With the barrage of ads from online and discount stores making bold claims, it’s becoming more tempting to leave your optometrist’s office with prescription in hand in hopes of saving money on your glasses. We’ve had a number of patients give it a try only to return with stories of unresolved problems, hidden costs, and dissatisfaction. Those people would be the first to tell you, “Buyer Beware.” Here’s your chance to learn from their mistakes. Some of which are:

5. Believing “these are the same as what your doctor prescribed” substitution claims.

There’s a reason your eye doctor is very specific about your prescription, the lens manufacturer and design, and particular lens treatments. Take progressive lenses, for example. There are hundreds of designs available from multiple manufacturers, each with different specifications and varying degrees of quality. The method of manufacturing and precision of the prescription also varies widely. Lenses are designed with different power distribution so that some have wider reading areas and some feature less peripheral distortion and wider intermediate distance areas helpful for computer use. So your lifestyle, work, hobbies, as well as your prescriptive need, are all important considerations when your doctor narrows the field of choices. From experience, Dr. Olson has also learned which ones have a track record of consistently pleasing patients and which designs are most likely to minimize adaptation problems for you.

So when a specific manufacturer and lens design is written on your Rx, there’s a good reason. Based on the doctor’s expertise and evaluation of your eyes he thinks you are most likely to have success wearing that specific design. Don’t let a clerk at the local discount store override all that careful evaluation and tell you their progressive is the same. Unless it’s the exact same manufacturer and lens, it’s absolutely not. Theirs may be cheaper, but there’s a reason. We’ve had people return to our office because the anti-reflective treatment they purchased from a discount store wiped off when they cleaned their lenses! (You guessed it.  It’s not the same product either.)

If you are inclined to price shop make sure you ask them to price the identical lens and lens treatments as prescribed. We guarantee it will not be less–literally. It’s called our Competitive Guarantee of Value, and we’ll match their price if it is. So you can relax and be confident that you’re making a good choice when you purchase your glasses from us. We’ve had patients do an exact cost comparison and they come back to our office surprised at what they found. So please don’t make assumptions based on a preconceived idea that stores charge less than eye doctor’s offices for the same products. If you compare apples to apples, we think you’ll be surprised too!

4. Assuming frames that look okay in a picture are right for you and your eyes.

There’s a concerning problem with choosing frames based on appearance only. First, all prescriptions are not suitable in all frames. Frame size affects lens edge thickness and weight. Some can be incompatible with progressive lenses. And that’s not mentioning the obvious—some simply won’t fit your face well.

But also, the precise measurements our frame stylists take need to be made after you’ve selected your frame and it’s adjusted to fit your face. If the frame’s fit is poor or if the measurements are simply estimates, as they would be with any online purchase, you can experience discomfort, headaches, pressure, and possibly additional vision problems. (You’ll also be missing out on a whole segment of technologically advanced high-definition lenses that utilize several measurements taken after frame selection to optimize their performance.)

Frames come in a wide variety of quality levels. We receive mailings from wholesalers offering ridiculously inexpensive frames and calling them “quality.” We refuse to pawn off frames that look good at first glance but won’t hold up under daily wearing conditions as quality. Consider the materials in metal frames, for example. Nickel is hidden in many inexpensive metal frames and can cause a green tinge or allergic rash for some people. At the other end of the spectrum is titanium, a high-tech memory metal that’s extremely lightweight and comfortable, doesn’t corrode, and will retain its shape indefinitely, even when twisted or bent! Frame construction and features like hinge quality all make a difference in your comfort and overall satisfaction with your glasses.

Finally, there’s incredible value to having a personal Frame Stylist helping you narrow down the overwhelming field of frame choices. Self-help instructions fall short of the expertise our staff has because they not only know so much about what’s available, but they get to know you.  Taking into account your prescription, your lifestyle, your work, your face shape and coloring, your budget, your unique personality and style, our Eyewear Stylist can help you find your new favorite glasses.

3. Being uninformed about the hazards of online eyewear purchases.

Online shopping may be convenient for buying books, household items, and tickets, but The Vision Council, OLA and AOA found some disturbing drawbacks that you should know about when it comes to glasses. Of 200 glasses ordered online, only 154 were actually received. Of those that were, 44.8% had incorrect prescriptions or safety issues. A whopping 29% had at least one lens fail to meet the required prescription. You deserve better than that.

There are other considerations you may not have thought of such as returns, problem resolution, repairs, adjustments, added costs, insurance acceptance, shipping cost and timeliness. The American Optometric Association has published advice and warnings for consumers.

Consider the value of having peace of mind about the choice you’ve made. We offer exceptional service and exceptional ways of standing behind our products.. These include Our Competitive Guarantee of Value, but also Our 90 Day Guarantee, Our WOW Frame and Lens Warranty, Our Scratch-Resistant Lens Warranty, and Our Second Pair Savings. We also offer several complimentary services for the entire life of your frame—adjustments, nosepad replacements, replacement or tightening of screws, restringing rimless frames, ultrasonic cleaning, and lens cleaning. (And we’re your neighbors so it’s always convenient!)

2. Making do with your old prescription.

You decide to save some money by skipping the appointment that your doctor recommended for follow-up or re-examination. In health care that’s never a good idea! There is a misconception that if you are seeing OK then things must be fine. But several serious eye conditions and systemic problems don’t have any outward symptoms. They can be detected by retinal health evaluation, intraocular pressure measurement, or visual fields screening– all part of your eye health exam. It’s not actually frugal to ignore a health problem or miss an early diagnosis. So if you think you can get by without regular eye exams and your old prescription, think again. Undetected glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, high blood pressure, MS, and tumors can cost you your vision.

1. Reusing a discontinued or aged frame.

No doubt you’ve noticed that things tend to get less flexible with age. It applies to frames too. When your eyeglass prescription has changed and you need new lenses, any wear and tear or brittleness of an old frame becomes a concern. There’s a certain amount of frame durability needed just to remove old lenses and insert new ones. Then there is the ongoing concern of potential breakage after you’ve had lenses custom-made for that specific frame. Our Eyewear Consultants will inspect your current frame and evaluate its condition. They’ll also check to see if the frame manufacturer is still producing the frame and replacement parts.  If not, it’s obviously unwise to invest in lenses that are cut to fit that frame. An old expression aptly applies. That would be penny-wise and pound foolish.