In The Beginning:
For the longest time, I was the only one in my family who didn't need glasses. On the one hand, it's been nice to not have to rely on glasses growing up. On the other hand, my vision is not improving and I'm still resistant to wearing glasses all the time. I'm ok with wearing them for reading, but I get along pretty well in my day-to-day activities.
Age Does Things To You
I started needing glasses about ten years ago. Just reading glasses. They have served me well, though my distance vision has never been spectacular. About five years ago, my original OD showed me what my distance vision could be with glasses. I was sold! I got my first set of progressive lenses. They're like bifocals, but with a graduated lens so the lower portion is for reading, and the lens graduates toward the top for distance viewing. These were my "work" glasses. I kept my reading glasses for home when I read or use a computer.
Advances in Prescription Glasses
As if I needed a second opinion, my awesome new OD (my first OD retired) just let me know my eyes continue to change. Mostly my right eye. That one has always been my downfall. I told her I use reading glasses for my large-screen computer at home because my progressives' distance region blurred the top portion of the screen. Now I know about Computer Glasses. They eliminate the distance portion of my progressives and provide a larger "intermediate" zone for the computer screen, yet retain the near-field zone at the bottom for reading books.
How Are They?
In a word: expensive. It's been too long since I've gotten new glasses. My OD always gives me a prescription paper, but for some reason, I didn't order glasses last time, so I had to buy one pair on insurance, and one pair almost all out of pocket. I'm not yet brave enough to order them online. I think I have my PD (distance between pupils) measurement correct. Next I'll need to figure out the additional specs for multi-focal lenses. The instructions include this: "Workspace or +1.00 add single vision for computer." I think that means I can just order "Workspace" for the computer glasses, or order single-focus reading glasses with an extra +1.00 SPH.
My progressive lenses behave like my old pair. They're just adjusted for my changing eyes, so that's fine. But my "workspace" glasses weren't the best choice. They're like progressive lenses. If you followed the link above for progressive lenses, you would see a diagram that shows some side areas that are not part of the viewing area. This leaves you with a viewable area in the middle column of the lens, but no prescription in the "wings." As I stare at my large computer monitor, the sides are blurry. When I turn my head, the screen skews. I think I'll be going back to standard reading glasses for the computer and reading.
I did mention they're expensive. No, I won't be spending that amount of money for glasses again. Ever. I hear Warby Parker is a good source for good, but inexpensive glasses. There are also favorable reviews for Zenni. They have a good user interface, so I uploaded my photo, inputted some measurements, and ordered a pair. I should have them in two to three weeks and I'll update this post after I've had the glasses for a bit.
Hacking My Glasses
I now have two pairs of Zennis. The first pair I ordered were for my general prescription. I learned to read my prescription using this tutorial. With these frames, my glasses came out to $50 shipped. While they work well for general distance, they weren't good for computer or reading. My prescription had an ADD +2.00 for reading glasses, but a note to ADD +1.00 for computer glasses, so I went with the +1.00. Zenni also said to reduce the PD (distance between pupils) by 3mm for reading glasses. As my computer reading distance is farther than book reading, I subtracted 2mm.
$60 or so later, I have my computer glasses. Same frame. This time I was clever enough to pay the extra $1 or so to have a "C" engraved inside the frame so I can tell that these are my Computer glasses. And they work great! Single focus, so my computer screen doesn't skew or split or do all that other weird stuff that progressives do. Not only that, but they're great for watching TV at a regular distance as well.
In short, my two new pairs of glasses came out way cheaper completely out of pocket when compared to what I paid for just one pair of my other glasses. Now that I've got that figured out, now I know to skip the OD's glasses shop and order online. Maybe even splurge for some fancier frames that might bump the cost up to $100 for a pair. A bargain for comfortable glasses and sharp vision.
A Better Hack
Not surprisingly, after I got my Zennis, I heard more grumblings about the high cost of prescription glasses. Plus a recommendation for yet another low-cost source, similar to Warby Parker. But closer to home. There's a Jins in a nearby mall, and they specialize in while-you-wait glasses. The glasses are closer to the $100 range, give or take $20 or so, but they measure you in the store just so everything is perfect. And the frames are of good quality. Any type of tint adds about ~$80 to the price. I'm intrigued by their blue-blocking tint to reduce screen fatigue. But they have photochromic as well. Progressive lenses will add about $100 to the price. Compared to what I paid at the optimitrist, these are at most half the price. Not only that, but Jins can have standard glasses ready in 30 minutes. Specialty lenses may take a week. Still better than anything else out there. I'm actually looking forward to buying another pair of glasses.