Figuring out whether my new progressive glasses are good enough
November 19, 2014 11:23 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting my first pair of progressive glasses. I decided to go with Warby Parker rather than getting lenses from my local eye doctor because my doctor charged twice as much as Warby and I could not afford it. This is despite warnings from my doctor that progressive lenses must be measured in person. How will I know if the Warby Parker lenses aren't good enough?

My doctor's concern was specifically about the segment height of the lens. I asked Warby Parker how they measure segment height and they said that they have a proprietary tool that they cannot disclose. My doctor didn't buy the efficacy of the tool, told me that it MUST be measured in person, and said that even a millimeter of error can make a big difference. His lens fitter told me that they do not check outside measurements (i.e., they can't/won't check the segment height if I buy the glasses from Warby Parker). They said that they'd be happy to make adjustments to the fit of the physical frames--but not the lenses--for free.

I wear multifocal contacts currently for a condition that I forget the name of- my eyes overconverge when looking at near distances. This was recently diagnosed; I had always worn single vision contacts and glasses, but I started to have eye strain when looking at near distances. I would be wearing the glasses somewhat infrequently- maybe evenings and a couple days a week.

My sense was that whatever added benefit I would get by buying my doctor's $600 custom digital lenses would be incremental and probably hard to notice. I've heard that progressives take some getting used to anyway. So how will I know if the Warby frames are not correctly calibrated? Other than simply not being able to see or the eye strain returning, which would be obvious indicators, what should I look for? Warby has a 30-day no questions asked return policy that I plan to utilize if the lenses are no bueno. Anything else I should be considering?
posted by quiet coyote to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If they'll take 'em back, what have you got to lose.

FWIW, it took NO time for me to get used to my progressives. Best thing since sliced bread.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:27 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Progressives can be tricky depending on your specific vision issues, and you may find that the specific lens or coating is not suitable and needs to be changed. Since you can return the WP ones, just try it out. If it works, you saved some cash otherwise you would have had to go to your doctor's place anyway. The cheaper places like Zenni/etc will not be any better for anything beyond single vision so I would rule them out completely.
posted by palionex at 11:39 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you live within driving distance of a Warby Parker store, you can stop in! It is awesome and I highly recommend it, and I suspect the cost savings would make even a relatively long drive worth it over buying from your optometrist.

The Warby Parker stores have opticians there who measure your PD, etc. You can call ahead and confirm they'll do the segment height measurements as well.

Another bonus, it's way easier to try on frames in person. Once you select the frames, they take your measurements, take your prescription, take your payment, and then ship your glasses to your house. LIKE MAGIC. Seriously, it is awesome.

In terms of adjusting to progressive lenses -- if you have any headaches/eye strain/etc. after the first couple days of adjustment, that's when you take them back.
posted by pie ninja at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2014

Should add -- obviously WP will send you frames to try, but only a couple. The stores have ALL THE FRAMES and it is way easier to find the right color/shape for you.
posted by pie ninja at 11:50 AM on November 19, 2014

Response by poster: I am not near a WP store. I already bought the glasses and they are on their way. I am going to try them out. Sorry if that was not clear. What I am asking is what, if anything, I should be paying attention to while I try them out beyond eye strain/not being able to see.
posted by quiet coyote at 11:51 AM on November 19, 2014

For me the thing with progressive is that you need to be looking through the right part of the lens in order for things to be in focus. You tip your chin down so you look through the higher parts for distance, raise your chin up and look down for reading. If the segment height is wrong, you have to do too much tipping .If you find that using your hand to move the glasses up or down a fraction of an inch makes it easier to see what you are trying to look at, the segment transitions may not be in the right place.
posted by metahawk at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The cheaper places like Zenni/etc will not be any better for anything beyond single vision so I would rule them out completely.

I strongly disagree. I just started wearing progressives last month. I purchased them from 39dollarglasses and was also really nervous* but they are so awesome I immediately purchased a pair of progressive sunglasses. At first I thought they were tons better than my single-vision glasses of make-shift bi-focal contacts, but not perfect. A month later I've gotten completely used to them and as Ruthless Bunny said, they're the best thing since sliced bread.

*My PD measurement wasn't on my prescription, so I printed out their measuring tool. My number (70) was so far out of the range of normal they asked me to confirm it twice but it turned out to be perfect.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:01 PM on November 19, 2014

If you get the progressives, and they do not work, you will know. I had headaches. I couldn't focus. I couldn't actually see with the lenses. It took 6 months to properly adjust my lenses. However, I've been wearing progressives for a decade, and only one pair was ever wrong.
posted by clarkstonian at 1:12 PM on November 19, 2014

Maybe I should clarify that my glasses were not $39, but still under $200 with the works + shipping.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2014

> You tip your chin down so you look through the higher parts for distance, raise your chin up and look down for reading

My eye doctor told me to point my nose at what I want to see.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some brands of progressive lenses have a narrower reading area than others. I know that Zenni does not carry the type that has the wider reading area, and neither does Costco. No idea about Warby Parker. If you have to move your head from side to side to read a single line in a book, then you have the wrong type of progressives, assuming that reading a book is something you do much.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 2:46 PM on November 19, 2014

"Takes a while to get used to them" translated, for me, to slight motion sickness while walking around for about one day, and then having to remember to look through the right part of the lens for driving/reading for about a week.
posted by amtho at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

You need to make sure that you try all your usual tasks at their usual distances - computer, reading, sewing, whatever. Yes, a very small incorrectness makes a HUGE difference in how much the progressives will annoy you. Exactly where the glasses sit on your nose relative to your eyeball needs to be precise. This is according to my optometrist after I complained every year when I visited him. My glasses would be OK for a little while, a month or two, and then I would start squinting and craning my neck at my close tasks. He explained that I probably needed to get my glasses adjusted more often, because if they slid down my nose even a tiny little bit, it would throw the effectiveness out of whack. I should add that I had astigmatism which I think added to my issues. I have since gotten Lasik surgery, just so I wouldn't have to mess with the nearly constant squintinga and blurriness in my stupid glasses. I wish you better luck than I had. (I've never heard the term segment height.)
posted by molasses at 3:31 PM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

With my progressive lenses I've found that you get what you pay for. The $700 pair I got at Lenscrafters? Perfect. The $250 pair I got at BJs (similar to Costco or Sam's)? Gave them three tries to get the lenses right, then had to just give up and get my money back. The $50 pair from Zenni? Returned them the same day.

You'll know pretty quickly whether they'll work or not. I spend most of my time in front of my computer, and only the glasses from Lenscrafters have the right amount of middle distance. Everything else I've tried has had too little of one type of vision or too much of another, and with trifocals I don't have much room to work with. (On preview, I just learned that the segment height is what was wrong in the glasses that didn't work)
posted by ralan at 4:29 PM on November 19, 2014

FWIW, I recently was given a new prescription, purchased glasses from Warby Parker and found them really odd and even waited a week before I went back to my doc to check em. Turned out, it was her/our error on the prescription side. She even double checked and changed my height...somethingsomething (which is calculated at 20 average and she moved mine to 18? Dunno more.) She wrote me a new prescription, and WP replaced them with the new prescription with absolutely no fee to me, and were super nice about it. Gave me 30 days to send back the original pair. Daaaarn impressed.

Rare and surprisingly wonderful customer service. I say go for it. WP seems really interested in you having glasses that work for you. If your doc is less inclined, might be time for a new eye doc.
posted by metasav at 5:55 PM on November 19, 2014

I find that my $500 progressives from my optometrist work exactly the same as my $90 Zenni ones. WP did not offer progressives online when I ordered (only available through their retail locations). If WP had progressives online, I would have opted for them, as their frames seem to be made of better materials. With WP's return policy, I would give them a shot. Just make sure you have an accurate PD measurement.

Progressives do take some time to get used to, and not everyone likes them - or finds them workable for various reasons. If trying WP first lessens your financial risk, they seem like the obvious first option.
posted by flyingrock at 5:48 AM on November 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

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