Should You Buy Prescription Glasses Online? – 3 Things To Have Ready to Make Your Online Purchase

In a day and age where you can almost buy anything on the internet and have it delivered to your house, people often ask me if they should buy their prescription glasses online. The answer to that question is never just a simple yes or no answer though, there are factors that you should consider before making the final decision.

There are also certain things you should be somewhat familiar with before you make the plunge into making an online purchase. Although many online eyeglass retailers do offer good return policies, you can never be extra careful when making your decision with your eyeglasses.

Let’s jump right in and I will give you some tips on certain things you should know before making your prescription eyeglass purchase online.

Understanding Frame Measurements

Getting a frame that fits your face correctly is crucial when purchasing prescription eyeglasses. Whenever you go into an optical office to purchase glasses, you are able to try on the frame, see how well they fit, and how they look on you. When you are purchasing glasses online, you don’t have that option. Therefore knowing the measurements of frames that normally fit you is important. Some online glasses retailers have virtual systems where you can try on the glasses, or print out the exact size of the frame, but you should still have a general idea of what your measurements are.

Here I have included an example of how the frame size is typically listed on glasses. This isn’t just for prescription eyeglasses, this is for any non-prescription sunglasses you might purchase as well.

The frame is typically measured in millimeters and has three parts to it. The first part is the measurement of the lens diameter, each lens is individually measured for this. The number in the middle is your bridge size, this is the distance between the two lenses on the frame. Last is the temple or side measurement, this is how long the temple is and will determine how far back they go on your ears.

If you are a seasoned eyeglass wearer you have a general idea of which measurements fit, and which ones don’t. For example for me personally, in the example above the measurements were 55-18-135. Those are the measurements of my current glasses, and those are the measurements that normally work for me. If I pick up a frame and the measurement is 53-16-135 then I know that it is not going to fit me.

Therefore if you know what measurements you normally wear, you can easily go online and just look specifically for those measurements, and at least I know that when I get the frame I ordered it is going to fit. This is actually a good tip for anyone that is looking to order sunglasses online as well.

If you currently don’t know what size glasses you currently wear, there are a couple options for you to find out.

  • Look on Current Glasses – If you already wear glasses, most of the time the measurement could be engraved behind the bridge if it’s a metal frame, or it could be printed on the side of the temple. Though a lot of the times if your frames are older the print could be worn off the temple.
  • Measure Your Glasses – If you already wear glasses you could easily just get a ruler and measure your own glasses. Just remember to measure everything in millimeters.
  • Go Try On Glasses – If you can’t figure it out with your own glasses at home, or you don’t already wear glasses, you could go to your local optical office and try on some frames. When you find something that fits good, take a note of what the frame measurements are. This is also a great way to find specific frames at a lower cost online. If you find a specific frame you like, take down the make, model, and measurements (this is important because some frames come in different sizes) then go online and look it up. A lot of the time you are going to find the frames online for substantially less expensive.

Once you have your frame measurement, then you have taken your first step to purchase your prescription glasses online.

Knowing Your PD Measurement

This is an important measurement that is needed if you are going to be ordering your glasses online. This is measurement is called the Pupillary Distance. This measurement is the distance between your eyes from pupil to pupil, in millimeters.

Some eye doctors will have your PD measurement listed for you on your prescription, but a majority of the time this measurement isn’t on your prescription. The easiest way to obtain this measurement is to call your eye doctor’s office where you got your eye exam from, they should have your pupillary distance on file.

If you don’t have contact with your eye doctor’s office for whatever reason, you could always have a friend measure it for you. Take a look at this video by EyeBuyDirect about how to measure your PD measurement.

As you can see it is a simple measurement to take, but it is an important measurement for your prescription glasses, so make sure it is as accurate as possible. If not it could lead to unwanted headaches and unnecessary eye strain.

Have Your Prescription Ready

If you are planning on ordering your prescription glasses online then you should have a copy of your prescription readily available so you can input it in when asked for it.

It is important to make sure that your prescription is still current. There are really no restrictions on the internet when it comes to ordering glasses and how recent your prescription is, BUT getting an eye exam is not only for the doctor to give you a new prescription. During an eye exam, your eye doctor not only gives you your prescription but also checks your overall eye health. There are also some hidden health concerns that can show up during a routine eye exam, and be caught before you even knew you had it.

Don’t skip out on routine eye exams. You go to your doctor for a physical every year, and the dentist every six months. Your eye exam is just as important and should be done at the very minimum once every two years.

Drawbacks of Ordering Glasses Online

As with getting anything online, there are definitely some drawbacks to ordering your glasses online. Some of these drawbacks can be avoided if you put in a bit more extra care into your frame selection and getting your measurements.

  • Can’t try on Frame – One of the biggest drawbacks of ordering glasses online is the lack of the ability to physically try on your frames before you pick them. This can be avoided if you have already gone into an optical office and tried on some frames and know exactly what you want already. However that works if you are looking for designer or name branded frames, but if you were looking to get a generic frame that the online retailer offers then there is no way for you to try them on. 
  • Measurements Incorrect – If you are not extra careful with your measurements that you are inputting into your computer to order your glasses, you could end up with glasses that could give you a headache, and unnecessary eye strain. This could be easily avoided by getting the measurements such as your PD from your doctor’s office or being extra careful when you are measuring them. It is especially important to have the measurements for any multifocal glasses such as bifocals, trifocals, and progressives taken correctly.
  • Frame Adjustment – Another drawback with ordering glasses online is that sometimes they come in out of adjustment. Which would make the frame sit crooked, be too loose, or too tight. You could easily take them to your local optical office to have them adjusted, but just remember most placed will adjust your frames that your own risk so if they break then you’re going to have to get a new pair.

Final Thoughts

As you can see for every drawback there is a solution to it, so it is not something that should hold you back from ordering your glasses online. It is 2018 you can order your groceries online and it gets delivered to you, even prescription medication. why not glasses.

Don’t even get me started on how much better it is to buy your contact lenses online compared to going into a store. But that is a topic for another day. Thank you all for reading, if you have any questions feel free to reach out in the comments below, or my contact form.

Have you ordered any glasses online? How was your experience? Let me know below! Have a great day.


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About Huy Le ABOC, NCLEC 101 Articles
Huy has been working in eye care for the last 10 years as an optician, and vision center manager. He is coming to you as an expert in the field, as well as a long time eyewear user. He is bringing his expertise and unbias opinion on optical technology, frame styling, contact lenses, and eye health. He is on a mission to educate the world about the importance of eye health, as well as provide everyone with helpful tips so you can save money on all your eye care needs. Huy is certified by the American Board of Opticianry as well as the National Contact Lens Examiners and is a State Licensed Optician in the state of California. Huy is currently one of the full-time writers and editors at Eye Health HQ and is an Optician in Los Angeles, CA.

5 Comments

  1. This is such a great article, thank you. We have been told that my son will soon need to start wearing glasses and I was looking at options online, but he has a very broad bridge of nose. I will make sure to ask for his pupillary distance if we decide to look at options online.

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