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)!

Posted in Blogging, Business, Life, Reviews, Vision and Glasses

My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs: Take 4, Part 1

I’m breaking my inadvertent year-and-a-quarter radio silence to bring you this ongoing gripe I have, which I now expect will be a thorn in my side forever. But maybe I’ll learn something. Who knows.

I hope you weren’t expecting meaningful content. I don’t have the energy for meaningful content anymore — not that I ever really provided meaningful content in this blog. I try to provide all that over at Seeking Aleithia — which I haven’t updated in a long time. But I want to. Just like I say every time I write a new post after not posting in forever. I’m sure it’s what my readership has come to expect from me.

But it’s pretty obvious I don’t care about readership, so I’m just gonna go ahead with my gripefest, because I’m annoyed and devastated and angry. Not necessarily in that order.

Since having children, it seems my eyes have been getting worse and worse — though not as much my prescription as my sensitivity to materials. Well, I take that back: My prescription is getting stronger year by year (I just renewed my driver’s license after turning 40, and I couldn’t see the line of letters in the light box that determines whether I can drive without my glasses). But it’s getting harder to get corrective lenses to work with my stupid eyes. Or maybe it’s just hard to find a doctor+optical shop combo that a) saves me money, b) tries to find solutions to my vision problems, and c) doesn’t make me feel like an ignoramus because I can’t articulate the problems I’m having.

It doesn’t help that I have difficulty trusting the medical community, in general. But I just had the most disappointing experience I’ve ever had when dealing with an optical business, and am, once again, back at Square One.

If you’re just stumbling onto this blog by chance (apologies in advance; I’m nothing if not tedious), here are Take 1, Take 2, and Take 3.

There have been SOOOOOOOOOOO many (non-glasses-related) things that have happened that were blog- or gripe-worthy between the last post and now (which I might eventually get to in retrospect), but I feel the need to follow up with Take 3 — because what had been such a triumphant experience waaaaaay back in 2012 has just flipped backwards on me and become a massively disappointing experience I really wish I could have avoided by being more relentless and/or organized about information I was getting in the process of trying to find glasses that worked — or getting an optical referral from my doctor, shopping around more, or trying to find something within ten or fifteen miles of home.

I’ve thought about leaving a review on Yelp and/or Google, but I’ve seen this shop reply to poor reviews and turn it back on the customer. Maybe part of the problems I’ve had with them are my fault (am I just too prissy about my vision?), but I’m pretty sure their customer service is what I don’t want to deal with anymore.

After my great experience with Pro-Optix in 2012, the shop grew and moved to a different part of the mall. They now have a lab in the back and manufacture their own lenses. The guy who helped me originally (“Mr. J” for anonymity; I believe he is the business owner, at least) is there infrequently, but his dad (we’ll call him “Mr. G”) is there most of the time and and they have a few very young employees (two of whom we’ll call “Ms. C” and “Mr. D”).

My Target glasses were getting a little old (I guess it’s been three years since my eyes were last checked), and my distance vision just a tad blurry. However, the most immediate signs I cannot ignore for long are frequent headaches and eye fatigue from squinting. I really suck at being proactive about that sort of thing, but having had so much trouble in the past with doctors and optics, it takes a lot of psyching-up (and pain) to get me to finally see to it.

I decided that I would revisit Pro-Optix, because I’d had such a great experience with them before. I walked in one afternoon, got in to see the optometrist right away (I don’t remember his name), and had a pleasant experience with him and the gal (Ms. C) who helped me pick out frames and price lenses. I thought I was going to be able to get a blue-light coating (which I’d heard was quite useful, especially if you’re sensitive to light and in front of a computer a lot), but I wasn’t going to be able to afford the slight magnification at the bottom of the lens that I’d gotten when I went there in 2012.

I should probably just get used to the reality that my glasses will never again be less than $350. They cost at least that much at Target (not including the exam), and I couldn’t get it any lower at Pro-Optix, either (though the exam was free if I bought glasses there). But at least I was getting a little more bang for my buck, with Trivex lenses and a blue-light coating. Right?

Nope. I got a call from Pro-Optix while I was on my way home. Apparently, Ms. C messed up when ordering my lenses (quote: “She’s new and doesn’t know the system”), and the blue-light coating was only available on a higher-index lens, which would add another $250 to my cost (I think — or the total cost of the lens would go up and add whatever the difference was. Whatever it was, he didn’t explain it). But I could have plain polycarbonate with an anti-reflective (AR) coating for the same price as I’d already paid. Um, okay. It seemed steep, but I guessed that must have been the price of going to a larger, independently owned boutique.

This was Mistake #1: I did not fully research the added costs at Pro-Optix vs. what I normally got for free almost everywhere else. Mistake #2 was not keeping the guy on the phone and getting a full breakdown, and warning him thoroughly that I have had problems with polycarb in the past, and I will most likely be darkening their doorstep to let them know something is wrong shortly after receiving my glasses and trying them for at least a week.

Which I very well did.

They were done nearly three weeks later, and I picked them up whenever I managed to make it back there (Mistake #0.5 was going to an optical shop 30 miles away from home). I guess their lab was not functioning at the time, or they sent lenses out to get coated — I don’t remember, I just know they had sent out for a new left lens because there was a flaw in the AR coating. It wasn’t somewhere that obscured my vision, so I could still wear the glasses; they would just replace the lens when it came in. I believe sometime in that time-frame I went in for a pressure follow-up, because it was elevated in my first exam (probably due to sinus pressure that day; I’d had cluster headaches at near-migraine levels the day before, and was still fighting the tension in my neck). But the doctor did not recheck my prescription.

I wore the new glasses for several days. At first they seemed clear. There was a little distortion that threw off my depth perception, but not as much as problem lenses I’d had in the past. My right eye hurt some (that’s the diva eye, though I believe the astigmatism is actually worse in my left), and lights were extra bright with starbursts around them (which, if I’d recalled correctly, the AR coating should have reduced). But I didn’t have the wacky, looking-through-aquarium-glass rainbow effects I had the last time I’d dealt with polycarb, so maybe I just needed to adjust. I stuck it out for a few days, but soon had trouble focusing and was becoming fatigued much earlier than before the new lenses. I knew something had to be off. The clincher was when I was trying to read something I should have been able to see from about six feet away, and it was blurry. I took off the new glasses and put on my old ones, and could see clearly.

Sure enough, the new glasses were goin’ back — the first of several times.

* * * *

I’m trying a new thing, where I break up super-long posts into parts, so I don’t take days to write one, and you don’t have to take an hour to read it. I really need to go do something else now, so at least I can post something before I abandon yet another draft for a year or more. Blogging used to be so easy! But, then, I didn’t have kids or as much distraction as I do now. Since I was actively keeping up an online journal in 2004, blogging has become synonymous with meaningful content. I’ve already told you how I’m managing with meaningful content. So maybe I’ll just go back to my old blather, and not care what people think about it — but I have to cut it into chunks, or it will never get done.

Anyway.

Part 2 should be done soonish.

If you want to continue reading, here is the saga so far:

Posted in Business, Life, Reviews, Vision and Glasses

My Incompetent (or should I just say “high maintenance”?) Eyeballs, Take 3

I had written about this before (Take 1 and Take 2), without ever completing the story. It did have a happy ending: I went to a place called “Pro-Optix” in the mall, and the guy not only helped me pick out a cute pair of glasses, but hooked me up with a polycarb/plastic blend that worked absolutely perfectly with my eyes, as well as added a slight magnification in the bottom of the lens to combat eye fatigue and the difficulty my eyes sometimes have adjusting from far to near. It was wonderful, and I don’t know why I didn’t just go back to him when it was time to get new glasses again, especially since the total for everything, even having to send the lenses to two different labs for all the optimization my prescription required, was only $145. (It did take two weeks for them to arrive, and then he had to send them back because they reversed the lenses – right was left and left was right – so it did take a total of four weeks for me to finally get them. But I did not have to send them back again!)

I’ve had these glasses I’m wearing now since late 2012, and, as much as I love them, I realized recently that I seem to be squinting more and getting more headaches when focusing for a long time. When it occurred to me that it had been almost three years since I’ve had an exam and new lenses, I looked up a new doctor (because we have different insurance now) and had an exam at our local Target Optical.

Problem #1: I did not get a referral from my doctor for this clinic, so even though it is listed as a partner, I only got a discount on the exam, and still had to pay $75 out of pocket. Not what I was expecting.

Problem #2: New glasses, even with $100 discounted through insurance, are INSANELY EXPENSIVE. I was kicking myself from here to the mall, where I happened to be going the very night I reluctantly purchased the frames and lenses from Target, which came to well over $300. I’m sure Pro-Optix could have fetched me a better price (and since then I’ve learned that they make the lenses onsite now, though I imagine my speshul snowflake eyes would probably require the same amount of exactitude and coddling they did last time).

Problem #3: Insanely expensive materials for lenses do not guarantee your eyes will adjust to them. I just went back for a re-exam today, because the new lenses weren’t quite as bad as my first experience back in 2012 with material incompatibility, but they were still pretty bad. At least this time, both the optician and the optometrist understood that it was my astigmatism that was making my eyes incompatible with even the most advanced lenses (my last eye doctor never came to that conclusion, or if he did he never told me). The frames – which are super cute, and totally not something I would have ever chosen for myself without help – are going back to the lab to have the lenses redone. Hopefully it will be done just as quickly as the last ones, which came a few days after we ordered them.

For $300+, they’d better!

(I just posted over in my other blog, Seeking Aleithia, if you are interested in taking a look: “Christian Feminism and the Modern Church“. God Bless!)

Hello! I’m coming back from the future to say that this goes on for a long, loooong time — and it only gets worse. Here is the saga in full (more to be added later):