As you might have noticed, I’ve been having somewhat of an obsession with our new glasses over the past few weeks. Ultimately it is down to the fact that both Beth and myself have worn spectacles for years, and although we’ve both had to take time to adjust to new prescriptions, we’ve never suffered from apparent problems getting the basic prescription right.
The current situation is that I am waiting for new frames to be delivered after the chipped lense last week, whilst Beth is trying to get used to her new glasses. However, although Beth has now found that the headaches have subsided (although her eyes still feel tired), she still has problems with blur in the middle to long distance – particularly a problem with reading signs when driving for instance.
Since after two attempts to get things right, and still having problems I decided to do some background reading, and also collect as much information as I could.
One useful source of information was the ever useful Wikipedia which includes a great article explaining about how an optical prescription is constructed including examples of how different problems cause different blur, and explanations of how lenses are constructed.
Another interesting source of information was the discussions on the sci.med.vision newsgroup, which includes several professional opticians. It seems to often have to be a helpline for people snookered by the way eyesight services are handled in the USA where the place that tests your eyes, and the place that sells glasses are often totally separate, which means in situations like ours the two businesses will blame each other for the problems. Many discussions such as this one highlight issues over high-index lenses, specifically the trade off in using thin lenses. As a general rule of thumb, as the index increases (and the weight decreases), the colour abberation (the fringing I saw in my first pair of glasses) – often abbreviated to just ‘abbe’ increases, although different materials such as glass or plastic also have an effect.
As a final addition to the discussion both Beth and myself contacted the places that previously tested our eyes and supplied our current glasses. In the case of Beth, that was a trip down to Tesco, who said that her current glasses supplied in 2002 had lenses with an index of 1.6. In my case when I was tested at Tesco my eyes hadn’t changed, so I had to go back to 1998 when I was tested at the branch of Specsavers in Watford, near my parents. Luckily they still had my records, and kindly went and pulled the details of exactly what I was supplied with. It is worth mentioning that our local Specsavers have twice said that my existing glasses are 1.6 lenses, as the branch in Watford supplied me with their standard single vision lenses, which backs my belief that it wasn’t as expensive, since the single vision lenses are included in the standard price.
On that information I said to the optician in Watford that I thought that the local branch were trying to get me to pay out for extras I didn’t need, to which she replied that they weren’t paid on comission, and that with the newest high index lenses she would recommend a 1.6, and that a 1.67 would be required for any sort of rimless frame, confirming what the local Specsavers had done. She also added that in general the ‘quality’ of vision with the high index lenses was better – same as with our local branch, and again as with the local branch she didn’t really quantify in what way the quality actually improved.
After discussing the issues over our current prescription she suggested that if after two attempts we were still having problems, that we should obtain a second opinion. As a result, after a little looking around, Beth has made an appointment on Monday at Eyesite in Reading, who are a small chain of independant opticians, rather than the national franchise operations of Specsavers or Dollond & Aitchison. Hopefully then we’ll be able to establish whether the eye tests are at fault, or whether the issue is with the higher index lenses. Dependant on how her test goes on Monday, we’ll decide how we proceed with Specsavers, although I’m not keen on getting stuck in a US style situation where one optician blames the other for any problems.
So despite the fact that the company pays for tests and gives a discount at Specsavers, I might forget the discount, ask for a refund, and go elsewhere if Beth is happier with her test on Monday. This actually follows on from the experiences of a friend at work who went to a different branch of Specsavers, had problems, and after eight return visits gave up and asked for a full refund. He actually advised me not to bother when I said I was going to Specsavers a couple of months ago, however it is worth mentioning that the two branches I have previously visited had been fine, indeed the Watford branch were still happy to help me out this week. Of course the big problem is that as with any franchise, it can be a bit of a lucky dip between branches as each is independant. Hopefully by going with an independant like Eyesite who have been around for a while we might be able to get things sorted without the tedious hassle we’re getting with Specsavers. Their no quibble promise is great, but it is not an excuse to repeatedly get things wrong or not accurately present both the pros and cons of any particular treatment!