Subverting the eyeglass monopoly
September 3, 2011 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Ordering tri-focal glasses online for my mother: Any recommendations? Is this a horrible idea?

When I was visiting my mother I discovered her most recent (as of ~6 months ago) pair of glasses were giving her problems (heavy, too wide for her face). She said something to the effect of, "I don't want to spend another $500 on a new pair of glasses." I, of course, want to contact the place that sold her a pair of frames that are way too wide for her face so that they give her a new pair, but she thinks too much time has passed.

Anyway, my next thought was to try to find her a cheaper pair online. But tri-focals might be a tall order. So I am looking for advice from the hive mind as I don't want my mother to waste her money on another pair of glasses that are less than ideal. My cursory googling resulted in mixed reviews for multi-focal lenses.
posted by mandymanwasregistered to Shopping (7 answers total)
I bought a pair of progressive lens eyeglasses online from Zenni. Cost around $100 USD. Frames seem to be good quality, arrived in reasonable amount of time. I was having a little trouble reading with the glasses and a local eye care outfit checked them and found that the axis didn't quite match the presciption and/or the mounting was a little off, so now to get the very sharpest vision when reading I need to tilt them a bit on my head. While I've adjusted to it, any greater error would make the glasses unusable, so I wouldn't recommend online glasses purchase to many other people An exception could be for a single vision lens, esp without astigmatism, I think Zenni would be fine. But for anything that might require professional fitting or adjustment, I think it's better to buy locally. I found Costco to be very informative; Unfortunately they don't sell the progressive lenses with the wider transition corridor, but they do carry trifocals (I found the size given over to the mid and near focal lengths too small)

One thing a local optical shop can help her decide is whether trifocals or progressive lenses is the better way to go in order to accommodate her presbyopia. Some newer types of progressive lenses can provide her with a much smoother and wider transition zone between distance and closeup vision than the original progressive lenses.
posted by paphun123 at 12:12 PM on September 3, 2011

Every place I've gotten my specs from has always been always willing to make as many adjustments as I need, as long as I had the glasses, for no charge. This is true for Lenscrafters in the mall as well as for high-end expensive places. So I would try to go back to the original place and see if there's some adjustment they can make in the glasses she has now. Also, you might be able to have the current lenses put in different frames -- might be a good solution if the problems are due to the frames only.

I would be very hesitant to buy on line because there's a very fine line between glasses that work and glasses that are painful, annoying and non-functional.
posted by philokalia at 12:28 PM on September 3, 2011

Just a data point for Zenni Optical: I've purchased two pairs from them now, with astigmatism but not progressive. Prescription has been spot-on both times. I highly recommend spending the small premium for anti-reflective coating; it makes a very noticeable difference (no halos).
posted by reeddavid at 12:36 PM on September 3, 2011

FWIW,I started to investigate this for my mom (I have a new pair of prescription progressives I like that I got online for around $50). I had trouble finding a place that would do actual trifocals (with the lines).

I tried goggles 4 u and maybe one other that I don't recall.
posted by pantarei70 at 2:50 PM on September 3, 2011

Multifocals, whether progressives or with lines, tend to need adjustment. As paphun123 said, a small error will make a big difference in how she sees. Cut corners on the frame cost if you have to, but get the lenses locally.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:36 PM on September 3, 2011

I had trifocals - with lines - and struggled with them for a couple of years before I gave up on them. I found the best for me was a pair of bifocals for distance and close-up reading, and a separate pair of glasses for the computer, which were set for about 2' or so from my eyes.

I've been pleased with that set-up.
posted by aryma at 7:17 PM on September 3, 2011

L'oeuvre Child Pere's Baby Mama, who is an avid reader and TV watcher, once bought a pair of trifocals. She gave up on them within a week or two. The field of vision, basically, was too narrow for a pleasurable viewing experience. It was another case of "I told you so, maternal unit." (We still enjoy doing that to each other, even though we are now both adults). She eventually found aryma's set-up to be ideal.
posted by L'oeuvre Child at 10:24 PM on September 3, 2011

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