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Shopping for New Eyeglasses? Let an Optician Help You Find the Best Fit

With almost 40 years of experience, optician Patrick Shaw has helped countless eyeglass wearers find the right fit.

“I place great value on providing a professional, in-person fitting,” says Shaw, manager of the John A. Moran Eye Center's University location optical shop. “It can make all the difference in comfort and enjoying the best vision possible with your prescription.”  

Here, he shares four tips for anyone shopping for a new pair of eyeglasses.

1. Start by consulting with an optician

As licensed specialists, opticians know how to help you find the best eyeglass frames for your face. Equally important, they understand your prescription and what types of lenses and frames you need to make the most of it.

2. Choose eyeglasses based on your face shape

Unfortunately, the frames you're drawn to don't always flatter or fit your face. Your optician will assess your face shape and width and help you narrow choices from there. They will also consider factors based on your nasal bridge, ears, and cheekbones.

Once your eyeglasses are ready, you'll want to visit your optician to fine-tune the fit.

3. Consider the thickness of your prescription lenses

The strength of your prescription also affects frame selection. If you're lucky enough to have a mild prescription, you won't have as many limitations as those with higher corrections. Since prescriptions affect lens thickness and shape, not every frame works with every lens.

Smaller frames, for example, may not accommodate a progressive lens that offers most of the magnifying correction in the lower half of the frame. You need enough surface space to look over the bottom half of the lens and have room for the distance correction or clear lens on top.

Someone with a higher correction should try to stay with a frame as small as possible as the lenses become thicker and heavier the larger the frame becomes. Opticians will try their best to manage expectations so you end up with the best combination for your needs.

4. Progressive lenses can be a great option

If you need "readers" to see up close but don't love having a pair in every room, taking them on and off, or are afraid of losing them, progressive or multifocal lenses provide a great solution. You can wear them for correction of near or distance vision, or both. Progressive lenses are the closest to natural vision you're going to get.

Switching to progressive lenses, however, can pose challenges for some people, so it’s best to get an in-person measurement and consultation.

Unlike a reader, which gives you one focal length, the best progressive lenses will provide a corridor that progresses in power from near to far and everywhere in between. This gives you the ability to see at arm's length as well as up close. The corridor is narrow, so there will always be a period of adaptation as your eyes and brain adjust to the lenses. The more you wear them, the faster and easier you’ll adapt.

There are hundreds of progressive lens designs, so it can get confusing when optical shops offer “good, better, and best.” Quiz your optician about the lenses they suggest and why.