Friday, September 17, 2021

Glasses and backups

I am blind as a bat without my eyeglasses.

Yeah yeah, I know bats aren't blind (cut me some slack). The point is, I cannot see clearly beyond about five inches from my face. I've worn glasses since I was ten years old.

In 2013, the last time I had an eye exam, I ordered two pairs of identical glasses from the optical department at Costco. Everyone knows "two is one, one is none," and an extra pair of glasses is critical. I've worn the first pair every day since then, with the spare pair safely tucked away.

Over the last eight years, my poor glasses have become more and more scratched. It's not the lenses themselves that are scratched; it's the supposedly scratch-resistant plastic coating meant to protect the lenses that's torn up. Ironic, right?

I have a high tolerance for dirty or scratched glasses – that comes from a lifetime of wearing lenses – but things were getting pretty dire. I walked around all day with a grey film over my eyes. At one point I brought the glasses back to the optical department at Costco and asked if something could be done. The answer was "no."

So I put up with scratched lenses. Essentially I decided I was going to tough it out until my glasses became unwearable.

Well, that day finally arrived. My glasses were just getting too bad.

Meanwhile Don had watched some YouTube videos on how to improved scratched plastic coatings on eyeglasses. Accordingly, he ordered some polishing compound and a soft Dremel tip in hopes that he could buff the scratches off my glasses and save the older pair.

Armed with these tools, Don tried to buff off the plastic coating from the lenses.

It didn't work. All it did was leave such an opaque smear right on the focal point of the lens that the glasses are now unusable. For the moment.

Further research revealed what's needed is a tiny specialized plastic scraper to remove the plastic coating. The scraper itself, of course, must be plastic as well so it won't scratch the glass lens underneath. For the moment, I've tucked the damaged eyeglasses aside until such time as we obtain the scraper.

Meanwhile I experienced a tremendous joy: new eyeglasses. I removed the spare pair from the case where they'd resided for eight years. I put them on, staggered back and said "Whoa!" That's because I was seeing clearly for the first time in years.

In the next couple months, I'll trot myself into an optometrist's and get a more up-to-date prescription (though I'm confident my eyesight hasn't changed), then order a couple extra pairs of eyeglasses online from Zenni or a similar discount supplier.

Remember: "Two is one, one is none" – especially with something as absolutely vital as eyeglasses.


  1. I went to a highly-respected surgeon and had LASIK. This was several years ago. I’ve since had to have cataract surgery. I know surgery isn’t an option for everyone, but it was right for me. My astigmatism and other vision problems made it impossible for me to see well. It was so bad that I was concerned that I couldn’t see to get out of my house in case of an emergency. It might be something to discuss with your optometrist.

    1. I've known a number of people over the years who had lasik surgery with great success. Aside from the cost, what's holding me back from that option is my up-close vision. It's superb. Without my glasses, I can see the tiniest splinter, read comfortably, and otherwise enjoy the blessings of what I call "microscopic vision." I'm not willing to mess with that or give it up.

      - Patrice

    2. I had mono vision. My dominant eye is for distance and non dominant is for reading.

  2. My up-close vision is also terrific. I would like to have one eye done so I can have one for each. (I don't know that this would work for everyone, I also only wore one contact lens for many years because I was nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other...)

  3. For years now, I have been getting a new pair of glasses and then replacing the lenses only in an older pair of frames. I currently have 4 pairs of glasses all close to my current prescription. I wear Progressives, and occasionally, they really annoy me. So,, for my most recent pair of glasses I got single vision only (for distance) in an older pair of frames. So glad I have them now!
    Also- re the anti-scratch coating. One of the girls in the optometrists office told me never to clean my glasses with Windex or my t-shirt. She gave me a huge stash of the "official" cleaning cloths and enough cleaning fluid to last for a long time. When I need refills on the fluid, I take the bottle in and they refill it for me. Come to think of it, I need to actually find out where to get a large bottle of that cleaning solution.
    Enjoy your new glasses!

  4. When I got my last glasses, they put a special cloth in the glasses case. I think it is microfiber. I went in to have my glasses adjusted and asked for a second cloth to keep in my vehicle.

    The girl told me that when the cloth wouldn't work anymore to get flour sack dishtowels and wash out the sizing or whatever they put on them. I use flour sack dishtowels and have some that were so worn out with holes that I cut them up for rags and carry one of them around to clean my glasses. The thing about not using your shirt is you need something clean with no chemical anything (downy or detergent that didn't wash out, maybe?).

    I also have great up close vision. Basically, I am nearsighted. My close vision is 20/20. My distance vision is something like 20/375. The doctor told me that they call it the nearsighted advantage. As you get older, you still only need glasses for distance.

    kathy in MS

  5. A friend worked in an optometrist's office as a tech or something. She said never to get any kind of coating, that it was a rip off and would become a problem. So, about ten years I had a coating put on for something and I could barely see out of the lenses months later. I now never get a coating for anything.

    1. I never got a coating until my last trip 2 years ago. They found the beginnings of a small cataract in one eye. I mentioned that I almost couldn't drive after dark because the oncoming lights about blinded me. Never mind what bright lights did.

      They put a UV coating on my glasses. Oh, so much difference. I will not do without it now.

      kathy in MS

  6. Don't be so sure your prescription hasn't changed. As nearsighted people age, they often need somewhat less distance correction (and more up close).

    I used to have the ability to see very tiny things, as well, but it has diminished somewhat now that I'm aging (for example, inside each of the pointed ovals along the edges of a $5 it says 'FIVE DOLLARS'--I used to be able to read that unaided, but now it's just beyond reach). With age comes the wisdom to accept and accommodate changes, so it doesn't bother me (too much).

    You've definitely wrung a lot of value out of your first pair of glasses. I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope for your plan to strip the coating off without scratching the (very soft) underlying plastic, but it'll at least be a learning experience (for you and your readers).

  7. Years since you have seen clearly???!!! I get being frugal, but seriously! Get thee to an optometrist!

  8. A good idea to have regular visits to the eye doctor when reaching "a certain age" to check for eye pressure. Glaucoma is a treatable condition. It is the leading cause of blindness for those over the age of 60. Usually by the time one notices it, it is in the advanced stage.

  9. Patrice, as the years get on for most of us (as they do), the ability to see is more and more precious and a struggle. I finally came to the rather unfortunate realization about a month ago I have to wear my glasses all the time now (it makes me feel old!).

    I am glad you were able to find your backup pair!

    It is nice that there are reasonable glasses manufacturing firms on the InterWeb now. I have never ordered any but I have several friends that have and always have the best of luck with them for what is a relative fraction of an ordinary "glasses" store.

  10. I agree it's past time to get a new prescription for new glasses.
    Most places won't fill a prescription over 2 years old, some over a year old...
    I recently switched to Zinni optical for new glasses. They are VERY reasonable as long you are ok with their frame selection. They also don't care how old your prescription is.
    Warning; the glasses will be shipped from China and take 3 weeks plus to get here.

  11. Patrice, I often admire your frugality but there is such a thing as false economy. My husband and I each had an eye disease discovered during an eye examination. I do need coatings on my lens. It prevents the street lights from looking like starbursts. We each wear bifocals because we couldn't adjust to progressive lenses. I keep my old frames to reuse. The old lenses are donated after a few years. We are all different, but using severly scratched lenses can damage your vision and would have driven me crazy, besides.

  12. Zenni works great, especially given their reasonable prices for titanium frames.

    My prescription comes in multiples: computer, reading, driving, and progressive.

    One progressive pair (which is pricey) plus three of each of the others would come out to a huge amount if it weren't for Zenni.

    The trick to not having your glasses seized by US Customs is to keep each order below $200.

    And so the progressives are one order, the driving glasses with light-sensitive tinting are another order, and everything else is a third order.

    In other words, if you shop with care, you can get ten pairs of glasses for under $600, plus they won't be messed about with by US Customs because the valuation's under the amount where they'll try to apply customs duty.

    Should you be in need of something more urgently, you can expect to pay more at Warby Parker or a number of other US-based alternatives to the Luxottica chain that's the primary reason why your glasses have been pricey in the past.

    So there's what's going for Zenni.

    When it's time for new prescriptions, I find one of those Luxottica locations so I can donate the frames and lenses intact to the Lions Club.

  13. You are the mother of two adult daughters? You should be getting your eyes examined every year. Not because your vision may or may not have changed, but because eye problems caught early are more easily corrected.

    I, too, started wearing glasses at around 10 years of age. I was* VERY near sighted, which made me more of a candidate for retinal separation. As Anonymous wisely said above, get thee to an optometrist!

    *I had cataract surgery last year, with corrective lenses inserted during surgery. Not only did it give me 20/20 vision in my right eye and 20/15 vision in my left - Praise God! - I was able to see colors with brilliance and vibrancy I never knew I was missing. It was like I had been looking through a sepia filter all of my life, and didn't know it.

  14. I have a suggestion which you may find helpful. Wherever you go to get your eye examination, make sure to get your pupillary distance (PD) measured as part of the exam. I didn't do that as part our last examination. When I started the Zenni order, I belatedly realized I needed that dimension in addition to the prescription values. I was able to use Google to figure out how to measure it at home. My son seems to do fine with his glasses – easier to measure another person perhaps. I am not entirely convinced, though, I did right it on myself. I even tried different methods to ensure I had consistency in the PD measurements. If nothing else I was consistently wrong! : ) My glasses seem off vaguely but not annoyingly so. It is hard to explain and would have been a non-issue had I had the PDs taken during the exams. Overall, though, I had a great experience at Zenni for both my glasses and my son's. I bought four pairs in total for less than $225 with add ons for his glasses which an adult wouldn’t need such as inscribing his name on them for school purposes. For the price and selection I was more than pleased. His arrived in two weeks and mine the following week. Good luck!

  15. The coating on my glasses is supposed to make them scratch resistant (not scratch-proof however) and seems to work fairly well. I wouldn't let the lenses get anywhere near the pitiful condition of yours. I want to see!

    One useful change I made in my bifocals about 5 years ago was to get "double D" lenses. That's not what immediately comes to mind; it's having the near vision prescription duplicated in a small part of the top of the lens. This is considered an "occupational" lens, because it's almost essential for plumbers and pilots, for example. It lets me read labels on shelves at or above eye level, inspect my apple tree, and pick pole beans without craning my neck back. They're good for under the sink plumbing too, of course. ☺

    Progressive lenses, which I tried briefly, are problematic for working with marks on woodworking projects and such.

  16. Yikes! There is no way I could have held out as long as you did! I can't even stand a little smudge on my glasses, and I've been wearing glasses since 1980!
    Zenni is great if you know the measurements you want for a new pair and you have your prescription, including your PD, in hand. You may possibly have a hard time getting your optometrist to give it to you if he's anything like ours. He knows we purchase glasses online, and he will not give the PD to us because he doesn't approve. Ugh! I do the measuring of the PDs in our house because I am also near-sighted. I currently have a lovely pair of titanium glasses that I got for under $50.