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Have you ever dreamed of having your own personal optician to navigate the process of buying prescription glasses online? Well today’s your lucky day as this article is a masterclass on how to order your next pair of glasses like a pro.
As an optician for over two decades, I helped people select the perfect eyewear that matched both their personality and lifestyle. By the time we are done, you too will be able to choose a frame that looks and feels great with excellent lenses to match.
Selecting Your Online Retailer
Many people just like you are deciding to purchase their prescription glasses virtually. According to Vision Monday Magazine, “In 2020, more than 44 percent of adults who purchased eyeglasses used the internet…up from 22 percent in 2017.”
But where do you start? A basic search for the best online glasses retailers will help you narrow down your search.
Reading customer reviews will also give you a good idea about the company. Deciding who to buy your glasses from can be narrowed down by asking three simple questions.
- Do they have a large frame selection?
- Do they offer a wide variety of prescription lens options?
- Is the customer service department easy to contact?
We sometimes focus too much on what we are buying and not enough on customer service. You want to make sure the company you select offers support throughout the entire buying process.
One good feature to look for is a live chat option. This feature is crucial as it allows you to receive immediate help during every step of your buying experience.
Selecting The Perfect Frame
The Process of Elimination
Now that you’ve chosen the site where you will be shopping, it’s time to select your perfect frame. The following are questions you need to answer to make this process quick and efficient.
- Do you like your current glasses? If not, what don’t you like about them?
- Do you wear your glasses all day?
- Do you participate in any sports or active hobbies?
As an optician, I ask these questions because they give me insight into how comfortable you are with your current prescription eyeglasses and how you use them. The truth is, most people look to purchase new glasses because they no longer like the style, the fit, or the way they function.
“A face is like a work of art. It deserves a great frame.” -LA Eyeworks
Eyeglass fashions change frequently, but your face shape is a constant. Therefore, it is important to find a frame style that suits your face shape. This guide will help you find the eyeglass shape that works with your face shape.
- Can wear most frames styles well
- Avoid overly narrow frames as they tend to accentuate the length of the face
Rectangle/Square – Square jawline, wide forehead
- Angular frames will balance out your jawline
- Frames with rounded edges
Triangle (A-Triangle) – Forehead more narrow than the jawline.
- Select a frame that gives the appearance of lift such as a cat eye
- Heavy top frame that will draw attention to the forehead
- Square shapes
- Angular shapes
- Avoid a large frame size that rest on the cheeks
Inverted Triangle (Heart Shape) – Forehead wider than the jawline
- Frames that draw attention to the top of the face (brow bar)
- Semi-rimless frames work well
Now that you know what frame style will work best for your face shape, it’s time to try some on.
Welcome to the world of the virtual try-on. This computer-generated process digitally places a pair of frames on your face.
It’s almost as good as the real thing. The best eyeglass sites will offer this technology, and it works either by uploading a selfie or allowing the site to use your camera to take a picture.
I recommend using the camera feature, if available, as it gives you a more realistic picture in real-time.
Choosing Your Prescription Lenses
You’ve selected the perfect frame, it’s time to order your prescription lenses. Ordering the correct lenses to suit your prescription can be tricky when ordering online.
Knowing the features and benefits of all the various lens types will make this process manageable and stress-free.
To order prescription lenses online, you’ll need a current prescription. A current prescription is not more than one year old; if you haven’t had an eye exam recently, schedule one before placing your order.
To enter your prescription, sites will instruct you to either upload your prescription or enter it manually.
I’d recommend using the upload feature to avoid any input errors if the information is not entered correctly.
Using the live chat comes in handy in this situation. If you are having trouble during this step, ask for help.
Lens Options Explained
The most common lens materials available are:
- Basic Lenses
- Regular thickness
- Slightly thinner than CR-39
- Recommended for: sports glasses, children’s eyewear
- Lighter and thinner lenses
- Recommended for high power prescriptions
All of the above lens options are available in photochromic versions, more commonly known by the brand name Transitions™. Photochromic lenses turn dark when exposed to sunlight and are clear indoors.
The most common lens coatings are:
Anti-Reflective Coating – reduces glare on the lens surface, is cosmetically appealing, and improves visual clarity.
Scratch Resistant Coating – makes the lens more resistant to scratches, but it’s important to know that there is no such thing as “scratch proof” when it comes to eyeglass lenses. However, most lenses today have a scratch resistant lens coating already applied.
Ultra-Violet Coatings block damaging UV light that can harm your eyes. Polycarbonate and Hi-Index lenses have UV protection built-in, so there is no need to pay an additional fee when you order these materials.
Blue Light Coatings filter out harmful blue light from digital devices and artificial lighting. This coating is recommended if you work long hours in front of a computer screen.
Mirror Coatings have become a popular add-on to prescription lenses. They are available in many fashion colors. They’re sometimes referred to as “flash mirrors” because they are not as intense as mirror coatings you find on sunglasses. You can still see your eyes through the lens. Mirror coatings are a fun add-on when photochromic lenses are being ordered.
When Will You Use Your Glasses?
Once you’ve entered your prescription in, you’ll be prompted to select the type of lens you want to order.
What you will be using your glasses for is an essential part of the lens selection process. As you now know, there is a wide selection of lens materials and coatings available.
Understanding their features and benefits will help you select the best lens for your visual needs.
Single vision lenses correct your vision at only one distance, such as driving, watching movies, and outdoor activities.
Intermediate glasses are also referred to as computer glasses. The prescription will correct for a distance that is about an arm’s length away.
Reading glasses are prescribed for activities that require clear up-close vision.
Multifocal lenses correct your vision at more than one distance. They are available in different forms.
The most common are bifocal lenses, which have a visible line separating the distance and reading prescriptions. The other more popular choice are progressive lenses, also known as a varifocal.
Progressive lenses transition from one prescription on the top of the lens to a different one on the bottom, with no visible line.
Where Are You Using Your Eyeglasses?
Staring at a computer all day can cause eye strain. Anti-reflective and blue light coatings are recommended to reduce eye fatigue for those long work days.
Prescription glasses for sporting activities are commonly fitted with polycarbonate lenses because they are lighter and have impact resistant properties.
And if you wear contact lenses, you should order eyeglasses as if you will be wearing them all day. I know it’s tempting to opt-out of all the premium features, but that’s not the best decision.
There will be times you will have to wear your glasses, such as losing a contact lens or an unexpected eye irritation. Trust me, you’ll be glad you ordered a good-looking pair of prescription glasses if you have to wear them out in public.
For near vision activities such as reading, knitting, and sewing, anti-reflective lenses eliminate any glare on the lens surface and make these tasks more enjoyable.
I believe that glasses are not a “One and Done” accessory. The eyeglasses you use for computer work are not usually the ones you want to wear while working out.
Having multiple pairs of eyewear is not a luxury. In most cases, it is a necessity. I like to compare eyeglasses to shoes. You don’t own one pair of shoes that you wear with every outfit. Why should your eyewear be any different?
You Did It!
You selected a great frame for your face and even designed custom lenses to match your prescription and your lifestyle.
That wasn’t so bad now, was it? Your frame will now make its way to an optical lens lab, where all your selections will come together and become your perfect pair of glasses.
When Should You Contact Customer Service?
Unfortunately, sometimes buying glasses online has its issues. Therefore, having an excellent customer service team to help is useful. Always check warranty, exchange and return policies before placing an order.
Make sure to read the site’s policies on what to do if you have a problem after you receive your glasses.
For example, if your order is damaged or your vision is not clear with your new glasses, you should contact customer service immediately. If you need to have your glasses adjusted, you can visit a local optician to request help.
Most optical stores will extend the courtesy of adjusting your glasses even if they weren’t purchased there.
Purchasing eyewear online is not as difficult as it seems. Once you figure out how the process works and what works best for you, you can start building your very own eyeglass wardrobe. When you follow my guide for selecting your frame and lenses, buying glasses online will be something you no longer think twice about.
Cynthia is a published author and freelance writer that has enjoyed a career in the eyewear industry for more than 25 years. In 2016, she decided to combine her passion for writing with her experience as an Optician and launch her company, Pizzini Writes. She now dedicates her days to writing about the latest optical-related news and trends for various publications and independent retailers.
Learn more about her at www.pizziniwrites.com