Traditionally, people that wear glasses would walk into their local opticians’ office and begin their search for a new pair of glasses (or two). Their choice of eyewear would be particular to their taste, dress style, and adaptable to suit the shape of their face.
This process typically involved spending hours in one opticians’ office, trying on various pairs of glasses, and then taking an eye test, and feeling locked into buying glasses from the place where you had your eyes tested; particularly if the eye test was provided free of charge. With the availability of online opticians, it is now possible to cut out a lot of the wasted time, simplify the process and save money at the same time. You also have access to a full range of frames, instead of only the frames that are on display in the local opticians’ office.
According to the Vision Council, an industry group, almost 2 million pairs of glasses were purchased in 2010. This number is growing as the popularity of buying online grows with consumers who traditionally purchased direct from the retail store.
With online opticians, the consumer can directly save money on the cost of buying their necessary eyewear. This is mainly because the optician business can save considerable expenses by not needing an expensive office space. For manufacturing, they either operate a separate manufacturing plant or outsource the eyewear production to a specialist operator. Much of these cost savings are passed on to the end consumer.
Quality Products Available Online?
The very same range of designer and non-branded frames are available for online purchase. Furthermore, the various types of lenses that can be purchased are also all available from the online optician. There is no compromise on the quality of materials used in production of new eyewear.
Discouraged Buying Online by your Local Optician?
Of course, the local opticians wants and needs your business. New online opticians are a threat to their business solvency and cut into their bottom line. Having the expensive store front and sales staff, often working on a commission basis, makes operating their customer facing business very expensive.
Ultimately, the Internet is fast becoming something that quickly cuts out the middle man in the supply chain in many areas of business. Classified adverts go through Craigslist and not your local or national newspaper much any more and online real estate agents offer reduced commission rates without needing local or regional offices to operate from. The marketplace is changing and some of these changes are positive for consumers who can save more money.
Get Your New Eye Test First
In order to choose new eyewear and order online, you will need a current eye prescription. This will inform the online optician what lenses to cut for each side of your chosen frames.
Eye tests are sometimes free, and sometimes are chargeable items. In many countries, including the U.K., an optician is legally obliged to supply the written prescription to you. Once you have your written prescription, you can begin your online search for a good pair of glasses that will suit you.
The NHS National Services Scotland (www.pds.scot.nhs.uk) recommends that each person get their eyes tested at least every two years if they are between the ages of 16 and 59. If you are younger than this, every six months to a year is better, and if you are over 59, then every year is best.
Understanding Your Prescription
When viewing your written prescription, it can be a bit confusing with measurements noted in Axis, Sph and Cyl.
Taking Your Own Measurements
When ordering eyewear online rather than from an optician with a retail store front, you will need to take your own measurements. These can be more easily done with a partner, but they can also be completed alone.
The main measurements needed will be the interpupillary distance and where the bridge of your nose is located on your face, so that a new pair of frames can be manufactured and adjusted to fit your face perfectly. Frames need to sit at the correct level, so that you can see out of the lenses from the center point. The frame of the glasses also need to sit correctly on your face so that everything looks balanced and even.
An online opticians will offer a complete guide to how to correctly measure your face and often they will have clever online applications that will help size up what is right for you. The latest virtual web technology is deployed to emulate the in-store experience.
Selecting the Correct Frames
With frames, the materials matter a lot when considering overall appearance. Titanium is a popular choice for a metal frame that is strong but yet very flexible and less prone to snapping. Plastics are still in use, but only really for the cheaper brands and non-branded frames.
There is always a wide choice of colors available. You will also need to consider how thick your lenses will be and which frames will be able to accommodate a certain lens.
Choice of Lenses
With lenses, there are standard lenses, polycarbonate, thin and light lenses (available if your vision loss is not too severe), bifocals (split lenses with different magnification at different points on the lens) and progressive lens (which change tint depend on light conditions).
With the facial measurements taken, some will involve measuring in millimeters the distance from different parts of your face so that a frame can be adjusted, where possible, to fit comfortably.
Choice of Lens Coating
There are a number of different types of coatings available. UV protection is quite necessary to protect deterioration of the interior eye muscles from UV damage. Anti-reflective is also useful to deflect strong headlights when driving and for computer or TV usage.
When purchasing your next pair of eyewear or glasses, you want to strongly consider whether you should buy online. In many cases people find that they can save hundreds when buying one or more pairs of glasses and as budgets get tighter all round, that kind of saving is well worth considering carefully before going down to your local opticians’ store.