Very brief summary: Nice lenses, but not worth the high cost to me.
I finally decided to give it a shot and got new eyeglasses with the Crizal Avance anti-reflective coatings. I went to a local private optometrist this time, but they were covered by my EyeMed insurance plan. This was the first time I went to an optometrist that wasn't associated with Lenscrafters or Costco. I have previously purchased lenses from Lenscrafters (simple plastic CR-39 without any treatments)
, Costco (polycarbonate with anti-reflective coatings)
, and Zenni Optical
(one pair of polycarbonate with anti-reflective coating and two years later one pair with polycarbonate, anti-reflective coating, and photochromic darkening lenses
). I've written fairly thorough reviews of each of those pairs of glasses.
The eye exam with a private optometrist is no different than what I experienced elsewhere, although I did find the issue of retinal imaging interesting.
Retinal imaging vs pupil dilation for fundoscopic exam. When I first arrived for the appointment, the secretary gave me typical paperwork to fill out with my personal information and medical history. In the paperwork was a consent form for retinal imaging, saying that it wouldn't be covered by my insurance, but would cost $25 and they recommend it as a way to not only view the inside parts of my eye but also to have a permanent record for future reference. When I had my first eye exam at Lenscrafters they used a machine called Optomap and they had charged $49 for it. At the time of my first exam, I didn't realize that there was another option which insurance would cover.
I now know that insurance will pay for the eye doctor to do a fundoscopic exam using the traditional method of eye drops to dilate my pupils and then examinging the retina with their equipment. The two times I have had eye exams at Lenscrafters when I declined the retinal imaging, they did go ahead an dilate my eyes and examine them. This was at two different Lenscrafters, so I'm guessing they are more consistent with meeting what I assume are recommended parts of an eye exam.
This time at a private optometrist, and the one time I saw an optometrist at Costco (who is a private eye doctor located within the Costco store) they did not dilate my eyes. I was surprised they didn't do this. Both did do a retinal exam (shining the bright light into the back of your eye as they look with a special lense), but my understanding is that it is very difficult to do a thorough job without dilating the pupils. My guess is that the pupil dilation is time consuming for them (as they have to wait for the eye drops to work) which is why they didn't do it. They also probably figure that I don't have any risk factors for retinal disease (at least I hope if I had risk factors they would have done a more thorough job).
The flip side is - they would not hesitate to charge me for retinal imaging if I agreed to it. I am guessing this is a money maker for them. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to have it done, but it doesn't seem like it is necessary (or else eye insurance would be more willing to cover it).
When I first saw the eye doctor, he took my glasses and checked the prescription in his machine. I actually brought in the written out prescription from my last eye exam at Lenscrafters. He said the glasses I had (from Zenni Optical) did match the written prescription, which was good to know. After my eye exam, he said that my presciption hasn't changed, but that since my insurance would cover a new pair of glasses, I may as well get an extra pair.
They had a decent selection of frames, and I know my insurance covers new frames up to a certain cost. The frames I liked also came with magnetic clip-on polarized sunglasses, which I thought was a nice bonus. I was a bit shocked when I saw the price on the frames was over $216. I figured I would wait to see what the price would be after my insurance coverage. We sit down and she shows me what the price breakdown is for new glasses:
Eye exam - Eyemed co-pay of $10
Single vision lenses $79 - reduced to $10 after insurance
Polycarbonate basic lenses $49 - reduced to $40 after insurance
Crizal Avance Premium anti-reflective coating with UV $154 - reduced to $123.20 after 20% discount
Frames - $216 - discounted to $42.80 after insurance discount
Total of $226 for frames (with magnetic clip-on polarized sunglasses), polycarbonate single vision lenses, and Crizal Avance anti-reflective coating. I didn't notice the UV coating mention until I got my explanation of benefits from EyeMed. They listed the breakdown of charges different, with $139 for the preimum anti-reflective coating discounted to $111.20 and the ultra-violet lens cost of $15. I was surprised there was an extra charge for a UV lens, as my understanding is that polycarbonate lenses are inherently ultra-violet protective. There shouldn't be any need for a UV coating. Looking at the Crizal website, though, it looks like it may just be a part of Crizal AR coatings to include UV protection, whether the lens needs it or not.
So the Crizal Avance coating cost an extra $154 from a prviate optometrist.
Now - on to the performance.
I have to say that I am very underwhelmed. The properties that all the marketing touts is not only effective anti-reflective properties, but also resists smudging, fingerprints, water, and dust. I have tried comparing them side-by side to both my Costco lenses and the lenses from Zenni Optical with their $4.95 anti-reflective coating.
First - as far as anti-reflective properties. Almost all anti-reflective coatings these days have residual glare. The colors of the residual glare vary based on the treatment. My original Zenni glasses had a fairly dark green residual glare. The glasses from Costco had a much softer residual glare as did the newer Zenni glasses I got last year. The residual glare on my glasses with Crizal Avance are a soft light pink color. The residual glare is definitely most noticeable with my old Zenni glasses, but the ones from last year are and the Costco lenses are minimally different from the Avance lenses.
Second - as far as staying clean. Perhaps they attract less dust than my other pairs of glasses, but I can't tell any difference. Compared side-by-side to my other glasses, they all seem to be about the same at repelling water and wiping clean. The only lenses I can clearly tell are different from my new ones are my original plastic CR-39 lenses without any anti-refectlive treatment and the original Zenni anti-reflective lenses which have a noticeably darker green hue for residual glare. I can't see any noticeable differences between the newer Zenni lenses (they did not yet offer the hydrophobic or oleophobic lenses when I placed the order - so these are the $4.95 anti-reflective coating) my Costco lenses from 2 years ago, and these polycarbonate lenses with Crizal Avance.
Actually - after writing up this long review, and re-reading all of the great marketing materials on these Crizal lenses, I am going to try calling the optometrist next week to make confirm that they really did use Crizal Avance on these lenses.
Bottom line - while there isn't anything wrong with Crizal Avance, I can't see any reason to justify spending extra money over the basic anti-reflective lenses from Zenni Optical (if ordering online) or getting Costco's glasses if you want to have the advantages of a physical store with great customer support for their products. I have to say - I'm very disappointed after spending so much time reading about all of the differences in anti-reflective technologies. It seems the average consumer won't notice any of the claimed benefits - or at least this average consumer couldn't tell the difference.