Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

« ArialMainMacBook Line-Out »


696 words

Oh, my – it seems that I cannot buy a single thing these days which actually works the way I expect or that satisfies me. This time I have to bitch about the new lenses I bought for my glasses. To be honest I never really trusted opticians. Like most other business-people they seem to be crooks. At least that’s how I view people who have this air of dishonesty about them which comes with handing you the bill in a closed envelope so you aren’t shattered right away or people who will do their duty and fix the problem you have but go on pretending that there isn’t actually a problem all the way through or people who pretend to recognise you when you enter their store but then don’t have the slightest idea who you are (just as with Clinton and his apprentice it’s not the forgetting I mind but the pretending) or people who just try to cheat me.

I didn’t find all of these points in the optician I went to but a number of them. Getting there to order the lenses came with a shock. I know that lenses are expensive, particularly if you want all the anti-glare and scratch resistance you can reasonably get. But the price they originally quoted me was well over €300 which is about 50% more than I expected. Only after openly not liking that, the optician ‘discovered’ a lens that is the same plastic, same coating, same manufacturer but about a third cheaper than the initial offer, thus being quite precisely at the price point I remembered. Apparently at standard strengths and sizes the manufacturer just mass produces the lenses rather than making them as they are needed and they give you a share of the savings that causes. Obviously, only learning about that after some extra questioning makes you think the guy you’re dealing with isn’t exactly honest.

Finally the lenses I arrived and I had them fitted into the glasses. And I expected them to start off feeling a bit a strange, particularly as I have different strengths on both eyes and the brain always has to adjust to that (because lenses of different strengths shrink the image to different extents, thus requiring extra work to match the images of both eyes to a single picture). But these lenses just felt wrong.

For sure, everything was nice and crisp once again. But only when I was looking straight ahead. But diverting my view as little as 20 or 30 degrees from the line straight ahead just showed clearly visible chromatic abberation and also geometric distortion. Which drove me crazy. Any medium to high-contrast line that wasn’t exactly straight ahead started having blue and orange ‘shadows’ around it and when looking downwards – straight lines were curved. All of the sudden I was typing on a curved keyboard and I was cycling on sidewalks made of curved bricks.

So I went back to the optician’s to tell them about the problem and I was assured that this is perfectly normal although I argued that even with the weaker of the two lenses I am now having stronger aberration and distortion than I previously had with the stronger lens. Ultimately they gave in and agreed to replace the lenses by less modern (and slightly thicker) ones with a lower refractive index that matches that of my old lenses.

I don’t have experience with optics but my gut feeling would be that a difference between a refractive index of 1.5 and 1.6 shouldn’t be that big. And if it is, what is looking through lenses with an index of 1.7 like which you can buy by now?

I guess it doesn’t matter how this works out in the end. They didn’t start with a good impression and they won’t be able to fix that. To me the difference is so clear that I am puzzled why they don’t at least mention those problems up-front. Rather you just get vague talking on generalities as is common these days. The fact that on two of my visits there the guy turned around before saying good-bye didn’t help either.

April 30, 2007, 21:58


Comment by gummi: User icon

Could you embed a link to the website of the optician, if they have one. I’m sure your Pagerank would be a nasty surprise for them.

April 30, 2007, 22:51

Comment by ssp: User icon

I had given that a thought but on the one hand I want my problem properly fixed first and – more practically – they don’t seem to have a web page to begin with.

But my impression so far is that they aren’t necessarily worse than the average optician is. After all opticians sits in a nice cosy niche between the medical, technical and fashion industries. None of which are known for focusing on good prices or service first but all of which are used to generous profits generated by mystification and fear.

May 1, 2007, 1:55

Add your comment

« ArialMainMacBook Line-Out »

Comments on




This page

Out & About

pinboard Links


Received data seems to be invalid. The wanted file does probably not exist or the guys at last.fm changed something.