By Claudie Benjamin

Style and optics technology merge in Optician Awilda Sosa’s approach to her career. She’s been at it for over 40 years, always with the enthusiasm of someone new to the profession. Her warm, engaging personality is part of her customers’ ongoing loyal support. Some have been coming to her for their eyeglasses for decades. “Most of my customers have become friends,” she said.

The key is not about trends in frame colors or trendy shapes but about genuine customer service. Unlike some opticians, Awilda does not approach customers with a brusquely efficient “What do you want?” She enjoys consulting with people who come into Angel Eyes Optical, her store at 2662 Broadway.

Awilda lives in Queens, where, as a single mother, she raised her two daughters and put them through college while working on the Upper West Side. She started her career managing an optical franchise at Broadway and 95th Street. Twenty-two years ago, she purchased that franchise and moved the business a few blocks uptown to its current address.

“I always ask new customers what they do for work,” said Awilda.” An accountant who’s always at the computer reading and working with numbers will need something different than a person in another job.”  

The age of customers at Angel Eyes ranges from three months to the upper 90s. The hope for eyeglass wearers of any age is to obtain a pair that offers them the best vision possible, combining outstanding optics and an aesthetic that’s pleasing. “Usually, customers walk away with the first pair I’ve suggested,” said Awilda, who is proud of this ability that comes from her stylistic sense and years of experience. So, it’s not really about today’s big round frames, Cat’s Eyeglasses, or vintage-looking Granny Glasses, but about what the customer feels makes them look their best. It’s also not about promoting frames by famous designers that everybody knows.  “I like to promote the smaller, less known boutique brands,” Awilda said.

Yes, some people prefer contacts, also available at Angel Eyes. “Most prefer the disposable ones for reasons of hygiene.”

Has her business been affected by the growth in the popularity of laser surgery that often reduces or eliminates the need for glasses? The answer is that yes, to some degree, her business has been affected by new technology, but its impact is offset by the reality that many people are not good candidates for surgery, and others require glasses even after these procedures.

In terms of fashion statements, sunglasses have as much or greater importance compared with regular glasses. “People want to look good”. But not everyone is looking for cool or glamor. For some, the goal is to have glasses that provide optimal eye protection for everyday outdoor activities. The best lenses to achieve this goal are polarized lenses that provide 99 percent protection from the sun and lenses that offer ultra violet protection.

Awilda has the patience and interest in providing eyeglasses for children. She said that understanding the importance of durability means that frames made of rubber and plastic lenses are highly desirable.  And, then, there’s color and the shape of the frames.

“I’m known for carrying a lot of colors and styles that are fun. Having glasses that make daily life more fun is certainly all good.”

Asked about her history on the Upper West Side, Awilda said her parents were from the Dominican Republic. They met on the Upper West Side. She’s a first-generation New Yorker. “It’s funny I was born at Women’s Hospital (later St. Luke’s,) so near here.” She grew up on Long Island, completed her professional training at NYC College of Technology in Brooklyn, and has always worked on the Upper West Side.

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