Posted in Life, Medical, Reviews, Technology, Vision and Glasses

My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs: Take 4, Part 4

Hahahahaha!! You thought “soon” actually meant “SOON”. Sorry, time is relative in my world. It’s still 2018, so I’m not doing too badly…

Anyway, before I lose any more memory, I need to finish this stupid saga, so I can continue documenting the different direction I’m trying right now. I’m kind of in Glasses Limbo at the moment — BUT! I’ve learned a few things recently that might end up helping me speak/translate Opticianese in the future. I’m also learning that lens science is ridiculously fraught with math and physics, things I do not excel at and are even kind of baffling to people in the actual field. And my eyes are the kind of nightmare that commercial opticians probably hate to deal with, because they require such minute specialization — and I am not really special enough (or have enough money) to garner that kind of service.

Getting ahead of myself again!

Back to the saga… If you need a refresher or have just stumbled onto this post from elsewhere (and have not yet clicked away, disgusted with this waste of bandwidth), here is the list:

Take 1
Take 2
Take 3
Take 4, Part 1
Take 4, Part 2
Take 4, Part 3

This post should wrap up my dealings with Pro-Optix. Some of you are probably breathing a sigh of relief. 😉

12 March 2018:

I left off with March 3rd, 2018. Nine days later, on Monday the 12th, I went to pick up the fourth lens revision. These were better! They felt promising! The vision was sharper in the center of the lens and maybe I just needed to adapt to the edges. I don’t remember any conversation when picking them up, but I remember it was the evening of the first rehearsal for a pre-concert “hell week” (rehearsals every night but Wednesday, leading up to a concert on Saturday). It would have been nice to wear new glasses for the concert, so I could see everything clearly. However, as the afternoon progressed into evening, I could already tell these weren’t going to work, either. The edges were still just too distorted. My eyes were still not working together the way they should have been. I wore them all evening Monday, having to take them off a few times to relax my eyes during rehearsal. I wore them all week, though, hoping I “just needed to adjust”. We went to a museum in Seattle on Wednesday, and I was motion sick, overwhelmed, and fatigued by the middle of the day. I could see well enough, but my brain was not coping with the distortion in the edges of the lenses, nor were my eyes working together yet. I stubbornly went on for a couple more days, but the last straw was the evening of the 16th, a Friday, when I walked into the darkened performance hall (very large room, slanted floors, carpeting) and very nearly lost my balance because the floor didn’t feel like it was where it was supposed to be.

Nope, these glasses had to go back. And they needed to go back permanently. I was done trying for now, and needed to go get a second opinion, probably through my insurance. I mean, what if there was some other underlying cause, and their doctor’s exams weren’t sophisticated enough to detect it? Regardless, they could not, for whatever reason, make lenses that would work with my eyes — and if my last discussion with them was any indication, they weren’t going to send me back to the ophthalmologist, either, for a recheck.

The next week and a half were insanely busy, and I couldn’t make it back until the 28th. I also wasn’t looking forward to another conversation with them, so I probably procrastinated more than I should have. Unfortunately, they were kind of busy that day, but Mr. J2 and Mr. G were in, as was a new trainee. Poor new trainee didn’t know what he was in for. I explained to Mr. J2 (whose hands were tied, I know) that once again, there was something wrong, and I didn’t want to keep taking their time and resources, so I wanted to return the glasses. I waited for Mr. G, who was really the only one who could handle this request, and when I finally asked if I could return the glasses, he said, “Oh, we don’t take returns or give refunds.”

Yes, this is my fault for not reading the fine print. I get that. I was just as upset with myself for this lack of understanding (and in my defense, the fine print was confusing — but at least they weren’t charging me more for the defective lenses). However, it wasn’t this part that really burned me up. It was the following part of the conversation:

Mr. G went on to say that, apparently, nothing was going to work with my eyes. They had “tried everything”, and it wasn’t good enough. He continued to deny that the Rx or the glasses were the problem — though after a bit of back and forth I got him to admit that maybe it was the Rx. He tried to assure me that he’d been in this field for over fifty years, and he knew what he was doing. Then he turned around and said, “We’ll keep working with you; we won’t abandon you.”

I was speechless, really. Aghast. What kind of customer service was this? You begin by telling me there’s nothing you can do for me, and then tell me you’ll keep trying? Trying to what? Frustrate the hell out of me? If you’ve been in the field fifty years, shouldn’t you be trying other tactics? Lens shape? Rx check? Those “practice glasses” some opticians have to test the Rx before you create the lenses? Clearly none of that occurred to him, but he wants me to keep coming back for more condescending lectures and an attitude that makes all my vision correction problems look like my fault?

F[orget] that! I thanked him for his time and walked out.

Fifty feet away, I realized that I had also intended to pick up any paperwork they had on me so I could have it for my records. Crap. I swallowed my pride and marched right back and asked for it. They provided it for me (those atrocious copies I embedded in Take 4, Part 2), I thanked them again and walked out. It took a couple hours to come down from the internal storm of fury I was trying to keep from cracking my otherwise calm exterior. I texted a friend I’d been updating about the whole situation, and then my husband, to tell him we were out $350 and I still didn’t have glasses that worked. It felt like smoke was leaking out my ears.

My husband, wonderful man that he is (and whose eyewear is covered by the Army), assured me that they were probably out just as much money with all the lens changes and labor involved, and I could always get new lenses somewhere else for the glasses I already had (frames that cost $170, I found out after buying them, because a) my eyes were dilated when Ms. C helped me pick them out and b) I couldn’t find a marked price on it when I was comparing, but they were the best choice of what I looked at. *SIGH*). That brought me down from the edge a bit.

But, after three months, four sets of lenses, and a dose of humiliation, I was done with Pro-Optix. I was frustrated, furious, and deeply disappointed. Once again, I had to battle my way to better vision correction, my STUUUUUPID eyes were once again stupid, and I was back at square one. AGAIN. At least my old glasses weren’t broken, for what it’s worth.

14 May 2018:

Fast forward a couple months. I managed to get a referral from my medical doctor for an eye exam that was covered by my insurance, at Pacific Northwest (PNW) Eye Associates. This exam was slightly more comprehensive, and mostly done by someone who wasn’t the doctor (he came in after, reviewed notes and results, and answered questions). All notes were taken on a computer (technological wonders!), and I got a printed Rx when I was done. The doctor wasn’t as personable as the one at Pro-Optix (I really did like him, even if his handwriting was probably the root of several of my issues there), but he was efficient and I got out of there fairly quickly, with a recommendation to have my glasses compared by the optician on the other side of the office.

Funny aside: I’d been getting over a fairly nasty sinus cold-turned-infection, and my nose was still pretty stuffy. They put in the yellow numbing drops to check for eye pressure (which was slightly elevated, again), and for an hour or two afterward, I was blowing out neon-yellow mucus and worrying that my infection had come back with a vengeance, despite being on a strong round of antibiotics, decongestant, and Prednisone. Nope, just eye-drop dye! /aside

The optician they have is…not one who is into smiling, even for customers (this is pertinent much later). But that day she was willing to help me, and read the Rx on both my old glasses and the ones from Pro-Optix (also pictured in Take 4, Part 2). I don’t know so much about the math and physics involved with fitting someone with a prescription, but the doctor had said they’d over-corrected the nearsightedness in my right eye and not properly tweaked the Rx for the astigmatism in my left eye, according to what was read in the newer glasses and/or the printout I got after my first exam at Pro-Optix. The optician, however, mentioned that the biggest problem was the base curve, and if I were to get lenses in the future I should have them use the lesser curve of about 3.5.

When she mentioned that, memories flooded back from the very first time I started having problems with glasses. Memories that I wished would have surfaced WAY sooner so I could have mentioned them during this most current debacle.

I’d completely forgotten that what ended up being a problem with my Costco glasses back in the first dang post about this could very well have been a problem in these glasses, as well. But what Costco couldn’t get right, Pro-Optix had. Why? Then, Target had sent them back only once, and I have no clue what they corrected to make them work right — except that maybe they knew about this problem and had excellent labs (I thought about going back to see if I could get paperwork from them, too, but I wasn’t sure if they’d still have the records I got a copy of the prescription from Target today (15 Sept 2018)! Not the medical record, just the Rx printout. Turns out the lenses I ordered from Target three years ago — the ones I still wear — are, indeed, TRIVEX LENSES).

After some research on the base curvature of lenses (which further confirmed that optometry is magic), I began to formulate a hypothesis. Perhaps the problem with the Costco glasses years ago was the fact that I was going from a narrower, rectangular lens (probably about 27-29mm top to bottom) to a rounder, deeper one (maybe 31+mm), and their labs used a generic table for curvature (my current Rx would suggest I needed a base curve of 6; six years ago it might have suggested a 4). The doctor back then, knowing eyes and maybe not lenses (since he kept sending me to optical, and didn’t realize polycarbonate is aspherical, with no base curve), kept suggesting a higher curve, because my old lenses had a BC of 6. But my old lenses were narrow!

Mr. J at Pro-Optix, when I was so happy with them, did find me a plastic/polycarb blend of some kind (not available anymore, I guess?), but also another narrow, rectangular frame. AND! He had a very mild magnification added at the bottom of the lens, which never distorted my vision — probably because the lens was too narrow for the curve to make much difference! But when I went to Target, I got a deep, square lens, 32mm top to bottom (and I think a higher index lens than I really needed — unless I really do need a high-index lens for my princess eyes, ugh). They must have figured out that the problems I was having with the bottom of the lenses were the way they curved, and adjusted them to a 3.5 from probably a standard 6. They may have adjusted it according to the amount of astigmatism in either eye, because they probably had people competent enough to figure that stuff out.

I would have thought that kind of thing should have been standard knowledge, but I’m learning that maybe it really isn’t. This paper I ran across the other day lent credence to those suspicions: The Truth About Base Curves. As did this article in 20/20 Magazine: “All About That Base (Curve)”. Much of the information in these references made my eyes cross (heh), because I just don’t have enough information to understand it, and I truly suck at algebra. But there was enough cautionary language for opticians and lens makers that I had to believe the base curvature of a lens is almost the last thing considered when a patient is having difficulty adapting to their new glasses.

Huh. Fascinating stuff!

But I hate that I would have had to basically force the “highly experienced” Mr. G to think outside the box if I’d continued at Pro-Optix. I’m also kind of wondering if other people did, too. Last time I was at the mall, they were closed up by 5:30pm, and a sign in their window said that after ten years they were having a change of ownership! Veeery interesting. It could have simply been the fact that Mr. J wasn’t really working there anymore, and maybe Mr. G was ready for retirement. But part of me wonders if I wasn’t the only person who had difficulty wanting to spend any more money on a business that can’t handle special cases and condescends to them instead of helping them overcome their issues.

Whatever. I’m happy to report that since that whole mess, I’ve discovered Zenni Optical! And though I’m very excited for inexpensive glasses, it appears there are some other issues to overcome if I want to use them consistently.

But that will be the subject of My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs, TAKE 5. Yes, I’m sorry — there is more. I mentioned I’m still in Glasses Limbo. I’m hoping to remedy that in the next couple of weeks, but now I’m kind of in research mode, and feel like I need to do an entire informational article on the difficulties of buying glasses for weird eyes. I just don’t want to spend a fortune on new lenses merely to prove my point — but I also want answers! These problems are not going to end. In fact, they might get worse the more nearsighted I become. I’m now required to be wearing my glasses when I drive, so not having glasses is not an option. It’s very frustrating.

Okay, I’ll wrap this up now, hopefully to follow up with Take 5 after I receive my second pair of Zennis (because I messed up the first — but I’ll save that story for next time)!