“J-Roc, I’m not a pessimist, I’m an optometrist but you gotta keep your eye on Randy, he’s doin’ stuff. I don’t trust that guy, I don’t.” – Trailer Park Boys
The Boy with his first pair of glasses. He might be ready to be an NFL® referee.
If I were an Optometrist, I’d be afraid, very afraid?
The Optopocalypse is coming, and it’s coming fast.
What’s the Optopocalypse?
To get to that, you have to start at the beginning . . . .
Optometry was originally the practice of figuring out which glasses went with which eye. The first pair of glasses for corrective vision were most likely used in Europe about 700 years ago. They were Ray Bans®. Tom Cruise (who never ages) may or may not have been the first customer.
Tom Cruise, circa 1284 AD. You should see this movie if you’re 18 and haven’t. (Image via Wikimedia, ©Warner Brothers)
Books mentioning how to fit people with eyeglasses date at least as far back as 1623, with nary a mention of Johnny Depp, who, to be fair, only smells that old. And Benjamin Franklin saw that there was a LOT of real estate left on the eyeglass, and he invented bifocals so he could stare at the ladies both far away and up close. Franklin was a genius, and his invention (probably around 1784) was the most significant invention in optics up to that time. All so he could see the ladies. And the Constitution and stuff.
So, ladies, swipe left or right? (Image Courtesy Federal Reserve)
And that brings us to the most significant innovation in optometry since Franklin’s bifocals. EyeQue™’s Personal Vision Tracker®.
I might be overstating it, but I don’t think that I am. EyeQue™ is a system . . . and it’s a pretty cool one.
I have worn glasses since I was about 20. My original pair were round gold-rimmed glasses, because Indiana Jones® wore those, and it partially made up for the fact that they wouldn’t let me carry a bullwhip and a pistol around the college campus. It was amazing (the glasses, not the lack of bullwhip, that sucked). I remember looking out over a valley in winter the day I got them, the outline of the mountain was so crisp in the winter air. And trees! They had individual branches that had edges and everything!
My prescription hasn’t changed much since then. It’s been stable for decades. Most recently I’ve been wearing glasses that were made before Pugsley was born (Pugsley is 12 now). They work fine, but they’re twelve year old glasses that are scratched a bit. I’ve been to the optometrist more recently, but my glasses were getting pretty bad. One pair was eaten by a puppy (you could still use them but the lenses had little teeth craters in them), one was scratched up and the nylon that kept the lens in place broke.
I’d been meaning to go to the optometrist two years ago (just for a new prescription, no other problems) but she had cancelled my Saturday appointment. My choices? Take a day off of work to go see an optometrist, or . . . wait. Waiting always works.
I waited. And then one day I saw the ad for EyeQue™ (LINK) Personal Vision Tracker©™®. Hmmm. It was available on Amazon®. The reviews were mixed, but at $30 and at least half a day of my time? Worth it to take the risk.
Second day air brought me the EyeQue™. It’s pictured. It consists of a small plastic cylinder with a rotating eyepiece. It straps to your phone screen.
After you get the physical diagnostic piece (which I’m assuming contains prisms, mirrors, elfin magic and a small piece of dark matter) you have to download an app. Once you’ve done that, you use the serial number that came with the EyeQue™. The app, curiously, asks if you have a screen protector, but doesn’t ask you to remove it.
I tried it on my cell phone, but since I’d not updated my Android operating system since 2015 (really), I used The Mrs.’ updated phone and logged into the app.
The device/app combination is ridiculously easy to use. The eyepiece is dialed between 1 and 9. You start at 1, and use the + and – keys on the screen to make a green line and a red line merge into a gold line. Most boring video game ever. The only difficult part (and it isn’t very difficult) was to make sure that you could see both lines at the same time. After you merge the lines, you tell the app that you’ve done it.
You then turn the eyepiece on the EyeQue™ to 2 (I assume this rotates the elfin dark matter, but if you don’t rotate the eyepiece it won’t work.) . . . and repeat until you’ve gone through all 9 settings. Then Gandalf’s voice comes on and says, “You shall not pass.”
That’s one eye. Repeat for your left eye. Unless you’re a cyclops, in which case Odysseus would like a quick word with you.
No. You might be not very good at easy tasks, or drunk or something. EyeQue™ makes you do the same nine measurements at least three times on each eye, for a total of a (minimum) of 54 measurements. I’m pretty sure this is to make sure that your readings are consistent, as you have to have a minimum cumulative score prior for it giving you the measurements of your eye required to order eyeglasses. I got the max score each time, so only had to repeat the process three times.
I wrote my EyeGlass™ Number (that’s what EyeQue™ calls it) down. They looked pretty close to my last prescription, but my last prescription had probably been through the laundry, eaten by prescription-moths, or taken by Russian operatives to be included in the Trump dossier. Whatever. It was gone. But the numbers looked right.
I got online.
I went to Zenni Optical (LINK) and bought a relatively inexpensive pair of glasses to test out the numbers (I won’t call it a prescription) that I got from the Personal Vision Tracker. I waited nine days, and got my new glasses.
I’d never had a prescription so good. My go-to test required the stars to be up . . . I looked at Orion, and, boom, you could see that the third “star” in his sword was really two stars. I’d read once that this was a test the Sioux had used to see if a young man could be a hunter – he had to be able to see the two stars. And I could! Even the bifocals were awesome! Now I must get ready for the hunt.
I’ve since ordered three more pairs of glasses from Zenni (more on that on Monday). All of them work stunningly well. All of them are amazingly inexpensive.
The Boy is similarly nearsighted, and has a fairly recent prescription, but is pretty sure his isn’t as accurate as it could by – he thought my glasses were better than his. I can buy another subscription to the Personal Vision Tracker® for him (LINK), and will do so tonight so he can get some better glasses. The cost of the subscription is a bargain – and is fair, reflecting the tremendous amount of time, research and effort put into programming this wonderful App.
The idea that I can, in twenty minutes or so of easy work in my home, get a stunningly accurate set of numbers that I can order cheap glasses online is amazing. It is revolutionary, Ben Franklin level (but with less time in France). Let’s be honest – the only reasons anyone goes to the optometrist is:
- Because they need glasses,
- Because they have other vision issues/symptoms, or
- Because they are married to the optometrist.
And you should go to an optometrist regularly for b., because going blind isn’t a laughing matter. But there is no reason to go (anymore) just for an eyeglass prescription, which is the revolutionary part of what EyeQue™ has done. (Contact lenses are different – and the Personal Vision Tracker® is NOT calibrated for those. And you people who stick your fingers in your eyes make me shudder.)
Right now there are only 23 colleges that graduate optometrists in the United States. That’s probably too many. If you take the ENTIRE population of the United States and say they should get a checkup every four years (young people longer, older people more frequently) and it takes 15 minutes for a checkup, you only need . . . (working 40 hour weeks) 3,500 optometrists. A visit should cost a little more than $25 for the fifteen minutes for $200,000 of revenue per optometrist.
Currently there are 40,000 optometrists, and they’re trying to sell you expensive glasses, and vision data that you can get very accurately now for a fraction of the cost of even the $25 visit, I can see this profession going down by 36,000 in the coming years. Maybe if I’m off it will come down a bit less, but even a reduction of 30,000 at an average total compensation rate of $120,000 yields a savings to the economy (and consumers!) of $3.6 billion every year. And people will see better! It’s a win-win, unless you’re an optometrist.
So, the Optopocalypse is coming – and I predict a 90% attrition rate. This type of dislocation always happens with professions where technology changes a profession, just like Ned Ludd (LINK) leading the frame-breakers in response to the industrial revolution. You can’t stop the tech.
Yup, this is a drawing of Ned Ludd. Great fashion sense. Also, a giant. (wikimedia, public domain)
I’ve not been compensated (yet) for any relationship with EyeQue™ or Zenni Optical®. And I might never be. But any link that gets me compensation will be noted as such on the page, should that ever happen.
Also, I’m a blogger, NOT A DOCTOR. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. The only thing “blogger” has in common with “doctor” is that they end in a similar sound. Do your due diligence on this or any other advice you get from the Internet. Heck, there’s one site that says you should avoid setting yourself on fire!