are even a few I’d never skip:

Photochromic lenses: These darken to sunwear when exposed to UV light.  Indoors, they become clear again.  I know an artist who works both indoors and outdoors and she can’t live without them.  The most popular photochromic lenses are made by Transitions®.

Polarized lenses: Always dark, these lenses are for sunglasses.  And unlike ordinary tinted lenses, they dramatically reduce glare.  They are essential for anyone who works or plays outdoors (especially on snow or water).  They’re also excellent for driving.

Glare free lenses: You’ll see more clearly and look better with these.  There are hundreds of types, and premium glare free lenses work.  Others may disappoint you due to smudging or scratching (think bargain lenses with glare free coatings).  Your trusted eye doctor should be able to provide a premium glare free lens or treatment.  The Eyewear Gallery at LaFollette Eye Clinic guarantees all premium glare free lenses against defects.

High definition lenses: Also known as free-form or wavefront lenses, these use your prescription, lens type and material, frame fit, lifestyle, and even your own eye measurements to enhance your vision.  Although they cost more, the clear vision is worth it.  Most of my patients who use these never want to wear standard lenses again.

Impact resistant lenses: Although all lenses must pass industry standards for impact resistance, some are stronger than others.  There are several types (again, see the previous post).  If you want safety glasses make sure you say so when ordering.  The bonus: these are generally lighter and thinner than standard lenses.

Other features: There are a host of other features you can order to customize your glasses.  A brief list includes scratch resistant or fog proof lenses, UV and blue light protection, and even mirror coated, engraved lenses.  If you can imagine it, it can probably be done.

The list above is only a partial exploration of the lens features available to customize your glasses.  By now you may be wondering how you’re going to remember all this when you order.  The good news is, you don’t have to.

In my next post I’ll explore the real trick to getting what you want when you buy eyewear.  It’s easy to do, and yet almost no one does it.

Question: Is there a lens feature you can’t live without?  Let us know by leaving a comment here.

How to Get What You Really Want When You Order Glasses

Part One: Why Lens Materials Matter

Buying glasses can be challenging.  You may not know exactly what you need, and insider terms can be confusing.  Even if you know what you’re looking for, you may not get it.

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Last week I met a man who was unhappy with his glasses.  He ordered thin, light lenses, but they turned out thick and heavy.  Naturally, he was disappointed.

What happened?  He chose a rimless frame – the kind that has nothing but a thin wire on the bottom to hold the lenses in.  So a groove must be cut in the edge of the lens for the wire.  To make this groove, the lenses must be made thicker.  In short, he chose a thin lens, but his frame required a thicker lens.

Know Your Lenses

I meet many people who thought they ordered one thing but got something else.  It can be frustrating, and it can weaken your trust in your eye care professional.  But often it’s a simple misunderstanding.

Here’s one way you can be sure you’re getting what you really want when you order glasses: Know your lens materials.  Why?  Because your vision will be different through various materials, regardless of your prescription.  And, many retailers will attach clever brand names to standard lenses, making your choices seem confusing.  The key is to ask for the generic material name.  Here are the most common generic materials:

Standard Plastic.  Known as CR-39, this basic lens material was invented in the seventies.  It’s neither the thinnest nor lightest, and may not give you the clear vision you want.  If you think you’ve found a deal on glasses, CR-39 is probably what you’re getting.

Polycarbonate.  This is the lens that started the branding craze.  It’s a lighter weight, impact resistant plastic.  It’s been around for decades.  It’s not the thinnest or lightest material available, in spite of what some brand names imply.  In my experience, it also causes many adaptation problems.  But if you can adapt to it (or already wear it) then this material may work for you.

Trivex.  This is a strong, light weight lens material.  Although slightly thicker than polycarbonate, it’s lighter.  Optical clarity is generally better with trivex lenses than with polycarbonate.

High index plastic.  There are several types of high index plastics.  They’re all very thin, light and optically clear.  They’re not as shatter resistant as polycarbonate or trivex.  But for the thinnest, lightest lenses you can get, choose high index.  This is important if your prescription is strong.

Glass.  I include this only so you’ll remember why they’re called “glasses.”  Glass lenses are uncommon because they’re heavy and unsafe.  I don’t recommend them.

The list above isn’t complete – but it does cover the vast majority of eyeglass lenses sold today.

Knowing your lens materials is just the beginning of getting glasses you’re really happy with.  Don’t forget there are other super-important lens qualities you will want when you order.  If you’re living the visual lifestyle, you’ll want to read about them in my next post.

Question: have you ever been unhappy with your glasses?  What happened?  Tell about it in the comments section below.