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Ordering Glasses Online… is it a good deal?

Many online retailers are offering glasses at prices starting as low as $38, but are you getting a good deal? Read on!

Everyone enjoys a great deal and ordering products on the internet can be fun, convenient and sometimes saves you money. However, is ordering your glasses online a good idea?

Measurements (Yes, they are needed... No, you can't do them yourself)

On completion of your eye exam, our Optometrists provide you a copy of your prescription. You are of course, free to fill this prescription at any regulated dispenser of eyewear. During a glasses fitting, your prescription is only the starting point. It allows the Optician to know only the strength of glasses you need. Various additional measurements are taken during the fitting of eye wear including interpupillary distance (P.D.) at both distance and near, optical centre height, vertex distance, pantascopic angle, seg height, central thickness, etc, which are all related to aligning your prescription properly in the frame you have selected. In fact, one of our most advanced progressive lenses requires precise measurements taken by a computer while you are wearing the frame, to provide you with a fully individualized lens that results in the most distortion-free, visually perfect glasses possible.
If you order glasses online, you are asked to provide a P.D. (as this is the most basic of measurements taken) The online retailer then basically 'guesses' the remaining measurements based on averages and hopes for the best. If you have ordered glasses from us in the past, we will, of course, release details of your previous glasses order to you (including P.D.); however, we do not provide a P.D. measurement after an eye examination as it is NOT a measurement that has anything to do with a comprehensive eye health assessment. It is solely a measurement taken by a dispensing professional to fit eye glasses.
Things get even more complicated if you are trying to order progressive lenses, as someone needs to take a measurement from the bottom of the frame to the centre of the pupil (or possibly a different location, depending on how you intend to wear your glasses and what type of progressive is being used) This measurement can only be taken on a frame that is pre-adjusted to fit your face properly and with your head in your habitual position. Being off by even a millimetre can reduce your viewing areas by as much as 25%!

The In's and Out's (or up's and down's) of Adjustments

When you receive your new eyewear from an online retailer, someone has to adjust the frame for you. You can drop into an optical shop to have this done, but be prepared to pay for this service (from $20 to $30). If you have problems with your new eyewear, we are happy to check your glasses for your ($25 to verify the prescription) and you can book an appointment with one of our Doctors to recheck your prescription as well. ($45) These services are of course, complimentary if you purchase your glasses from a regulated optical dispenser.
You may be wonder what the term ‘regulated optical dispenser’ means. In all jurisdictions in North America (except B.C.), only professionals with a license to dispense eye wear are legally able to do so (Optometrists, Opticians and Ophthalmologists). The regulations are in place to protect the public and ensure eye wear you receive is made properly and meets safety requirements. So, how do non-regulated online optical retailers measure up? In a recent study, 200 pairs of glasses were ordered from 10 major online retailers and checked for accuracy. The study found that 45% of the glasses had incorrect prescriptions or did not meet safety standards (i.e. the glasses would shatter on impact). Almost 1/3 of  children’s glasses ordered failed impact testing! Many lenses did not have coatings (anti-scratch, anti-reflection) that were ordered and paid for.

Warranty: What you get is what you get

And what about those great prices that are quoted online? Unfortunately, prices advertised are usually only the starting point and provide a very basic frame and lenses without protective or anti-glare coatings. A recent CBC Marketplace show demonstrated that glasses advertised at $39, actually cost $200 once all the ‘extras’ were added in. (and this was for a no-name frame!) We can certainly provide frames and lenses at that cost and we include all the measurements, frame selection with a professional, warranties, guaranties, unlimited adjustments, cleanings and nose pad replacements.

Yes, it's True... Price and Quality DO go Hand in Hand

Glasses can range from very low to higher prices, like any other commodity in the marketplace. However, as with any other product, you generally ‘get what you pay for’. We have carried very low-priced frames in the past, but stopped as those frames we were told were ‘as good as brand name ones’ tended to fall apart, tarnish or not stay in adjustment. Be wary of ‘brand name’ frames you see on the internet that are well below our prices. There are many illegal copies of frames made in China that may look the same at first glance, but are of inferior quality.  Lenses can also vary considerably in price. In general, the more you pay, the better the coatings, the thinner the lenses and the better the optics, all without compromise to safety. Our office increases this value for you as we belong to the largest buying group in Canada... 1,500 optometrists strong. We pass along excellent prices we negotiate to our patients. We can even offer a private label progressive lens to our patients made by a leading lens manufacturer, only available to Optometrists at half the price of many ‘brand’ name lenses.
If you are ordering online, check guarantees, warranties, and all you may need to do to make a claim under them. In our office, we provide an unconditional 2 year warranty on the frames and lenses. We will replace them free of charge for any type of damage. Also, we guarantee you will be happy with your new eye wear during the first 3 months of wear. We will do what it takes to ensure your satisfaction during that period! In addition, if you have problems with your new eye wear, our staff (including our Doctors) will spend as much time as necessary, free of charge to resolve your concern. Some online retailers will mail a number of pairs of glasses to ‘try’. You keep frames you like and return ones you don’t. Sounds great – except those returned frames are re-used for someone else’s order. You always get brand new frames when you purchase your glasses at a regulated optical supplier.
Doctors and staff at our Bedford Eye Care Centre want to make sure you make an ‘informed decision’ before deciding to buy glasses online. Service and professional care are never free – the choice  of where you invest in your eye care and eye wear is always up to you!