What to know about buying glasses online

These days, many people wears glasses. Some wear prescription glasses that help them see better at night; see words more clearly when reading; or help with some form of eye condition. Others wear glasses as part of their fashion accessories, while there are those who need glasses as protection against the sun. Whichever category you fall under, there’s a high chance you will one day need a new pair of glasses.

Even though you can easily walk into a drugstore or opticians to pick up a new pair of prescription glasses, fashion glasses or sunshades, it makes more sense to shop for them online.

Advancements in technology have made it easy for anyone to buy almost anything they want on the internet. Subsequently, more and more people are turning to online purchases as an easier and more convenient means of shopping. However, when it comes to buying glasses online, the term ‘Buyers’ beware’ is very apt.

In a recent study, The American Optometric Association (alongside other agencies) discovered that nearly half of the eyeglasses sold online had incorrect prescriptions and did not meet safety standards.  This means you have to be certain about where you shop and the type of glasses you buy.

Read on to find out some of the things you should look out for when shopping for glasses online.

Prescription Status

As a rule, a prescription for glasses is valid for two years at most. Before you order a new pair of prescription glasses online, you need to make sure that your prescription is still valid. In most cases, the eye test result containing your prescription will carry an expiry date. If not, contact your eye doctor to find out.

If your current prescription is no longer valid, you ‘ll need to schedule an eye test first. It is not advisable to buy glasses with a prescription that has expired. At the end of your eye test, you’ll be given a new prescription, whether you ask for it or not. Even though eye tests are all the same, prescriptions for glasses are quite different from those for contact lenses, so you’ll not be able to use one for the other.

The right frame size

When ordering glasses online (whether prescription glasses, sunglasses or fashion glasses), the secret to getting it right is knowing your frame size. The good thing about shopping for glasses in person is that you can try them on to see if they fit. Fortunately, some online glass stores feature a ‘virtual try-on’ application that allows you to try on a virtual version of the frames to see if they fit.

Glasses with the right frame are those that perfectly compliment the shape of your face. For example, people with oval faces can wear frames in a wide range of shapes, while people with round faces will look better in glasses with square or sharp angles. This creates a balance between clear vision and aesthetics, meaning you don’t sacrifice one for  the other.

For websites that do not feature virtual try-on applications, you can instead visit a local opticians in person, find a frame that suits you and use the relevant spec to buy online.

Pupillary Distance


Pupillary distance is the distance (measured in millimeters) between your pupils. This measurement is crucial, because the lenses of your glasses need to be centered directly in front of your pupils. This is the area of the lenses that gives the truest vision. PD usually fall between 54mm and 68mm and this information is needed by the store when preparing your glasses. If you wear glasses with the optical centre not positioned directly in front of your pupils, it may result in eyestrain and make it difficult for you to focus.

Measuring your own PD can be tricky, so you will need to get this done for you by a skilled optician. If you’ve just had an eye examination, your PD measure should be included in the results, although most optometrists will omit this detail from prescriptions to discourage people from buying glasses online.

If you cannot find your PD measurement on your prescription, you can always ask for it at the place your eye test was undertaken. However, there are a few online retailers with their own method of calculating PD. For example, you can submit a photo via their website and their staff can then determine your PD from that image.

Return policy and warranty

If you conduct a Google search with regards ‘Where to buy glasses online’, you‘ll be hit with millions of results. However, amongst all of these, which one is right for you? A good idea will be to look for reviews about the store before making a buying decision. Visit websites like Gadget Review to find the best places to buy glasses and compare different stores and their products.

Another thing to look for is the store’s return policy. It’s important to have a good returns policy, so that you won’t end up buying a pair of glasses that aren’t right for you. Additionally, a warranty tells you that the shop is certain of their products and are willing to stand by them. This is a vital factor when buying something as important as glasses.


Price is a very important consideration when it comes to buying glasses online. You can easily walk into a shop and pick a pair of glasses without bothering about shipping costs and so on. Online sellers on the other hand may charge you for shipping and this will add to the original cost of the glasses.

However, online stores usually feature a wide range of brands, which gives you more options and room for comparison. If you use these glasses a lot, you should be ready and willing to invest in a quality pair. However, it’s important to point out that more expensive doesn’t actually mean the product is of better quality.

Conversely, a product that’s very cheap could be an indicator that low quality materials were used in manufacturing them. It’s prudent to locate the type of glasses you want and compare the price across multiple vendors, this way; you will likely find a price that suits your budget.

To conclude, remember that these tips are just guidelines. However you choose to buy your glasses, look at what each retailer has to offer and only opt for those that meet your specific requirements.