I’ve been putting off buying new glasses. I haven’t wanted to deal with the insurance, and besides I like my current frames. Unfortunately it’s becoming progressively more difficult to read signs and subtitles, so this Saturday while we were out I stuck my head in Het Huis Opticiens to learn how vision checkups are done here. The process was surprisingly easy.
The first thing that impressed me was the ease with which I was able to get my check-up; I just walked in. Unlike in the US where we have to see eye doctors to get a prescription, opticians in the Netherlands are certified to come up with your basic prescription and (I imagine) work out things like astigmatism. I spoke with the woman who helped me and she said that the referral lines had simply gotten outrageous since it was getting clogged up by people like me with weak, but otherwise healthy eyes. Seeing an eye doctor requires a general practitioner referral and frankly why should I be preventing people with real needs from seeing a specialist. The exam was free and consisted basically of a eye chart exam and then the measuring of the shape of my eyes for a trial pair of contact lenses. No dilation or air puffs necessary.
I told my mother-in-law about this and she felt I should still make it a priority to see an ophthalmologist periodically to check for glaucoma anyway. I have “big cups” (ahem, the backs of my eyes) and that can be indicative of vision problems.
Once the examination was over the same optician helped me select some new frames. Since she brought the frames to me, rather than me looking around I was pleasantly surprised to find that my new frames were 50% off. Sweet. I got the impression that she isn’t being paid on commission because she took lots of time with me, and wasn’t pushing expensive brand name frames. Or maybe Dan’s frayed collar tipped her off that we didn’t have lots of money.
Actually, I was surprised by the lengths she went to not to charge me extra for various sundry things most eyeglass stores in the states would be only too happy to sell me. Instead of just buying contacts outright, she’s ordering me a trial pair. Then when we discussed transition lenses (something I’m use to having), she strongly discouraged it even to the point of offering to replace the plain lenses if I didn’t like them for just the cost difference. I’m still not so sure about the transition lenses decision, but she made it absolutely risk free for us, so I’m willing to be flexible.
The relatively low price for my glasses (and potentially contacts) is a good thing, since my vision insurance is pretty much non-existent. Even if I was paying for a higher level insurance, the most I could get off my frames is 45 euros. For someone like me who probably gets new glasses every 2-3 years, that’s not really much of a deal.
My new glasses should be ready in a week or so. I’m looking forward to a clearer outlook on life.