By Courtney Dunn
I hate the way I look in glasses. For years, my optometrist has suggested I get a pair to use on occasion to give my eyes a break from my constant wear of contact lenses. She has always kindly handed me my prescription and never pushed me to buy a pair of glasses from her. I decided this was the year to heed her advice and purchase some new glasses. This had been a long time coming, considering the only pair I owned were from dental school. With my prescription in tow, I coerced my husband to go to the store to help me pick out the perfect pair. I knew exactly where I was going – and it wasn’t back to my optometrist’s office. We headed to a high end shopping center in Scottsdale, where a new store had opened that I once visited in New York.
The store was bright and sleek, very much like an Apple store for glasses. The walls were adorned with countless pairs of trendy frames readily available for trying on. My husband relaxed against the large quartz counters spanning the middle of the store. The staff was young, hip and available for questions without being overly pushy. After finding a pair of frames that were acceptable to me, the sales clerk began to take some measurements of the glasses on my face. I knew what was coming next and began to mentally prepare myself. I may not buy glasses very often, but knew I was about to experience a hard sales pitch on lenses, lens coatings, and protection plans. The frames were only $95. I assumed that their profitability must be based on some type of additional fee. The clerk began typing the numbers into her iPad and asked for all my pertinent information. She then asked me if I would like the glasses shipped directly to my house so I didn’t have to come back to the store unless there was a problem. Once again, I braced myself for how much this was going to cost me in the end. The total was $95, and that included shipping, polycarbonate lenses, UV protection and anti-scratch coatings with an additional scratch free guarantee for one year. It was easy and cheap. The glasses were sturdy and on trend. I looked around the store and noticed the other customers. These people were not “low end” shoppers. On the contrary, most were carrying $2000 bags, wearing designer active wear and large diamond rings. Was this the future for healthcare?
I left the store stressed out with a pit in my stomach. I wondered out loud what this kind of place meant for the future of orthodontics. My husband responded that I already knew the answer. I agreed and shared my nervous feelings. We both pondered why my optometrist never attempted to sell me glasses at her office. We concluded that she had probably just given up the fight thinking there was little she could do to compete. We continued our conversation while strolling to the open air juice bar down the way and ordered some overpriced organic coffee. We found some seats outside and continued to talk in the beautiful Arizona sun while the palm trees gently swayed with the breeze. Our current life wasn’t so bad, but our main topic of discussion was not giving up in the future.