Dr. James Dello Russo, managing director of the New Jersey Eye Center and Main Fashion Optical in Bergenfield, NJ, explains why it’s worth investing in quality custom-made eyewear that has superior health benefits, is comfortable, durable, performs well and looks good.

Interview by Twinlight Studios

Can you tell us about the different kinds of eyewear and why they are important in today’s world?

Dr. Dello Russo: These days there is a such a heavy dependency on eyewear among all age groups–Generation Z, millennials, people in their mid-forties who may start to develop reading issues, and our senior citizens. Eyewear is becoming much more prevalent. It’s just the world we live in, with our heavy dependency on computers, digital devices and cell phones. Eyewear is very important to our quality of life.

Read Part 2

Online shoppers

Young people are very Internet-savvy, and a lot of them are cost conscious, and are going online. They’re going to Warby Parkers, and to online distributers for something that’s very competitive in price, and convenient to buy. That’s fine, but the problem is that as some of these folks are maturing over time, they are demanding better quality. They are realizing that what you can get online and at Warby Parker may seem good value, but cheap quality frames never perform so well, never last so long and then there’s the aesthetics.

What people commonly complain about with glasses is comfort. What you get from a full service optical dispensary is something custom-made for the eye. This means that the Pupillary Distance (PD) for distance and reading is always unique for each individual. Very specific and important equipment is used to accurately measure it, and that’s something you’re never going to get from an online manufacturer. PD measurements are really key and critical for people who use bifocals or progressives. To leave that to chance online really doesn’t make sense. People that have tried the online vendors eventually come back to us with complaints of poor adaptation to their eyewear. So customization is very important. But also what’s very important is the quality of the materials.

Carl Zeiss Optics

Fortunately, we partner with a very good optical lab called Carl Zeiss Optics. Carl Zeiss deploys technology used in surgical microscopes, in lasers, in the NASA program, in quality telescopes and binoculars. They have a tradition of incredible optics and precision. Having Carl Zeiss optics as our lab, it really gives us access to very good quality, digitally manufactured lenses. The difference between a digital lens and a lathe-cut lens is like the difference between “standard definition” and “high definition” TV. When a lens is digitally manufactured with computers, there’s much more precision, as well as access to getting more important patterns to lenses that can conform to the aspheric shape of our cornea, to eliminate things that make the vision blurry.

“Higher order aberrations” or “spherical aberration”, “coma” and “glare” that detract from your quality of vision. What the patient experiences is things like trouble with night driving, or glare, or ghosting, or halos, or smearing of the vision that’s sometimes seen with certain prescriptions.

For people who are near-sighted, it’s important that they use a digital lens, and that’s not something you can get at any discount optical, like a Costco, or even online. A digital lens is something that is made to order. It’s not a terribly expensive product, but it’s one of those things where you get what you pay for.

Progressives

Digital lenses are important in single vision, but where they really are important is in progressives. People aged 45 and beyond will eventually be candidates for progressives, because we lose our ability to read and accommodate up close, and progressives have been around for a while. Varilux was the first manufacturer to invent them, and there’ve been a lot of copycats over the years: there’s so many different styles and models of progressives. It’s very confusing, and consumers don’t really know what’s best. The problem is that sometimes people are going into a Costco, and getting a product that’s 30 years old, even though the technology has moved on. They’ll have a negative experience with progressives and say: “You know what, I’ve tried progressives. They just aren’t for me because I failed to adapt to them. I find them hard to use as I have to move my head around to actually get the ability to read through the progressive.” Or they just feel uncomfortable or make you feel dizzy.

Zeiss, our manufacturer, has really put a lot of investment into their products and technology. Old-style progressives are lathe cut, they’re very hard to adapt to, but with digital progressives, they can split the add power, the magnification on the front and back of the lens. That really allows them to have much better patterns to look through so they’re very smooth. They’re quick and easy to use for reading with less of that “swimmyness” that people complain about. Digital progressives allow people to just feel a lot more comfortable and really love their eyewear.