Steffen Berndt and John Shelswell, of smarteyes!

Smart idea: 3 steps to selecting your ideal eyewear

Courtenay’s new smarteyes! optical store gives the gift of good vision

What is the value of good vision? For the Comox Valley’s Steffen Berndt and John Shelswell, it’s priceless … but needn’t cost a fortune.

Opticians and owners of Courtenay’s new smarteyes!, the two are firm believers in a new way of dispensing glasses, one that puts customer options first.

Trained and educated in Europe, both share a lengthy history in the industry, including years working together with major optical companies. Seeing an opportunity to do more for patients, and passionate about providing the best possible treatment and quality, affordable eyewear, the time was right to build a business on shared values.

“We saw the way many things were being done and we thought, we can do better,” Steffen says.

1. The optics of good vision.

While optometrists are trained in eye health, Steffen and John are trained in optics – the physics of lenses and how they work with the eye – and work hand-in-hand with Valley optometrists to provide the best patient care.

Education is vital. Those selling and dispensing glasses need careful optics training to ensure patients get the right eyewear. While some will rely on a few basic measurements when creating lenses, best practices use multiple measurements to determine how the eye and lens work together in different situations, Steffen explains. “We take up to nine measurements to ensure your glasses are perfectly personalized to you.”

2. Understanding what’s needed … and wanted.

That comprehensive knowledge of lens physics and how it works with patients’ eyes also allows John and Steffen to work with patients to determine the best lens for their prescriptions, their lifestyles and their needs.

“Based on our analysis, we’ll figure out if this is the right lens for you. Our job is to educate,” Steffen says.

John agrees. “I often notice that when we start to discuss a patient’s needs and I say, ‘These are your choices,’ you see their chin drop – they’re not used to having choices in lenses.”

By taking the time to learn their needs and wants, “together we’ll make the right choice,” John says, rejecting another common myth: “You’ll get used to your glasses.”

With a properly adjusted frame and the correct measurements, your glasses should work and fit perfectly immediately, he emphasizes.

3. What’s in a name?

Is sporting brand name frames important for you? Often paying for designer frames means paying too much for the quality you’re getting, Steffen says, noting that instead, smarteyes! offers four price categories of quality frames. “We want to make sure everyone can afford the best lens.”


With a combined 60 years of optical experience, Steffen and John at smarteyes! offer a full selection of lenses and frames with great warranties, including sunglasses, progressive lenses and specialized lenses from their conveniently located downtown Courtenay shop.

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