Buy New Glasses and Zero Out Your FSA in 10 Minutes or Less
Don’t throw away your hard-earned money. Here’s the quickest way to pick up a new pair of specs.
Throwing your cash into the trash? That’s dumb.
Picking up new specs with your remaining flexible spending account (FSA) dollars before the calendar flips and the money disappears forever? That’s smart.
Be smart. It doesn’t take much time to find the perfect pair of glasses, says Heather Klatt, director of operations at National Vision, Inc., parent company of America’s Best Eyeglasses & Contact Lenses.
In fact, with Klatt’s insider tips, all you need is 10 minutes.
First things first: Is your prescription up to date?Most eyeglass and contact prescriptions are good for a year or two, but it depends on the state. If your prescription has run out, see your America’s Best eye doctor before December 31.
Set Your Timer: 3 MinutesLooking at a wall of frames can be a bit like comparing paint colors. Before you dive into the options, it helps to grab a moment with a professional. Let the optician know:
• Your lens prescription. Stronger or more complicated prescriptions, such as those for presbyopia or astigmatism, often require particular frame styles, says Klatt.
• What frame styles and materials have worked well in the past. There’s no use trying metal frames if you can’t stand the nose pads.
• If you’re ready for something different. Curious to see if you can pull off thick frames like Julia Roberts? Speak up!
• Your budget. Tell the optician how much leftover FSA cash you have to work with, and how much more you’re willing to spend if the extra funds won’t cover the full price tag.
Those basic facts can help whittle down your selection before you even start browsing, says Klatt.
Set Your Timer: 5 MinutesNow it’s time to shop. Don’t worry about matching your face shape to a frame shape, or your skin tone to a frame color.
“Those are outdated rules,” says Klatt. Your eyes should be centered in the lenses, and the widest part of the frames should fit the widest part of your face. But beyond that, focus on colors that you’re naturally drawn to and what image you’re trying to project.
The frames you notice early—usually within the first three—are often the ones you eventually choose, she says. A few more tips:
• Compare your top picks by looking at yourself both close up and at a distance. If you’re nearsighted, ask the optician to snap a picture of you on your smartphone so you don’t have to resort to squinting.
• Shop “as you normally are.” Guys, that means arrive clean-shaven if that’s your typical routine. Women, style your hair and makeup the way you wear it most often. Why? It’s the best way to make sure you’re going to love the way you look in your new frames, day in and day out.
• Get an honest opinion from a trusted pal. Klatt says it’s common for customers to invite a friend to tag along or have them on standby to evaluate selfies on the spot.
Set Your Timer: 2 MinutesYou found your match—great! Now ask the optician to walk you through the pros and cons of different lens materials and coatings.
Thin, high-index lenses, for example, are super light, great for people with stronger prescriptions, and score high marks for clarity and comfort. But they can be pricey and might not be necessary unless you’re going to wear the glasses every day. Polycarbonate lenses are almost unbreakable, but some people notice the focus isn’t as sharp as they’d like. An antireflective coating can mean less squinting if you have frequent turns on carpool duty or work at a computer.
There’s some give and take involved, says Klatt, but your optician can steer you toward what’s best for your lifestyle and visual needs.
You’re done! All that’s left to do is pocket the receipt for your FSA records and enjoy ringing in 2019.