Thursday, July 15, 2010

There's an eye war brewing.

Are glasses a necessity, or a luxury? If you wear them, you know the answer to that question: They're a necessity. While we want glasses to look nice and fit well and complement us, glasses are every bit as much of a medical device as a cast or a crutch.

Which makes how opticians and other professionals treat the sale of eyeglasses, and the way they treat their patients, somewhat surprising -- if not shocking in some cases.

A lot of opticians and eye professionals seem to view selling glasses as a way to make a profit -- not a way to provide people with quality medical devices that are necessary to their patients' lives. So they view companies like Zenni Optical as a threat to them, and refuse to help their patients get less-expensive eyewear.

Zenni Optical is that place I've talked about before, the company that makes its own glasses and eliminates the middleman, so you get stylish frames for as low as $8. To order the glasses, though, you need something known as "PD," or "Pupillary Distance." That's an easy measurement of the distance between the pupils of the eyes, center to center, as measured in millimeters. It's used to ensure that the glasses fit properly.

Some professionals are refusing to provide that to their patients -- or are providing it in a code to avoid the patients' being able to go order their own glasses. They've even discused it online:

Who would do that? Imagine a doctor refusing to tell you what your prescription is to force you to pay HIM for your heart pills. Imagine a mechanic telling you what parts you need for your car in a secret code so you can't double-check the prices. You wouldn't stand for that-- or I wouldn't, anyway.

But opticians and others think they can do that? That's crazy. Zenni Optical is just trying to let people have affordable eyeglasses -- they're on the side of people who want to see. You'd think the eye professionals would be on that side, too, but apparently not all of them are.

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