Column: Should I buy glasses online?


Commentary by Jeremy Ciano

What is the difference between buying glasses at your local optometrist versus buying them online?

This is one of my favorite questions to answer, because the answer isn’t obvious – at first.

The single-biggest misconception patients have when requesting their prescription is assuming that all the information is in the simple three numbers provided by your doctor, but this baseline only accounts for a portion of your final vision. It’s the equivalent of getting a shoe size only, but not taking into account if you are a tennis player, ballet dancer or in need of hockey skates. These three numbers aren’t all the information you need for an accurate fitting and overall visual experience.

Most online opticals have their own version of how to guesstimate the rest of the information needed to properly fit you. They use combinations of generalized assumptions and various at-home measuring techniques that are not the most accurate. Your local optician takes very precise and accurate manual and digital measurements to achieve the most precise prescription possible. Simply put, your prescription needs to be centered perfectly for you to see your best. And the prescription bullseye is not the center of your lenses.

Measurements aside (and they are huge), you also are left to the online retailer’s lens design. This is the equivalent of buying the cheapest tires you can find. Black, round, rubber, they are all the same, right? Not at all! Glasses are customized to your individual wearing style, visual needs and the frame you select. Choosing off-the-shelf lenses is the equivalent of watching a movie on VHS versus digital Blu-Ray.

So, the next time you are looking for a new pair of glasses, keep in mind that if you want the most accurate prescription, with the best fit and personalized lens design, you should find a trusted local optician to consult with you on the best individualized decisions.