A Complete Guide on What to Know When Buying Glasses Online
The online prescription glasses industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years due to its convenience and decreased expense. Thanks to advancements in technology that allow you to virtually try on glasses and see how they look on your face, you can now choose from a nearly limitless range of options.
It’s not just about buying glasses either. Many online providers offer virtual vision assessments that can help you understand your prescription and choose glasses that fit your needs and style. Some sites even incorporate advanced algorithms that help you to choose your glasses based on your face shape and preferences.
Keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know to make the process of buying glasses online as seamless and enjoyable as possible.
Online Glasses & Vision Assessments
Getting a vision assessment online is a convenient option for those who want to avoid the hassle of visiting an eye doctor in person.
Here are some popular options:
- Online vision testing services: These are offered by several companies and provide a range of services from virtual eye exams to prescriptions. These services allow you to take a vision test using your computer or mobile device and get results quickly.
- Telemedicine platforms: With these telehealth platforms, you can have a video chat with a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can perform a virtual eye exam and provide a prescription.
- Optical shops: Many of these shops now provide online services in addition to in-person services. You can upload your prescription and order glasses or contacts online, and some services may even offer virtual eye exams.
When choosing an online vision testing service, consider the cost, convenience, and level of expertise provided. Confirm the service is accredited and uses reliable technology to ensure accurate results.
While these can be convenience options to get an updated prescription, online vision assessments are not a substitute for in-person exams. Various eye conditions cannot be detected via telehealth exams, so it’s important that you still see an eye doctor in person every year or two.
Choose the Right Retailer & Brander
Here are a few tips that will help you get the right pair of glasses the first time you buy:
- Look for customer reviews. Check out what other customers are saying about the retailer and their products. Reviews can provide valuable insights into the quality of the glasses and the brand’s customer service.
- Check for certifications. Look for certifications from reputable organizations, such as the AOA or BBB. These certifications can give you confidence that the brand meets certain standards for quality and customer service.
- Research the brand’s materials. Reputable brands will typically use high-quality materials for their frames and lenses, so make sure to research which materials the brand uses and whether they are durable and comfortable.
- Be wary of extremely low prices. Oddly low prices may indicate that the glasses are made with inferior materials or poorly manufactured.
- Look out for hidden fees. Some brands may advertise low prices but then add on hidden fees, such as for shipping or returns. Make sure to read specifics on returns and shipping prior to completing a purchase.
Eyewear Products & Services Available Online
Here are some of the most popular eyewear products and services available online:
- Prescription glasses: Many online retailers offer prescription glasses that can be ordered with your specific prescription. These glasses come in a variety of styles, shapes, and sizes to fit your face and preferences.
- Contact lenses: Online retailers offer a wide variety of contact lenses you can order with your prescription. Many feature lower prices when you subscribe to their service, so you regularly get contacts delivered to your home.
- Non-prescription or reading glasses: If you don’t need prescription glasses, you can still explore a wide range of non-prescription glasses online in different styles, from classic to contemporary.
- Sunglasses: You can browse a huge selection of sunglasses online, including designer brands that offer different styles, shapes, and colors.
- Blue light glasses: With the increase in screen time, blue light glasses have gained immense popularity. These glasses are designed to limit blue light emissions that cause eye strain, fatigue, and headaches.
- Virtual try-on services: Some online eyewear shops feature virtual try-on services using augmented reality technology. These services can give you a clearer idea of how certain frames will look on your face.
Here’s an overview of the cost range for the eyewear products and services mentioned above:
- Prescription glasses: You can find prescription glasses online starting from $20. Designer glasses or glasses with specialized features like progressive lenses can cost $500 or more.
- Contact lenses: Contact lenses online range from $20 to $60 for a month’s supply, depending on the brand and type of lenses.
- Non-prescription glasses: Non-prescription glasses, such as reading glasses, usually cost between $10 and $100 online, depending on the style and brand.
- Sunglasses: Online retailers offer sunglasses in various price ranges. Some options may be as cheap as $10, while designer brands can cost well over $200.
- Blue light glasses: Blue light glasses can range from $20 to $150, depending on the brand and features, such as lens coatings and frame material.
Preparing to Buy Online
Shopping for glasses online can feel overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. To make the process easier, here are some key things to keep in mind when buying glasses online:
Before you begin browsing frames, be sure to have your most recent prescription on hand. This information is essential to ensure that your new glasses will have the correct lenses and work well for you.
Frame Style & Fit
While shopping online, you won’t be able to try on frames in person. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consider your face shape and personal style when selecting frames. Some online retailers offer virtual try-on tools to help you visualize how different frames will look on your face.
Lens Material & Coatings
Specific lens materials can make your lenses less likely to scratch or break. Additionally, coatings may be added to your lenses. Examples include anti-reflective coating, UV coating, and anti-fog coating.
Variety of Options
Online retailers offer a vast selection of frames and lenses, so take advantage of the variety and explore different styles and options. Some online stores even allow you to customize your glasses with unique colors, patterns, or materials.
Customer Service & Return Policy
No matter how thorough your research and preparation, there’s always a chance that you won’t like the glasses you chose online. Choose a retailer with a customer-friendly return policy and helpful customer service.
Comparing Online vs. In-Store Experiences
Here are some of the pros and cons of buying glasses online versus in a traditional store:
- Convenience: You can shop for glasses from the comfort of your own home without having to visit a physical store.
- Selection: Online retailers often offer a wider variety of frames and styles to choose compared to traditional stores.
- Cost: Online retailers may have lower prices due to reduced overhead costs, and some offer discounts and promotions.
- Prescription accuracy: Some people may have concerns about the accuracy of their prescription when ordering glasses online.
- Fit and comfort: Without trying on glasses in person, it can be difficult to determine the right fit and level of comfort.
- Return process: Returning glasses can be more complicated and time-consuming when done online compared to returning them to a physical store.
- Try before you buy: You can try on glasses in person to determine the right fit and style.
- Expert assistance: In-store staff can provide personalized recommendations and guidance throughout the selection process.
- Prescription accuracy: Your prescription can be verified in person, ensuring accuracy.
- Cost: In-store prices may be higher due to overhead costs, although some stores offer promotions and discounts.
- Selection: Physical stores may have a more limited selection of frames and styles to choose from simply due to space limitations regarding inventory storage.
- Time-consuming process: Visiting a physical store can be more time-consuming than shopping online.
Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses. University of Rochester Medical Center.
Position Statement Regarding Telemedicine in Optometry. (2022). American Optometric Association.
BBB Accreditation Standards. (January 2020). Better Business Bureau.
How Blue Light Affects Your Eyes, Sleep, and Health. (August 2022). UC Davis Health.