By Samantha Ramcharran, LO

Previously, I discussed some of the advantages of buying eyeglasses from an optical versus online. In NJ, our standards are strict, and we don’t hesitate to remake glasses if they were made incorrectly. Opticians are trained to thoroughly inspect eyewear including the quality, prescription, and appearance of any given order. We guarantee that the patient is getting the quality they paid for.

For people who rely heavily on online ordering, they have come to expect fast receipt of product at brick-and-mortar optical shops even those without an in-house lab. Some argue that it’s more convenient to purchase online. Certainly I buy things like groceries or jewelry online instead of putting on shoes to go to the store. However, those aren’t the same as shopping for glasses. I mentioned UV protection before and unless it comes from an authentic dealer that distributes protective eyewear, buying cheap glasses online can be doing more harm than good when skimming past the fine print. Not all lenses come standard with UV protection, so it’s a good idea to talk to an optician before jumping to a cheap website. If I suspect a patient will buy eyewear online, I’ll try and provide as much insight as possible. Recommending some styles based on their prescription and face shape makes them recognize an optician’s skills. Take it a step further and explain what the prescription means and how it can affect their idea of the glasses they wanted. Even if I never see the patient again, at least they left knowing more than when they walked in.

Skepticism swirls in the optical world when it comes to buying glasses online. My own skepticism peaked when I discovered quite a few misplaced PDs and heights. Whether the patient obtained their pupillary distance from an optician or if they do it themselves, I always make sure they understand the complications that come with online ordering. Despite the glasses possibly coming in quicker or the lenses being inexpensive, there can be a different price to pay. There are undoubtedly reputable brands that offer online purchasing, usually for single vision. However, if the measurements aren’t placed properly, it affects the patient’s vision, resulting in dissatisfaction. 

Finding the right size of frames is crucial when it comes to prescription glasses. It can be hard to keep up with trends as they can change quickly, depending on the latest social media. Commercials, shows or even your favorite Youtuber might wear and promote styles that we might not have in our optical and some that are exclusively online. Large and oversized frames are trendy and can look incredible with the proper lens choice. But you can’t try them on before buying when it’s virtual. I always encourage patients who want a specific style to bring the frames to us to fill the prescription because the patient might choose the improper lenses or frame sizing. Being upfront with online order questions and explaining that prescriptions require proper placement of measurements helps build credibility.

As opticians, we have to maximize the eyewear experience with all of our patients. I admit it’s frustrating when someone walks out because they want to purchase online or go elsewhere. However, you can still give patients a chance to have a pleasant experience and they’ll remember it and come back. I’ve had several patients come back to me and say they’d rather get glasses in person than online again. Allow people to feel liberated by being able to venture off on their own for their eyewear because you want to be there when they come back for a quality pair and great customer service.

Check out our guide for frame selection, standard alignment and fitting triangle adjustments, frame fit measurements, and the why and how of lens pantoscopic tilt, wrap, and back vertex distance position of wear measurements with our CE, Eyeglasses – Fit and Dispensing Guide, at This course is free, supported by an educational grant from Signet Armorlite.