Yes, this is an eyeglasses shop, and, in fact, was where I got my last pair of glasses before leaving Tokyo. It doesn't usually look like this. This was during a festival.
I didn't buy glasses terribly often in Japan, but when I did, I found that every time my visual clarity was not great. It seemed that the optometrists always gave me a prescription that was as weak as possible while still allowing me to see reasonably well. I wasn't sure about whether or not this was my imagination or something askew with the process was actually happening. Seeing an eye doctor in the U.S. confirmed that this wasn't simply my anecdotal experience.
The ophthalmologist who I saw recently, while discussing where I'd gotten my glasses, told me that eye doctors in Asia always give people the weakest prescriptions that the customer can manage to get by with. She said she didn't know for certain why they did this, but she speculated that it was because they felt stronger glasses would lead to progressively weaker eyesight. She hastened to add that this was not true, but they seemed to continue to believe this nonetheless.
For years while living in Tokyo, I got glasses that were so weak that a calendar across the room of the office I worked in looked blurry to me. I squinted my way through mid-range visual challenges for years and figured my eyes were just deteriorating at a rapid pace, but it was actually the case that I was simply not being given glasses sufficient to establish adequate visual acuity. I don't miss getting weak prescriptions because of a superstition that stronger glasses will increase the rate at which my eyes worsen.
I'm glad this wasn't just me! My eye doctor in Japan told me my glasses were too strong but since I didn't feel like buying newer, weaker lenses I just nodded and said uh-huh. I thought it was really strange but didn't think any more about it until I got back to the states my eye doctor said she had noticed her Asian patients got very anxious when she would suggest they needed to increase their prescription. I hope you have glasses that let you see 20/20 now. :)ReplyDelete
I don't know if I can see 20/20, but I definitely see better than I did in Japan! There's no more looking at signs or other things and trying to figure them out.Delete
One thing I do know is that the stronger your glasses are for distance, the harder it can be to read with them. I don't know if the Japanese opticians are concerned with not selling you progressive lenses or if they just are weird about giving full strength glasses, but that could be a part of it.
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Hmm, interesting experience. I bought a pair at J!NS and they asked me if I wanted ones that fit the results of the eye exam or ones that were a tiny bit stronger. I opted for the latter and liked those glasses more than my American ones. Sadly I promptly lost them a week later after drinking too much :(ReplyDelete
Started wearing contacts after that and have never had a problem with their strength, but that industry could be a whole different ball game.
I wore contacts in Japan for a little over half of my time there and never had a problem with them. I'm not sure if the glasses are different or if different prescriptions tend to be managed differently. I do know that my eyes are weak and require a strong prescription (-5.xx) and I have an astigmatism. My husband has better eyes than me and wears glasses and also did not have problems getting sufficiently strong glasses.Delete
It might be that I was unlucky, my astimgmatism complicated the picture, or they don't like to given really strong glasses.
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Oh wow, thank you for this. I've similarly thought that my eyes were deteriorating at a rapid pace. Even the brand-spanking new glasses I put on would still leave me with blurry eyesight. I was quite worried about it.ReplyDelete
Every time I have gotten new lenses in Japan, I have been asked if I want regular or if I want to see clearly. I could never figure out what on earth they meant---of course I want to see clearly, that's the purpose for glasses. I have never gotten a prescription here that worked well. I once requested the lens that would let me see "clearly" but got headaches and dizziness from them.ReplyDelete
I have astigmatism, which an eye doctor told me requires more knowledge and skill to prescribe for than you find in the chain eyeglass shops, so I go to an ophthalmologist now when I need glasses. Since I still can't get my vision corrected like I used to the States, after reading this, I have to wonder if it is not a weak prescription problem.
I was never asked if I wanted "regular" or to see clearly. I think I was just given "regular" by default. I did see an actual eye doctor a few times, but I never got glasses from them since they were already expensive from the regular shops and the eye doctors were even more expensive. However, you may have a point about expertise.Delete
Interestingly, here in the U.S., I went to a chain store, saw the ophthalmologist and got a prescription, and then ordered the glasses online (from a place called Zenni Optical). The glasses I got for a very low price (about $65) are great. I never got glasses in Japan for less than $260, and they weren't as good as these.
My advice to anyone in Japan who needs glasses is to go to an eye doctor in their home country, get the prescription, and buy the glasses online. It's the best of both worlds.
Incidentally, the dizziness and headaches you got probably came from poorly measured pupillary distance (or not measured at all and just averaged). I've read that getting correct numbers for this is really important or the lenses are not properly matched with your vision.
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I never bought glasses in Japan but I never had a problem with my contact lenses. The prescription was exactly the same as my U.K. one!ReplyDelete
I never had problems with my contacts in Japan either, NeonRaine! There is clearly a big difference between managing eyeglasses and contacts!ReplyDelete
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Interesting! Whenever I got new glasses in America (my whole life), the prescription strength felt overcompensated and I'd get headaches after every upgrade. It wasn't until I got to Japan that I was finally prescribed what felt like the perfect strength, without the distortion. And when I filled my prescription at Zoff, I was never asked to verify something like regular vs. strong.ReplyDelete
I think, again, that the pupillary distance numbers may have been wrong. I've read that getting this measurement wrong (or relying on averages) can cause loads of problems. However, it could just be that the people you dealt with were incompetent!ReplyDelete
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Hm, interesting. I live in America, and I've always been given "a prescription that was as weak as possible while still allowing me to see reasonably well". Multiple doctors did that. (I'm up to five different ones through my life, I think.)ReplyDelete
My eyes are really, really bad (without my glasses/contacts, if I had my hand up at arm's length, I wouldn't be able to see how many fingers I held up). Maybe when your eyes are as bad as mine, that logic does apply?
I can't say for sure, but I did some online research into the whole notion that stronger prescriptions make your eyes weaker and found absolutely zero support for that idea. My guess is that it's an old-fashioned notion that even some American eye doctors subscribe to... or, it could have something to do with how bad your eyesight is. Not being an eye doctor, I really can't say.Delete
However, I do know that reading is a problem if your glasses give you better distance vision. It could be that your situation is such that glasses that give you optimal ranged sight might make you need a different pair for close-up work with books or the computer. That's just a guess, however.
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I experienced the "slightly weak" eyeglass prescription advice back in the US when I was a kid many years ago.ReplyDelete
I don't know how strong a prescription you use, but the distance between your eye and the lens is critical to how one perceives eyeglass effectiveness. Even wikipedia briefly mentions it. I wonder if the frames you used were slightly longer than the average found in Japan?
"Back vertex distance (BVD) is the distance between the back of the spectacle lens and the front of the cornea (the front surface of the eye). This is essential in higher prescriptions (usually above ±4.00D) as slight changes in the distance between the spectacles and the eyes above this level can cause the patient to perceive a different power, leading to blur and/or other symptoms."
Here's to good vision!
As someone who worked in optometry in N.A. I would hazard a guess that your weaker glasses is not just a local event.ReplyDelete
In my classrooms, I regularly see students strain, even w/ glasses on to see the board. This isn't just basic astigmatic strain from a slightly off Rx, but clearly an insufficient prescription.
I've also noticed it in a friend of mine who wears glasses purchased here. They aren't a very strong Rx and when doing the calendar test (great for distance and astigmatism checks btw) at 10-15' he was unable to read it due to blurriness.