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My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: February 14, 2007 10:57AM
A while back there was a thread about eye exams and glasses. I hadn't had an exam or a prescription change in over six years, so I paid attention. A couple of people mentioned they were happy with the optical services at Costco, so, since I no longer have vision coverage, I decided to go to there. Consumer Report had also given them a good rating. I picked up my new glasses yesterday, and I decided to post about my experience. I didn't do enough research beforehand, and I have learned a couple of things (the hard way) that others might want to consider before deciding whether or not Costco is a good option for them.

The exam: The price of a complete exam at Costco is $65. The price quoted by the independent I'd been using was $100. The Costco exam itself was fine. The optometrist was very professional, easy to talk to, and the exam included the glaucoma test and dilation so the back of the retina could be examined thoroughly. I'd definitely give the exam a thumbs up.

The new glasses: Just know in advance that you either have to be prepared to purchase new frames, whether you want to or not, or you have to go without your glasses for about two weeks if you want to reuse the old frames. I had to buy new frames, since leaving my glasses behind wasn't an option.

The frame selection: It's quite limited. I wanted new ones of the same quality as the old ones, which held up exceptionally well for a long time. The optician told me they did not carry frames comparable in quality to the ones I had. By the time she showed me the best of their group, the selection got really, really small, and I wound up buying something that I don't much like.

The lenses: The optical department of the Costco I go to carries only one kind of progressive lens, and it is a "consumer" quality lens. I didn't know this until after I got home and began doing some research. I won't annoy you with everything that I learned, but the bottom line is that, for me, these won't work. I need a better quality progressive that has a wider field of distortion-free vision.

A comparison of price for glasses:

The place I'd been going quoted me the following, which would be virtually identical to what I'd been using happily for six years:

Progressive lenses (Varilux): $235
High Index: $90
Anti-reflective coating: $95

Gag. A total of $420, plus tax for lenses only.

Costco:

Progressive lenses (Ovation) $100
High Index: $30
Anti-reflective: $30
Frames: $60
Total: $220, plus tax, for a complete pair of new glasses

Unfortunately, it looks like I may have to buy those expensive lenses from the independent after all.

I'm not knocking Costco's optical services, because they clearly meet the needs of a whole lot of people, but I don't seem to be one of them. If you've been happy with the glasses you got somewhere else, make sure you do some research and find out in advance if glasses you buy at Costco are going to be of comparable quality. Also check with the specific Costco store you'll be going to, because I have learned that some do carry a wider selection of lenses. The one I go to carries only the Ovation, and I know that because I asked.

It appears I just learned a very expensive lesson, so I hope somebody else can get some good out of my money. smiling smiley
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: February 14, 2007 11:20AM
As an aside note, LensCrafters gives a flat 30% discount with your AAA membership card presented at the time of ordering lenses/frames. They have been doing this for years.

Of course, I'm pretty sure the 30% discount cannot be combined with any other offers (buy one pair, get one free...etc.).



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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: jdc
Date: February 14, 2007 11:21AM
i always get my exams there, but buy glasses elsewhere, same as you

you did save the $35 on the exam, and the prescription can be used anywhere



----

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs [www.fakesteve.net]


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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: vision63
Date: February 14, 2007 11:23AM
In what ways are the consumer quality progressives lesser? Plastic?
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: testcase
Date: February 14, 2007 11:25AM
AlphaDog, thanks for the information. I got my first pair of variable focus lenses a year and a half ago. I didn't realize there were different types available. My first pair did seem to have a VERY limited field of focused vision and, as such, was virtually useless. Strangely enough, the Rx vari-focus sunglasses I got at the same time work much better. I have a vision benefit with my health plan so, I was able to get new glasses about six months ago. I mentioned the problems I was having with the original vari-focus pair. The optomitrist (same one from a year earlier) listened and, the new ones work much better. Fortunately, my Rx is virtually the same for the last six years so, for most day to day reading, I find myself still using my "old" reading glasses. The primary use for my vari-focus glasses is when I'm flying. Having to scan outside, scan flight instruments and, referrence charts is much easier if I don't have to take glasses off and on. Can you provide some links to the information you found? TIA!
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: Dennis R
Date: February 14, 2007 11:37AM
Quote
AlphaDog

A comparison of price for glasses:

The place I'd been going quoted me the following, which would be virtually identical to what I'd been using happily for six years:

Progressive lenses (Varilux): $235
High Index: $90
Anti-reflective coating: $95

Gag. A total of $420, plus tax for lenses only.

Costco:

Progressive lenses (Ovation) $100
High Index: $30
Anti-reflective: $30
Frames: $60
Total: $220, plus tax, for a complete pair of new glasses

Unfortunately, it looks like I may have to buy those expensive lenses from the independent after all.

It appears I just learned a very expensive lesson, so I hope somebody else can get some good out of my money. smiling smiley

You forgot to include the cost of the frames at the independent. And if you can't use the ones you bought you could always donate them to the Lions CLub or some organization that can put them to use.

Sorry it was such an expensive lesson.

[www.lionsclubs.org]
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: jesse
Date: February 14, 2007 12:07PM
This site has a pretty good explanation of the different types of progressive lenses:

[www.allaboutvision.com]

Many different progressive lenses are on the market today. The differences among the lenses are mainly in the width of the central corridor of optimum vision. Different areas of the corridor are expanded depending on the function that each particular lens is designed for. Some progressives that are made for a great deal of computer use, for example, have a wider intermediate zone. Others have a larger reading portion. Your eyecare practitioner is in the best position to evaluate which lens style will work best for you.

I had the same problem with the first pair of progressive lenses I tried, the field at the bottom was to narrow, I had to upgrade to a higher costing lense to get the wider field at the bottom.

jesse
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: billb
Date: February 14, 2007 12:28PM
I don't understand why Costco can't get the lenses. All the Optical stores get their lenses from the same warehouses/suppliers. That seems odd.
Charging more would make sense if they have a bulk discount going on.

After that, all they need is your PD and a pattern to cut your lens blank from to fit in your frame. (which would be why they need time for your frames rather than their own- they may have to make a pattern to cut with.)

My optical store doesn't charge for upgrades to the progressives with the larger "hole".
They just asked to 'try' to get used to them first. (3 days).
They also did not have all the frames in stock that they had on display. Some 'special orders'.
$325 +$95 for about the same glasses as yours. "standard" frame.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: February 14, 2007 01:22PM
I've been trying to find one particular site where I was reading about the relative merits of different kinds of progressive lenses, and, after almost an hour of looking, I still can't find it! Plus, for some strange reason, I can't get the History bar to show up in my Firefox. Does anybody have a clue what I might have done to disable it?! When I click on the History icon, it doesn't come up, and I can't access it through the History menu, either.

Anyway, I wanted to say to Dennis R. that I've been donating to the Lions for a long time, so nothing will go to waste!

The independent optometrist was able to order new lenses made, and I just wore the old glasses until the new ones came in. They'd just change them out at the shop while I waited. At this point, I have more frames than I need, so I probably wouldn't have gotten new frames if I'd gone somewhere else.

As I've been researching this more and trying to decide what to do next, I think part of the problem is that "current frame fashion" and the Ovation lenses are incompatible. Most of the frames now are shallower than my old ones, and the Ovation is an older type of progressive, developed when deeper frames/slightly larger lenses were in style.

I also think the optician didn't get an accurate measurement before ordering my lenses. The optician at the "other" place always made sure to fit the frame I'd chosen before trying to take any measurements. Once the frames felt comfortable to me, she did the measuring. At Costco, the optician had me put on the frame and then took a measurement. When I picked up the glasses yesterday, she had to make significant adjustments in the way the frames fit, including changing the angle.

The only thing I'm sure about is that the longer I wear the new ones the more tempted I am to put my old glasses back on and go about my life. All this and the prescription didn't even change much. sad smiley
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: vicrock
Date: February 14, 2007 01:38PM
Costco has a "satisfaction guaranteed" policy - if the lenses don' t work for you, I'd bet they will give you a refund.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: billb
Date: February 14, 2007 01:46PM
A standard lens blank is 75mm (of which 65mm is useable).
You'd have to have rather large frames to need a larger blank.


The cut blank has a tendency to bow the frames.

I once had lenses made wrong. (The blanks had been set in the cutter wrong) PD was way off.
Most comfortable pair of lenses I've owned.
Of course the next optometrist picked up on it and even got a second opinion.
(I haven't had an optometrist check my current lenses for a while)
Took almost a month for my eyes to get used to correctly made glasses.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: Ammo
Date: February 14, 2007 02:28PM
I chose to get the old style (you can see a line between each section of the lenses) bifocals at Cosco because the optician told me that their field of view is wider than progressive lenses. I have been happy with them.

I know, it makes me look like an old-timer, but I don't care that much - they kind of go with my white socks.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: wave rider
Date: February 14, 2007 04:50PM
Quote
AlphaDog
...

The frame selection: It's quite limited. I wanted new ones of the same quality as the old ones, which held up exceptionally well for a long time. The optician told me they did not carry frames comparable in quality to the ones I had. By the time she showed me the best of their group, the selection got really, really small, and I wound up buying something that I don't much like.

...

The trick with Costco frame selection is that it changes everyday. I got my prescription from the doctor that has been doing the job for 20 some odd years; it took me three trips to Costco before I found some frames I liked. I learned my lesson when I tried on a pair of frames and asked if they had a larger set. "What you see is what we've got" was the reply...

I use the Marchon Flexon frames because I like the spring titanium legs and nose bridge that always return to their original shape, I can be rough on frames...

My doc's shop and a Pearl Vision quoted me $550-575 for Flexon frames, progressive readers, and anit-glare coating; Costco's price was $275.

Agreed, the staff fitting the frames may not be as good, but it worked out for me.

=wr=
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: MacMagus
Date: February 14, 2007 05:15PM
> As an aside note, LensCrafters gives a flat 30% discount with your AAA membership card...

That's where I go.

I move a lot and I've tried lots of different places -- their discount is the best, their selection is very good and they usually have an eye doctor in an adjacent office who has to take the AAA discount and keep "mall hours" because of his affiliation so the exam is cheap and convenient.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: February 14, 2007 08:20PM
Quote
MacMagus
> As an aside note, LensCrafters gives a flat 30% discount with your AAA membership card...

That's where I go.

I move a lot and I've tried lots of different places -- their discount is the best, their selection is very good and they usually have an eye doctor in an adjacent office who has to take the AAA discount and keep "mall hours" because of his affiliation so the exam is cheap and convenient.

When someone mentioned the AAA discount, I was reminded of a thing I'd gotten from my health insurance provider. I rummaged through my file and found it, and it's good for a 35% discount for new frames and lenses at several local opticians, including both LensCrafters and the independent place I'd been going to for years. The discount is 20% for new lenses only, but that's better than nothing.

I think I'm going to see if Costco will let me use these new frames for single vision lenses just for the computer, and then I'll go somewhere else for the progressives. I've been wanting a special pair to use at the computer anyway, because I never have been able to get my 20" iMac positioned so that it's comfortable to use. It hasn't been turned on in weeks, which is a shame.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: haikuman
Date: February 14, 2007 09:34PM
I have had Costco Glasses for years.... Varilux progressive from Costco maybe
the others now... not sure.

1 point I would make is because I am really hard on my glasses I have gone ahead and
made sure i have at least 2 pair around, that way if my favo pair is broken or lost I have a back up.

I am going to print this thread and give it to Costco Optical.... maybe they will respond
in a favorable way

Rudie *(:>*
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: decocritter
Date: February 14, 2007 10:05PM
I need new progressive eye glasses as well. Last year when I was in a car wreck, I went to For Eyes because they could have them made in a few days. I got some special where some frames were $99.00 plus the cost of the lenses. I did get some sort of scratch protector coating. This was my first pair of progressives.

I don't know if it is the nature of progressives , bad glasses, or me, but -I have never had comfortable vision with these. It is very hard for me to see edges of stairs, and unless an escalator is marked with yellow and very slow, I can't see where one step begins and anothe ends. I am always taking them off at the computer.


The current glasses arms have plastic over the ears, and they have broken.

I need new glasses, but don't know where to start. I may need a doctor's exam. I may try Lenscrafters. I don't have eye insurance. I get a Kaiser supposed discount at some places.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: AlphaDog
Date: February 14, 2007 11:21PM
Quote
decocritter
It is very hard for me to see edges of stairs, and unless an escalator is marked with yellow and very slow, I can't see where one step begins and another ends.

The problems I'm having with these are not quite that severe, but I did notice I'm having to be very careful around the stairs because of distortions. I never experienced any problems with the Varilux lenses I've been wearing. I'm not insisting that Varilux is the be all and end all for progressive lenses, but it became very clear to me very fast that there's most definitely a difference among the various kinds, and I was oblivious to it until experiencing it for myself. I'm sure the type of correction needed by different people also plays a major role in which progressives work best. I'm very farsighted and also have pretty bad astigmatism, which is why I also have to have high index.

I do wish my local Costco had choices besides the Ovation, but the optician was very clear. When I told her how happy I'd been with the Varilux, which are manufactured by Essilor, the same company as the Ovation, she said they weren't an option that could even be special ordered by them. After noting that some people have gotten Varilux lenses from Costco, I'm beginning to wonder if the type of lenses they carry are like many other things in their stores - the choice is limited to the current best buy.

decocritter, when you go in for new glasses, be sure you' go someplace where they can provide a choice of progressive lenses. They are absolutely wonderful if you get some that are right for you. Otherwise they're the pits.
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: haikuman
Date: February 15, 2007 04:41AM
Also remember if the galsses do not work for you take them back...
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: billb
Date: February 15, 2007 09:27AM
Decocritter- the 'down in front' troubles can be true of bi-focals, too.
The lens section for seeing close is fixed focus. The area at your feet is out of range.
If you're looking through the reading glass section of lens to see down in front of you at three feet it will be blurry. Most likely worse than no glasses at all.
.

If you are taking your glasses off to 'see' a computer screen you might be better served to have progresives or bi-focals with a focal distance for further away (about 20" for computer screen) and have seperate reading glasses. (cheap if you can use non-prescription)
Reading glass focal distance is (IIRC) about 14".

I went with the computer screen focal distance because it would minimize how often I switched glasses (actually I can still read fine without reading glasses, but I shouldn't).
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Re: My review of Costco's optical services
Posted by: decocritter
Date: February 15, 2007 03:48PM
I have the 3 sections of progressive lenses, the middle is supposed to be for the computer.

I do try to look through the top when going down stairs.

I wore contacts for years, with no issues. Now at 48, the contacts were blurring my reading field of vision. I can read without glasses, but the phone book is easier with the smallest power of readers.

I have a slight astigmatism also, my main problem was nearsightedness.
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