The savings and style are
easy to see
A RECENT television report made my eyes
light up … and probably caused a lot of non-Costco members to see red. A local news station in the Dallas–Fort Worth area had hired
three optometrists to independently inspect
prescription lenses made by some of the biggest optical retailers in the area: Costco, Wal-Mart, Target and LensCrafters. The doctors
found many mistakes. Only Costco, the
fourth-largest seller of eyewear in the United
States, got it right—each and every time.
I wasn’t at all surprised by Costco’s stellar
optical performance. Costco Optical ranks
highest in customer satisfaction among in-store optical departments, according to J.D.
Power and Associates’ National Retail Vision
Satisfaction Study in both 2005 and 2006.
(The results for 2007 have not yet been
announced.) And according to a leading consumer magazine’s examination of prescription eyeglasses and eyeglass frames in 2007,
Costco Optical offers the best prices and is the
only large retailer noted for best service, scoring nearly as well as private medical offices
and independent optical stores.
Wanting to see why this award-winning
program looks so good, I contact Costco
Optical assistant vice president Art Salas. He
tells me, “Our business is certainly interesting.
Just a few years ago corrective eyewear was
considered a practical necessity, and now it is
a trendy fashion accessory. While other retailers might see this as an opportunity to relax
standards, we continue to seek the highest
quality in all facets of our optical program.”
Consumer reporter Pat Volchok
gives a behind-the-scenes look
at Costco products and services.
Send your questions to:
bers to provide the proper corrective lenses
based on valid prescriptions. All Costco opticians must take the national certification test
for eyeglasses and contact lenses within three
years of starting to work in the department.
Most warehouses also have the added
benefit of independent doctors of optometry on-site for members and nonmembers.
The doctors are available for routine eye
exams, vision prescriptions and advice. To
make an appointment, just drop by or
phone your local Costco Optical Center.
(You can find the closest Optical Center and
contact information by searching under
“Locations” on costco.com.)
Most lenses are made of plastic and are
treated for scratch resistance and 100 percent
UVA and UVB protection for no additional
charge. (Other retailers sometimes add a fee
for these services. )
Costco’s least expensive lens is hard resin
plastic CR- 39. It’s adequate for those with
minor corrections, but if you want an impact-resistant, thinner, lighter and safer lens, consider polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate
lenses are one of the department’s bestselling
lenses, and polycarbonate is the only material
Costco Optical allows in prescription eyewear
for anyone under the age of 18.
High-index lenses are the lightest and
thinnest lenses. Costco’s high-index lenses are
made in a flatter, aspheric shape rather than
thick half rounds. Aspherics provide less distortion and a better optical field of vision. Take
it from me: High-index aspherics are what you
want for a particularly strong prescription.
After reading that only 20 states require
opticians to qualify for and maintain licenses,
I ask Art about Costco’s policy. It’s reassuring
to know Costco Optical has the most highly
trained staff in the industry. Professional eye-care opticians are present at every Costco
Optical Center. They work directly with mem-
Looking at lenses
When it comes to prescription lenses,
knowledgeable buyers narrow down Costco’s
to the best in each category.
But wait, there’s more
Also well worth considering are
Transitions™ photochromic lenses and/or
antireflective (AR) lens treatment. Costco’s
Transitions lenses, the number-one photochromic lenses recommended by U.S. eye
doctors, adjust from being clear indoors to a