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How Much Should You Be Spending On Your Glasses?

Your optometrist, optician or other health professionals may discuss the importance of having regular eye checks or routine eye examinations to ensure your eye health and eyesight hasn’t deteriorated. Your eye care professional, on average, suggests that we all should have our eyes tested every 1 – 2 years. This, of course, varies depending on our circumstances and pre-existing ocular health.

It seems like each time you visit your optometrist or your favourite optical shop; you almost always ended up purchasing glasses mainly due to

  1. Update or change to your prescription
  2. Unused health fund to claim your optical benefits

It may not always be necessary to purchase a new pair of glasses if we fully understand the need to do so.

Understanding Changes to Your Prescription

Every time your optometrist checks and measures your vision, it will almost always result in a different prescription than the ones in your glasses that you’re wearing. The numbers produced for your prescription would always be “slightly” different. It’s the same dilemma when we measure anything due to the tools we use, the method and variation in judgement between optometrists. By just comparing the numbers on your prescription, if they are different, indeed technically there has been a “change.” This would be more common if you have visited another optometrist in the past.

The variation between your prescription checks could be minimal that doesn’t always correlate to a change in your vision. Suppose the differences are marginal (within one step of a change or a power variation of 0.25DS). In that case, it is often up to the patient whether or not they subjectively notice any difference and, if they prefer the vision with their new prescription. At Capital Eye, our prescribing philosophy is based on evidential changes, taking into account your eye health and lifestyle. Our practice doesn’t advocate purchasing glasses just for the sake of doing so. We believe each purchase is an investment into your eye health and eyesight. Therefore, prescription change is only one of many factors we consider before advising our patients, whether or not a genuine update in their glasses would benefit them in the long term.

Understanding Your Vision Changes

Before updating your glasses at Capital Eye, we would like to understand how your vision changes or fluctuates in different circumstances. On average, our vision can vary up to 20% on any given day. The environment, such as temperature and humidity, could impact our vision if your eyes are at risk of dry eye disease. Patients with poorly managed systemic medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes would most likely experience a considerable fluctuation in their vision. Another example such as spending a lot of time in front of the screens and computers could cause eye fatigue which can cause a temporary change in your vision.

These temporary changes in your vision would cause a change in your prescription, and could make you feel that your glasses are no longer doing their job. Correcting and prescribing your glasses without taking into account how your eyes and vision changes would mean that your new prescription glasses are not optimally produced. These glasses, as you would’ve imagined, would only provide little improvement in your vision.

Understanding The Role of Your Health Fund

We all understand a proportion of your glasses purchase could be covered from your health fund. The amount you get back varies between different health funds along with their validity period; whether it is claimable every one or two years.

Optometry practices and optical retail outlets can and often offer “ranges” which is at the amount you’ll get back from your health fund; offering a “no gap” range. This is usually the pair of glasses for sale around $200 with the frames and lenses included as a package. Suppose you’ve been wearing glasses for a long time or have any specific requirements or needs for wearing glasses. In that case, you’ll soon find out that having glasses from the “no gap” range is almost impossible. Here’s why;

You Needed a Better Lens

The “No Gap” range is akin to the ” No Frills” range. If you have a look at your pantry, how many items do you have that are Homebrand? There may be some items you could get away with such as salt and pepper. However, for your eyes and eye health, it is more complicated than just condiments on the table.

A better lens doesn’t necessarily provide better vision. Your vision is based on your prescription provided by your optometrist. If your prescription is low, you may be able to get away with what we call a standard stock or even a Homebrand lens. However, if your prescription is low, it is unlikely you’ll ever depend on your glasses anyway. Thus, the option of having a Homebrand lens may be the only time of lens you’ll need in your circumstances.

If you have a higher prescription, your lens power would be “higher.” A lens producing a higher power is subject to aberrations, a technical term for distortions, especially around the edges of the lenses. The technology and complicated grinding technique to minimise these edge distortions vary between different lens laboratories. At Capital Eye, we use a local lens laboratory located in Melbourne, CR Surfacing. They’ve adopted the state-of-the-art digitally surfaced lenses to ensure your lenses are distortion-free. This is something that a Homebrand lens could not provide, especially at the cost of “No Gap.”

Multifocals lenses would almost always leave you out of pocket and outside the amount claimable from your health fund. Multifocals are more of a lifestyle choice by having lenses that eliminate the need for having two pairs of glasses. This makes it very convenient for patients needing glasses to see in the distance as well as up-close tasks such as reading. Again, different companies patent their own technology for making multifocals. At Capital Eye, we supply the top-of-the-line multifocals from a German-engineered lens laboratory. Rodenstock’s reputation of producing the best multifocal lenses on the market means that our patients would experience lenses that are clear, comfortable, distortion-free and easy to adapt.

This is not something that could even be compared to a Homebrand lens. If you are a photographer, think about the time you had to purchase new lenses for your DSLR. There is simply no comparison from the image quality you capture from your DSLR lenses compared to a standard point and shoot camera.

You Needed a Better Frame

Frames come in different sizes, shapes and materials. There is a reason why a cheap pair of readers or magnifiers from a chemist or service station is cheap. They are designed as an “emergency” to get you by until you get your new prescription glasses. Fitting of these glasses are often poor and uncomfortable due to the limited selection.

Frames we stock at Capital Eye aren’t just any plastic or metal. They are designed with a purpose; to carry your prescription lenses with durability. With proper care, it is not uncommon for our frames to last more than five years as our patients often find. A “No Gap” range frame may only usually last less than 12 months, but you’ll need to get your new glasses updated again, and again often through your health fund. Although this is good in terms of business cycles, our aim at Capital Eye remains true to our patients and only provide an update where it is needed.

The Bottom Line

There is no magic formula for calculating how much you should spend on your new prescription glasses. If your Health Fund entitles you a new pair of glasses each year at “No Gap” then getting glasses based on that principle is superfluous to your needs. In that case, it would be at your best interest to review the necessity of having an optical cover on your Health Fund – it might just save on your premium.

It is more beneficial to purchase eyewear matched to their needs, rather than based on costs. Purchasing glasses solely based on the costs risks your new glasses being inadequate for your needs, would require more adjustments and fall below your expectations.

Patients of Capital Eye have the peace of mind that their glasses and lenses supplied are made to last, with the latest lens grinding technology to provide you with clear and comfortable vision every time.