Eyeglass shopping for the ‘entry-level’ set

Optometrist Dr. Joel Punzal has a kinder, gentler way of talking about folks who are getting older and are in need of eyeglasses for the first time in their lives.

“A lot of entry-level people have gone their whole lives not wearing glasses,” he says.

“When people first get glasses, they don’t want to wear them,” he says. Some mistreat them when they do get them.

Some people have been known to put them aside and then forget where they are and sit on them.

Some people place them on top of their head when they’re not needed, causing scratches, misalignment of frames and the tendency for the glasses to drop to the floor when the wearer leans over to look at something.

Others try to avoid the inevitable. “You’ve heard people say my arms are too short. That’s because they have to hold a piece of paper so far away to focus,” says Punzal, a native of Kaua‘i who lives in Puhi.

Presbyopia, less glamorously known as “old eyes,” is what happens to many people after age 40, when their eyes become less able to focus on objects close to them and it becomes more difficult to focus on the fine print in dim lighting.

The diminished ability to focus tends to progress each year, which is why an eye exam each year is Punzal’s recommendation. An annual eye exam, he adds, is his recommendation for everyone.

Some people can wear over-the-counter reading glasses, but for others with astigmatism or with different sight in each eye, they’re not a good option. If you don’t choose the exact magnification needed, “you’ll encounter eye strain and headaches,” he says.

Shopping for the right pair begins at the optometrist’s office.

Here, an optometrist who examines your eyes and prescribes the best lenses can also offer advice on the shape and size of the glasses to best serve a patient and the patient’s unique prescription.

At Punzal’s office at 3170-B Jerves St. in Lihu‘e, his walls are lined with simple glasses and also dozens of designer brands.“If you don’t like the glasses, you’re not going to want to wear them,” he says.

For those among us who are “entry-level,” there are also sturdier frames. Other makers such as Flexon offer more flexible frames.

“With Flexon glasses,” he says, twisting a pair in his hands as he talks, “if you sit on them, it will bend back.” Of course, he also adds, “I don’t recommend sitting on any glasses.”

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