Millennials are more than a buzzword heard on the news. They’re the largest generation since their parents’ and the very first to grow up with digital devices. This combination means products must reach this group and that the old ways of doing so are less effective.
The generally-agreed upon definition for a millennial is a person who was part of the 18 to 34 age demographic in 2015. However, the media has attached their own traits to this group. Self-centered, technology-obsessed, or entitled are common complaints about millennials.
Because of the sheer size of this group, the eyecare industry needs to reach them. However, these negative connotations have resulted in millennials distancing themselves from the term. Despite how true it may be, eyewear created for millennials cannot use that word in their advertising strategy because it seems disconnected and condescending. Several surveys concluded that only around one third of millennials identify with the term. What is the best method to appeal to this group then?
By reaching out and responding to their ideals in a positive way.
This group assigns high priority to expressing individuality. They are the most likely generation to investigate and factor in the ethics of a company. And never experiencing life without a computer nearby means eyecare marketing needs to adapt to the ways millennials communicate, network, and share information online.
To reach out to this group, a company needs to be aware of these issues. In the pre-Internet era, a company’s ethics were a non-factor, unless they did something notable enough to reach the traditional media outlets. Today, stories about any action a company takes, good or bad, can be shared around the world with a tap a smartphone screen. A millennial’s decision to support or boycott a product can be decided in a split second as they read through posts and shared stories on their social media account.
Their individualism also results in support of indie brands. They purchase a unique product as well as the satisfaction of supporting a business which might be operated by only a single person. A millennial’s questioning of the status quo means they are more likely to seek out and support one-of-a-kind, socially conscious and environmentally-friendly businesses or startups.
But what do they look for when shopping for eyewear?
Millennials want choice and change, which is exactly what the eyecare industry disruptors are bringing. Transparency in the eyecare business no longer refers to just the see-through quality of lenses; this is a movement to invite the consumer to have more power and a voice that is heard.
Millennials want to be included in the buying experience. The millennial market is expected to grow within the next five years and industry experts are positioning themselves to reach this consumer base effectively.
In eyewear, millennials want style, color and the ‘cool’ factor. While quality and price are also on their list, millennials view eyewear as a way to stand out and make an impression; cost is a consideration but not a deal-breaker. To this generation, eyewear is a necessary accessory. Whether the glasses are used to correct refractive errors or are worn to protect against UV rays, millennials want to stylishly combine form and function.
This generation is also visually-oriented. They view color, shapes, and designs as ways to express their individuality in whatever event they attend. When selecting eyewear, they like choices whether in-person or online. Choosing is a big part of the buying experience for them and eyecare professionals would do well to keep that in mind.
Millennials want change in the eye care industry as well. At the forefront is customer service. This is a generation that connects and communicates. In-person, they want a knowledgeable sales staff that listens and knows the latest trends. Online, they want to be able to open a chat or join a forum to express their views or ask a question. Social media is the voice of millennials and insightful marketers will speak this language.
An excellent example of a company that has embraced all of these concepts is DITA Eyewear. This company was established in Los Angeles in 1995 with one mission: to create unique, innovative, and finely crafted eyewear. This company has not only heard the voice of the millennial consumer, they are actively giving that voice expression through designing eyewear that connects and communicates with them on their own terms.
In line with their individualism, millennials don’t accept the status quo the eyecare industry has set. They question the “why” of the entire system, from how they get the prescription to the moment they put those new glasses on. The goals of eyecare industry disruptors tend to align with the ideals of millennials which has resulted in the creation and flourishing of the online eyewear market.
Disruptors seek to create transparency so the consumer can see how the industry was operating and how much more efficient it could be which aids the ethics research millennials do. Use of technology, from smartphone vision tests to 3D printed frames, shows this generation that the company is current and interested in achieving ideals rather than relying on old methods. Businesses who create frames from recycled material or ones who seek to improve the availability of glasses in developing countries allows millennials to support philanthropic causes and gives reason to spread the word about the company.
Indie companies are making huge changes in the eyewear industry. This would not have been possible before the technology, desire for change, and millennials to share their ideals and support their businesses.
When it comes to vision exams, millennials want convenience. They have fully embraced technology and understand its usefulness. They are also confident in using digital devices and are among the first demographic to try out new technology. When vision care providers understand this mindset, they are better able to address the concerns of this group of consumers.
Convenience comes in the form of being able to schedule vision exams at times beneficial to them, or not having to schedule an appointment at all. The last idea may seem a bit radical since traditional exams require going through a gate-keeper to set up an appointment, and then sitting in a waiting room wondering why your time for the exam has been delayed.
Smart Vision Labs has a simple and very effective solution. They offer a 5-minute Smart Vision Exam that doesn’t even require an appointment. When a millennial shows up at one of the participating vision care providers, the exam can begin.
There is a paperwork part of the vision test, in which consumers are asked basic information and general questions about their overall health. Specific questions about any eye problems or concerns will also be asked. Wavefront technology scans the person’s eyes, photos of the eyes will be taken, and all of the data will be sent to a licensed ophthalmologist to review. If a prescription is needed, it will be sent via email to the person within 24 hours.
Convenient? Yes. Millennials also appreciate the use of technology to store their vision care results and make their prescriptions accessible. Smart Vision Labs offers consumers a password-protected portal in which to view and download their prescription. And that prescription, as well as the vision exam results, will be accessible whenever they log in.
Millennials know the power of technology to offer a convenient approach to eye care. This consumer group will shun traditional and outdated business models in favor of more tech-savvy ones. When they want a vision exam, they will look for convenience (on their terms) and digital devices to streamline the process.
The future of vision care providers needs to include the very real expectations of millennials. Convenience is possible because of technology, yet there is a certain boldness that requires those in the eyecare industry to put it to use. When dealing with eye care and vision exams, there shouldn’t be a ‘let’s-see-if-the-market-is-ready’ approach; providers who are truly committed to eye health will use every means possible to encourage people to get regular vision exams.
Millennials’ impact on the eyecare industry is only just beginning. Besides being poised as the next generation of consumers, millennials are unique in several ways. There is an increase in myopia in this age group which will create a direct correlation to their involvement with all things pertaining to eyecare. Research is being conducted to determine the cause of this growing trend, and there is a popular theory that not only offers an explanation but may help define this generation.
The ‘near work’ hypothesis suggests that this age group has strained their eyes through reading and using smartphones and other digital devices. Another correlation appears to be between the increased education level of millennials and myopia.
These apparent causes for the frequency of myopia also define this group. They are very interested and comfortable with technology and place a high value on education. Millennials bring these traits to the opticians and optical stores and will shop according to where their beliefs are best implemented.
When purchasing prescription glasses or sunglasses, millennials look for frames that will create the image they want to project. This is a generation that loves all things unique, indie retailers, customized frames, and colors. Their view of glasses is balanced by the idea that they are not just an accessory. Form and function play a key role in their choice of eyewear.
And millennials are the group that will research how their prescription glasses and frames are made. They love to be part of the process through educating themselves. They ask questions and expect answers. They especially like to share their opinions on social media or forums.
Millennials are more than just a group of consumers; they are people who love connecting and expressing themselves. This can translate into sales for the linear-thinking marketers but for those in the eyecare industry who want to make a real impression, this is something to listen to. Give the millennials a voice and invite them to be part of the changes that are happening in this industry. Think of them less of a consumer and more of a partner.
Millennials know what they want, where to get it, and why it’s the best for them. And they love to share these thoughts with others. Opticians and optical stores should never overlook the impact of this generation.
Post-Disruption Jobs in the Optical Industry
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
by Joyce Handzo
Try looking down.
Pop Quiz: You want to get a new pair of stylish, sophisticated and environmentally responsible glasses to show off your new hairstyle when you go out this weekend, but you need to get your eyeglass prescription updated first, and you’ve got to do it all during your lunch hour and still find time to silence the grumbling in your belly.
Answer: Check out VU Frameworks in the ultra-chic TurnStyle underground market below Columbus Circle. Conveniently located in what is arguably one of the easiest locations to get to quickly from anywhere in New York City, VU Frameworks is surrounded by upscale shops selling hand-made stationery, ultra-chic messenger bags, and a variety of tasty delicacies ranging from artisanal donuts and savory French Crepes, to critically acclaimed grilled cheese sandwiches, Bolivian Saltenas, and Taiwanese dumplings.
Not only can you satisfy your hunger for food, but you can also satisfy your hunger for fashion – especially the fashion that sits on your face. VU Frameworks creates eyewear with an Urban Zen style. Even better, every faux wooden frame in their collection is designed to raise awareness of the strains consumerism puts on nature.
Ah, you say, but what about updating your prescription? You don’t have time to wait for an appointment with your eye doctor, and you don’t have the time to spend waiting in an office for a separate eye exam. Never fear, VU Frameworks Owner Nai Wang has got you covered there, too.
Nai is all about meeting the needs of her customers, some of the most demanding, most discriminating, high energy and time-challenged working professionals in the world. She recently began offering Smart Vision Labs’ 5-Minute Vision Exam, the revolutionary smartphone-based technology that can get you in and out of her store in less time than it takes you to finish your Espresso Affogato, and give you your new prescription in less than 24 hours thanks to cutting edge optical telemedicine.
Chic and convenient? Environmentally aware, technologically advanced, and fashion forward? Yes, to all of the above.
And you’ll find it all down below Columbus Circle, at VU Frameworks in the TurnStyle underground market.
Vision Industry Disruptors! International Edition
Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?
3D printing has been making its usefulness and potential known throughout many different areas. Recent breakthroughs in 3D printing are opening doors for it to be utilized in precise applications like engineering and space travel and for more creative uses in the home and fashion industries. Right now, 3D printing seems to be limited only by the designer’s imagination (and the size of the printer).
In any of these fields, the basic idea is to allow items to be manufactured using the printer and a schematic rather than having to purchase or otherwise obtain the item already made. This saves time (to find the item), space (from not having to store it), and changes the availability of the item from seeing if it is in stock to downloading a file. The applications for this technology are enormous. If an astronaut needs a tool in outer space or your washing machine repairman needs a part to install, all they require is a design file and a printer.
3D printing provides an innovative offering of freedom and imagination that impacts consumers on several levels. Eyeglasses are the core of the optometry industry, with the selection and purchase of frames being a finite business. There are, apparently, a limited number and type of available frames. Consumers understand that their eyewear selection will be based on what has already been designed and created. In other words, the consumer must ‘fit’ into the frames in a similar way that the frames need to ‘fit’ on their eyes.
On some level, the consumer is aware that their choices are controlled by the eyewear industry. With traditional methods of manufacturing, thousands of the exact same frames are made.
After receiving a prescription, the patient is directed to a wall of frames that await their inspection. This part of the process has been relatively effective so far because the consumer views the choices as a sampling of every type of frame available. Often there are categories like ‘new arrivals.’ The trendy colorful frames will be on the opposite side of the wall not mingling with the conservative business-style ones. The choices seem impressive at first glance, but they are finite.
3D printing has just knocked down that wall of frames.
This technology has put words like, specialized, customizable, personalized, and unique in the equation of purchasing frames. These are more than concepts to the consumer; these ideas form the basis of their purchasing power. People want choices, but they also want choices that they can create.
3D printing holds the potential for not only creating frames that exist in a model or photo, but frames that are literally born in the consumer’s mind. This opens the door to one-off, individualized frames. Imagine designing your own frames someday.
The technology sends a strong message to eyeglass wearers: choices are possible.
In an exciting, innovative way, 3D printing put the other “I” in eyewear. The potential and future impact will be astounding.
The role of the optician is to measure and fit lenses and frames for clients according to a written prescription provided by a licensed ophthalmologist.
3D printing can add more to this job description: print frames for clients. These frames can be made from a prototype or may even be a unique design.
The bottom line is that opticians are at the forefront of using technology that will add to their business.
One of the key benefits of printable frames is the elimination of excess inventory. Most optical stores have thousands of frames but they are not all being sold because they may not fit right or be the wrong color or shape. Consumers use their buying power most effectively when they believe they have choices that will benefit themselves.
Seeing thousands of frames in the optical store may seem impressive but consumers may get frustrated trying on frames that are close to what they want but not quite. 3D printing can create a unique and perfect-for-them set of frames.
Opticians can also combine current technologies to offer customized choices. Virtual try-on technology and facial recognition software can literally create a look for the client that is one-of-a-kind. 3D printing technology then wraps up the process by printing the frames according to the exact specifications of the consumer.
Remember those thousands of frames that are displayed on the wall? They may have been the epitome of the industry’s standard in the past, but 3D printing brings tens of thousands of choices to the consumer. Opticians will not have to rely on eyewear manufacturers to dictate the latest trends or be subject to purchasing inventory based on projected sales. The business of selling eyewear will be brought to the level where it will be most appreciated: the consumer.
Is this mind-boggling? Of course it is, in a cutting-edge, I-care-about-your-choice way.
Few companies already in this scene are Protos Eyewear, Sneaking Duck, and Mykita.
Protos has an unique algorithm which allows them alter the design of each pair of glasses to fit the user’s features and accentuate their facial structure.
Mykita is a German manufacturer of hand-crafted prescription frames and glasses. They have maee a unique material called Mylon, for their product, by employing a 3D printing process called Selective Laser Sintering.
Sneaking Duck is an Australian online retailer of prescription eyewear with a whole range of customizable 3D printed glasses.
Will the consumer be overwhelmed with this abundance of options? It’s more likely that the consumer will be overly impressed with the available choices they can control. Buying power is put back into their hands.
Opticians will see a renewed motivation in the consumer and the words ‘close-out sales’ may no longer be heard in the office.
Which looks better, one or two?
No, not the eyecharts. ‘One or two’ in this case is inviting you to compare how you buy glasses now to how you might purchase them in the not-so-distant future.
Meet Steve and Joe. Steve loves following new tech so he’s excited to test out those new 3D printed glasses frames he’s read about on some of his favorite blogs. Joe is a little more cautious of technology and trends so he opts to get his new glasses from the shop he’s been purchasing from since he was young. Let’s see what each of their experiences looks like.
Steve walks into the office where an equally enthusiastic optician walks him through what he needs to do in order to get his new frames. He asks if Steve has any ideas about what kind of glasses he’s looking for and, of course, Steve does. That idea is actually the first step in the 3D printing process; a vision of what you want to make. Steve pulls a well-worn pair of glasses from his bag. He says these were his favorite pair but they’ve haven’t fit right since he repaired them after they got run over with a bike. He wants to be able to have the look of his ‘geek-chic’ square black plastic frames with some measurement tweaks so they won’t slide off his nose (and into the path of oncoming bicycles).
The optician takes some measurements of the both the frames and Steve’s face before recreating the glasses in a 3D modeling program. As he works, he tells Steve the other ways he could have designed his new glasses. Bringing in a design he downloaded or created himself at home, using a database to select a pre-made frame, experimenting with different colors, or even emailing the shop a frame model (so Steve never even had to leave his house) were all other options.
As Steve and the optician excitedly discuss frame designs, Joe walks into his local glasses shop and right away sees a frame he likes. And another one! And another one? Joe and Steve actually have something in common here: their preferred style of square black frames. But while Steve works to customize his perfect pair, Joe is tasked with trying on the many pre-selected frames the store carries. Pick a frame, take off the glasses you’re wearing and put them down, put on the new pair and squint into the mirror to see if they look okay, decide they don’t and put your old pair back on. And repeat. Joe might be here a while.
And Joe is only dealing with one downside to the current way glasses are bought: too many choices. If Joe was interested in a more unique frame or if his face measurements fell above or below the ‘average’ sizes, he would run into the other side of his current problem: not enough choices. Sure, there are fifty pairs of average-sized square black frames but only one option if you want a small, red pair of glasses.
Meanwhile, the optician finishes creating the frame’s schematic in the 3D modeling program and, after getting Steve’s approval, sends the file to the 3D printer to be made. 3D printers work like this. A thin layer of plastic powder is spread out across the printer’s surface. It heats up and a laser runs over the powder in the shape of the model the optician uploaded. The process then repeats creating a new layer over the previous one. One by one, these layers build and form the shape of the frames. After the printing process completes, the optician attaches the arms, pops the lenses back in and hands them over to Steve.
Joe did find a pair that fit him well so the sales person sat him down to take his measurements for lenses and to get his payment information. She says the glasses will be ready in about a week as she hands him the invoice. Joe is a little surprised such a simple pair of frames cost so much but it’s either pay with money now or in time spent later having to find another, cheaper pair. He pays and leaves to see if Steve fared any better with his new-fangled technology.
Industry experts predict that within 20 years, all optical stores and optometrist offices will have a 3D printer.
This prediction also means that everyone who wears and purchases corrective glasses will have an infinite number of choices. The word ‘infinite’ refers to not only a physical inventory, but the creations of their minds.
Designing and printing unique customized frames will be the norm. Tens of thousands of options will be available to the consumer.
This will revolutionize the eyecare industry. The consumer benefits from choices and the ease of getting their customized frames printed in the office while they wait.
Optical stores benefit from not having to keep a larger, and often, not sellable inventory.
In terms of employment, 3D printing will create new and specialized careers in the optical industry. The duties of the optician will also include being a designer, as the creation of frames will be both fashionable and functional.
Perhaps a way to sum up the optical industry of tomorrow will be to think of the past and future.
2D is the past, giving consumers two choices: buy what is available or don’t make a purchase.
3D offers a new dimension: if you don’t see what you want, create it. This third choice empowers opticians to stop asking consumers to settle for available options but to offer them what they really want.
3D printing is powerful. Watch what it will do for the eyecare industry.
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How to Clean Your Eyeglasses…the Right Way
Should You Get Glasses or Contact Lenses?
Should I Get Reading Glasses From a Drugstore?
Do you know what the “i” in iPhone stands for? When Steve Jobs first introduced the iMac, back in 1998, he mentioned that the “i” stood for “Internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire.”
But do you know how your iPhone impacts your “eyes?”
Even if you have the biggest, baddest iPhone on the market, the screen is still relatively small. When you use your phone to check your emails, the weather report, or Facebook status updates, you are forcing your eyes to read small print. Now, that’s fine for a limited time, but prolonged use causes eye strain.
While your eyes can and should be able to read small text, the problem arises when we stare at the phone. Trying to focus on the phone’s screen for extended periods of time decreases the normal functioning of the eyes. It specifically affects the amount of times we blink.
Ideally, we blink about 15 times per minute, but this amount can be cut in half if we are reading on the phone simply because we are staring at the mini text. If you have never thought about blinking, now’s a good time to realize how important it is.
Blinking is essential because it coats the eyes with three layers of tears. The first layer is protein-rich moisture, the second washes away debris while nourishing the cornea with minerals, and lastly is an oily layer to provide needed lubrication. Without blinking, the eyes do not get what they need for optimum functioning.
“i” Need Glasses?
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a condition in which you may have difficulty seeing objects in the distance but see well for reading or other tasks that are closer to your eyes. This condition is believed to be part hereditary and partly due to environmental factors. One of these factors can be putting stress on the eyes by continually focusing on close objects.
Yes, staring at your iPhone and reading the small text for extended periods of time can be a contributing factor. You may need corrective lenses but you also can “correct” the way you look at your phone.
What Can “i” Do?
The 20-20-20 rule might be the easiest thing to implement. Basically, you take a break from staring at or reading from your phone every 20 minutes. Then for the next 20 seconds, you look into the distance, at least 20 feet ahead. This simple action allows your eyes to briefly rest and reduces eye strain.
Another easy way to help your eyes is to hold your phone a little farther away. Most people hold their phones about 8 inches from their eyes; this is much closer than they would hold a book or newspaper. By doubling the distance to 16 inches, the eyes wouldn’t be stressed as much.
And if you are having difficulty reading text from your phone at that distance, it’s time for a vision exam. In fact, if you are spending (dare I say) hours, on your phone every day, then you are definitely due to have that exam.
We all love our iPhones; let’s show some love for the other “eye” in your life.
Are Eye Doctors Seeing Things Correctly?
“Eye” Don’t Want To!
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing
There are some people who just wouldn’t be ‘themselves’ without their glasses. But did you ever wonder why they wear glasses?
Can you imagine John Lennon without his granny-style glasses? They became a trademark look for this musician.
While he was getting for his role in the film, How I Won the War, Lennon was given these glasses to wear. Apparently, the look worked for him and he kept them. Optically speaking, he was very nearsighted and wore glasses since he was seven.
Susan B. Anthony
This civil right leader is best known for championing women’s right to vote. Politically, she had a vision but her optical vision was also well known. She wore glasses to cover up her ‘lazy eye.’ This condition began in childhood and was characterized by reduced vision in one eye caused by abnormal visual development. The glasses she wore as an adult were meant to disguise this condition.
If treatment is started in early childhood, ‘lazy eye’ can be most often successfully cured.
He is credited with inventing bifocals because he was tired of switching from his two pairs of glasses. Franklin’s idea was the perfect solution: he cut the lens of each pair horizontally. The reading glasses were on the lower part of the glasses, while distance vision was addressed through the upper half.
Today, bifocals are a bit more sophisticated but the basic concept is the same. One lens with more than one use has proven to be very convenient for a large number of people, especially those over the age of 40. Presbyopia is an age-related condition in which the lens of the eye hardens and makes it difficult to focus on objects that are close. Corrective eyeglasses, including bifocals, can significantly improve vision.
His gold aviator glasses immediately come to mind and they may have been used to address a condition he acquired later in life: glaucoma. In the late 1960s he developed this eye condition which caused pain when he was in sunlight or in front of a spotlight.
Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, and if not treated will get worse over time, eventually leading to permanent vision loss. This condition can be diagnosed with regular vision and eye exams and can often be successfully treated in the early stages. While Elvis’ famous glasses might have given him a measure of relief, they couldn’t stop the progression of this disease.
All of these famous people had one thing in common: their vision needed correction. Whether it was nearsightedness, a lazy eye, or glaucoma, the eyes of all of these people either were helped or could have been helped with a vision exam. We remember these celebrities and history makers through the lens of time. We also keep an image of them in our minds with their glasses on. Knowing why they wore glasses may keep our memory of them to be a little clearer.
Wearing corrective eyeglasses can be more than a fashion statement; it can tell everyone that you are serious enough about your sight to get it checked regularly.
Bette Davis Eyes
Do Sunglasses Make You More Attractive While Protecting Your Eyes?
Your Amazing Eyes and How to Keep Them Amazing
Red Eyes and Selfies: Not a Good Look
Sunglasses are way more than just an accessory. Did you know they shield your eyes from sun damage while they make you more attractive?
Now that you’re paying attention, read on to see how (and why you should wear sunglasses anyway).
Looking Cool is not the Only Benefit
The whole reason we even need a pair of sunglasses is due to the existence of ultraviolet radiation. You probably know this as “UV rays.” The sun itself, not just the light, is our main exposure to these. What this means is that your eyes are picking up UV rays even on cloudy days.
UVA, UVB, and UVC rays combine to make what we consider UV rays. You need sunglasses for the first two. Cataracts and photokeratitis (sunburn on your cornea) are two serious eye problems directly related to UVB exposure. This alone should be enough to make you put sunglasses on but there are also UVA rays to worry about. These are linked to retina damage, causing loss of central vision. Whereas UVB rays are largely absorbed by your lens and cornea, UVA rays actually get inside your eye. Don’t forget, UVB rays are still considered the most dangerous.
What to Look for
Good thing you don’t have to choose which one to protect yourself from. There are a few things to look out for when picking out a pair of sunglasses. The first and most important is that they should block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays.
They should also screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light (which is different than protecting from UV rays). The lenses should seem identical, in both color and in lacking imperfections.
Darker does not Equal More Protection
The color of the lens has nothing to do with how much UV protection lenses provide. In fact, early versions of sunglasses were dark but blocked no UV rays.
Reducing the light while looking at something is why the very first pair of sunglasses was invented. At around the 12th century in China, smoked quartz “lenses” were held up to the eyes to block some of the bright sun. Although they didn’t block UV rays, they did hide the wearer’s emotions. Might this last reason be why they were popular with both the very rich and judges in court?
Sunglasses Make You More Attractive
Here’s the part you were waiting for. Celebrities aren’t just using oversized sunglasses or reflective aviators to hide from the paparazzi. There are two reasons explaining why we are better looking with sunglasses on.
They fix our facial symmetry. When you have on a pair of big sunglasses which protects not only your eyes, but half your face from the sun, you also hide any facial asymmetry. Science has linked facial symmetry with how attractive we perceive someone to be. As we tend to look at people’s eyes, we notice asymmetry there first. Sunglasses cover these up, making us appear more symmetrical, and more attractive.
The second has to do with those Chinese judges. They hide our eyes which reveal our emotions, giving us an air of mystery. This draws people in because they want to solve the “puzzle” of our emotions. (The judges used them to discuss issues in court without their emotions betraying their true feelings, allowing them to appear impartial.)
Health and appearance benefits? Ready to sign up? Start with a vision test to see if you would benefit from prescription sunglasses.
Bette Davis Eyes
What to Know About Snow Blindness
What’s the Right Eyewear for Sports?
We may not truly appreciate the simple vision tests and access to eye doctors we have today. “I could totally get my vision checked right now” is a thought that probably won’t randomly float through your mind. But it wasn’t even an option in the not-so-distant past.
Maybe these historical fixes for vision problems will give you a new outlook on caring for yours this year.
Nearsightedness Isn’t New
The number of nearsighted people has been steadily increasing. This is largely attributed to the amount of time people spend doing things that cause their eyes to focus on something close up. The rise of, first, reading, and second, digital devices, are both contributing factors to this issue. But just because the rates of myopia are increasing now doesn’t mean it didn’t exist before. So what did our nearsighted ancestors do to help their vision?
The very first instances at human attempts to correct nearsightedness at around the 13th century more closely resembled magnifying glasses than the stylish prescription eyeglasses of today. Wearing magnifying glasses on your face seems like it might be uncomfortable. . . which is why they weren’t usually worn. People used them to see something they were reading at that moment rather than for long-term vision correction.
Because the lens technology wasn’t developed yet, the glasses were actually made of glass (or quartz) which made them heavy and unwieldy. The thick lenses you may have grown up with were an improvement on these magnifying spectacles. They were most popular in Europe where they were manufactured although some made their way along the Silk Road to countries in Asia.
The use of glasses intended to alleviate nearsightedness rose right along with, you guessed it, the literacy rate. The first big jump in glasses-wearers comes after the Reformation at around the 17th century. It is at this period that the arms of the glasses were created, allowing them to be worn full time.
Fashion-wise, it was a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, they were seen as awkward, because they (unintentionally) made a strong statement that proclaimed that the wearer suffered from some condition. On the other, different styles and colors became available when people realized they needed the glasses and might as well incorporate them into their personal fashion statement.
What Vision Exam?
Did you notice what is missing from these historical accounts of glasses? If you guessed “vision exam,” you’d be correct. How we purchase a pair of reading glasses pre-made from a store is how our ancestors chose their entire prescription. They would test out several pairs and choose the one which seemed to improve their vision the best. No vision test, no eye doctor in sight. Just a traveling peddler of goods.
Thankfully, we don’t have to choose the glasses (that we use to see very important things like the road when we drive) through trial and error. Technology has made huge advances in the world of vision correction possible. From fashionable but light frames, thin lenses even for strong prescriptions, and using your smartphone for a vision test; all these are much easier and more accurate than our nearsighted historical friends with quartz lenses could have imagined it might be.
For many, losing their vision is believed to be an inevitable and accepted fact of growing older. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Turning into Grandpa who reads the paper with his arms stretched out because he can’t see the fine print or Granny who doesn’t like to drive at night anymore is not something that has to happen.
Let’s see how their day might look if they are the kind of people who just treat losing vision quality as a fact of life.
Grandpa wakes up, starts making a few slices of toast and coffee, and goes to take his morning medication as breakfast gets ready. Oops. He forgot to sort out his medicine the night before. He has trouble reading the tiny print on the bottles saying what and how much to take so he needs to solicit Granny’s help to figure it out. He goes to wake her, even though she wanted to sleep in today. Thankfully, Granny is a sweet old lady and helps him out anyway, although she did swipe a piece of toast.
After breakfast, he sits in his armchair and reads the local newspaper. He remembers this being much more comfortable than it currently is. His near vision isn’t great so he holds the paper straight out in front of him, as far as his arms go.
His eyes seem tired as he continues to read. They are itchy and feel like they want to shut. But he just woke up. He can’t be tired already so he rubs them and continues on for a bit. Eventually, he gives in and takes a quick catnap. He has to drive Granny later so it is good to rest now.
Granny goes to a book club at the town library this evening but she doesn’t like to drive in the dark. She says it’s hard to make things out in the dim light and the glare from car headlights just make it worse. Grandpa might not be able to read the fine print on his medicine labels but he is more comfortable driving so he takes her. He is able to finish reading the newspaper as he waits for Granny’s group to finish their discussion.
Grandpa and Granny’s struggles might seem (and actually are) totally routine issues older people with vision problems deal with on a daily basis. But they don’t have to be.
Grandpa could read his medication bottles and have an easier time reading the newspaper with a simple pair of reading glasses. Since reading is important to him, it might be worth it to get a prescription pair of readers because they will be customized exactly for his eyes.
The tiredness and itchiness he felt in the morning is the result of lack of tears, not sleep. Dry eye is another easily treated condition with prescription or over-the-counter eye drops.
As for Granny, her inability to see well at night is due to several factors. The pupils can’t expand as well, letting in less light which reduces vision. Driving is a complex task, requiring our eyes to focus on many objects at once, both moving and stationary, a task which becomes more difficult with age. The lens and cornea may also be slightly clouded which also reduces incoming light. Depending on the severity of her problem, she may notice a marked improvement with a pair of prescription glasses with anti-reflective coating.
All of their eye problems have an easy remedy – and it can all start with a vision exam.
Your eyes are a part of your body which are very receptive to preventative care. Many conditions which affect quality of vision are easily remedied with prescription eyeglasses. Getting vision tests at regular intervals keeps you alert to any changes in your vision and allows you to act on them as soon as possible.
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Something might be missing if you decided to take the prescription from your last vision exam and shop online for glasses. The website you chose to order glasses from will ask for your pupillary distance (PD). This measurement is critical for ensuring the lenses in your new glasses line up correctly with your eyes in order to improve your vision.
If you’re new to buying glasses online, you probably didn’t know to get your pupillary distance measurement from your eye doctor while you were there. Since this is a pretty common scenario, people have invented some. . . creative ways to come up with this measurement for themselves.
One Ruler to Rule Them All
Step one: get out your millimeter ruler. What do you mean you haven’t touched one of those since middle school and that math problem about the triangles? Fine. Step zero: go buy a millimeter ruler. You could print one out online as well, just make sure your printer is set to “actual size.”
Anyway, now that you have your millimeter ruler (or piece of paper) in hand, you also need a friend. Hopefully you’ve gotten one of these more recently than that ruler you used in math class. Have them stand about an arm’s length away from you.
Then, they need to measure the distance between your pupils. For best results, they should be wearing their own glasses so they can eyeball (no pun intended) where exactly the ruler starts, right at the center of one pupil, and read the measurement directly at the center of the other pupil. Ideally, they are holding the ruler (or paper) perfectly still over the bridge of your nose as this is being read. Holding your breath might help with this. As they do this, focus your eyes on some spot about 10 feet off in the distance. Staring directly at your friend might creep them out and will mess up your measurement.
Repeat this about three times and average them out to account for either (or both) of you moving. If you’re concerned about the accuracy but don’t want to give up on your online glasses shopping experience yet, there is another way you can try.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
If you’re more of a lone wolf type, you can actually measure your own pupillary distance, no friend required. You just need to replace “friend” with “mirror.” While balancing the ruler on the bridge of your nose, stand about arm’s length away from the mirror and read the measurement.
What if you can’t see yourself at arm’s length in order to read the ruler (let alone those tiny numbers)? After all, you are doing this in order to purchase a pair of glasses.
Luckily, poor eyesight isn’t an excuse to not know your pupillary distance. You just need a highlighter as well. This time, look at yourself in the mirror and use the highlighter to dot where your pupils are on the lenses of your glasses. Then, you can take the glasses off and read the measurement by putting the ruler as close to your eyes as you need.
So, how to clean highlighter off your lenses? You did use an old pair of glasses, right? Oh well, you’re shopping for new ones anyway.
Or Just Use Technology?
However, the desire for people to measure their own pupillary distance has also resulted in some successful and simple methods as well. There are various ways which use technology to create an objective measurement. Unsurprisingly, measuring your own pupillary distance with the assistance of technology turns out to be both more accurate and way easier than relying on a combination of a friend, mirror, and millimeter ruler.
At the rate technology is advancing in this area, there might be even easier methods of measuring your pupillary distance right on the horizon.
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