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Should You Buy Your Glasses Online?

In this day and age, we can do most things over the internet. Since you can now buy most things online, should you order your glasses online? We know that things are generally cheaper when purchased online. You may find that glasses purchased online may save you a few dollars. There are things you should consider before attempting to order glasses online.

Having a valid prescription

At this stage, your optometrist can not conduct eye examinations over the internet. You will need a valid prescription. When you are thinking of getting a new pair of glasses, it is always recommended that you have your prescription updated. Your prescription is generally valid for two years. So if you are using a prescription that is about to expire, it is probably a good idea to have your eye check and your prescription updated at the same time.

Ordering from an outdated prescription would risk your new glasses not providing the level of clarity of vision you would’ve expected. The clarity of your new lenses are not only determined by having a correct prescription. Other factors, such as how the glasses are fitted to your face, the type of lenses used and how the lenses itself are fitted, are equally important.

Understanding the fitting of your lenses

Optical and prescription lenses are designed to have the maximum clarity when you’re looking through the centre of them. Think about the last time when you use a pair of binoculars. You adjust each ocular so both would be right in front of your eyes. Think about how your vision was when the oculars were misaligned with your eyes.

For your new prescription lenses, your dispensing optician needs to ensure the lenses will fit right in front of your pupil. The accuracy of this measurement is crucial as it optimised your vision through the prescription lenses. A fully qualified optical dispenser will ensure your lenses are fitted accurately. At Capital Eye, our optical dispenser is fully qualified from the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD) along with many years of industry experience.

One of the measurements you need for ordering your glasses online is your pupillary distance (PD). Optical dispensers typically do this by you wearing your glasses and having a marker pen to mark where your pupils are on the lens blanks. This is a bit difficult to do on your own – a bit like trying to cut your hair! Measuring the distance is only half the story. A good lens manufacturer would also need to know how high your pupils sit in relations to the frame edge (or heights). The distances between your pupils (PD) are constant – that doesn’t change. However, the measurements of the heights would vary from frame to frame. Generally, the heights are not required if your prescription is low or “simple.” If you have a high prescription, these measurements like the heights and pupils need to be accurate for the frame that you’re purchasing to ensure your vision is both clear and comfortable.

Ordering lenses online in most cases only compensate for the PD measurements, and not the heights – as having heights for each of their thousands and thousands of frames is impractical. They nominate a ‘standard heights’ which, you guessed it, may or may not work well for the customer.

Fitting of your new glasses

The way you wear your glasses (your frames) also affect the overall effectiveness of your prescription lenses. Optically, the total power or the strength of the lenses (prescription) changes if the lenses sit closer to your eye or further away than the standard. The tilting of the lenses and how it sits on your face also changes the effectivity of the prescription lens. All these measurements may only have a minuscule effect. However, if you have a high prescription, these measurements will ensure the pair of glasses you have would give you the best and comfortable vision you could ever achieve.

Our optical dispensers use the Rodenstock Impressionist mirror to take all these fitting measurements. The Impressionist mirror measures how your frames sit on your face and account for any optical adjustments for your new prescription lenses. Not all optical practices take these measurements as they are often time-consuming and argues that they have a negligible impact on your prescription lenses. At Capital Eye, this process is quick and easy. It ensures that the pair of glasses you get are both comfortable, optimised to how you wear them, and ultimately, easy to adapt into.

The Bottom Line

Unless your prescription is straightforward or very mild, spare a second thought on ordering glasses online. Quite often, you don’t know what lens brand they use, which would determine the quality of multifocal lenses and coatings. Vision through these budget lenses may not be as comfortable compared to ordering through a reputable lens manufacturer.

If you like a specific frame from the internet, by all means, purchase them. Bring them in and get the lenses fitted in our practice. This will allow you to explore different lens options for your vision requirements and advice from our qualified dispensers. This will ensure that you’ll be getting the best and comfortable vision with your new glasses and reap the benefits from both worlds.