The Basics of Buying Eyeglasses Online


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Written by Guest | Last Updated February 24th, 2020
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Guest Post by Rachel Bodine

We’ve come a long way since the days of wire spectacles and monocles. Glasses are becoming increasingly stylish and trendy. You might even see someone wearing glasses even though they don’t need them!

If you are considering buying your next pair of glasses from an online store, there are a few things you need to be aware of beforehand.

While new glasses may not seem as big a deal as buying an expensive new cell phone, a new pair of frames is an important investment. They need to be comfortable and sturdy enough for everyday use, while also flattering your face.

So whether you need glasses to see the TV clearly for binge-watching, or you need glasses to avoid walking into a table, there are a few extra steps you need to take when buying online to make sure your frames fit certain criteria.

Keep reading to learn about what you need to buy online, what to check for, and what type of online provider is right for you.

What you need before buying online glasses

Before you can hit the checkout button, you need to prepare a few things beforehand.

Recent prescription: Buying glasses online doesn’t mean you can skip an appointment with your eye doctor. You will need a recent prescription (usually within one year) to buy glasses from an online provider.

Frame measurements: To make sure your desired frames fit comfortably, you need to measure important facial features like your bridge width. This makes sure that your glasses aren’t too big or too small and sit comfortably on your face.

Online providers usually have a step-by-step guide on how to measure for frames. If you have a pair of old frames that fit well, you can measure them to find the perfect fit.

Pupillary distance (PD): This is an important measurement that calculates the distance from one pupil to the other. PD allows eyeglass makers to correctly position the lenses’ centers. If the centers are not lined up correctly, your new glasses will be blurry and quickly give you a headache. If you are nervous about measuring your PD at home, ask your eye doctor to measure your PD distance at your next visit.

Completing these steps before looking for glasses online is important. If your prescription is not up to date or your measurements are wrong, you could end up with a pair of frames that pinch or give you blurry vision.

eyeglasses eye testing

What to check for when shopping at online providers

It’s important to pick a reputable provider. Here are some things you should look for, including some red flags.

Return and try-on policies: Always read a provider’s return and try-on policies before buying. If your new frames don’t fit or have the wrong prescription, you’ll be grateful you bought them from a provider who offers no-fuss returns. Just make sure you know how long the return policy is, as you don’t want to wait 31 days to return glasses when the refund policy only extends to 30 days.

Some providers may have try-on options, so you can try frames on before buying. Warby Parker is well-known for its try-on option, as it ships five pairs of blank frames to customers’ homes. Other providers may have similar options, so read about their purchase procedures and benefits.

Lens options: Make sure a provider doesn’t add extra charges for lens coatings, such as scratch-resistant coatings or UV coatings. If your pair of $30 frames costs $100 after adding basic coatings, you probably aren’t getting as good a deal as advertised.

Vision insurance: While some online providers’ prices are cheap enough that you don't have to worry about vision insurance, you should always check if a provider takes vision insurance. This way, you can save even more on online frames, which means you could buy two pairs instead of one.

Reviews: Always investigate what customers are saying about a provider. Most importantly, see what customers say about the prescription accuracy of their glasses and the quality of the frames.

If you filter companies through these criteria, it will be easier to find a reputable provider with quality glasses.

Types of online providers

Not all providers are solely online. A few providers who sell online also have physical store locations, such as LensCrafters. This means that you can visit in-person and try-on a few frames before sitting in the comfort of your home and clicking the order button.

However, at most providers, you won’t be able to try frames on beforehand (unless they have home try-on options). If you still aren’t sure if an online eyeglass provider is right for you, we’ve put together a quick pro and con list.

Pros: Customers save money by shopping online, skip a visit in-person, and can choose from a greater variety of styles and colors.

Cons: Customers have to measure frames and pupillary distance carefully or risk unusable or uncomfortable eyeglasses. It may also be harder to return frames, and customers don’t get to see them on their face beforehand unless there is a home try-on package.

If you do your research beforehand and measure correctly, online shopping can be a great way to get fashionable glasses while saving money. If you need a new pair of glasses and are tired of the limited selection at your eye doctor’s office, it may be time to start looking online.

Rachel Bodine is a content writer for

The Top Eyeglasses Online Companies

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#1 EyeBuyDirect chevron_right
9.8 Overall Score
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#2 Zenni Optical chevron_right
7.0 Overall Score
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#3 Costco Optical chevron_right
6.9 Overall Score

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