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Your Guide to Buying Prescription Eyeglasses Online

Top 4 Retailers That Provide Glasses Online

For most of us over 50, eyeglasses are a fact of life. Did you know that if you have a prescription you can conveniently order a wide selection of prescription eyeglasses online without the hassle of visiting your optometrist again?

But why would you want to order glasses online when you need to visit the optometrist anyway for an eye examination to get the prescription? You might want to order prescription sunglasses or maybe an extra pair in case of an emergency – like when you have misplaced your glasses and cannot see to find them. What if your glasses break while you are on holiday? Maybe you need frames or lenses suited to specific sporting activities. Or what about an extra pair or two just to make a fashion statement?

This article will guide you through the pros and cons of buying eyeglasses online, it will explain how to go about it, and provides links to recommended sites for ordering glasses online.

Can I Skip My Visit to the Optometrist?

Online buying cannot replace the importance of regular visits to your optometrist every year or two, especially after the age of 60. Aside from a new prescription for eyeglasses, the full examination is important for early diagnosis of age-related eye problems, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma.

Glaucoma, for example, most often develops after 60 and causes permanent visual deterioration, even blindness. This occurs so gradually that it often goes unnoticed until loss of vision is severe. However, early treatment can halt further visual decline if the condition is diagnosed with a simple test that is done during your regular eye examination.

Once you have a prescription from your optometrist, you can order any eyeglasses from one of the online services.

Advantages of Buying Eyeglasses Online

From the convenience of your home you can select the frame of your choice, fill in the prescription details, and then wait for your glasses to be delivered to your door. Delivery is usually within two weeks, although some suppliers now offer a two-day delivery for a small extra charge.

The selection of frames online is much wider than the range available in your optometrist’s showroom. Furthermore, they are often far less expensive, with savings of up to 40% according to some consumer reports.

When ordering online you can also add all the lens features you prefer, including various filters and special coatings, such as blue-light filters, anti-glare, anti-scratch, and UV protection.

You can even pay directly with your health insurance on a number of the online sites.

Disadvantages of Buying Eyeglasses Online

Firstly, you cannot try on the frames before buying. Buying eyeglasses online is generally not recommended if you have an unusually wide or narrow face. However, some services will now send you a selection of frames to try on before you send them back to have the lens fitted to the frame of your choice.

You should also be aware of the significance of having the correct measurement of your pupillary distance (PD). The distance between our eyes and also where glasses sit on the bridge of our nose differ from person to person. When you have chosen your frame, your optometrist marks the point where your pupils will be looking through the glasses — this is the exact point at which the lens must bend the light to best correct your vision.

When this focal point is misaligned it can cause blurry vision or even just a feeling that something is off. The PD is usually less significant where little visual correction is required but is the reason why those who need strong correction or have a complicated prescription should think twice about buying eyeglasses online.

Besides your prescription, most online eyeglass suppliers now ask you to provide your PD. You may be able to get it from your optometrist or you can measure it yourself, but it is not always easy.

How to Shop for Glasses Online

We suggest that you follow these steps the first time you order eyeglasses online:

  • Have your current prescription at hand.
  • Determine your PD. If you could not get it from your optometrist, you can find instructions and videos online that explain how to take the measurement at home.
  • Establish your frame size. If you already have glasses the fit you comfortably it is simple to just check the inside arm. Three measurements are provided: lens width, bridge width, and temple arms length. If this is not possible, you will find that most online suppliers have a tutorial on how to take these measurements.
  • Visit the website of one of the online eyewear retailers. Get an idea of the type of frame you would like according to color, shape, and material by using the virtual try-on feature.
  • You may then want to compare similar frames offered by different online retailers as costs and features vary considerably. Check whether the advertised cost of the frames includes standard prescription lenses. Also check out the discounts, special offers, and sales. Lastly, compare the costs of add-on lens features and shipping, delivery times, and refund policies, and whether your health insurance will cover the order.
  • It’s also a good idea to look at some online consumer reviews of the company you are thinking of buying from before you place your first order.
  • Once you have settled on the frame you want to order you will be prompted to enter your prescription and PD. Double check all the numbers, including whether there should be a + or – sign in front. One small mistake could mean that the eyeglasses will be completely wrong for you.
  • Next, you will be asked to select any lens features you may want and then you conclude the sale by entering your payment details.
  • Once your new glasses are delivered, start using them right away. Your eyes take about seven days to adapt to new glasses and you want to find out if something is not right before the return period runs out.

Suggested Online Eyeglass Retailers

1. EyeBuyDirect

This supplier achieved top place in a New York Times consumer review after extensive research. They have a large range of affordable frames – starting at $6 – although one pays an additional $6.95 for standard prescription lenses.

The site is easy to navigate and includes handy tips and guides. There is a style quiz to guide your selection and a try-on tool which uses a photo that you can take with the webcam on your laptop. They offer a two-day shipping option and full 14-day refund policy.

2. Warby Parker

This well-established company also has a chain of brick-and-mortar stores. They focus on offering a good price on designer-style frames and quality lenses. From their online store you can select up to five frames to try on at home for free.

The website offers comprehensive guidelines, including an online PD measurement feature using a webcam photograph. Standard prescription lenses are included in the advertised price and, while a bit more expensive, all lenses come with UV protection, scratch resistance, and anti-reflective and moisture repellant coatings. The company has a 30-day return or exchange policy and payment can be made through various health insurance providers.

3. Glasses USA

This retailer has a range of over 7,000 frames, including discounted designer brands and frames for sports glasses. The site is easy to navigate and for further guidance you can watch various video tutorials, starting with “How to buy glasses online”. You can also try on the frames by using their virtual mirror.

Pricing is at higher end of the market and lens features are added on to the total cost. They do, however, offer a discount on first orders and a 100% money back guarantee if the order is returned within 14 days.

4. Zenni Optical

This company is the go-to for competitive pricing if you are on a budget. They carry a very wide range of frames with prices starting from $6.95, which includes standard prescription lenses. There are interesting fun style shops for individual looks such as retro, artsy, and minimalist. The site has handy how-to video tutorials and the virtual try-on feature consists on a video upload from your webcam.

The downside of the low prices is that store credit, without refund of shipping fees, is the only refund option.

Ready to Buy Prescription Eyeglasses Online?

For most people there are not any serious pitfalls if you use a reputable online eyeglass supplier that has been in business for a while. You are however advised to still visit your optometrist for your eye exam every year or two and to rather buy in-store if you have a strong or complicated prescription.

Buying eyeglasses online can save you time and money. It is especially convenient when you already have a prescription and want to replace broken glasses or order another one or two pairs, such as a spare, sun- or sports glasses, or some fashionable glasses for going out.