Saturday, April 27, 2013

13 Things your Optician Wish You Knew

And now a Public Service Announcement from Sea, the Gothic Optician, A.B.O.C.

Day after day we in the optical business wrack our brains (and all too often stab our fingers) trying to fix problems that could easily be avoided if the general public were a little more well informed. My coworkers and I have come up with 13 (the most 'gawth' number of them all!) facts that we wish more people knew as common knowledge. Maybe we should hand out pamphlets? None the less, please pass along this information. It may not save a life, but it may very well save the fingers-- and sanity-- of your favorite optician.

 1. Upkeep is typical and not a sign of a defect.

 Before you begin demanding a refund on your glasses or threatening to sue (trust me, people do), please be aware that screws do vibrate loose, and eventually nose pads will get dirty, and yes, much like our derrieres, plastic frames do spread over time. Your glasses are no different from a car or a house. Show them tender love and care. Clean them regularly, both the lenses and the frame itself- the bottom of the frame and the end pieces of the temples are where the bodily oils tend to accumulate. Feel free to bring in your glasses for regular tune-ups. Most optical facilities offer complimentary re-alignments, frame and screw tightenings, and re-adjustments. Just be sure to keep your glasses "in a case if not on your face" to avoid getting scratches. Remember, any damage caused to your glasses by misuse is not a matter of defective lenses and frames.

On that note...

2. Puppies eat glasses. So do babies. Car tires also seem to have something against glasses.

Your glasses are made for you to see better and look good. I can't believe I have to type this, but they are NOT a toy for your new puppy. They are also not a bribe to give your toddler to sooth the crying. They also belong in a case and not in your driveway if you're not wearing them. I cannot even count the amount of mangled glasses I have to fix every week just from one of these three culprits.

Most cats, however, do tend to take better care of spectacles.
 3. It is common courtesy to pick up your glasses in a timely manner. It's just basic politeness and consideration to pick up your glasses in less than a month. It takes up room on the shelves and becomes bothersome for the staff to keep tabs on every old job. Most doctors, clinics, and optical shops donate glasses to charity if they've been left for a few months. Now of course, those places also make exceptions if there are compromising circumstances, like being in the hospital.

So good to see you again, sir! Your glasses are just behind this door.
 Speaking of hospitalization...

4. Contact lens overuse is bad, mmmkay?

It seems that every clinic has at least one daily emergency "Red Eye" appointment for a patient who has worn their contacts for far too long. In fact, quite a few clinics leave spots in their daily schedules open for that very cause. If you don't take out your contacts often enough, your eyes will not get enough oxygen, and, as we in the field technically explain it, they will  freak-the-fudge out. So air out those baby blues, browns, greens, and in-betweens!

5. Having insurance does not automatically guarantee free glasses.
Many people assume if they have health insurance they are also covered for vision services and materials. This often isn't the case; typically you have to consciously add on the vision option. Never assume vision-- and dental, for that matter-- are covered. If you do have vision coverage, you often have at least a $10 material copay, and many plans make you pay for overages and upgrades. On a positive note, upgrades are often given to insurance holders at a discounted rate. Sometimes, however, patients with excellent coverage (some forms of VSP for example) have no copay, a generous frame allowance, and a myriad of add-ons and upgrades that are covered. So I'm not saying that even with insurance one will *never* get free glasses, but more often that not, it is the case.

6. There is no way to "buff out" scratches.
I'll spare you all the technical jargon, but in simple terms, glasses are ground into certain curves to bend light and bring images into focus on the patient's retina. Each lens is grounded and buffed on a machine in a lab to have just the right angles and curvature for the patient's needed prescription. {See Illustration 1 and Illustration 2 along with the illustration below.}

A machine has not even been made to buff out lens scratches because any additional buffing would change the curvature of the lens and change the script entirely.

Moral of the story? Don't let Edward Scissorhands borrow your glasses because there is no going back.
 And if you *do* happen to mangle your glasses..

7. Keep in mind that self-repairs void warranties, because your glasses are not warranted against anything you do to them.
 Now reversible quick fixes, like taping your temple to your glasses, or using a thread to actually mend parts together, are completely fine. I'm talking about repairs involving soddering or....DUN DUN DUN... superglue (and we'll get to that) that cannot be undone. Many times the frame companies (with whom your clinics have contracts concerning warranties) will deny a frame return if it looks like a patient has altered a frame, so it's best to play it safe and let the professionals do the fixing.

8. Never EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER use superglue on your glasses. EVER.
Superglue, though handy for most repairs, is like liquid kryptonite mixed with pure concentrated evil and bottled by Satan himself when it comes to the well being of your spectacles. Once it's on there, it's next to impossible to get off. Acetone will remove superglue if it is applied enough times, but it will more often than not erode the material under the glue, usually paint on your frame or the lens itself. Acetone basically eats away lens material (not to mention the nail polish of your favorite optician). Unfortunately, glasses wearers tend to think that superglue can replace screws, a new form of liquid nails, if you will. Many times they try to glue lenses into the frame bevel if an eyewire screw comes out. The worst, and often hardest to fix spot in which patients use super glue is on the nose pads; either the screw will fall out and the nose pad is intact and they glue it back in, or the screw is still there but the nose pad has broken off and they glue the remaining bit of nose pad to the spot. I've had a few of these that I actually could repair, but it was tedious and caused me to say many terrible things within the presence of my coworkers. I had to pull the metal that holds the nose pad away from the frame, as far as possible to protect the lens, then I basically baptized it in a cap-full of acetone, every so often using a very small flat head screwdriver to dig out the softened glue. In those situations, rinse and repeat is an understatement, and typically patients begin to become, well, impatient because the process takes a while.

"#&#@^$% SUPERGLUE!!!"
9. Self adjustments in general are just a bad idea..
..especially on metal frames. Nine times out of ten, a patient will snap off a frame part because they lack the right tools and heating devices. The one out of those ten times that the frame is intact, the glasses are still adjusted wrong and are-- dare I say-- rubbing the patient the wrong way? Again, kids, leave it to the professionals.

And if a mishap does happen with your glasses..

 10. DO NOT throw away the broken parts.
So many times people have come into my eye clinic wanting their glasses fixed but have thrown away the temples. Usually, it's just a matter of a screw falling out and can be fixed in a matter of just a few minutes *if* we have all the pieces. It can sometimes take weeks to order in replacement parts and about 80% of the time it's at the owner's expense. People also tend to throw away lenses when they pop out of place. Again, another repair that could have been simple but instead takes more time and money to fix.

"Egads, what a waste indeed!"
11. Presbyopia happens to everyone.
It's a fact of life that we all age. Every part of us ages (physically anyway heh), including our eyes. After the age of 42 (sometimes later, sometimes earlier) we experience presbyopia. This happens when the muscle that helps the eye focus on things close up starts to wear out. Some lucky people are just nearsighted enough that they can read up close without glasses, but most of the population will at some point need a reading prescription, be it in the form of bifocals or over-the-counter readers. And if you have a distance prescription, you will more than likely (except in the cases I just mentioned) wear bifocals, either lined or "no line" Progressives. You will not be able to see up close out of the top of your lens and you will not be able to see things far away through the bottom of your lens.. unless you wear your glasses upside down and that's just plain silly.

 12. High Prescriptions will not work in big geek chic glasses.
Not saying that they won't actually function right, because you can still see out of them, but they will look awful. Good opticians hate having this conversation, but it's a necessary evil. It makes us sad that you're sad that you had your heart set on gigantic, thick black frames, but we know you'll be even sadder if you end up looking pin-headed with glasses that weigh 20 pounds. Good opticians, however, will do their level best to help you find a smaller frame in a similar style that says "Look at me world! I'm bold and geeky!"

13. Transitions® photochromatic lenses will not activate behind your windshield.
Transitions® are UV reactive. Your car's windshield has UV blockers. A newer version of Transitions®lenses, Transitions® XTra Active do tent *moderately* behind a windshield, but not entirely.
So be sure to bring along a pair of sunglasses for your Sunday drives.

 And there you have it, thirteen little morsels of exceedingly valuable information that really should be common knowledge.Follow these tips and you will have a better relationship with your glasses.

Until next time, my lovelies,
Sea, the Gothic Optician, A.B.O.C.

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