Most of us do a significant portion, if not the majority, of our shopping online these days. So for anyone who needs to purchase glasses, the question of whether they can do the same on that front has certainly come up. Today, we provide an overview to help you make that decision.
While no two websites are the same, the basic process is going to be more or less the same across the board. You’ll be asked to select the frame style and color you would like, followed by your choice of lens type. (Including the various lens add-on features like anti-UV (ultraviolet) coating, or extra scratch protection.)
The next major step will be entering your prescription information, along with the distance between your pupils (the black center of your eyes). This is important, as getting the distance right means the lenses will be properly placed in the frame.
In order to compensate for your inability to try on frames as you would in a store, some companies include a feature that allows you to upload a picture of yourself so you can see how the glasses you’ve selected will look on your face. A few of these can also give tips to help you make the best frame choice for your needs and face shape.
Apart from the obvious convenience of being able to make your purchase from home, there are some other upsides to shopping online:
You will have access to a multitude of different sites to browse, and a wider variety of styles, colors, and other features than you are likely to find at a single physical store. Also, there is a good chance you’ll save some money by buying online. A Consumer Reports survey found that shoppers saved up to 40% by buying their glasses online.
When shopping online, it is also much easier to look up reviews of companies or specific products to help you make a more informed purchase.
All that being said, there are some ways in which the good old fashioned in-store method of picking out and purchasing glasses still holds an edge.
Obviously, being able to physically try on frames is a huge benefit. It’s also harder than it sounds to measure that important distance between your own pupils. Some experts even say it’s as hard as cutting your own hair. A hands-on approach with someone right there to assist you is, in this case, probably more precise. WIth fewer degrees of separation, you are also less likely to wind up with glasses with the wrong prescription or other problems.
Especially for people with more complicated needs such as progressive lenses, it is recommended to visit a store in person so you can be more certain all the important measurements are correct. People don’t always realize that part of what makes a proper fit of a frame is the lens positioning in relation to your eyes. With no ideal frame of reference, online companies will likely put your vertical center of vision in the geometric center of the lens, which is not ideal for everyone. In person, the professional can ensure that the lenses are positioned exactly right on your face. Additionally, a doctor you see in person will have a better understanding of your lifestyle to make proper recommendations
Opticians are trained to help patients navigate the various options involved in choosing a pair of glasses, and this training enables them to make better recommendations. Having another set of eyes judging how a pair of glasses looks on you goes a long way to ensuring you make the right choices.
When making a purchase online it’s also easier to miss or to simply forget to check the return policies (the amount of time you have to make a return can vary greatly). You should also check whether the site you are looking to purchase from takes insurance; not all do.
Finally, glasses ordered online may not look or fit how you expected them to, due both to things looking different online as opposed to in person (where you can see frames on your face in the mirror), and due to potential errors, which are not all that uncommon with online ordering.
If you’re buying glasses online already, it’s not a huge leap to start considering getting your prescriptions online as well. Some websites do offer this through a built-in eye test. But are they as accurate as the ones you get in-person from your local optometrist or ophthalmologist?
The answer seems to be a solid no.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), a recent study found that nearly half of all glasses (44.8 percent) ordered online either contained an inaccurate prescription or didn’t meet safety standards designed to protect the eyes. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the lenses failed impact resistance testing – a major safety issue. Children’s glasses performed even worse, with 29 percent failing impact testing.
Ultimately, the choice is in your hands. Be sure to factor in the complexity of any eye conditions you might have, and what sort of product you need, before deciding whether to shop online or not. In matters of health, the easy, convenient way is not always best, though it can be perfectly fine. Happy shopping!
While buying glasses online may be easy and convenient, and in some cases cheaper, than buying them in a physical store, the disadvantages overall outweigh the potential benefits. Remember that your glasses are first and foremost a medical devices to help you see better; it’s vital to get everything right when buying a new pair.