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eyemaxx optical studio (part i)

This post is the first of a three-part series on EyeMaxx Optical Studio, a locally-owned glasses boutique in downtown Ottawa. I'm trying them out to see if they can break me of my habit of online shopping for glasses, since quality can be an issue and returns can be iffy. Over the next little while I'll be sharing my full experience with you, from eye exam to contact lense fitting to glasses shopping, and my fingers are crossed that this local small business lives up to the good things I've heard. And if I like my experience, I'm going to ask for a special promo code/discount just for you lovely folks because why shouldn't you get a deal? So without further adeiu, off we go!

I come from a family of four eyes, and I've been a glasses wearer since I was about 10 years old. Growing up in the countryside north of Prince Edward County, I can tell you that finding a good-looking pair of glasses that fit well was a tall order. Not a lot of choice. Although some of my cringeworthy 90s glasses seemed okay at the time, I later realized I looked more like this:

It's okay, Justin, we've all made mistakes.

In 2000 I moved to Ottawa for university (U of O English Lit grads represent!), and this bookworm was excited at the prospect of better specs. Not so. I was disappointed to find Ottawa's major chain opticians (I won't name names but you can guess) offered the same abysmal selection I'd had in my little town, and their staff didn't seem to have any training on which styles suited which face shapes. And they were pricey! I eventually turned to the internet because I was a better judge of what suited my face and my style, and because there were so many more frames to choose from. But buying glasses online can be a bit of a guessing game and I do have to admit that you do get what you pay for. A fun pair to throw on every now and again? Sure. But for specs you rely on everyday? Maybe not.

A while back I noticed a boutique on Elgin Street called EyeMaxx, and I was curious about them because they're independent, locally owned, and I'd heard their staff was super helpful. This Saturday I stopped by to check them out.

First impressions? The bouitque was spacious, open, tidy, and stylish, and the friendly staff greeted me right away. The shop didn't have that frenetic feel that chain stores have, since the big stores always seem understaffed and the sales reps struggle to get to everyone. The EyeMaxx staff and environment were the polar opposite: cool, calm, and collected.

The staff asked to see my current glasses, and they ran a few tests to determine the exact prescription of my current lenses. They had also asked me to bring a copy of my most recent prescription, and I brought along a box of my current contact lenses too. They made a few notes about my existing prescription while I took a look around the store:

After the staff finished up their notes on my existing prescripton, I was off to my eye exam. The first thing you need to know about EyeMaxx's eye exams: they have online booking!!! Honestly, why don't more clinics offer this? I hate talking on the phone so I'm a big fan of online booking, whether it's for an eye exam, a dinner reservation, or ordering takeout.

I saw Dr. Alexa Lavigne, and she was friendly, thorourgh, and right on time. The exam room was immaculately clean and tidy, and Dr. Lavigne sanitized all the equipment before she began my exam. I actually learned a few things from her that I'd never encountered in my 20+ years of eye appointments, so I was very impressed. Here's a peek inside the exam room:

The exam lasted approximately 30 minutes and included tests for pressure, glaucoma, and of course reading ability. Since I'm also a contact lense wearer, Dr. Lavigne also took a few moments at the close of the exam to properly fit me for contact lenses. I hadn't had this done in 15 years or so because I'd been buying lenses online, and I was pretty surprised by what I learned.

I found out I'd been buying contacts that were a bit too large for my eyes, and I'd also been buying a lense power that wasn't well suited to the astigmatism I have in my left eye. Crazy! Dr. Lavigne then asked me about my habits - like how often and how long I wear my lenses - then set me up with a trial pair. They were so comfortable! I'm testing them throughout the week this week to make sure they're keepers, but so far they've been excellent.

The eye exam came to $100 exactly (which is less than what I'd been paying at my previous clinic), and if you have insurance you'll get most of that back in a reimbursement. Also, Dr. Lavigne wrote out my full prescription for both glasses and contact lenses (since they're never exactly the same), which my last place didn't do.

All in all: so far, so impressed. I paid for my eye exam and headed off to enjoy the rest of my Saturday (okay, i went to Nordstrom for the fall clearance sale but don't judge me).

I'm going back to EyeMaxx Optical Studio this week to try on glasses, and in my next post I plan to share my favourite finds with you. Then in my third and final post you'll get to see if I take the plunge and order a pair! Thanks for following along my bespectacled friends, I hope this helps you out.

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