Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Seeing clearly

One's eyes are important, and I have been remiss. My last eye test (or rather 'sight test', as they examine various aspects of eye health nowadays) was on 25 May 2011, which is more than two years ago. It wasn't then absolutely essential to have fresh lenses fitted, and frankly I couldn't afford the expense, and so I continued using the lenses dating from early 2010. My eyesight has certainly altered a fair bit since then. I wear varifocals, and while I'm still OK for driving and scanning the distant horizon, it's become harder and harder to read small print. I urgently need a fresh prescription!

The nice news is that people who are at least aged 60 (and I'm now 61) can get an NHS sight test for free. One less item to stump up for.

I'm going back to Specsavers again, their big shop in the centre of Brighton, and (having looked at their range of spectacles, and the lens options, on the Internet) I've decided that I'll just reorder what I have now: a fresh lens formulation of course, but the same simple gold metal oval frames. Those frames have proved themselves robust and easy to wear, so why change? They also go with my shape of face and the colouration of my skin and hair.

Specsavers will no doubt try to suggest to me that a 'new look' might be a good idea, but I've gone for designer frames before and regretted it. I want people to see my eyes, and the expression and feeling and soul in them, without the frames getting in the way. Frames can hide your eyes, or divert attention from them. Some people want that very much, but I don't. It's why I'm not a great fan of dark glasses. And for the same reason, I don't go in for tinted lenses either. I want my eyes fully on view, even if it means exposing all kinds of blemishes!

I think the cost will build up like this:

Sight test £Nil
Frames £45
Varifocal lenses £159
Anti-reflection/anti-scratch treatment £30

That's £234 altogether, exactly what my last specs cost me on 4 February 2010. So Specsavers' prices haven't changed in three and a half years. One option I would like to ask about is having polarising lenses, to cut out glare while driving around during the day. But I won't have them if it gives the lenses a tint, or if I have to pay for a second pair of specs.

Specsavers cunningly have an attractive offer ready for those aged at least 60, intended to lure the customer into spending more. Provided I go for frames costing at least £69, they will give me a 25% discount on the cost of the frames and lenses. That sounds very good, except that the saving is actually quite marginal. So, taking my own case, if a chose frames costing £99 with the same lens options as my £45 frame choice, the gross cost would be not £234, but £288. £288 discounted by 25% becomes £216; but that's only £18 cheaper than my £45 frame choice. If I went for frames costing £125, the gross cost would be £314, and the discounted cost would be £235 - no saving at all!

And it isn't as if selecting higher-cost frames get you eyewear that is irresistibly better-made or appealing. You just get specs that are decorated with all kinds of twirly bits and splashes of colour. Oh, and an embossed 'designer name'. This may be what some people want, but not this lady. There are no plain simple honest gold metal frames in the more expensive price ranges. Only frames encrusted with bling. So for the sake of a small saving, or no saving at all, I could get saddled with a pair of glasses that I loathe.

Well, the sight test is booked. It's just before I have my five nights in the rural East Midlands. And on my return, I'll saunter down to Brighton again and get my face adorned with the new specs. Nobody will notice any difference. But I will: suddenly the world will seem properly in focus again.


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Lucy Melford