I am sure a few geeks amongst us are glasses wearers, so I figure I should detail my recent experiences with trying to buy a pair of glasses in Auckland in the hopes of triggering some interesting discussions. FYI, I have a fairly low but perhaps not bog standard prescription (-2.75 and around -0.5 cylinder on both eyes). Currently I am wearing a pair of Oakley semi-rimless with hi-index (thinner and more durable) 1.61 plastic lenses. When I first started out I couldn't remember who the heck I got this pair from and had lost my receipt.
Started out going on the OPSM website and quickly identified a frame that fits with my desire (thin temples/arms and darker colour that isn't black). Went to OPSM Albany and that store didn't have this frame on display and the sales assistant wasn't interested in looking at their drawers. Went to another store and the sales assistant was really helpful and quickly found the frame. It was, however, only available in one size and it didn't suit me. Asked if my size can be ordered in and the sales assistant said the store won't let them but said I could try and buy from Oakley directly. The frame was $300.
Initially deemed all this to be too much hassle so went to OPSM Browns Bay to see if I can find other suitable frames. People there were really helpful and I eventually settled on a frame that I quite liked and then the age old problem with OPSM started: their insistence that everybody who wears semi-rimless frames MUST get them in polycarbonate. This despite many optometrists and ophthalmologists advising otherwise due to their well-known tendency to cause colour fringing, poor optical quality, and the ease with which they can be scratched. Not to mention the lenses alone would cost me about $400 plus $150 if I wanted a Transitions coating.
Then I went to Specsavers and most of their frames were frankly dull beyond belief and often felt rather flimsy. Things did noticeably improve when one chose from their designer ranges (from around $400 or so including standard lenses) but SS is just a classic up-sell outfit. The standard lenses would not be suitable for probably about 70% of the population and an anti-reflection coating is around $70. To get 1.61 plastic lenses with AR coating is about $180 extra. I could have received a "free" pair of prescription sunglasses with my purchase but it isn't polarised and hardly any decent optometrist would recommend non-polarised sunglasses. The cost to polarise? $180 extra. Oh and if you think the standard lense height/depth of your semi-rimless frame is too much and want a mm or two sliced off? No can do -- "Our labs are too busy to tailor to special requests!"
Eventually I took up a colleague's suggestion and bought the Oakley frame that I desired online for about $150 NZD with a view to getting my lenses here. I have been quoted between $600 to $800+ to lense my glasses with Transitions coating. A few of these optometrists were also using "Transitions" in a way that was highly deceptive -- as many know, Transitions is a trademark and refers to a particular brand of photochromatic lenses and not just photochromatic lenses generally. Many who claimed to be offering Transitions were offering knock-offs of unknown quality. One optometrist refused to guarantee that the lab would use the latest or at least the second latest Transitions coating. Arghhhh. A couple optometrists plain refused to offer the service of lensing my own brand-new frames.
I eventually found my old glasses' receipts and contacted Milford Optometrists, who found my old prescription and said that based on this script (and I had a recent eye test which confirmed no changes) I can have my lenses with Transitions (all authentic stuff) for $350. In the meantime, a friend told me to visit the physical store of clearly.co.nz, who were offering Ray-Ban frames for around half the price the likes of OPSM do them in and Transitions lenses would cost around $150 NZD all up (they are unfortunately in polycarbonate - 1.67 plastic is about $120 more). However, Clearly could not lense my own frames as their lab is in Vancouver and they don't sell Oakleys at the moment, which I usually find to be the most comfortable frames for me.
All up, my experience suggests that we are getting massively ripped off when it comes to opticals and that some optometrists' professionalism leave a bit to be desired. Of the places described above, I don't think I would buy from any other than Clearly and Milford Optometrists again.