If you have thought about purchasing your next pair of prescription eyeglasses online, there are a few things you need to know.

Ordering eyeglasses online may seem easy, but it is very different than ordering your average consumer item. It is important to know that your doctor of optometry is trained in the proper fitting, measuring, manufacturing and dispensing of eyewear. When ordering online, the untrained consumer is, in essence, taking on the role of a trained optical dispenser. This includes taking critical measurements and making critical decisions with respect to frame, lens and material selection. There is an inherent risk associated with making these determinations without the proper skills and education.

Your prescription given to you by your doctor of optometry is only one piece of information that will determine how well you see with your new eyewear. During the normal process of selecting and getting properly fit for your new eyeglasses, your doctor of optometry is determining a number of things to make sure your new purchase is custom made to give you clear and comfortable vision while making sure you look great. Some of those things include:

  • Accurately measuring the distance between your pupils so that your new lenses will be properly located in the new frames relative to your eyes;
  • Selecting the right size of frame for you;
  • Selecting the right shape of frame for you;
  • Determining what curvature of lens to use;
  • Determining what type of lens material to use;
  • Determining what coatings to use on your lenses that best suit your needs;
  • Determining the height to place the optical center of the lens in your frames;
  • Measuring how high to place the bifocal or progressive(if you wear a multifocal lens); and
  • Properly adjusting the frame to your face.

If all of the above are not chosen specifically for you, it’s not uncommon to have problems with your eyewear that may be immediate or develop after using your new eyeglasses for an extended period of time. Common complaints regarding improperly ordered or fit eyewear can include headaches, fatigue, an eye pulling sensation, nausea, as well as pain or pressure marks on your nose or around your ears.

A September 2011 study by a research professor at Pacific University College of Optometry in Oregon found that 44.8% of eyewear ordered online failed at least one parameter of optical or impact testing. In addition, 28.6% were out of optical tolerance. As a consumer, you have a number of choices when it comes to purchasing eyewear, including online. Working with your doctor of optometry from the initial optometric eye exam to the final fitting will ensure you receive accurate, quality manufactured eyewear that is best suited for your eyes and your lifestyle.