Buying Eyeglasses Online: Everything You Need To Know

If you’re tired of buying eyeglasses at an optical store and want to try something new, then buying eyeglasses online may be worth your time and effort. Online shopping comes with some notable benefits.

It can be done in the privacy of your own home, and at any time that is convenient for you. It offers many more options, with multiple online eyeglass retailers to choose from offering a large selection of frames, and you can often find bargains that you couldn’t get in the store.

Buying eyeglasses online does have some drawbacks. At an optical store, an optician can help you decide which frames, lenses, and lens treatments you need and ensure a proper fit. When ordering online, all these decisions become your responsibility.

Without being able to try the frames on, it can be difficult to determine the right size frame for your face. Searching for eyeglasses online can be time-consuming because the quality of online retailers varies greatly.

While some will provide you with all the information you need to make your purchase, others may inform you only after you’ve placed your order that the frames you chose will not work with your prescription or that they have been discontinued. Before buying eyeglasses online, you must read the retailer’s return policy.

How To Choose the Right Lens When Buying Eyeglasses Online

Of the many decisions you will have to make when buying eyeglasses online, one of the most important is to select the eyeglass lens thickness that’s best for you. Here is what you need to know about lenses before you start shopping for eyeglasses online:

Eyeglass lens thickness: Lenses come in several varieties: standard plastic low index, trivex, polycarbonate, and high index (with indexes from 1.6 up to 1.74). The higher the index of lens material, the thinner the lens will be and typically the more expensive it is.

Plastic lenses are a sturdy and affordable option for people who don’t have strong prescriptions. Polycarbonate is impact-resistant and thus beneficial for those with an active lifestyle. High-index lenses are the thinnest and lightest of the options and offer the best comfort and style for those with strong prescriptions.

Also, unlike plastic and polycarbonate lenses, high-index lenses can be used with drilled rimless frames. Trivex offers impact resistance in a lightweight, thin lens. These lenses are more expensive and are currently the best lens to use with drilled rimless frames.

Pupillary distance (distance between your pupils): You have to know your pupillary distance in order to purchase eyeglasses online. If this is not on your prescription, simply call your eye care professional and ask for it.

Although many online optical retailers may offer do-it-yourself measuring tools, it can be tricky to measure your own pupillary distance. Having your eye doctor or optician take the measurement for you is usually the easiest method.

Prescription types: You will also need to know what prescription type you are. If you are not sure, ask your eye care professional. There are several prescription types, including:

  • Single-vision lenses for either distance or near vision, but not both
  • Bifocal lenses for both distance and near vision
  • Trifocal lenses for distance, intermediary, and near vision
  • Progressives lenses for both distance and near vision. These are like bifocals, but without a line through the middle of the lens
  • Reading glasses

Lens coatings: Many lenses now come with a scratch-resistant coating. This coating can help prevent scratches, but it is not scratch-proof; you still need to take care of your lenses. If reflections on your lenses bother you, then you’ll want to choose an anti-reflective coating. You may be able to get a combined scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coating.

If you are buying standard plastic eyeglasses, you may want to add a coating that blocks ultraviolet (UV) light. Other eyeglass lenses, such as polycarbonate and high index, have 100 percent UV protection included, so an extra lens coating is not required. If you live in a cold climate, you might consider adding an anti-fog coating. This prevents the lenses from fogging up when you come in from the cold.

Sun protection: There are three types of sun protection lenses: photochromic lenses (more commonly known as Transitions) that become dark outside and clear inside; drivewear; and polarized lenses. These lenses reduce glare to improve vision in sunny conditions. Photochromic lenses can be used all day every day, whereas drivewear and polarized lenses are both essentially sunglasses.

Learn more: Eyeglass Lenses

How To Choose the Right Frame When Buying Eyeglasses Online

Here is what you need to know about frames before you start shopping for eyeglasses online:

Frame size: To help ensure that your frames fit properly, you will need to know your eye size, bridge size, and temple size. If you already have eyeglasses, you can find these measurements on the inside of one of the “arms” of the frame, the pieces that extend from the frame front to behind your ears (the correct term for these is “temples”).

The measurements are typically written in the following order: 48 = eye size, 15 = bridge size, and 135 = temple size. If you are purchasing eyeglasses for the first time, it is best to try on frames at an optical store to get a feel for what sizes you need.

Frame types: There are four types of eyeglass frames: plastic, metal full frames, semi-rimless or grooved frames, and drilled rimless frames. The choice of frame type largely depends on personal preference.

Frame materials: Most frames are made of titanium, memory metal, or a combination of both. Titanium frames tend to be more expensive, whereas memory metal frames are more flexible. Both types of frames are resistant to breakage, but no frame is indestructible. For most people, the material the frame is made of is secondary to the frame style.

Why See Your Eye Doctor Before Buying Eyeglasses Online?

The most important thing to do before buying eyeglasses online is to get an updated prescription. To find out how often you need to update your prescription, follow this guide:

  • Up to age 18, it’s best to renew your eye prescription annually.
  • From age 19 to 59 you can get by with an eye examination every two to three years.
  • If you’re 60 or older, it’s best to renew your eye prescription annually or as directed by your eye care professional.

Advice for Buying Eyeglasses Online

Eyeglasses can be expensive. Although some people can afford multiple pairs of prescription eyeglasses in all different styles, most of us are limited to only one or two pairs because of budget constraints or limits on insurance coverage.

If you have never tried buying eyeglasses online before, you may not realize that it is possible to get a good pair without actually trying them on first. Some online eyeglass retailers have virtual try-on tools that allow you to upload a photo of yourself and see how different frames will look on your face.

If you’re having trouble deciding which eyeglasses are best for you, you can always ask a friend for feedback. Choose frames that are fashionable and stylish, but not at the expense of comfort and durability. With all the choices available today, you should be able to get both fashion and function at a reasonable price.