Best Optometrist in Brooklyn Heights Open Thread

Flickr photo by Lisa Lisa

Flickr photo by Lisa Lisa

Since there seem to be so many eyeglass places in our neighborhood one of them must reign supreme.  Where do you get your specs, who is the best?  Comment away!

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  • Koroviev

    I wasn’t crazy about at least one of the Montague Street optometrists. The prescription was way off and she was trying to sell me expensive lenses without giving me all the information. I like Dr. Ha at Sterling down by Brooklyn Friends. She was thorough and gave me a nuanced explanation of my options. Also, the prices are lower than Montague.

  • CJP

    Optomitrist. Optician. Whatever. You go, you get your eyes checked and you pay your co-pay or $25 for the eye exam. I want to recommend Alan Jordan on Pierrepont. My wife had Lasik done through him. (Woke up after the surgery, looked at me and said “Oh my God. I married you?”) Okay. She’s a wise-ass.

    I’ve been dealing with Dr. Janet Oliveros in Jordan’s office. And she’s always been warm, accomodating and exceedingly professional. The wait there has often been excruciating, although they do provide a 1975 (okay it just seems that old) computer with AOL 3.0 and internet access to ease the wait. I have not had prescriptions filled through them so I just offer my recommendation about the exam.

    But this brings me to the point of this post, and yes, I know, don’t post or blog after 2 beers.

    I got so pissed after getting my prescription and then trying to get it filled at other eyeglass places, and yes I’ll name names. I have a pretty simple prescription, alas I’m old enough now for bifocals. But I get so frustrated at the absolutely outrageous costs for eyeglasses. On the one hand you see ads for $99 eyeglasses, usually for single vision prescriptions, but the glasses they include with that price are typically glasses you wouldn’t want to wear, or seem to be ones that the Goggle Brothers might wear for a night on the town.

    I’m a value conscious shopper. And I refuse to pay $300 or more for a pair of eyeglasses. Frames are cheap to make, they’re all essentially made by one company (Luxottica, in China), lenses are relatively cheap, and making glasses is a low-tech venture. So I get furious when I go into a place and they immediately start out in the $500 range. Now maybe you’re the kind of a person who’ll spend $200 for a pair of jeans, or $500 for a pair of eyeglasses, but that’s not me.

    I get very suspicious at the eyeglass places when nothing is priced. And when you ask the price, they want to know whether you have insurance. I do, but an affirmative answer to that question only jacks up the price by the amount of my insurance, $100.

    Pearl, Cohen’s and that place on Court just beyond Dunkin’ Donuts are among the biggest culprits there, trying to sell you on glasses with no transparancey in their pricing. I got so angry walking out of Lenscrafters on Court when they tried to convince me that I couldn’t get out of there without spending less than $800 for a decent pair of rimless bi-focals. That had me so mad that I did a search on Yahoo and Google to see if I was being ripped off. I typed in “Lenscrafters Sucks” and was amazed with what I came back with. (Yes, this story has a point, and I’m coming to the end.)

    What got returned in the search was a message board in which someone mentioned a favorable experience with an outfit called I was as skeptical as you are. But I figured for $39 how could I go wrong.

    Bottom line is that my prescription wound up costing me $180, (bifocals, no line and rimless). I did it online on a Sunday night and by Thursday or Friday my new eyeglasses showed up. The selection was ample, styles were varied and the website was easy to figure out. I was so thrilled I ordered a second pair and then an additional pair of prescription sunglasses. I was impressed by the quality, thrilled by the looks and delighted by the overall shopping experience.

    Now I don’t work for the website, have nothing to gain by recommending them, but I can’t say enough how happy they have made me. You have to have a real prescription and furnish a doctors’ number to use these guys.

    A long winded post, I know. But I get so angry by the eyeglass industry, their lack of transparency in pricing and by the goal to oversell you.

    If you ask me about mattresses you’ll get an equally long answer (with no happy ending…) but I can’t tell you how much I dislike the eyeglass selling business.

  • brooklynbee

    Koroviev, I am actually glad you posted that. I have long been wondering whether was worth it, or would provide shoddy frames/lenses. I have been going to a place on Court Street in Carroll Gardens for a while, but am not totally thrilled with them. My lenses that I got from them last time very quickly got scratched and pocked (I am sure they will tell me it’s my fault because I didn’t buy a special case or a special anti-scratch coating or some such nonsense). I too get extremely aggravated by the ridiculously high prices on glasses frames and lenses, even with insurance.

  • nelson

    Thanks for the website….I love it! am passing this on to friends….

  • k

    wow, great post, and great info. Thanks Koroviev!

  • laurie

    2 years ago when I needed new glasses after I’d had eye surgery to relieve pressure on my optic nerve (which had me near-blind in one eye), I decided to try Costco and I have been thrilled with their service and selection. Although I had a prescription already from my ophthalmologist, I decided to schedule an exam with their in-house person anyway so that I could determine their competence in areas other than simply filling the prescription. I had already narrowed down a choice of frames online and by trying on selection at the overpriced LensCrafters, Cohen’s, GVS, etc and was very happy to find a set of frames at Costco that I loved, at a fraction of the price others had quoted. The whole bill (scrip, half-rimless frames, coatings, transitions lenses, the works) came to less than $300 at Costco – after being quoted closer to $700 everywhere else. Their warranty was suitable (unlimited re-makes until you’re happy, within 30 days of pickup, and a 1-year defect warranty) – although they got it right on the first try so I didn’t need to avail myself of it and I received my glasses 5 business days later. When I returned to pick them up, I brought along some old frames that I loved, but that had the wrong prescription lenses to see if I could get a spare set made. I decided to make them polarized “driving glasses,” which I’d always wanted, but could never justify the expense. 5 days later and for barely more than $100, I had new driving glasses, re-using my old (expensive!) frames.

    I was concerned that the coatings Costco uses wouldn’t be of good quality as I’ve had problems with other glasses in the past where the coatings would be worn off after a year, but it’s been 2 years and the coatings (AR, scratch-resistant, etc) have held up perfectly. In fact, I stopped into a Cohen’s across from my office a few weeks ago to have my glasses cleaned (i got caught in the rain and they were very smudged) and tightened and the guy there commented on what great shape my lenses were in.

    Anyway, that’s my reco for Costco’s eyeglasses. Although I am a Costco member (the one on 3rd Ave in Brooklyn), I don’t believe you have to be a member to use their optician or buy glasses from them so you might give them a try as a local alternative to the overpriced optical stores and online sources. Even if you do have to be a member, membership is only $50 for the year and you’ll likely save much more than that on just a single pair of glasses.

  • anon

    By using an online place, how do they measure your pupil distance (or whatever they do with that machine) to make sure the lense is correct (especially important for bifocals)?

    Also, if the original poster wants to make some cash:

  • CJP

    Anon— Actually kind of interesting how the measurement thing is done, just didn’t want to go overboard on the post with too much detail last night.

    But your prescription for bifocals is pretty specific; right eye and left eye and you have to enter that information. What’s more interesting is how one measures pupil-to-pupil. There’s some kind of ruler you print out, that comes out correctly calibrated on your printer, which you then have a friend/spouse hold up to your eyes to get the precise distance and you enter it.

    The website is very easy to use and all of the information is there. Again, my experience was positive. This may not be everyone’s idea of the best way to buy eyeglasses but I found the entire experience to be easy and satisfactory.

    Should point out too that the 39dollarglasses website sells glasses that come complete with UV and scratch resistant coatings, and a case, none of the add-on BS that retailers often hit you up for.

    And one more note on this topic. I read with great interest the Costco experience and that sounded great.

    I did have a good experience with the Macy’s eyeglass people although I didn’t end up sealing a deal. Their ad specifically said $99 for glasses, including bifocals. I went to check out the selection which was fair for the price and there were no catches: they were willing to sell me what they promised.

    What was interesting is that when I took the ad to Pearle, which promised to match all competitors ads, they insisted they couldn’t do it for that price and said they wouldn’t honor the ad!

    Can you sense my frustration with eyeglass places?

  • Claude Scales

    Dr. Stuart Friedman at Heights Vision Center on Montague is first rate. As dispensing opticians they aren’t cheap, but I haven’t seen the kind of high pressure or exorbitant pricing mentioned by other commenters at competing places. The staff are helpful and courteous, and will do their best to accommodate you if you need something quickly.

    If you need the services of an M.D. opthamologist, as I do (family history of glaucoma which, fortunately, hasn’t affected me yet), I strongly recommend Dr. James Deutsch at 110 Remsen.

  • anon

    Thank you CJP for your response. I also just had bifocals and paid $300, which seemed way too much, and the opt(ician or ometrist) told me the measuring part was very important, along with measuring how you look down and forward for the invisible light bifocals).

  • bklynred

    I am a big fan of Dr. Harris at Grand Optician. I also use the docs at Dr. Jordan and see an opthomologist every two years. For annual care and contact lens/glasses fitting Dr. Harris is the one for me. I had been using another local opthomologist who did both a lousy job of fitting me for lenses as well as not picking up an astigmatism. I have had poor experiences with Pearl and Cohen but a good experience in the past with Lens Crafters

  • CJP

    One final suggestion for folks who may be leery of trying the website I recommended. Get your first pair at your favorite optician; save your prescription and try the online thing for a second “backup” pair of spectacles.

  • Jenn

    Thanks to all your posts and comments I finally have a new eye doctor and new glasses and paid very little for both! Wanted to share my experience in case it’s useful for anyone else…

    Based on the recommendations above I made an appointment with Dr. Jordan – great place. He’s an optician which is great because he charged my health insurance (rather than my meager eye insurance) for the full exam, I only paid $20 copay! I definitely recommend them – even had some trouble with a pair of test contacts that was very easily remedied with a simple phone call.

    If you are going to get glasses and think you might use an online source, make sure Dr. Jordan checks and write your PD (pupil distance) on the prescription! It’s typically NOT included because the typical places will do it for you when you buy their lenses. I forgot about that and all the online sources require that you input it.

    I have a strong prescription (-8.5) and know that I generally need thinner lenses which were running me upwards of $400 just for the lenses at all the typical eyeglass places. Plus add $100 minimum for the frames (not frames I actually liked) and I was looking at $500 at least. Yikes.

    Based on CJP and Laurie’s recommendations I checked out a few online places and Costco here in Brooklyn. If you are already a member at Costco, then that’s definitely the cheapest option, though I have to say that their frame collection isn’t great – seems like mostly discontinued/older models from the various brands. I found a pair that would have been okay but not being a member, the additional $50 for membership put the purchase over the prices I was finding online.

    Costco did, however, check my PD for free (thank goodness) which was really nice of them and made me want to buy from them, but the membership + not in love with frames (AND the fact that that Costco is NOTHING like typical Costco’s – incredibly crowded and doesn’t actually have that much stuff, I couldn’t see myself ever shopping there otherwise). I had never been there before and the subway was actually pretty easy. So it’s worth it to check it out.

    I ended up choosing between two online sources: and There are lots of others but these had the best features. Framesdirect is great if you find a pair of frames you like at one of the typical stores and want to see if you can find it cheaper. They (and a lot of other sites) have a virtual try-on system, but none of them are very accurate so I didn’t end up using them to decide on frames – i recommend you don’t either.

    If you find a frame you like at one of the stores, on the inside of the side of the frame you’ll see some numbers written – be sure to note the model # and also the sizes (ex. “46, 18, 140″) as some models come in various sizes. I found that framesdirect often sold the same frames for about 25-35% less than of the price at the stores. Plus with the cheaper lenses, and I would have walked away with glasses I liked for about $250.

    I ended up going with They allow you to print out actual size images of the glasses. Having tried on a lot of glasses in stores, I had some sense for the style and width of the frame that I liked (ex. the “42” in the example above). I printed out a few of the frames that met those parameters and then cut them out (yes, a little time consuming but totally worth it) and “tried” them on. I found that their selection (for plastic frames) was way better than Costco (at least the styles I like).

    39dollarglasses also has a really good return policy. If you don’t like your glasses once you get them you can exchange them for FREE (you pay shipping) IF they can fit the same lenses into a different frame. If not, you pay a 30% restocking fee and they will make you new ones.

    I first ordered a pair of frames that didn’t meet my parameters (which was silly, i know, but I wanted to try something different). They arrived in about 1 week (it was going to take 2-3 weeks at any of the typical non-online places!) and were great quality, except way too big for my face. Totally my own fault, I knew they were big when I “tried” them on.

    I used their online chat service to ask about how to send them back. There was clearly a real person on the other end which was so unexpected and useful. I told her which other frames I wanted instead and she told me the exact price difference. I wrote a quick note including my credit card info and put those in the mail back to them. A week later I received another email saying they were remaking them. A week after that I got the new ones and they are GREAT. Both pairs came in a nice hard case as well.

    The initial glasses from them were ultimately only $158 (includes frames, 1.67 lenses, anti-reflective coating). Add an extra $50 or so for the exchange, and I’m still only at around $200. I will definitely order from them again — I could get another pair and still be less than the cost of the typical places for one pair! Thanks to everyone!!

    NOTE: Because of my high prescription (over -3 I think) 39dollarglasses added another $40 to the lenses for sanding down the edges (this is in the fine print, btw).

    And if your PD reading has two numbers that are different (ex. 28/30) write that in the comments to make sure they make your glasses correctly. If your PD has two numbers that are the same (ex. 30/30) then you add them together to make the single number PD (ex. 60).

    NOTE REGARDING LENSE THICKNESS: I have a strong prescription and feel like the 1.67 thickness is totally fine (which is what 39dollarglasses and framesdirect offer). Why I would want to pay another $200-300 for 1.71 is beyond me. But that was what all the typical places wanted to sell me. They gave me such a hard time about the 1.67 (which they do sell and is MUCH less expensive for them – they just don’t want to sell it) that I didn’t want to give them my business.