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SEE CLEAR: Eyewear 101: Do you need new glasses?

Look for friendly, helpful and professional staff to guide you with your eyewear purchase.
Look for friendly, helpful and professional staff to guide you with your eyewear purchase. - 123RF Stock Photo

You went to see your optometrist and have a paper copy of prescription in hand.

Now what?

Where do you go and what do you choose? If you have never purchased eyeglasses, you might find the process to be daunting. Your licensed optician or optometrist should be able to help.

Your first decision is where to buy. You may choose to look around at the optometrist office where you had your eye exam, but you are also allowed to take a copy of your prescription and look at other places.

When you are choosing where to buy, there are a few things to keep in mind. Choose a place where the opticians and support staff are friendly and helpful. They should present you with many frames to try on. Of course, you may know what colour or style you are looking for, but an optician should help you to make sure the frame fits properly, is the correct size and is flattering. Look for honesty. Not every frame is going to fit you well or look good and your optician should tell you that.

The optician will walk you through your choices for lenses, treatments and tints. They should provide you with recommendations and allow you to make a decision based on those recommendations. They should be able to explain the benefits that you will experience, as well as the technology behind the products they suggest.

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or to ask for more details. Often, eyecare professionals will have technical data sheets or brochures they can share with you as well. Progressives? Task specific lenses? Two separate pairs? Lenses that darken? A solid tint? Blue-light protection? Glare protection? Your eyecare professional will help you with questions like these.

Buy good quality products. When it comes to lenses, treatments and tints, brands often do make a difference. One example would be Varilux, a company that has been in business for over 60 years with more patents than any other lens company, worldwide. Varilux has some incredible technology that can’t be duplicated by anyone else.

Also, it is important to note that buying a good lens brand doesn’t have to mean a high price. Most brands will offer a range of products, allowing you to benefit from some features, but maybe not all, to cut costs. There are literally hundreds of lenses out there, but some do not offer the same level of performance as others. You should know what you are being offered and be able to make an informed decision. Major lens brands stand behind their products and have decades of data to know what works. A 90-day satisfaction guarantee is typical on progressives, but that can vary based on where you purchase your lenses. If you choose to buy a certain brand of lens, treatment or tint, reconfirm that is what you are getting when you return to pick up your glasses. Some brands will even include a certificate of authenticity so that the consumer knows they are getting what they paid for.

The price or brand of a frame doesn’t always indicate quality, but your optician should be able to walk you through the features of the frames you are considering. Some things to look for are titanium, stainless steel, newer, stronger designs of hinges or flexible temple shafts, to name a few. It is entirely possible to get a decent quality frame at a decent price but it is also a good idea to check on warranties offered by the optical store you are considering.

Buy from a licenced optician or optometrist. They have the education and experience required to make your glasses purchase and ongoing service enjoyable. Your prescription eyewear goes far beyond a single measurement. Your licensed eyecare professional will help you try on dozens of pairs of glasses, ensure a correct fit and a nice style, advise on lens and treatment choices, perform all of the necessary measurements, bill your insurance and place your order. When the glasses come in, your optician will verify the prescription and measurements. Your glasses will then be specifically fit to you when you return for a pick up. If you need any future repairs or adjustments, your eyecare professional will be there for you.

Buying eyewear can be a fun and successful experience as long as you take the time to choose the right place, people and products. When it comes to your vision, it’s all in the details.

Tanya MacPhee is a licensed optician and contact lens fitter at Mermaid Vision in Lunenburg.

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