This is not a sponsored post, and I don’t earn anything by posting this.
My recent migraines motivated me to get my eyes checked. It had been over a year since my last eye checkup, and normally I would be pretty diligent about doing that annually. My usual optical shop was in Makati, and I had no energy, time or inclination to travel so far. I didn’t even know if they were open.
So one Sunday, off I went to the nearby mall, where there were three optical shops: Ideal Vision, George Optical and Executive Optical.
It seemed like a reasonable shop. I saw a good variety of brands and prices, and the bargain shelves, where you pay X amount for frames and lenses.
The optometrist checked my eyes with the machine (is that an autorefractor?), and then led me into the little room, where you sit in the chair and you have to look at the letters in the chart. She asked about my work, my habits. I told her about my migraines, and she sympathized, as she suffered them too. Then we did the thing where you wear the metal frame (apparently called trial frames), and she slipped various lenses in to check which ones worked for me.
To my absolute shock, she told me that I needed progressive lenses. It wasn’t that my eyesight was bad; in fact, my left eye is still fine, and my right eye is at something like 50. But I still had astigmatism though. Given my habits and the discomfort I described, she said my eyes were having a hard time adjusting between near and far, and I really needed to wear my glasses all the time.
She explained that older generations used bifocals, or what people locally called doble-vista, those lenses with a half-moon in the lower portion of the lenses. She said these days, instead of bifocals, optical shops used progressive lenses, where part of the lens was for distance, and the lower part for reading.
I was quite stunned not only by the prognosis, but by the price tag, so I decided to get a second opinion before agreeing to something I wasn’t exactly prepared for.
I went to Executive Optical, but there was a long line of people waiting to get their eyes checked. The attendant took my number, and said she would text me when it was my turn. So I went to George Optical.
You know those watch stores in malls? Some shops have many different styles, prices, posters and brands on display, and you can ask to see this or that, try this one or that one. And then there are the shops that have only a few shelves, each one holding only a few items, artfully arranged on beautifully designed stands, with mood lighting and stylish branding.
George Optical is like the latter, except with glasses. The attendant is wearing a nice, corporate-style uniform, and she is carefully dusting the items in each shelf. The optometrist is well-dressed too. The shop seems painted in dark colors that invite you to settle down, leaving the hustling, rushing crowds behind. I don’t even remember the brands that were on display, only that they looked expensive.
I was upfront: I had been having migraines, and my first check-up said I needed progressive lenses, so I wanted a second opinion. And what followed was perhaps the most comprehensive eye exam I have ever had.
The optometrist asked me an extensive list of questions, covering not only my work habits and how much time I spent in front of my laptop or phone, but also how much time I spent indoors and outdoors, what hobbies I had or the sports I did, if I drove often and when. In addition to the standard check with the autorefractor and the trial frames, she also went through a questionnaire and did a quick test to determine the dryness of my eyes.
Diagnosis: I did need progressive lenses, but not urgently yet, and my eyes were only moderately dry.
Like Ideal Vision, the prices were not cheap: one quote they gave me was Php 6,000, and the other was Php 4,200. Again, this was not including the cost of the frames, which I dared not even ask. Adding to the cost was the fact that they used Zeiss lenses; Zeiss also makes camera lenses, so I can only imagine the cost and the quality!
So I decided to check Executive Optical again.
I realized EO had not sent me a message as promised. I went back to the shop, and I saw that the people who had been behind me in line were already inside, so surely my turn had come and gone. I waved to the attendant, who apologized and called the optometrist. I briefly explained to the doctor about my migraines, and how long it had been since my last eye check. She put me in front of the autorefractor, then asked my age, and quickly said, oh you need progressives, come and choose a frame already!
I was so put off by the terrible service: from the attendant not remembering to message me, to the optometrist who seemed more concerned about making a sale than doing a proper examination. After the thorough exam at George Optical, and the careful explanations at Ideal Vision, Executive Optical just seemed like a terrible waste of time.
I left without asking how much the lenses would cost.
It annoys me that EO has such terrible service. They have so many billboards advertising their services, and so many people go to their shops. How many of those people actually get accurate diagnoses? How many of them are really wearing glasses that are appropriate for their conditions and their needs? Perhaps their prices are lower than those of other optical shops, but what is that going to cost the consumer in the long-run?
I’m so glad that due diligence is a habit ingrained in my family, so that when making a purchase, we know what we like and what we don’t like, what is a must-have versus a nice-to-have, and what are hard nos. Decision-making takes longer sometimes, but at least we’re sure about what we’re spending our money on, and which brand or company does not deserve our business.
In the end, I went back to Ideal Vision, and I got my new glasses ten days later. It’s been nearly a month, and I’ve been pretty happy with them!