How many pairs of glasses do I need? Not how many do I own, which is more than enough, or how many I want, because I’m always seeing eyewear I love, but how many do I actually NEED? My answer used to be two—an optical frame and a sunglass. Anything more was about looking fashionable, just like owning multiple handbags or shoes.
Lately though, my eyewear purchases have been less fashion splurges then quality of life enhancers. Looking to fulfill specific needs that my regular frames haven’t met, I’ve bought what I call specialized eyewear. I don’t know how ECPs define it, but to me, it’s a frame specific to a certain activity—whether for driving, computer work, sports, etc.
First up were computer frames, which I’m wearing as I type this column. As a graphic designer, I spend at least seven hours a day in front of a computer, and I’ve been designing for 19 years, so my lifetime screen total is pretty astronomical. It’s no surprise that I developed eyestrain and headaches. Because I work for 20/20, I knew about blue light and computer lenses, so I visited my eye doctor and left with my first pair of computer glasses.
My next eyewear need surfaced when I decided to get in better shape. My daughter is no longer a little girl I can entertain with a bin of toys—she’s an energetic tween who plays Frisbee, climbs rocks, skis and swims. Since she’s an only child, it falls on me to keep up with her. Added to this, as I’ve gotten older my daily aches and pains have increased while my flexibility has decreased. To address this, I’ve embraced yoga and running, and when I leave the city, I jump at the chance to hike, canoe and ski. Despite owning plenty of stylish sunglasses, I didn’t have any that stayed put during a jog or was durable enough to withstand a mix of sweat, sunscreen and bugspray. So I finally decided to invest in a pair of sport frames.
From these experiences, I learned that I have a lot to learn about specialized eyewear—which is probably true for the average consumer as well. As I jog around NYC, I see very few runners with sunglasses on, let alone a frame meant for running. Sport eyewear still isn’t thought of as a necessity for the casual athlete. Computer frames are no different. Although most of my friends sit in front of a laptop every day, very few have computer frames or know about blue light. It’s a shame. A few questions from an eye doctor about a patient’s line of work and hobbies could lead to an eyewear purchase that he or she both wants AND needs.
• Iris Johnson