by Jeremy Jones
Henry VIII was known to have at least six pairs of glasses strategically placed around his royal dwelling but would never allow anyone to see him wearing them. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel wore glasses and so does the Dalai Lama. And if we didn’t believe Clark Kent in his glasses, we’d never have believed Superman in his cape.
When it comes to vision correction, the good, the bad, the ugly, the proud and the heroic are all in the same boat: They need glasses.
According to the Vision Council of America, approximately 75 percent of adults use some sort of vision correction. About 64 percent of them wear eyeglasses, and about 11 percent wear contact lenses, either exclusively or with glasses. Over half of all women and about 42 percent of men wear glasses.
So, business was pretty brisk for Joseph Murray when he opened J. L. Murray Opticians & Co. at 8632 Germantown Ave. in 1961 – more than 50 years ago.
In 1976, optician Joe Cooney joined Murray, and in 1989 he and his wife Lori purchased the company. Then, in 1990, optician Walt Scarborough came on board. The three have been a winning team for over 25 years, steadfastly delivering unparalleled optical services for Chestnut Hill and surrounding communities, and even continue to work with former local residents who have moved to other parts of the country and abroad.
Murray Opticians provides the utmost precision in filling prescriptions as doctor-prescribed, custom-made bifocals and progressive lenses and custom-fitting of frames. They make repairs, offer unlimited adjustments at no charge and a one-year replacement and repair warranty.
They carry Varilux transition lenses, Crizal no-glare (anti-reflective) coated lenses (great for night driving, indoor and outdoor sports and hikes in the snow), as well as custom tinted lenses.
In addition to being a full-service dealer of Silhouette Minimal Art rimless frames, Murray Opticians carries what’s current and hot in designer eyewear, including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Banana Republic and the iconic styles of Ray Ban, which are also available in non-prescription sunglasses, as are Esprit and Liz Claiborne, just to name a few. Ready-made readers and prescription-readers are available as well.
For people with more complex prescriptions or eye conditions, “We have never turned one down,” Joe said.
Peggy Grady is a longtime resident of Chestnut Hill, the mother of four children, and a longtime customer at Murray Opticians. A challenging and urgent situation developed when both her sons were diagnosed with degenerative eye disease at the ages of 8 and 11.
“They needed special glasses to protect the retina,” Grady explained. “I knew I could trust Murray’s to make sure the prescription was exactly as it should be. It’s a very specific prescription. I trust them implicitly.
“And you can imagine my sons with their condition – they’re boys! So their glasses were always getting broken or damaged while playing sports and just being boys. Murray’s would always say, ‘We can fix these – you don’t need new ones.’
“They have been so kind and generous to me,” she said.
At Murray Opticians, when buying one complete pair of prescription glasses, you get 15 percent off the second complete pair. If you buy three complete pairs, you get 15 percent off the second and third pair.
And don’t get mad at Joe! When lenses come in and they aren’t up to the quality and standard Murray’s stands by, he will keep sending them back until they are on spec – literally. So, in some cases your glasses may take a day or two longer than promised when originally ordered, but your eyesight is worth it.
“Our customers demand a certain level of service and quality and we do everything we can to give it to them” Joe said. “If I don’t like them [the lenses], you don’t get them.”
This is just an example of why this small, privately owned enterprise has survived the times and the trends, the big box chains and the “more convenient” options presented buy shopping online. Everything you can get online, you can get at Murray’s and much, much more.
You will work with the same person time and time again, a person who knows you, your preferences and your eyes, and instead of a one-size-fits-all policy, Murray’s offers frames in multiple sizes, bridge sizes and temple lengths. They are more than happy for you to take frames home so you can make your decision in a relaxed manner.
When trying on glasses at the store, Joe, Lori and Walt will give you an honest opinion.
“We try to make sure that person looks good in the frames,” Joe said. “I want them to like it, but I want it to fit their face, not just the fashion.”
“We want you to leave here happy,” Lori said.
On many occasions Joe or Walt will visit a customer at home or at one of the local senior residences. Recently they fit a customer while he was parked in his car because a knee injury made it difficult to walk to the shop.
“If we can make life easier for our customers, that’s what we do,” Joe said.
Joe and Lori have four children. Joe is assistant varsity softball coach at Germantown Academy and gives private pitching lessons.
To help those who cannot afford proper eyewear, Murray Opticians is grateful to accept your unwanted glasses in support of the Lions Club vision program.