I mentioned late last year that I was getting progressive lenses. It’s taken awhile for me to finally report back on that experience…

Wow, well, first off the bat, I believe there was an issue with the first pair I got. It took several days of trying to adapt, but I finally came to the conclusion that one eye felt fuzzy to me. The office where I got them wasn’t able to find an issue with either lens and adjusting the frames made no difference. To their credit, they gladly took my word for the difficulty I was having and had that lens re-done. This led to an incredible wait time as they kept getting duds from whoever is doing their lenses. And when I say duds, I mean they tested them and sent them back without my ever coming to try them. They were pleasant and apologetic enough but it was not a confidence building experience. I’m not going to get into names. I’ve heard good things about this non-chain-store office. It may have been my bad luck.

When I finally had the replacement lens, I was happy not to feel like either lens was fuzzy, but passing that hurdle, I discovered just how hard it can be to adapt to progressive lenses. I had been warned, but in a way I wish I had been warned in such a way as to suggest I had options. After several weeks, I absolutely couldn’t stand them anymore. I always had a vague feeling of tunnel vision. And I particularly felt angst trying to read anything. Constantly having to adjust my head was not coming natural.

Perhaps bifocals would have been better. I’m not sure. At least maybe the line would remind me where to look when I was trying to read something close at hand, but it still seems like a sacrifice trying to use something that has limited function.

I’ve worn glasses for much more of my life than not. I long, long ago became used to not having any peripheral vision worth mentioning. I also got accustomed to having to look down at least a bit if I wanted something in my usable field of vision, but progressive lenses seemed to be a step too far for me. If I wanted to look at a distance, I had to be using the right spot. If I wanted to look up close, I had to be using the right areas. And gosh forbid I look at something at an angle. Maybe other people don’t have this issue, but for me it was like trying to to hammer a nail with a brick. Sure it might work, but it wasn’t very good at the job.

I finally hit my got-to-try-something-else plateau and I decided to try a pair of reading glasses. It was reading and computer work that most frustrated me. But I had already spent so much, I hated the idea of spending a huge chunk on an experiment. That’s where Zenni Optical entered the mix. I had heard from a friend who had previously had a good experience with them. So, I sat down and paged through the metric ton of non-brand-name frames they have. I checked out the measurements on some recent pairs I have so that I’d have some idea of fit and of course I used their tool to virtually try on the frames. The tool was a help, but I think knowing the measurements on some existing frames was a bigger help to me personally. Although either way, it wasn’t much different than trying on glasses in an office in front of a mirror through fuzzy uncorrected vision.

Only $60 later I had ordered a pair of simple eyeglasses that matched the prescription of my near vision.  I wasn’t honestly sure what to expect. After the experience of having issues getting basically the same prescription filled, I was now ordering from a computer without any real input into what frames I was picking and waiting for them to arrive in the mail. What if they were awful?

Two weeks later, they arrived. I popped them on and the first thing I saw was the other side of the room, decidedly not in focus. I had to remind myself quickly that wasn’t their function! I picked up something to read, crystal clear… ahhh… I tried some computer work, more happiness! Reading without having to find that sweet spot! I think I may have squeed a little.

Being so satisfied with the reading glasses made me even more unhappy with the incredibly expensive progressive lenses I bought in December. Every time I put them on, I became more preoccupied with how much I had to move my head to see something that would have been in plain view otherwise. And so my plans changed. I had originally intended to use the progressive lenses for day to day stuff and the reading glasses would stay around the house for reading and computer work.

Two weeks ago, I sat down to browse the frames at Zenni Optical once more. This time I was going to get my distance prescription. In a way I was sorry I had done them in this order. The basic frames I already had from Zenni would actually have been my first choice for every day glasses. But I didn’t want two of the same frame with a different prescription. I want to look at the frames and immediately know whether they are my reading glasses or not. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally settled on a pair of chunky black frames that actually had nose pads.

This time the bill came to a little over $90. Most of the difference in price was a result of the stronger distance prescription but I also paid slightly more for the frames. Either way, added together, I have never paid that little for one pair of eyeglasses never mind two. It’s the first time in my life that I almost feel like I could experiment with frame choices like other people experiment with what sunglasses they wear.

The new glasses arrived today and again, yay!!  I popped them on and this time when I glanced across the room everything was in focus! And I discovered that they really would be fine for most day to day activity. I find I’m able to read a menu and other such things with the ‘everyday’ glasses. I might not enjoy intensive reading but the difference in my near and far vision hasn’t hit a point where I would really need to switch between them constantly. I’m not sure what I’ll do if and when that time arrives.

The funny thing is only three years ago I was told that it was unlikely I’d need bifocals or progressive lenses anytime soon. I was told that people with my level of nearsightedness usually hit that point much later. Broken promises!

At any rate, with only two pairs of glasses under my belt, I can say I’m happy with Zenni. The first frames, ironically the cheaper of the pair so far seem of an equivalent quality to anything else I’ve had over the years. Obviously, I’ll have to wear them longer to really comment on the durability of the frames. But with daily wear, I can say I’ve had no complaints with the lenses. Hopefully I’ll be able to say the same of the latest pair in a couple of weeks. The frames of the newer pair feel just a little more fragile. The plastic is a bit more malleable than any I’ve had before but it may be as designed. I am almost tempted to buy a spare frame to keep on hand just in case since they weren’t that expensive anyway.  Of course, that would mean they’d never ever think of breaking!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when it comes time to see an eye doctor again. I know they are supposed to see you even if you don’t want to get glasses in their office but I’m not sure I want to deal with the stink eye! I also don’t really want to pay through the nose for glasses again. The idea of getting multiple pair is a little intoxicating.

It may be back to a big anonymous chain again where I can at least leave with just a prescription and the feeling that I’ll likely never see the same doctor twice in a row. Ha! Either way I know I’m done with dual vision lenses of any sort for the foreseeable future.

In the end, my only qualm with Zenni is the knowledge that my glasses are made overseas. I have heard that $39 glasses are made in the USA? I also noticed that they will make glasses to fit existing frames. If I had known someone who had done business with them, I might have tried there first. I’ll still probably replace my prescription sunglasses in the near future, so maybe I’ll give them a try since I have frames on hand of which I’m still fond.

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