The Risks of Purchasing Glasses Online

Visit our family-friendly optometry clinicBuying products online is certainly convenient but it is not without risks, especially when buying medical products such as prescription glasses. Ordering glasses online is very different than your average online shopping experience.  It is important to know that optometrists are not only trained in medical eye care, but also in the proper manufacturing, fitting, measuring, and dispensing of eyewear. When making a glasses purchase online, the consumer is essentially taking on the role of a trained optical dispenser.  This role includes taking critical measurements and making decisions with respect to frame, lens and material selection.  There is an inherent risk associated with making these determinations without the proper skills and training.

Potential consumers should be aware of a number of factors that go into converting an eyeglass prescription into glasses that are both comfortable and provide clear vision.  These include:

  • Taking an accurate measurement of the distance between the two eyes. This is called the interpupillary distance (PD)
  • Obtaining the proper measurement of the optical centers (OC) in order to avoid eyestrain and pulling.
  • Determining the height to place the optical center of the lens in your selected frames
  • Measuring how high to place the bifocal (for those patients who need it)
  • Determining the most appropriate lenses material and lens index given the patient’s prescription, as well as work and lifestyle demands.
  • Choosing the appropriate measurements for the lenses to best suit the patient’s lifestyle or work environment.
  • Taking the appropriate base curve determination to control magnification, especially in cases where there is a difference between the curvatures of the two eyes.
  • Proper selection of frame size, eye size, bridge width, temple length, shape, wrap, material, and overall fit to ensure good comfort and vision with no distortion as well as cosmetically acceptable lens thickness.
  • Properly adjusting the frame to your face

Before the glasses are ready to be dispensed and used by the patient, a trained optical dispenser should ensure that they have been properly manufactured and are within acceptable tolerance. Then the appropriate adjustments should be made to ensure the glasses fit the patient’s face correctly to ensure clear and comfortable vision.  Poorly manufactured or poorly fitted glasses can cause eye strain, headaches, pulling, and blurred vision.

One study published in 2011 showed that nearly half the glasses purchased online failed to meet the recommended quality standards. These glasses did not meet either the optical requirements for the patient’s visual needs or the physical requirements for the patient’s safety.

As stated by the College of Optometrists of Ontario, purchasing eyeglasses online is not regulated, and the consumer is not protected by a regulated body with professional accountability and standards. In Ontario, selling prescription eyeglasses by any unlicensed entity is illegal. This includes internet vendors.

If you are considering purchasing a new pair of glasses, we invite you to explore our online frame gallery for our large selection of designer frames. Then come in for a visit and allow our friendly optometrists to measure and order the perfect new pair of glasses for you.