Should an Optician Measure for Glasses?

Discussion in 'Glasses' started by MarkF, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. MarkF

    MarkF Guest

    Over the years of wearing glasses, I've never owned a pair that were
    entirely comfortable. I'm a big man - 6'4", 250 lbs. - so the average
    frames seem small to me. When picking out glasses, I've always just
    been told by the optician - "Here are our men's frames. Choose one
    you like." Invariably, choosing a pair is usually a compromise
    between fit and fashion. And once I choose them, the optician writes
    down the numbers from the frame, and that's exactly what I receive.

    Recently I was buying new eyeglasses and I mentioned to the optician
    that the arms on my current glasses seem short for my head and don't
    go around my ears. She told me that there are various arm lengths and
    she could order the glasses in various sizes. Duh – I wish someone
    told me this years ago and saved me from numerous uncomfortable pairs
    of glasses. In any case, she didn't measure me for this - I don't
    even know if there is a measurement to make - but asked me to tell her
    how long I'd like them. How would I know?

    So I choose a pair of glasses that seemed to be a good fit, to the
    best of my ability. Now I received them - and BTW, the optician just
    handed them to me and asked me if they were ok... no fitting, no
    checking anything. After a day, I've noticed that they seem narrow
    and that the outer edges of the lenses are within line of my eyes.
    Doing some research, I found out about the "eye width" and "bridge
    width" on glasses, and measuring the lenses it appears that they are
    about 5 mm smaller than the stated width on the arm (they are
    frameless glasses so maybe they put smaller lenses on them).

    This has me wondering, shouldn't an optician measure you for a pair of
    glasses, or at least double-check the fit? Is the length of the arm,
    the eye width, and the bridge width something they should measure?
    And should they measure if your pupils are in the center of the lenses
    and if the frame is the width of your head, as some websites have
    recommended? It seems very odd to me that an optician wouldn't
    measure a person for glasses and entirely leave it to them to know.
    It's like a prosthetics technician telling a legless man, "Here's a
    bunch of legs. Try them on and tell me which one you like." At the
    minimum, I'd think the optician would educate the customer what to
    look for, rather than learning the hard way as I'm doing.

    Could any please offer advice on what an optician should normally
    measure, and what I can do to find a better fitting pair of glasses?


    MarkF, Jul 25, 2004
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  2. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    Not all frames come with different temple lengths. Even if they do, not all
    optical shops will order the ones you want. There is no standard measuring
    method for temple length between frame manufacturers or even between models,
    particularly since it depends on how close the frame sits to your face,
    which is partly determined by the bridge and the pads (which are
    adjustable). If you find a frame that you like, but the temples are too
    short, then you would just normally look at the stated temple length and ask
    if it comes in a longer temple size. Temple size can also be changed by
    re-bending the temple curve, since the point at which the curve exists is
    the main concern.

    Rimless frames are more complicated because the width is partly determined
    by the lens (unlike normal frames). So the optician should do some measuring
    or fitting, but this is not an exact science. They do measure the PD (pupil
    distance) and fitting height, but the width of the lens on a frameless lens
    is not as straight forward.

    Nevertheless, a competent optician should know how to do these measurements
    and fittings, regardless if the frame is rimless or not. Unfortunately, the
    majority of employees in optical shops are not competent, and are nothing
    more than sales clerks. Choose your optician wisely, and ask for a
    remake/refund when appropriate. Often it helps to ask to see the head

    I have found that even some Optometrists (with optical shops in their
    office) will hire some cheap labor for their optical shop, thinking that the
    OD can handle anything complicated that comes up, but often they are too
    busy to do that. Finding a good optician is difficult, and it often forces
    one to become an very educated consumer just to get a decent pair of

    If you near Milwaukee, there is an optician named Robert M who posts on this
    forum, who is an excellent optician.

    If you think finding a decent optician to fit your frame is difficult, just
    try and get someone who knows which lens is the best (especially when it
    comes to high Rx's or progressives).
    Mark A, Jul 25, 2004
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  3. MarkF

    The Real Bev Guest

    Note: I patronize only the cheapest shops, so anybody who goes to nicer
    places should get better service. That being said, the opticians (even
    the sweet young things who you swear aren't even out of high school)
    have always measured the distance between my pupils at both far and near
    positions (holding a ruler up to my eyes seems adequate), checked to see
    how the earpieces fit around my ears, looked cursorily at the nose area,
    put the frames (no samples, you get what you chose) into the basket and
    said they'd call me when the glasses were in.

    At that point they again check the earpieces, generally rebending them
    with the use of hot sand (hot water discolors plastic, or so I was
    told), bend the nose-wires, ask if that seems OK, encourage me to come
    back for a readjustment and wish me well.

    I've only had two pair with those nasty little nose wires, and I think I
    went back at least half a dozen times and changed the little plastic
    swivel pads several times before I concluded that I will never be able
    to breathe comfortably with nosepieces like that. Once I concluded
    after a few days wear that the frames I originally chose were just wrong
    and couldn't be made comfortable, so they hunted around and found some
    different frames that they could re-cut the lenses to fit. I've been
    happy with those for several years now.

    Bottom line: they should make your glasses comfy or at least explain
    why they can't so you can make a better choice.

    "If you watch TV news, you know less about the world than
    if you just drank gin straight from the bottle."
    - Garrison Keillor
    The Real Bev, Jul 25, 2004
  4. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    Could any please offer advice on what an optician should normally
    The problem with rimless frames is that the lens itself determines the width
    of the frames at the temple. This is different than the PS or fitting
    height. One would think that an experienced optician could handle this, but
    I can see how someone who is not competent could mess this up.
    Mark A, Jul 25, 2004
  5. MarkF

    The Real Bev Guest

    Yes, but for what those things cost I would think that they would HAVE
    to make them fit right. Is that what you chose? Go back and demand to
    speak to the owner/manager/somebody who can make it right for you even
    if it means starting over from scratch.

    "If you watch TV news, you know less about the world than
    if you just drank gin straight from the bottle."
    - Garrison Keillor
    The Real Bev, Jul 25, 2004
  6. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    Bottom line: they should make your glasses comfy or at least explain
    I completely agree with that.

    My point was that the measurement is not exact like a traditional frame,
    which can be exactly fitted before making the lens.
    Mark A, Jul 26, 2004
  7. MarkF

    MarkF Guest

    Thanks for the feedback. Bev, the experience you describe is what I
    would imagine it shoud be like at a minimum. Instead, it's "pick
    whatever you like", they scribble the number down, and when the
    glasses come in, "are they ok?" And this isn't a cheapo shop; my last
    two pair of glasses from them were Armani, and the current Silhouette
    Titans were over $300 - and that's after insurance! When I'm paying
    that much, I'd hope the glasses fit me.

    Tomorrow I'm going back to the store to hopefully straighten it out.
    The doctor there seems very good, but as others guessed, the hired
    help doesn't seem as knowledgable.

    One last question: when the frames do come in a variety of bridge/eye
    widths, can an optician measure to determine what is optimal or does
    the customer take a shot in the dark and pick a number? I see that
    the frames I have, with the chosen glass shape, come in various sizes,
    but I don't know which to choose.


    MarkF, Jul 26, 2004
  8. MarkF

    The Real Bev Guest

    Goodgoodgoodgood. I'm sure he will want to do what's right, especially
    since he probably just made a bundle selling you those frames and looks
    forward to your future custom.
    You used to be able to order glasses in really cheap (cost, not quality
    -- they were the same frames the stores were selling, but the price goes
    down to a few bucks if you order enough of them) frames from a place in
    Florida. Couldn't find anything like that now, but they gave detailed
    instructions for measuring your old glasses or determining the proper
    size in the absence of old frames -- you chose the style you wanted and
    then chose the sizes (overall width, nose width [and possibly shape],
    earpiece length). It can't be rocket science, although the rocket
    scientist I actually knew was really pretty damn dumb.
    The Real Bev, Jul 26, 2004
  9. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    The optician should be able to fit the bridge of rimless frame to your face
    to determine which size rimless frame to order.

    But the lenses are not a fixed size. Lenses are made for your Rx into a
    sphere (circle) that are about 75 mm in diameter (exact size depends on the
    lens and the Rx), which larger than any frame. Then, based on the PD and
    fitting height, the lens is cut to fit your frame. With a rimless frame,
    they also need to know how big to make the lens (since there really is no
    fixed frame size) so the temple width is correct on your face. It sounds
    like they messed up the lens size configuration, but not necessary the
    bridge size of your rimless glasses. I hope this makes sense.

    If they are too narrow on your face, ask for a remake. They should be able
    to use the same frame, and just cut the lens differently next time so the
    effective width of your glasses is wider.

    BTW, you probably have some kind of Vision Plan, but I would not call it
    insurance. Insurance is used to spread the risk among many people, but since
    90% of the population eventually needs glasses, this is not really an
    insurable risk. So a Vision Plan is when a large group of people use their
    buying power to negotiate a discount with a provider.
    Mark A, Jul 26, 2004
  10. MarkF

    MarkF Guest

    Why would you give a person with "eyeglass insurance" only 4 minutes
    compared to 40 minutes with a normal client? Is the reimburement that
    poor? Even with my VSP, I'm still paying nearly $300 for the pair of
    glasses, while I've seen my same frames online for $170. My
    prescription is only for minor near sightedness with a slight
    astigmatism, so it shouldn't be too complicated. Considering they're
    selling the glasses for retail price, and they add on additional
    charges for every item (materials, frames, polycarb, polish, coating,
    etc) I'm sure they're still making a reasonable profit.

    I can understand if a person is buying the cheapest glasses, fully
    covered by insurance, without any additional options, you might not be
    making much of a profit. But still, shouldn't good customer service
    dictate treating all customers equal?
    MarkF, Jul 27, 2004
  11. MarkF

    aleator Guest

    You used to be able to order glasses in really cheap (cost, not quality
    As far as cheap glasses, you might want to give Zenni Optical a try
    ( or as well. The latter
    has good information as far as fitting glasses. There were some
    satisfied customers over at Fatwallet.

    I'm going to order two pair from Zenni this week as soon as I can
    resolve a cylindrical discrepency between two prescriptions. I'm a
    little fed up with the system set up to suck more money from your
    pocket - just compare the 4.95 anti-reflection coating compared to
    your local eye shop.

    aleator, Jul 29, 2004
  12. Regarding the last comment line - I am told there are cheap single-layer
    anti-reflection coatings, much less expensive than the multi-layer ones. The
    single layers have rather poor performance, however. The single-layer is the
    one Costco uses, I am told.

    David Robins, MD, Jul 31, 2004
  13. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    Costco carries many name brand products which are made at regional labs, so
    I assume that "some" of their AR coatings (from the major manufacturers) are
    fairly good. I doubt that they only charge $5.00 for AR coating, but I have
    never shopped there myself.

    Costco, Wal-Mart, and Sam's are fairly up-front about what brand product you
    are getting, unlike places like LensCrafters, which uses it own brand name
    (Featherwaite, etc) on products made by others so that consumers (and the
    vast majority of their sales people) don't know the real manufacturer, lens
    design, or material.
    Mark A, Jul 31, 2004
  14. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    Costco, Wal-Mart, and Sam's are fairly up-front about what brand product
    Interestingly, even the lens manufacturers are starting to obscure their own
    products. For example, Varilux (Essilor) never mentions the word
    polycarbonate on their lens availability webpage (for professionals).
    Instead they call it Airwear (for which they have registered as a
    trademark). The 1.59 index spec gives it away.

    Of course if I were peddling polycarb, I would probably disguise it also.

    But if one digs around into the FAQ, one finds this amazing statement
    (considering that polycarb has the worst optical quality of any lens
    material generally sold to the public):

    "Airwear lenses are made from a purer proprietary polycarbonate resin - the
    same pure material that gives compact discs their clearer sound."

    I didn't know that compact disks had clearer sound because they were made
    from polycarbonate. I always thought they were clearer (than records)
    because compact discs were digitally encoded on the metal layer beneath the
    polycarbonate. The reason that polycarbonate is used for the clear layer
    (which is not where the digital information is encoded) is because they need
    a material with very high tensile strength to avoid destruction of the CD at
    the high RPM's inside the CD player.

    Essilor marketing people are worse than used car salesman.
    Mark A, Jul 31, 2004
  15. MarkF

    ry Guest

    Costco uses Vivix AR coating, which I've had on my glasses for the last 6
    months or so. In my experience, it works wonderfully, and I really notice
    the difference when I'm doing work on the computer. My experince with the AR
    coating (VIVIX) and lenses (Resolutions) Costco put in my glasses was good.

    ry, Jul 31, 2004
  16. MarkF

    Mark A Guest

    Someone earlier said that Costco sells Seiko progressives, in which case I
    believe they come with Seiko AR as a finished lens. So it may depend on
    which lens you purchase as to which AR you will get.
    Mark A, Jul 31, 2004
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