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Should You Be Buying Glasses Online?

various eyeglasses lying on a tray
stockfour/Shutterstock

There are positives and negatives when it comes to buying glasses online. It’s important to know both sides before you decide if online eyeglasses are best for you and your prescription.

Why You Might Want to Think Twice About Buying Glasses Online

If you wear glasses, you probably like the idea of saving money on them. You can find good deals in stores, but they’re much easier to find online. However, not everyone will benefit from those deals.

Many online shops also let you order several frames at once to try on. You can usually return them without extra shipping charges, making it easier to find a pair you like.

The biggest downfall with shopping for eyeglasses online is that you don’t have a professional doing the fitting or measuring your pupillary distance (PD) to find the center of your vision. Without this measurement, you might not see as well through your prescription glasses as you should. Some companies will send you information on how to mark the center of your vision on the fake lenses in the frames you choose, but this isn’t the norm.

Other reasons why ordering glasses online might not be right for you include:

  • Fitting Issues: If you tend to need a lot of adjustments to your glasses to get them to fit right, ordering online probably isn’t going to work for you. Most local eyeglass businesses won’t adjust glasses that you didn’t buy from them (or they’ll charge for the service), so consider that when buying online as well.
  • Strong Prescriptions: Stronger prescriptions may require that you have someone help you in person to ensure proper PD and fit and that the prescription itself is correct.
  • Insurance Issues: Not all online stores will accept your insurance. If you’re still getting a bargain over what you’d get with your insurance, then go for it.
  • Returns: If your glasses don’t work out, you might find it difficult to return them. Make sure you look into the return policies before buying online.

Basically, you don’t get to try them on and have someone there to make sure the prescription and fit are correct, which are essential parts of the eyeglass shopping experience. This is a prescription meant for your ocular health, so you should do what you can to make sure you’re getting the best product.

This doesn’t mean that shopping for glasses online is all bad. There are chances to find good products; you just need to do your research first.

Why Buying Glasses Online May Be Right for You

There are plenty of people that love buying glasses online and wouldn’t have it any other way. Not everyone has bad experiences, or the good outweighs the bad. If you have a mild prescription, or you wear glasses for fashion and not for assisting in your sight, online shopping gives you a wider range of options.

Again, some companies will send you several frames to try on at home. You can pick from those and even have your order placed before you drop the test frames back in the mail.

Other benefits of shopping for glasses online include:

  • Shopping Around: Online, you can shop around without all of the driving and walking. You can get a look at far more glasses online in one day than you would if you went driving around to look.
  • Savings: You might save money ordering online. There are always coupon codes out there for almost anything you’d imagine buying online. Shop around for the best deals.

How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

If you want more options in frames, but you want to get your prescription glasses made locally, you may want to consider buying your frames online and getting the prescription filled by your eye doctor.

You could get your PD measured while trying on glasses somewhere locally and use that measurement to help ensure that you get glasses right for your sight.

One final and important tip if you decide to get your prescription for eyeglasses online, always double-check your prescription before you make your purchase. If you make a mistake in filling those numbers out, the company may be less likely to do a return or exchange as they would if it was their mistake.


Should you be buying glasses online? The honest answer is that if you wear a mild single vision prescription, the online world of eyeglass shopping is your oyster. If you don’t fit into that demographic, you may want to stay offline.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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