This really is the golden age of shopping for prescription glasses! Not too long ago, consumers only had one to three choices for buying prescription eyeglasses. Luxottica Group SpA basically had a monopoly on the industry and even when you thought that you might be buying glasses from another company, well, it turned out that Luxottica probably owned that company and your vision insurance company, too! They acted like a monopoly limiting choices and keeping prices high!
It doesn’t have to be this way anymore! Many online retailers have popped up – some even expanding to physical stores where you can stop by and try on different frames! The biggest advantage of these online eyeglass sellers is that they definitely compete on price, but they also offer a wide selection of styles, accessories, and customizations! Making eyeglasses has been around a long time, so it would be silly to think that there’s just one company that knows how to make glasses. That’s why we are seeing many new companies pass up Luxottica even as they try to keep their entire market share.
With all of these affordable customizations, buying eyeglasses online has actually become fun! I’m reminded of my childhood when my mother insisted that everything I buy be of the kind of quality that lasts a long time. For example, my mom thought that leather was a quality material, so I was not allowed to have canvas shoes or a fabric belt, though she made an exception for a suede jacket one time, but I didn’t love these clothes and they didn’t represent my style. My mom was looking for clothing that would last, but I really just wanted something for this fashion season. Maybe that’s why I’m giddy about buying glasses online now. With their affordability, I can buy a pair of glasses for different moods and different outfits. In fact, I just received my third and fourth pair of glasses in the mail for my current prescription!
If you want prescription eyeglasses, you’ll need to know your prescription and your pupillary distance. You don’t need a prescription to order glasses. For example, you may just want sunglasses with no correction, or safety goggles, or you just want to look cute or smart or different, or you may want blue blocking lenses so that your eyes won’t feel so tired after looking at screens all day! If you need bifocals, trifocals (multifocals), or progressive lenses, your prescription will say so. Remember that it’s a good idea to have an electronic copy of your prescription for faster delivery.
If using your insurance is an option, you should have the last few numbers of your social security number handy. It’s not always available and in my experience, I wouldn’t bother using my insurance this way because I usually use a coupon code and they make you choose between using your insurance or using a coupon. They probably won’t let you use both and the savings from the coupon has always been a better choice for me, rather than using my VSP Vision Care insurance.
I’ve already mentioned that you can find eyeglasses, safety glasses, or sunglasses! And almost any of these can be prescription or non-prescription. That’s one place to start, but if you’re looking for regular eyeglasses, you can sort the frames by shape, color, size, and more. For example, I tend to look for rectangular frames that are large and black. That will narrow it down quickly. You can also upload a picture of yourself through your laptop camera so that you can virtually try on every pair. This technology is ok and you can move your head up and down and left to right, but I prefer to find one of the models that has the same sized head as me and see what the glasses look like on that person.
So, you’ve found a pair of glasses that you’re happy with, now what? Now, you can enter your prescription. If you think that you might come back to the same website to buy more pairs of glasses in the future, open an account and save your prescription so that you don’t have to look for it and re-enter it the next time there’s a good deal on glasses, or when you lose your current ones, or when you just want to change up your look.
Some of the customizations will be limited by your prescription, but you’ll choose the lens index first. We usually think of the lens index as the thickness of the lens, so that a higher number means a thinner and lighter lens. In the past, I’ve always asked for the highest index and thinnest lenses. The highest index happens to be the most expensive lens as well, so opticians have always been happy to sell me the lenses that make them the most profit. That’s why I was surprised when I ordered my glasses online and the website suggested a lens that was not the thinnest and most expensive lens! It was the first time I wasn’t completely upsold by an eyeglass salesperson in a lab coat. So, I went with the recommendation and I’ve had no problems with them. They’ve been completely fine and I saved myself a few bucks!
In addition to choosing how thin and light you want your lenses, you can also choose if you want blue-light blocking lenses. Blue blocking lenses are supposed to help your eyes feel less tired after looking at computer and phone screens all day. When you receive your blue blocking eyeglasses, you’ll see that they’re tinted a little yellow, but you almost can’t tell. Personally, I ordered a couple of pairs that were blue blocking, but then I realized that I usually take off my glasses when I’m spending a lot of time on my phone, so I ordered a couple of pairs that don’t block blue light. It’s up to you, but I should mention that I am wearing my blue blocking glasses as I write this.
Another customization that you can choose for your lenses are photochromic lenses. Sometimes, you’ll see these referred to by the trade name Transitions, or “light-reactive.” These lenses will get darker, like sunglasses, when you’re outside in the sun, or they’ll get lighter, like regular eyeglasses when you’re indoors or in places that are not so bright. These are not for me, but I never wear sunglasses either. However, I know that I should wear sunglasses, so I ended up buying tinted clip-ons that are cut out specifically to fit my sunglasses. I’ve bought dark ones, light ones, amber ones, yellow ones for night driving, and I even bought ones for watching 3D videos. I know that I’m basically throwing away money since I never wear sunglasses, but they were cheap enough to convince me to leave them in my car so that they’ll be around if I ever have the need to wear them. I’m thinking like, if I drive to the park to walk around in the sun or if I’m driving on a long road trip, I feel like it’s good to have the option to be responsible and take care of my eyes, even if I almost never do!
Before we get to choose those clip-ons, though, you should decide what kind of coating you want on your glasses. I usually upgrade to a “hydrophobic” lens that is water resistant because it’s supposed to be easy to clean. I should probably try an “oleophobic” pair that is resistant to oil and fingerprints because I can get greasy; I know, gross. Well, for my latest pairs of eyeglasses, I actually chose an “anti-fog” coating. I’m not sure if the coating really is anti-fog or if the anti-fog properties come from a chemical that is soaked into an “activator” cloth that comes with the glasses. The reason I chose an “anti-fog” lens is because of how foggy my glasses can get when I’m wearing a facemask. I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m not sure exactly how or how well it works, but to be honest, I was thinking of trying other methods to keep my glasses fog-free. All the lenses I mentioned also have an anti-reflective coating.
One fun thing that the website I used lets me do is custom engraving! For some reason, the option isn’t the same for all pairs of glasses, but when available, I’ll have my nickname written on the outside of the temple arm in a very subtle color and I’ll have my entire name written on the inside of the temple arm in a color that really sticks out, like white text on a black frame for the inside, and blue letters on a black frame for the outside. It’s a nice subtle touch.
You can also shop around for accessories. I was actually given a blue laser light for free one time so that I can test my eyeglass lenses to make sure that they block blue light. They did, but then I tested an older pair of blue blocking eyeglasses that I had bought in another country and guess what! I was duped over there; I had paid extra to get blue blocking lenses only to find out much later that I didn’t get what I paid for. Now that I have so many pairs of glasses, I’m also considering buying an eyeglass case that holds four or five pairs of glasses at once.
I should also mention the availability of progressive lenses, these are “multifocal” lenses. They’re a lot like bifocals and trifocals, but there’s no line between the different corrections, so they look nicer than traditional bifocals and trifocals. If these are for you, it will say so on your prescription.
I hope I’ve convinced you that there are not only many ways to customize your eyeglasses online, but also that there are many types and styles to go with any look that you have in mind. Maybe I haven’t convinced you of the affordability of buying eyeglasses online, but go ahead and have a look for yourself, I’m sure that you’ll be pleasantly surprised, especially if you’re used to buying your glasses through more traditional means!