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Glasses are Expensive

There’s no two ways around it.

I have terrible vision. Every time I go to the eye doctor, they marvel at the strength of my prescription and the healthiness of my eyes. You see, I have astigmatism, so my eye isn’t round. Specifically I have myopic astigmatism, which is a nice way to say I’m nearsighted. (All you non-glasses people: Near-sighted means they’re sighted when it’s near. Far-sighted means they’re sighted when it’s far away. Make sense? Good, off you go.)

One of the lovely risks of my vision is retinal tears (the worst case would be a detached retina, though that’s very rare) and macular holes. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I try not to skip eye appointments, but I’m as bad as everyone else. Possibly not for the reason they are.

I don’t mind going to get an eye exam. I hate the puff of air and I hate the eye drops. I always have to have my eyes dilated and, as it turns out, I’m overly sensitive to them. My current eye doctor pointed out that people with as severe an astigmatism as I have, tend to suffer the effects longer and more seriously. Good to know. The pre-drop numbing agent is apparently what does me in, but the dilation kicks in pretty fast (faster than the 20 minutes they claim). I see a lovely halo around things.

Like everyone else, I get checked for floaters (which are signs that there may be tears). The difference is I get checked every single time. I always have the slit-test and basically every single test you think is ‘optional’ I get.

I don’t actually mind a single bit of that.

No I mind the day I get new lenses.

Because the cheapest I got them for was $550 before insurance. After insurance I can usually get it down to $300. Most of the time, though, since I’ll end up needing frames and a professional fitting, it’s around that $500 range. It can go up to $700.

And every time I tell someone this, if they don’t have shitty eyes, says some variation of this: Have you tried CostCo/Walgreens/Lenscrafters/Online-place? I get mine and the frames for $150!

Answer to every last one of you: Yes, I have.

The $700? That was LensCrafters price range, using the ‘free glasses’ wall. CostCo and the others are all around the $400-500 range. Plus, I really do need that professional fitting.

Why not use cheaper materials?

There is no lab in the country that will make lenses of this strength without insisting on using the ultra-lightweight material. That’s expensive. Even with the super lightweight stuff, my glasses are about .8cm thick on the outer edge. This matters. That weight is constantly pushing down on my nose and, when I sweat, if it’s too heavy I will bleed. Bleed, people. I have to use the lightweight stuff.

And for what it’s worth, I go as cheap as I can. I don’t have transitions, for example. I have UV and AR coatings, but that’s because I work on computers and go outside. They help with glare which makes it safer for me to be outside. These are cheap. If I wanted to go with the even lighter weight ones, they’re only 10% covered by my insurance (the ones I have are 80% covered). Boom. More cost.

Plus, and I’m just going to put this out there, my vision is so shitty, do you really think that bottom-feeding prices for glasses is smart? If I don’t have glasses I can’t work. I can’t cook, I can’t clean, I can’t read. All I can do is listen to things and wander around my house. I’m pretty good at walking around without my glasses. I can actually fly from Las Vegas home without them (don’t ask). But it’s dangerous as fuck.

Why not buy the frames on line?

This I’ve done a couple times. The frames aren’t an issue. Yes, the frames I wear are $350 before insurance, but I actually have to walk around and wear the frames to know how they’ll feel. I’ve made mistakes before. I know how I like the pressure on my nose. I know how I like the fit on my ears. I know what I hate.

When you’re wearing glasses for all your waking hours, comfort is important. You have to be sure that they’re going to work for you. Your life depends on it. And that’s also why I pay for a fitting. The professional fitting costs $40-60 dollars and is worth it. They measure my eyes, they have me try on multiple pairs. They even write on the glasses to make sure they have the focal points right. I go through multiple checks, not just bridge and nose pieces, but things like “Show me how you read… Okay now on a computer? Okay do you use an iPhone or an iPad? Show me.”

It’s worth the money.

But what about—

Let me stop you before you leave a comment.

I’ve probably tried every single thing you can think of.

But how is it so expensive?

People often mention the ‘deals’ like ‘40% off your lenses!’ Yeah, my insurance does about 80% off. I want you to think about that for a second. My glasses, which are over $500, are the 80% deal.

I’m being ripped off, but it ain’t by my glasses company.

It’s insurance. They said the extra light weight stuff is an option. It’s cosmetic. I don’t need it. I would love it if they’d wear the weight of my glasses, every day, for a month. Come back with a headache and tell me it’s fine.

Insurance has no adjustments for the extreme edge cases, and I’m one.

Welcome to my hell.