So, you’re thinking you might like to give online eyeglasses a try. You have your prescription, have done some research, but aren’t sure what to expect. Your friend looks great in glasses she got online, and you’re ready for a new look, but will they work for you? You definitely don’t want to end up with frames that slip down your nose, look or feel cheap, or are in style today and out tomorrow. Here’s what to consider:
1. Look for an online retailer that has opticians on staff
Opticians are technical practitioners who design, fit and dispense the lenses for you to see your best. As an added benefit, a good optician also knows how to capitalize on the latest trends—from the return of the cat eye, to wireframes and black rimmed glasses—while helping you to maintain a classic look that won’t be out of style tomorrow. Not all online retailers offer optical experts to help you select frames that will look great and fit correctly, or measure your lens fit.
2. Pick A frame that looks great
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. While black never truly goes out of style, and clear can still be a great option, these are being replaced by natural tones, tortoise shell and thin metal, wireframes, even mixing materials. Frames are moving to round shapes, retro styles like the Clubmaster Browline and unisex styles, especially in women’s glasses. A fashion-forward friend can offer a good second opinion. Additionally, a good optician knows what’s in style, the product lines, and can determine what might look best based on your face shape (and nose! For instance, a keyhole bridge, can be more flattering with a more prominent nose). You’ll want the lenses to look good in the frame to avoid the coke bottle-ish look. The more centered your eyes are in the frames, the thinner and less distortion.
3. Consider how you’ll wear them
How much computer work do you do? Do you wear glasses for golf, tennis, other sports? For reading? Are you getting headaches with your current pair? Spending a lot of time in the sun? The answers make all the difference in the type of frames you should purchase and how the lenses will perform. Maybe you need prescription sunglasses, too?
4. Know what needs measuring
It is very important to measure your eyes in the glasses vertically and horizontally to ensure they are placed in the crispest point of the lens (your optical center). Lenses have to be built around where your pupil sits in your glasses. Instead some use an algorithm to get the “average” center of a lens within the frame you choose. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily correspond to your particular face—you’re not average! 45% of glasses purchased online are incorrect or fit wrong, according to the American Optometric Association. The known national average for remakes is 10%. You should have the following measurements, depending on your prescription:
- Pupil distance (PD): the horizontal distance between your eyes. This typically does not change after adulthood.
- Optical Center height (OC): the vertical center of the lens measured from the bottom of it to the center of the pupil. This changes dramatically depending on the frame you chose.
- Segment height (SEG): specific to a progressive or bifocal lens to enable you to achieve near, intermediate and far focal points,. This is the vertical position where the eye sits within a lens – measured from the bottom of a frame. It can be modified by an opticain based on the intended use of your glasses, e.g, driving versus computer.
If you have a complex prescription—high astigmatism, extreme near- or far-sightedness—you can be more prone to headaches and visual distortion; accuracy is even more important.
5. Look for quality
Many online retailers and optical shops use polycarbonate, cheaper to produce and hazier than high definition Trivex used at high-end retailers. Commonly-used polycarbonate reduces visual acuity and may have distortion (chromatic aberration) that can cause headaches. Look for Trivex and a good warranty. When it comes to frame details, customization and finish quality is key. What separates good from great design is attention given to every detail, while keeping the wearability of the glasses intact. Look for a consistent smooth acetate frame surface, genuine hinge rivets, elegant, customized core-wire coining, which forges a custom design into the metal wire running through the arms of the glasses also helping to secure the wire inside the temple.
The upshot to buying online
When you purchase eyeglasses online, you can often get a better price as a result. Just be sure you’re not cutting out quality. Lenses that don’t allow your eyes to focus properly can cause poor vision and headaches. You may be able to have the retailer remake them – but just like a dirty car windshield that needs to be cleaned, an improperly measured lens may not be perceived as bad until it is replaced with a good one. So always start with the clearest lenses possible. If you do know what to look for, you can get stylish, high quality glasses at value without sacrificing technical and experiential knowledge.
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