Fashion & Beauty

Optical stores - lens quality difference?

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Oct 4, 2006
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Toronto

Optical stores - lens quality difference?

I'm no expert on the subject, but do all optical stores basically carry the same components i.e. glass?

I've not been entirely happy with my recent prescriptions.
Can anyone can point to a store in Toronto that provides high quality glass/coatings etc?
23 replies
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Mar 31, 2008
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I think they do differ vastly. My parent's friend ran a shop, and I got really bad contacts and glasses, that scratched so easily. I have no idea how one could get such crappy products, but I'm sure it was some cheap no name overseas operations.

Going to one downtown called Zoom Optical in the PATH (owner also has one at Yonge n Lawrence) has been way way better. In fact, I wore a pair for nearly 5+ years. The owner Monica also does a great job adjusting the frame to make sure it's lined up correctly, and is very friendly/welcoming. My Rx is quite bad so I'm quite picky and aware of lens quality. There are pricey frames but also cheap no name ones that are very good as well (which I tend to get since my lens cost so damn much... those Pacific Mall places don't carry that level of type of lens). I also bought alot of contacts way back too. Sure it's Bausch n Lomb where you could get anywhere but still have some left over and wear them despite it being notably after the BB date.

http://www.zoomoptical.ca/where.htm

I'm sure big brand place (Hakim?) or chains at Walmart might also be similar, but Zoom I consider more premium and owner attentive, especially quality control and desire to keep you as a long-term customer. My few experiences at the Walmart Optical is one of just an employee, and you're not encouraged to go back at all.


Basically looks like the more premium (though not nearly as fancy or pretentious as some I've seen), independent boutique type place you'll see at certain malls/storefronts. But given my experience there, that would be my referral (I'm sure other independents ones would be similar, but I wouldn't know as I've stuck to Zoom). They have optometrists there too. The 2 different ones I've seen were also good too, customer service wise too.
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Aug 17, 2008
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Optical shops do not make or grind the prescription lens. There are only so many major manufacturers of optical lens -- Essilor (includes Varilux), Zeiss, Nikon, Hoya are some of the most well known ones that come to mind. Each of have a range of lenses that range from good to excellent lenses. The lens are ground to your prescription at large wholesalers. So the optical shop itself has very little to do with the lens quality, except the shops that sell cheap glasses and don't mention the lens are likely using the lower cost lens.

But while all the major brands are of similar quality, each brand will also have a range of lens from less expensive to more expensive, and the more expensive ones will that have higher optical qualities. The most expensive ones have different names from different brands -- Digital, HD, free-form, are all names for the latest generation of computer designed lenses which provide the best optics. These cost more. If your optical shop does not tell you what lens you have, then you probably have the cheapest lens.\

Depending on your prescription complexity, it may make sense to pay up for the higher quality lenses from the manufacturer that your optical shop uses. If you have a simple, low prescription, then a less expensive lens may be fine. The better optical shops should advise you on these things, but it's not the shop that makes the lens, and the fanciest shop likely uses the same wholesaler as the the less fancy shop.
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Jul 30, 2007
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That’s a great write up.

I use zeiss indiv 2 Progressiv lenses with transitions. Lenses themselves costs a mint ($600) while the frame costs just $200 or so.

I tried Nikon lenses (just once) as well and I don’t like them as they gave me a bit of vision distortion
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Jan 15, 2006
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booblehead wrote: That’s a great write up.

I use zeiss indiv 2 Progressiv lenses with transitions. Lenses themselves costs a mint ($600) while the frame costs just $200 or so.

I tried Nikon lenses (just once) as well and I don’t like them as they gave me a bit of vision distortion
Surprised about the Nikons. I've been using Nikon now for 10 years, love them and like you I also need progressive LOL and have transistion. I believe the Nikons are about the same $600ish and my frames were another $600.
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Apr 5, 2016
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yes, I use Zeiss lenses too, Super clear and not a single scratch on them. They're paired with ic! berlin frames to make a super light package, so my glasses are like $1300ish. Just don't take generic lenses and ask for a name brand one, but be prepared to pay much more.
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EP32k2 wrote: Surprised about the Nikons. I've been using Nikon now for 10 years, love them and like you I also need progressive LOL and have transistion. I believe the Nikons are about the same $600ish and my frames were another $600.
I have been a Zeiss user for decades and when my eyeglasses place asked me to try out the Nikon, I was initially hesitant and said if I didn't like them, they will replace them for free. Somehow, my eyes were not used to the lens.

Yes. The cost of Nikon was similar in price as Zeiss. My current go to frame is Prodesign, even for sunglasses prescriptions.
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Dec 20, 2018
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blindemboss wrote: I'm no expert on the subject, but do all optical stores basically carry the same components i.e. glass?

I've not been entirely happy with my recent prescriptions.
Can anyone can point to a store in Toronto that provides high quality glass/coatings etc?
they all get their lenses from suppliers. the higher end ($$) lenses will be essilor most likely while the cheap lenses will be from a local shop. for a simple far/near sighted prescription, I never really notice much difference between the cheap lenses and essilors/nikons

i have simple farsightedness with a bit of astigmatism and i am fine with my cheap $20 lenses but since i have insurance, i get essilor with the blue light blocking coating when i get new glasses but when I update lens presciption for my older glasses, I goto a local lens place and pay $20. My wife used to work at an optical store and have family friends who are opticians so we are able to goto the local lens places that stores goto for the cheap no name lenses at a fraction of the cost, but it's cash only and no insurance as they don't do retail
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booblehead wrote: I have been a Zeiss user for decades and when my eyeglasses place asked me to try out the Nikon, I was initially hesitant and said if I didn't like them, they will replace them for free. Somehow, my eyes were not used to the lens.

Yes. The cost of Nikon was similar in price as Zeiss. My current go to frame is Prodesign, even for sunglasses prescriptions.
My goto frames are Staffan Preutz. Their frames are super light. I haven't tried Zeiss, but have heard good things about then too. Any of these premium lenses are way better than the generic cheap ones, the distortion and clarity is horrible on those.
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Jul 31, 2004
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Unionville
I have 2 pairs of sunglasses with non-prescription zeiss lenses and they are by far the best optically from any sunglass I've ever owned. I'm due for new eye glasses in a few months and looking to get my prescription eye glasses with Zeiss lenses. I have a basic single vision prescription but every place I've asked seem to be around $400 for basic Zeiss lenses, are there any places that offer Zeiss lenses for cheaper or does that sound about right?
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first time of hearing Staffan Preutz. @EP32k2 You are a very trendy guy !! Smiling Face With Open Mouth I am more concerned of getting good lens instead.
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booblehead wrote: first time of hearing Staffan Preutz. @EP32k2 You are a very trendy guy !! Smiling Face With Open Mouth I am more concerned of getting good lens instead.
They are trendy, but most importantly super comfy LOL
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bringit wrote: I have 2 pairs of sunglasses with non-prescription zeiss lenses and they are by far the best optically from any sunglass I've ever owned. I'm due for new eye glasses in a few months and looking to get my prescription eye glasses with Zeiss lenses. I have a basic single vision prescription but every place I've asked seem to be around $400 for basic Zeiss lenses, are there any places that offer Zeiss lenses for cheaper or does that sound about right?
Not sure if you have ever shopped at Chinese Malls. If you have not, maybe check out a few optical stores in there and see what you get quoted for.

I got mine at First Markham Place, Eyesmate Optical for the past 6 yrs or so. I did not really shop around much for my needs, when quoted and it seemed to be in the ball park figure as what I am expecting, then it would be good enough for me to deal with the store (again). I don't negotiate hard and relied on their customer loyalty discount by offering their best price.
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Nov 1, 2006
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blindemboss wrote: I'm no expert on the subject, but do all optical stores basically carry the same components i.e. glass?

I've not been entirely happy with my recent prescriptions.
Can anyone can point to a store in Toronto that provides high quality glass/coatings etc?
If you're not happy, you should go back immediately to where you got them and discuss it with them.

Years ago, I got a new pair of glasses and immediately started feeling nauseous. At first, I didn't associate it with the new high refractive index lenses. Later I noticed artifacts in my field of vision especially when looking at a mirror. I had picked them up on Friday and on Monday, I brought them back to the optician. Later he told me that they hadn't been mounted correctly and had the appropriate adjustment made - obviously at no cost to me. Replacement pair were perfect.
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Jul 31, 2004
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booblehead wrote: Not sure if you have ever shopped at Chinese Malls. If you have not, maybe check out a few optical stores in there and see what you get quoted for.

I got mine at First Markham Place, Eyesmate Optical for the past 6 yrs or so. I did not really shop around much for my needs, when quoted and it seemed to be in the ball park figure as what I am expecting, then it would be good enough for me to deal with the store (again). I don't negotiate hard and relied on their customer loyalty discount by offering their best price.
I use to go to Ivans at FMP.. I don't really trust the stores at PM, FMP was a little better but the associate I knew left Ivan's and then the name changed and I think they got blacklisted from Sunlife.. so I haven't been back there in a long time.
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Me too. I don't trust any stores in the PM as well.

As you know, Zeiss makes a variety type of lens that may be suitable for one person's needs but not to another person. Based on my prescriptions and daily needs, the current shop had suggested me the Indiv 2, even though when I asked for their top, top of the line (for clarity) which they said it will cost more but I won't get any benefits out of them. Therefore, the shop did gave me their professional advice and saved me a bit of $.
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Jul 31, 2004
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booblehead wrote: Me too. I don't trust any stores in the PM as well.

As you know, Zeiss makes a variety type of lens that may be suitable for one person's needs but not to another person. Based on my prescriptions and daily needs, the current shop had suggested me the Indiv 2, even though when I asked for their top, top of the line (for clarity) which they said it will cost more but I won't get any benefits out of them. Therefore, the shop did gave me their professional advice and saved me a bit of $.
Geez.. Just looked at the pictures online and Eyesmate is where the guy I use to deal with went... Leo was his name.. I heard he opened that place with a few partners then left there as well. But I don't recall it being called Eyesmate back then.. This has got to be like 5-6 years ago. Eyesmate is like right around the corner from Ivans isn't it?
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different name before. It changed to eyesmate about 3 yrs or so ago. I think it was called optical trends or something. The sales guy I dealt with has been there since I have been going there, Stanley.
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Jan 15, 2006
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Been going to 3 Owls in FMP since they opened. Always experience stellar service there. Edmund is great there.
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multimut wrote: Optical shops do not make or grind the prescription lens. There are only so many major manufacturers of optical lens -- Essilor (includes Varilux), Zeiss, Nikon, Hoya are some of the most well known ones that come to mind. Each of have a range of lenses that range from good to excellent lenses. The lens are ground to your prescription at large wholesalers. So the optical shop itself has very little to do with the lens quality, except the shops that sell cheap glasses and don't mention the lens are likely using the lower cost lens.

But while all the major brands are of similar quality, each brand will also have a range of lens from less expensive to more expensive, and the more expensive ones will that have higher optical qualities. The most expensive ones have different names from different brands -- Digital, HD, free-form, are all names for the latest generation of computer designed lenses which provide the best optics. These cost more. If your optical shop does not tell you what lens you have, then you probably have the cheapest lens.\

Depending on your prescription complexity, it may make sense to pay up for the higher quality lenses from the manufacturer that your optical shop uses. If you have a simple, low prescription, then a less expensive lens may be fine. The better optical shops should advise you on these things, but it's not the shop that makes the lens, and the fanciest shop likely uses the same wholesaler as the the less fancy shop.
+1 I need to have really high index lens (born with eye issue ) normal lens won't work they are too thick and their index won't even go that high. I used to use Essilor but even then their index isn't high enough and have to switch to using Nikon. However I find Essilor to be better overall. When the Nikon lens it tens to get dirty very easily and hard to wash them out. With Essilor is much easier.

But for the average person they don't really need such lens so any no name brand will work just fine.

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