4 months ago

In The Market For a New Pair of Glasses? Read This First

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There is much going on in all matters ocular: a profusion of fabulously fashionable and highly covetable eyewear, various cutting-edge corrective vision options, and a bounty of rejuvenation procedures.

Glasses, so essential for seeing clearly for so many, have gone way beyond functionality and now are seen as an essential finishing touch for fashionistas and hipsters alike. According to Peter McGrath, proprietor of Specsavers, Dawson Street, Dublin, “where once customers had one or two pairs of glasses, now they have many, and while comfort is always key, usually they will have a variety of glasses in different colours to co-ordinate with their fashion, and separate pairs for different uses like sport, work and socialising.” He is very excited to take delivery of the new Marc Jacobs range of frames, with some fabulous colours and bold styles. Indeed, the Dawson Street area is becoming a veritable souk for designer glasses – deep pockets help! – with Optica’s very stylish shop run by Deirdre McNally. Dickson Hempenstall on Suffolk Street has tradition in spades, while Ace & Tate on nearby Exchequer Street is wooing the hipster crowd.

Across the pond, bespoke frame makers, Bold London runs an online operation but with face-to-face fittings. Founder Guy Buchan works with a range of precious metals and semi-precious stones to create custom pieces. “Once a client has made their personal selections they’ll never bump into anyone else wearing the same frames – anywhere.” From £660stg depending on finish.

London-based fashion photographer John-Paul Pietrus says “glasses are fun” of his dazzling range of Francis de Lara bespoke eyewear. Fine jewels are used to create stunning statement pieces beloved of the international A list. Over 250 hours goes into creating each pair of glasses, which are handcrafted in Florence, and the results are stunning – as are the prices, starting at an eye-watering £15,000.

The Paris house of Louis Lafont, has long been collaborating with the grand couture houses of Hermès and Chanel and now offers handcrafted bespoke pieces alongside wonderful designs from their extensive archives. Pricewise, the sky’s the limit from
€600 upwards.

Closer to home, Ruth Hearne of the Banyan Tree in Monkstown is stocking gorgeous necklaces that have a discreet lorgnette attached. A clip-on version is proving popular with male customers. Prices are reasonable from 120. Made by the aptly named Flippan’ Look, Madrid they look like statement jewellery and are adored by ladies who dislike having to root for the dreaded reading glasses: they look a country mile more attractive than squinting at one’s menu with a phone torch. Nothing says middle aged quite as clearly as reading glasses.

When jewelled eye pieces simply don’t cut it, then medical vision correction might be more appealing. Depending on your personal requirements, Arthur Cummings, Medical Director of the Wellington Eye Clinic recommends several cures for presbyopia (Greek for ageing eye). “Blended” vision is the buzzword here, with lasers treating one eye for close up and one for long distance, apparently, the brain adapts and switches on the eye that is in focus for its current need. The cost is around €2,250 per eye. Another remedy is replacing the natural lens with multifocal synthetic lenses that are customised to suit your requirements and, while they are pricier €3,250-€3,270, they do provide lifelong vision and preclude the need for age-related cataract surgery further down the line. Cummins is very excited about a Europe-wide trial in which the clinic is participating where the lenses used are human corneas from the world eye bank. If this sounds daunting it’s comforting to know the process is reversible, and only one eye needs to be treated. When these corneal inlays are available commercially the cost will be around €2,900. According to Cummins, clients are invariably delighted when they take the step to ditch the specs. “I wish I had done this years ago” – and “this is so liberating” being typical post-procedure comments.

Cummins says, “the best remedy for looking young is getting rid of reading glasses, thereby avoiding squinting and causing wrinkles around the eyes.” There is little doubt that as age markers, eyes are the first to go. According to a 2016 study presented by Olay to the American Academy of Dermatology, the eye area can have a biological age of up to 22 years more than one’s chronological age.

Dr Rosemary Coleman, dermatologist at the Blackrock Clinic, says the best anti-ageing remedy is assiduous application of a good SPF, and she also recommends using topical products that contain either Retinol, Glycolics or vitamin C. However, sometimes the eye area needs a little more help and Coleman says using a combination of treatments including laser, Botox and fillers gives the best results, though she hastens to add “the most important factor is not to distort the face” as “it takes very little to throw out the eye area and end up looking like Dr Spock”. Rather shocking but sadly not an unfamiliar look out and about … A less invasive option she recommends for tightening the delicate eye skin is micro-needling, whereby tiny injections puncture the skin causing it to bleed and the healing kicks off an upsurge in collagen production.

Peggy Stringer, of the Monkstown Laser Skin Clinic, is impressed by the results from Platelet Rich Plasma PRP, known as the Vampire Facial, much loved by celebrities where blood taken from the patient is spun to extract the rich plasma cells and are injected back into the face. She says, “the no risk factor is great – as you are using your own plasma, and the results are excellent with clients enjoying a visible improvement”.

Both Coleman and Stringer agree that the ultimate treatments for ageing, drooping eyes is blepharoplasty, a surgical procedure where excess skin is removed and result is perkier looking eyes, that knocks years off the face. Rizwana Khan, an ophthalmologist who specialises in ocuplastics is renowned for her skill in reconstructive surgery but is gaining a stellar reputation for helping to “refresh” faces. Her light but perfect touch in the eye lift arena has earned her the reputation as the ultimate go-to and her one-year waiting list reflects her popularity.

Of course, in an ideal world, where the eyes could have it all, one could combine liberating corrective vision surgery, youth restoring cosmetic surgery, skin rejuvenation procedures and still wear beautiful glasses for their style capital. I know I would do it all if I could …

Thérèse Quinn

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