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by Tara Fatemi Walker

So, you need glasses but don’t know where to start?

Sure, there are increasing numbers of online glasses sites, and some of them have very cheap prices… but shopping locally not only benefits our local economy, it also provides you with inperson guidance. This is something that’s hard to put a price tag on! Judy McGooden coowns Aptos-based Eye Shapes with her husband Kip. Both licensed opticians, they’ve been serving customers since 1980. She credits their longevity to a commitment to excellent service and staying abreast of technology advances, trends, etc. They also have a lab on premises.

“Eye Shapes’ success over 40 years has been based on professionalism and stellar service,” says McGooden. “Because we are individually licensed and insured, we must stay engaged in new developments in our industry which involves continuing education hours. At one time, when we first opened our shop, there were seven licensed independent opticians between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Now we are the only one!” Their clients stretch from San Lorenzo Valley to Royal Oaks.

Eye Shapes carries over 600 frames and sunglasses, accessories, and ‘readers.’ “Most repairs are done while you wait,” says McGooden.

“When shopping for new eyewear, it is very important to bring a recent prescription, know about any vision insurance you may have, and be open to suggestions.”

Prescriptions are valid in California for two years and, McGooden advises that even if the doctor states there is no change, it’s required by federal law that you be given a copy of your prescription.

Her tips for frame selection: “It depends on proper fit appropriate to your prescription and visual age, and of course, guided personal choice,” says McGooden. “Lens options are many and can be complex, which requires extensive product knowledge of material, numerous lens designs, and options.”

Make sure you allow a big block in your schedule when visiting Eye Shapes. “Done properly, an eyewear consultation takes time,” she says.

“We determine first, that our clients have a prescription, and then find out if they have insurance or not. If a person cares to simply shop and try on frames that’s okay too,” she adds. “Good service is built into the product cost, which is why online glasses are so cheap: no service. We consider our clients as personal advertisements for our shop. If they aren’t happy, or their glasses don’t flatter them, then that reflects on us. We are known for our professionalism and experience. Our goal for our clients is to look good and see well.”

Elyce Hansen is a licensed optician at Plaza Lane Optometry in downtown Santa Cruz, an independent local optometry office and full-service optical store, where they carry an inventory of over 900 frames for adults, kids and teens. Hansen says they consider a few factors when advising customers on selecting glasses.

“When we choose a frame for a patient, we have to take into consideration their prescription and how high it might be, the size and shape of their face,” says Hansen. “For example, if a person has a very small face, we will discourage them to purchase a large frame, as that can have adverse affects on the vision.

We always ask them if they wear prescription sunglasses, and if they do not, we encourage them to purchase these.

We ask what they do for fun outdoors—and if they bike, hike, golf, etc., we will recommend the proper material and polarized lenses.”

I asked both Hansen and McGooden if there is anything special that Santa Cruz County residents should consider when making an eyeglass selection. “Since living in Santa Cruz means you will probably be around the water, we recommend polarized lenses, as they protect the patient from harmful UVA and UVB rays, which are extremely damaging to the eyes,” says Hansen.

“There have been many advances in the field of optics and a good optician should be well versed in digital design, lens materials, varied progressive design choices for your needs, coatings for glare and options for sunglasses,” McGooden says. “Along the coast, we find that brown polaroid lenses are often the choice because we live in a variably cloudy, but ‘glare-y,’ marine environment in which dark gray lenses can decrease depth perception—and this is particularly important as we age.” She says that recently released gradient polarized lenses also work well here. “As distributors for Maui Jim, we recommend their product in prescription. As more information surfaces about the detriments of LED and blue light, we try to educate clients on protection from blue light streaming from computers and handheld devices. Occupational (or computer) glasses are a necessity for anyone spending several screen hours a day.”

Hansen encourages people to think more about how powerful the sun can be. “Still to this day, patients are not aware of how damaging the sun can be to our eyes,” she says. “They put sunscreen on their skin, but forget that the sun can cause a lot of damage to our eye, i.e.

macular degeneration, melanomas, pterygiums, etc. It is up to the doctors and the opticians to keep the patient informed on these dangers.”

Here is one more piece of information that people may be interested in: “In the Optical World there are three ‘O’s:’ Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, and Optician,” McGooden says.

The first is an MD, specializing in eye surgery. Next, optometrists are trained in ocular disease diagnosis and treatment, refraction and contact lens fittings. Lastly, “… opticians are trained to fill the prescription accurately by helping to select an appropriate frame and lens design; problem solving fit issues and repairs; and sometimes ‘finishing lenses’ in office (as we do at Eye Shapes),” says McGooden. “This speeds up the delivery time and may allow the client to keep their own glasses while the lenses are being ‘surfaced,’ which means ‘grinding the prescription into the lens blank.’ Currently, most lens designs are made digitally with lasers which increases the accuracy of the finished product.”

Contact Information

Eye Shapes, 783 Rio Del Mar Blvd. #37 (Deer Park Marketplace, above Deluxe Foods), Aptos, 831-6881516,,, IG eyeshapesaptos Plaza Lane Optometry, 1537 Pacific Ave. Suite 100, Santa Cruz, 831-4292020, plazalaneoptometry. com, PlazaLaneEyecare, IG @ plazalaneoptometry

Judy McGooden

Kip McGooden

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