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They’re a wealth of information about your eyes — and sometimes your health too.
If you’re running in and out of the eyeglass store, you’re missing out on a chance to connect with your optician. “We’re not as car salesman-y as you think. We like to hang out with customers and keep our finger on the pulse to see how you’re doing,” says Michael Vaughan, an Atlanta-based optician and retail operations manager affiliated with America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses.
Along with being a friendly face, your optician can also play a surprising role in your eye health and understanding your prescription. So don’t be shy. Here are six ways you can tap into their expertise.
Optician expertise #1: They can adjust the fit of your current glasses
The projected lifespan of a pair of eyeglasses is two years, and proper care can get you there. If your eyeglasses have loosened up or they’re sliding down the bridge of your nose when you’re looking at your laptop, you can get the screws tightened for the right fit.
Vaughan recommends eyeglass tune-ups quarterly, so add it to your calendar and make sure to stop in to America’s Best for a free adjustment. “These adjustments help ensure that your eyeglasses last as long as possible, so you don’t have to pay more money replacing them early,” he says. Use our search tool to find an America’s Best optician near you.
Have questions about your eye health or vision? Your America’s Best optometrist is here to help. Click here to find an exam time that fits your schedule.
Optician expertise #2: They can detect problems with your eye health
“Your optician can be a great prescreening source for other health issues with your eyes,” says Vaughan. For instance, he had a patient come in a few years ago complaining that he woke up and could no longer see out of his eyeglasses.
Turns out, this extreme shift in sight had nothing to do with his lenses. Rather, Vaughan suspected that problems with the man’s blood sugar levels were affecting his vision.
Vaughan helped him schedule an eye exam to rule out vision problems and also suggested that he see his primary care provider for bloodwork. “When he went to the doctor, he found out he had type 2 diabetes,” says Vaughan.
Optician expertise #3: They can make minor repairs to your glasses
Many customers come into the store with lenses that have popped out of their frame. “They think it’s the end and they need to replace their glasses,” says Vaughan. Not so. It’s one of the easiest fixes an optician can make.
Opticians can also replace screws and analyze any cracks in the frame to see if they’re repairable. (America’s Best also sells an eyeglass repair kit. Your optician can walk you through how to use it so you can make tweaks at home.)
Also, if you find that you’re trying to repair broken glasses often, talk to your optician. They can suggest the best lens material and frame for your lifestyle. For example, if you find that glass lenses are always chipping (something that cannot be repaired), upgrading to a more durable polycarbonate lens might be a smart move.
Optician expertise #4: They can help find you the best deal
Vision insurance can be tough to navigate. So if you’re having trouble figuring out your benefits (and what savings you’re leaving on the table), your optician can help.
Typically, vision insurance covers a new pair of eyeglasses every year, with a certain frame allowance (often $115 to $130) for a copay, says Vaughan. He will work with customers to build their “grand slam” pair of eyeglasses. At that point, he’ll input your insurance information into their system to see exactly what’s covered and how the payment breaks down.
The benefit of starting that way? “We can get the most out of your insurance coverage and make sure whatever we build works best for you,” he says. “Insurance is confusing, but our system makes it easy to wade through.”
Don’t have insurance? Did you know that you can receive a free eye exam from an optometrist when you purchase two pairs of eyeglasses from America’s Best?
Optician expertise #5: They can teach you how to use contacts
Whether it’s your first prescription or you’ve always worn eyeglasses, starting with contacts is a whole new game. A licensed optician is specially trained to give you the full scoop on wearing them. That includes fitting, insertion and removal, the ins and outs of care, learning about wearing schedules, and the importance of keeping a backup pair of eyeglasses. “We’re definitely well equipped to handle any contact lens needs,” Vaughan says.
Optician expertise #6: They can help you understand your prescription
Eyeglass prescriptions contain a bunch of numbers and abbreviated terms. They tell you what eye condition you have (say, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism), and the kind of correction you’ll need to normalize your vision. Your optician can decode your diagnosis and help you understand your vision needs.
Plus, your prescription (along with your physical features, such as head size and the distance between your eyes) will inform what types of frames you can choose. So it’s a valuable conversation to have with your optician to help ensure that you walk out the door happy.
“What we care about most is that you like the glasses you picked and that you can see out of them,” says Vaughan.