Should I Buy Glasses Online?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, February 25, 2021
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While online shopping may be convenient, there may be issues with buying eyeglasses online.

In 2019, 9.3% of prescription glasses in the United States were sold online, this means that over 9 out of 10 people still prefer buying their glasses from ‘brick and mortar’ eye doctor offices or optical stores.

While buying glasses and contact lenses online may seem enticing, there are many factors to think about before clicking that ‘buy’ button. Shopping online can seem to save time and money and can be extremely convenient, done from virtually anywhere at any time.

If you are interested in purchasing glasses online visit your eye doctor to find out if it is a good idea for you. 

The Find an Eye Doctor directory provides a list of eye doctors near you that can provide eye exams and advise you on the type of glasses that best suit your eyes.

Find an eye doctor near you

If you are thinking of buying your next glasses online, here are some of the important considerations;

Do you save money?

Since shopping online for glasses has increased, most eye doctors and optical shops will now have a wide selection of eyeglasses with prices that match those found online.

While buying glasses online can be convenient by saving you a trip to the local optical store, scrolling through images of widely varying styles of frames can make deciding which to choose confusing and difficult.

Just like searching for glasses online can be confusing, so is finding the best deals. Since there are so many different sites to purchase glasses from, comparing and finding the best deal can be difficult to understand.

However, when buying glasses in-store a trained professional is there to take you through every step of the way, from choosing the best glasses frame to finding the best deal for you, as well as discussing the best optical solutions for your lifestyle including sunglasses, multifocal lenses and even contact lenses.

Are the glasses the best fit?

One of the benefits of purchasing your glasses from an eye doctor or optical store is that an experienced staff member will take all the time needed with the fitting and selecting the right eyeglasses for you.

The staff are trained and can clearly explain the different features and ensure that the frames that are chosen are the best fit.

When shopping in person, all glasses are customized for each person, being able to try the glasses on will also save you the hassle of having to guess the size and then needing to exchange or return them if they don’t fit as expected.

While the glasses selected, when purchased online, may look good, once they are received they may not look as expected. It can be difficult to choose style and color from a website as opposed to actually seeing them on your face in the mirror at an actual store.

Is the prescription correct?

Consumer studies have shown that almost 50% of the lenses ordered from online retailers arrive with some error.

These prescription mishaps are more common when buying glasses online because online retailers may not be able to accommodate specific prescriptions.

There is a lot of details on all optical prescriptions and while online suppliers may be able to manufacture the lenses, the way they are positioned in the frame may not be in a way that works best with your eyes.

The correct positioning of the lenses is determined by the pupillary distance (PD) as well as the position of the center of the lens. If either of these are not measured accurately, the result could be introducing unwanted prisms. This can cause significant headaches, discomfort and eyestrain.

Quality of the frames

Often low price frames are made from low-quality materials making them less sturdy and they may break more easily or not last as long. 

Durability of the lenses, prescription accuracy, and fit can all be potential problems of buying glasses online. If the glasses that were ordered online need to be adjusted, you will end up having to make a trip to the optical store after all.

Buying glasses online vs. in-store

There are some things to consider, when thinking about whether to buy glasses online or in-store.

  • Making sure the fit, frames and measurements of your face and eyes are correct.
  • Consider costs – ordering glasses online allows you to compare prices quickly.
  • Specialized prescription needs, such as a need for progressive lenses, may not be able online.
  • Knowing your pupillary distance (PD) can be difficult to measure. This is the distance between the centers of both of your two pupils. It is specific and unique to your eyes and face. If this measurement is done incorrectly you may not be able to see out of the lenses properly.

While purchasing glasses online may become more popular in the future, as of now most eyeglasses are still purchased from a brick-and-mortar optical store, as the pros of buying in store outweigh the cons.

Remember, even if ordering glasses from an online store, you will still need to visit an eye doctor for an eye exam and a prescription for corrective lenses.

Buying glasses online is not as simple as one may think. Think about the impact it can have on your vision and lifestyle especially if the prescription is wrong or the frames don’t fit properly.

If you are currently looking into getting new glasses, contact an eye doctor near you to schedule an appointment, they can help you choose glasses that best suit you and your eyes.