Most people will agree that shopping online can be the easiest, most convenient way to acquire many of our wants and needs these days. Whether it’s a new outfit, a flat screen TV, or dinner for your family, a few clicks on the internet can have it at your door in no time. For some items, however, shopping in person – where you can be assisted by a knowledgeable professional – is a better way to go. Eyeglasses, most certainly, fall in this category.
Is it possible to buy eyeglasses online? Absolutely. A quick Google search will yield countless options. Can you save money by shopping for eyeglasses online? The answer to this question is a little less cut and dried, but in general – sometimes and on the surface, yes. But what is the real price you pay for opting to shop for your eyeglasses online instead of in person? Let’s look into it and find out:
First, let’s look at accuracy. This is the single most important component in your eyeglass purchase. When your lenses are prescribed, like any other medication, that prescription is specifically and precisely for you. To hand that prescription over via a website that you know nothing about, and to have it interpreted by workers that are not required to be licensed in any way, is likely not the best choice.
In addition to the prescription itself, pupillary distance (PD) and optical centers measurements are also necessary. Some sites provide printable rulers and ask customers to use a friend or a mirror to obtain these measurements, which they lead patients to believe is all that is needed. Dr. Turk explains there is more to successfully completing an eyeglass order than simply adding the pupillary distance and optical centers measurement to ensure proper placement of the optical centers over the pupil. “Progressive or bifocal lenses are notorious for being too high or too low despite the best efforts of a friend. An experienced optician will often recognize unnatural head positions that, if left uncorrected, would lead to erroneous measurements.”
“It’s routine that I see lenses decentered when someone comes in for us to fix problems with new glasses they ordered online,” said Dr. Turk. “In addition to the most basic measurement of PD, we use an instrument that precisely measures segment height, vertex distance, frame wrap, and pantoscopic tilt. All of those can affect the performance of the prescription. Even 1 mm error can result in less-than-optimal performance.” In order for your eyeglasses to function optimally, it is important that these measurements and the prescription itself are as accurate as possible.
Second, let’s look at quality. When purchasing online, the quality of the product you are getting is often unknown. One thing you can be certain of, though, is that online sources rely on low overhead, high sales volume, and often lack quality control. Conversely, when purchasing in a professional office, you will be assisted by skilled opticians who interpret your prescription precisely, take additional necessary measurements, and ensure the end product is a quality one with which you are 100% satisfied.
Another factor to consider is the warranty. Many websites are focused on providing the lowest possible price and, therefore, do not include a product warranty or guarantee. Local eyecare professionals, however, will stand behind your purchase. They will make adjustments and address issues to ensure you are comfortable in your specific lens or product.
People sometimes tend to discount how intricate eyeglasses are. Due to this complexity, another important factor to consider before making your purchase decision is coordination with your doctor. Having the ability to work directly with the doctor reduces the margin of error and gives the optician the best chance to put you in the exact lenses you need.
Finally, for many individuals the biggest benefit of shopping in person instead of online for their eyeglasses is personal experience. People often like to keep the same doctor over the years. A relationship forms as the provider gets to know and understand the patient and vice versa. This is often true of the way people feel about those who make and order their eyeglasses. The unique, customized experience patients enjoy and appreciate when shopping in person is simply not something that can be obtained when making a purchase online.
All of these factors – accuracy, quality, warranty, minimizing errors and the buying experience itself – should be carefully weighed and considered when making the decision of where to purchase your eyeglasses. Purchasing eyeglasses is best handled in person by professionals who can provide you with the utmost care and a quality product.