Friday, 18 September 2009

An Arm And A Leg

This morning I went to the opticians. I ought to go every two years but I'm afraid that time has run away with me and it is nearer three and a half years since my last visit but I had noticed a deterioration in my eyesight with my glasses on (I can't see to do anything without them) so I knew that I really shouldn't put it off for much longer.

I went to a branch of the opticians who in their advertising keep telling us that some poor fool should have gone to them, but not the branch that I had been to previously (I wasn't too happy about the staff there). Anyway, I arrived at the branch in another nearby part of London and was greeted by a very nice young lady who asked if she could help me. I explained that I had an appointment, but that I was quite a bit early (I did tell you the other day that I have this thing about getting everywhere early), so she checked the computer, printed off a few labels and then asked me to accompany her into a room for some checks.

Technology has moved on apace since the last time that I visited the optician and after sitting at two separate pieces of apparatus, the first was to get a rough reading on my eyes so as to speed up the actual time spent with the optometrist and the second was to check for glaucoma, my current glasses were taken for checking to see what my previous prescription was and then I was invited to sit in the waiting area for my actual appointment with the optometrist.

I didn't have to wait too long before he came to collect me and after carefully examining each eye and giving them a clean bill of health the real part of the appointment took place. I noticed another change here from previous visits to the optician. No longer was I fitted with a heavy lump of metal that didn't sit on my nose or my ears properly so was very uncomfortable as had been the case for so many years, this time it was a lightweight plastic (?) device which could be altered to fit properly on nose and ears and this made the whole experience so much better.

After what seemed a really short period of time, and a relatively few number of alternative lenses being fitted into the contraption so that the best possible improvement to my vision could be brought about, the optometrist said that I did indeed need a new prescription. So my next port of call was to one of the optical assistants who was going to help me make a decision about what would be the best sort of frames for me bearing in mind that I needed varifocal lenses and not all of today's frames are suitable for them. He was a nice young man with whom I had a very interesting conversation about my handicrafts and my knitting in particular and he asked me if I had a website where I sold the things that I knitted.

It didn't actually take me too long to pick out a couple of pairs of frames that I liked, and that suited my face and colouring. Now was going to be the difficult part of the operation; deciding which ones I liked best. They were both the same price, so that wasn't going to be a key factor, they were neither the cheapest available nor by any means the most expensive, but I liked them both and deciding which I liked best was going to be difficult. It was at this point that the nice young man informed me that I didn't have to make a choice I could have both because the second set of glasses would be free because the frames that I had chosen were in the price range for that particular offer.

One of the problems with varifocal lenses is that they come in various qualities. When I had first required varifocals I was working and my eyes were very important to me because my eyesight was a very important factor in me being able to do my job. In addition, because I also needed to wear my glasses to be able to see to drive, the quality of the lenses was important so that not only could I see things clearly in the distance, but also when I was looking at the instruments and looking in the mirrors. To reduce the necessity to move my head to carry out these actions, I needed high-quality lenses to give the largest area possible that would give me clear vision in all circumstances. This meant that the lenses would be expensive. Having always had high-quality lenses, to ensure that I would be able to see in the same way that I was used to I needed to have lenses of the same quality that I had always had. In addition, I always had an anti-glare coating and reactive lenses so that bright sunlight would not cause me to squint and thus reduce my ability to see. Again factors that increased the price of the glasses.

I don't work anymore, so living on a pension means that buying things like glasses can make a real hole in my funds. This was the first time that I have been to the opticians and worried about how much this was going to cost me. Anyway the sums were done and I received a couple of discounts, a reduction in the price of the eye test and a £20 discount voucher, which meant that I was somewhat surprised to find that my new glasses were actually going to cost me less than I had paid for my last ones.

They still cost me an arm and a leg, but there isn't much that has gone down in price in the last three and a half years. Oh, and I pick them up in two weeks time.


angus said...

I haven't been to the optician for over four years and like you I wear varifocals.

I suppose I should make the effort, but it will be a choice of taxing the car or new glasses, which one do you think I will choose:)

Anonymous said...

I can snatch a guess at how much your glasses cost you as my mum use to have a similar prescription also from the same optician, although in February 08 after the eye op for the cataract she went to Boots for a change but the prices were still the same and still buy one get one free!

Talking of glasses I really need to go and sort out getting some new ones, I don’t think my prescription has changed but I could do with some new glasses from our friendly optician, I like there range of designer specs at buy one get one free and the prices are okay for me as my prescription is just straight forward if you could one eye is long sighted and one is short sighted!

I tried contact lenses this year which I like but they dry my eyes out so just use for special occassions to go out mainly!