What You Should Know Before Buying Glasses Online

In the day and age where we buy everything online from medication to groceries, why shouldn’t we buy our prescription glasses online as well? Before you start to do the trendy thing and look for designer frames by doing a Google search, you should check out these helpful and information tips.

Some of Those “Designer Frames” are Knockoffs

Even though most designer brands do a good job at policing websites to make sure “Brand X is truly Brand X”, some cheap knockoffs do sneak through sometimes. So it pays to know how to spot a bad frame or judge their quality. The hallmark of high-caliber specs is found in the least likely of places, a frame’s hinge. “The hinge is what takes the most stress when you wear a pair of glasses and when you take them on and off,” says licensed optician Pete Hanlin, a technical marketing director for Essilor of America. “A good-quality hinge, which you’ll find in most designer labels, is going to be durable, and it’s going to last.”

You Could Save Money, especially if you Buy Multiple Pairs

If you decide to purchase glasses online, one of the major perks is the cheaper price. While there are some online eyeglasses retailers who sell designer brands at a discount, Zenni Optical sells their frames for as low as $6.95, including lenses. How can they afford to do that? Most of them ditch the middleman, so they avoid the extra licensing fees that are involved as well as overhead costs that brick-and-mortar stores face. Customer Isaac Filat bought his pair of glasses from Warby Parker, a company that offers hip frames designed in-house, for $95. For him, the price alone was enough to justify his purchase. “The real reason I purchased from Warby Parker: I saved hundreds of dollars,” he says.

It Can Be Even Harder to Find the Right Frame for Your Face

Even though the online optical stores now offer fun ways to “try on” your frames by uploading a pic of yourself so that you can try them on, nothing beats going to the store and actually trying on a real pair yourself. You just can’t get the same experience ordering your frames online.

Hanlin’s best tip for finding your just-right frames: “Avoid wearing a frame that is the same shape as your face,” he says. If you have a round face, for example, it would be smart to ditch the Harry Potter glasses and opt for square frames, instead. “You usually want to go with the opposite of what your face shape is,” Hanlin says. (Plus, the right makeup can make your specs really pop.)

Be Sure to Take the Right Measurements

Obviously to get the best results you will have to have the right prescription. But one of the most crucial aspects of getting the prescription is measuring your pupillary distance, which is usually done in person.

“In any optical lens, there is one very specific spot that needs to be directly in front of your pupil,” Hanlin says. “If that spot isn’t right where you’re looking through, then you’re not going to see as well as you should.” Ill-fitting eyewear can cause all kinds of vision problems, including eyestrain, headaches, or even double vision. A professional at a brick-and-mortar store can take the measurement for you, but eye doctors won’t tell you that you can also do it yourself—and if you’re ordering online, you’ll need to do that. The good news is that it’s not as daunting as you might think. “We’re often able to measure [pupillary distance] online more accurately than in person,” Neil Blumenthal, a co-founder of Warby Parker, told the Wall Street Journal. Just make sure to follow the website’s instructions carefully; while some might ask you to take a selfie while holding a card with a magnetic strip to your face, others can teach you to find the distance on your own.

It May Take Longer to Get Your Lenses

While it may be easier to browse through eyewear styles without a salesperson hovering over you, bt the convenience of being able to pick up your glasses the same day or a few days later doesn’t come along with ordering your lenses online. It could take a week for some online retailers to send your glasses out and in some cases even longer. And if you are in desperate need of a new pair, you may not want to wait that long, even if you are receiving a discount.