8 things to know before you buy glasses online


Sophisticated mobile technology has made online shopping more secure and convenient than ever1. But, buyers beware – not all online stores are created equal. In fact, within the vision industry, results from a study conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA), the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council, “discovered an alarming rate of problems with prescription compliance and impact resistance. Nearly half of the eyeglasses (44.8%) had incorrect prescriptions or safety issues.2

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop for glasses online. In fact, more and more people are making buying decisions to fit their lifestyle, and there are many satisfied customers. You just need make smart choices about where you shop. Here are 8 things to consider when selecting an online glasses retailer:

  1. Durability
    What good are new glasses if they break instantly or the lenses scratch easily? Look for an online retailer who can offer durable frames. Do they offer brands known for quality? Do they offer the same high-quality brand names offered by the better brick & mortar vision centers? Make sure the retailer offers high-quality polycarbonate lenses, no-glare and scratch-resistant treatments, and UV protection. Also, if you have children or play sports, look to see if your shop offers high-impact resistance lenses.
  2. Multifocal, progressive or high index lenses
    Fitting multifocal lenses is an intricate process. Because of this, many online retailers shy away from filling these more complex prescriptions. But some do, like Glasses.com, which only uses one of the nation’s top labs to carefully craft each pair of lenses. High index lenses are similar to polycarbonate, but are the thinnest lens with the highest tensile strength for maximum durability. They are recommended for prescriptions lower than -4 and higher than +3.50.
  3. Ability to apply your vision benefit
    Many online stores do not accept vision insurance, which means that somewhere along the line, you may lose out on either value or selection. Opt for a retailer that accepts your vision benefits online so you get the best of both of those worlds – and no paperwork!
  4. Variety
    You’ll want a variety of frame styles to choose from, including top designer brands you can trust. In fact, depending on your personal style and activities that involve wearing prescription glasses, you may need more than one pair. If your vision plan offers discounts on additional complete pairs, you’ll want to select an online optical shop with variety as well as one that honors your discounts.
  5. Try before you buy
    Want to see what you look like in your new glasses before you buy? Some online glasses retailers have virtual try-on technology, like the award-winning3 3D app from Glasses.com. With this app, you can see how frames look on you from every angle before you pick your perfect pair. Some retailers will ship glasses straight to your doorstep to try out, too.
  6. Fit
    Fit is a big issue with glasses, and a hard nut to crack for many online glasses shops. Build into your budget the cost of a proper fitting by an eye care professional at a brick-and-mortar store near you. If your frames don’t fit well, they are not only uncomfortable, they may actually cause vision problems and/or headaches since you won’t be looking through the lens correctly.
  7. Shipping
    You can purchase your new prescription glasses in no time online, but would you pay for shipping? And how quickly should you expect your new glasses? In choosing your online store, definitely check out the shipping options and confirm delivery time.
  8. Return policies
    What happens if your order isn’t exactly what you were hoping for? Read the return policy before you order so you know exactly how the retailer will handle returns. For instance, how many days do you have to return the glasses? Also, do you pay to ship back the return – or do they?

However you choose to shop for your next pair of quality glasses, look carefully at what each vision provider offers so you get the most out of your purchase.

1. US Online Retail Forecast, 2012-2017, Forrester, https://www.forrester.com/US+Online+Retail+Forecast+2012+To+2017/fulltext/-/E-RES93281
2. http://www.aoa.org/documents/public/A_Closer_Look_at_Ordering_Eyeglasses_Online.pdf, Accessed 16 January 2016.
3. 2014 Cannes Lions Festival, Bronze Award for “Creative Use of Technology”