The Trouble With Buying Glasses Online

We can do just about anything from the comfort of home these days. Want food delivered? Grubhub. Endless hours of entertainment? Netflix. Clothes, gifts and groceries? Amazon.

We live in a time of epic convenience. So shouldn’t that convenience extend to cover buying new glasses and contacts?

Ok, we love things that are convenient too. But eyewear is where we draw the line.  Sure virtual “try-on” tools are fun to play with and it’s tempting to think that you can pick a pair of frames without leaving your couch. But trust us, when it comes to an essential item that will be a part of your daily look, nothing measures up to an in-person appointment.

Getting The Right Fit

We’ve talked about many of the common sources of eyeglass discomfort. Whether its ear pain, headaches or a pinched nose, the one common thread between them is fit issues. So while it’s entirely possible to provide your measurements and prescription, by the numbers, there’s a lot that goes into those numbers.

Each pair of frames has a specific bridge width, the piece that sits on your nose and a temple arm length, the piece that reaches back toward your ears. Measuring these distances yourself can be tricky and might result in the wrong numbers.

But you can bypass the awkwardness and inaccuracy of measuring your face in the bathroom mirror by looking at the numbers printed on the inside of your current frames. But this method relies on a few assumptions.

Assuming the numbers are still legible haven’t worn off from wear.
Assuming the glasses you have now actually fit correctly.
Assuming the optician didn’t make any custom adjustments to the frames the help them fit your unique face.

It’s that last one there that has the greatest potential to make the numbers you may find just slightly unreliable. In the event you got your last pair of frames at a glasses store. At some point during the fitting the optician likely used special tools or techniques to alter the base measurements of your frames to fit your face.  

If the frames are metal they were likely carefully bent, just a touch. If they are made of any type of acetate the optician probably used hot sand or a salt pan frame warmer filled with large glass beads to warm the material just enough to alter the shape.  Your eyewear specialist may also use hot air to heat your frames and adjust them to fit your face correctly.

They may also have added, and adjusted, nose pads to the inside of the bridge to make the glasses rest properly and comfortably on your nose.

Getting The Right Lens

There’s this fun little thing in optometry called pupillary distance, it’s the “PD” written on your prescription. This figure denotes the exact distance between the centers of both of your pupils.  This is a critical measurement because your lenses must be directly centered over your pupils, or your vision will be adversely effected. If you don’t have your exact prescription with that number, trying to measure your own PD is often compared to giving yourself a haircut. For anyone who’s ever accidentally cut their bangs too short, that’s a horrifying thought. Getting that measurement wrong can result in ordering a pair of glasses that won’t help you see properly, forcing you to go visit an optometrist for an adjustment.

The lens your prescription demands might now be well supported by all frames. A thick lens is not going to fit well in a thin wire frame. So while you may have found a par of frames you really like, your lenses may not like them back.

No to mention, the choices in lens materials. Do you want polycarbonate lenses? Should you get regular or high index plastic lenses? What UV protection, anti-reflective coating? Scratch resistance? Photochromic or progressive lenses? These are all important decisions that are impacted by nuances of your needs and lifestyle. Certainly, you could read up on these choices and get informed, which is a good idea for anyone! But, do you really want to become an expert in lens materials and how they function to choose your next pair of glasses? Or would you rather rely on someone who already is.

Issues with Virtual Try-On Tools and Apps

Technology has changed the way designers create frames, and the way manufacturers produce frames and even our ability to create and customize them. It makes sense that technology has changed how we can shop with frames.

Virtual try-on tools are cool. There, we said it. Upload a picture of your face and superimpose frames in various sizes, colors and shapes on your face to see how they look. You can do it on your lunch break at work, on the train or late at night in bed on your phone when you should be sleeping. It’s fun and more convenient than taking a few hours to go to an eyewear store and meeting with an optician to try them on in-person.

But we’re not talking about a dress, a pair of shoes for a special occasion or make-up that you can wash off and reapply. We’re talking about your glasses. Sure, some may call glasses an accessory others may call them a device of utility. But at 10/10 optics we know they are more than that. They are an expression of your personality and an essential part of your wardrobe that will be a daily expression of your signature style.

Try-on apps and tools will not be able to give you years of experience in helping people choose the right frames for their face shape, coloring and lifestyle. They also won’t be able to mold, shape and adjust the frames to the contours of your face.

Also, for anyone who has taken a selfie knows how important angles, lighting and distance can be in taking a good picture. The photo you use in a virtual try on app might not be the best or most authentic representation of your facial shape, hair color or skin tone. These factors can impact which frames look best on you, combine these differences with the minor digital variances in the shading and hues of the glasses frames you’re viewing and you may be making an important color choice based on the wrong colors.

We know that buying online can seem like a good idea, it’ quick, easy and you can get on with your day. But these are only a few of the ways that buying frames on a computer are one of those scenarios where convenience may sacrifice quality. While we’ve focused on the subtleties of finding the best frames for your look and vision, other issues may arise with warranties, material quality, shipping charges, return fees or cleaning and storage needs. All in all, given that your glasses will play such an important role in how you will look each and every day and your vision and comfort depend on the right fit, isn’t it worth a taking few hours with a professional to get it right?