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Home » What's New » Buyer Beware! The dangers of purchasing online prescription eyewear

Buyer Beware! The dangers of purchasing online prescription eyewear

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by Dr. Wright, Owner, Wright Vision Care, LLC

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One of the most common questions we increasingly hear is "What about those online eyeglass ordering places? Can you order prescription eyeglasses online?"

My answer is that 'yes' you can order prescription eyewear on the internet. But there are many factors you should consider before hitting the "Submit" button.

All consumers are to receive, without asking, a copy of their prescriptions for contact lenses and eyeglasses from their eye doctor when their exam is completed and the prescriptions are finalized. This is a rule established many years ago by the Federal Trade Commission.

While you can find just about anything in the internet, there are some items that are best not purchased over the web. In particular, 'custom made' items are usually best purchased in person. And eyeglasses are in that category. Why?

First, while eyewear is a fashion accessory, it is also a medical device. Medical services should not be purchased over the internet. Your vision is too important to compromise with someone who does not know your needs, eye and head anatomy, sensitivities, life style and occupational needs, prescription needs, eyewear history and general appearance.

Second, the prescription that is created during the eye exam comes from high tech instruments, the doctor's knowledge, and you, the patient's, responses. If the prescription is not filled accurately, which includes proper fitting of the lenses and frame to the patient's face, all is wasted and at some expense to all parties.

Just one critical component of proper lens fabrication is regarding the location of something called the 'optical center', commonly referred to as the 'PD'. This measurement of the patient's distance between pupils, must be accurate within 1 to 2 mm, and the lenses fabricated, must match that measurement. Failure of this can result in headaches, double vision, blurred vision, and more unwanted symptoms.

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In progressive multifocal lenses, the measurements are ultra critical, including the near PD, the location of the progressive corridor, the 'tilt' of the lenses, the shaping of the frame, and especially, the design of the lenses. And all progressives are not the same. There are over 200 different designs available today, ranging from very poor old designs providing restricted viewing zones to new high tech 'digital' designs possessing the largest zones providing very high quality of vision.

Heads, noses, ears, and facial features all come in different sizes and shapes. Therefore, items like the bridge (the part of the frame that fits over the nose), the frame size, the temple length, the size of the lens, the distance of the lens to the patient's eye, all need to be properly measured and 'styled' to the patient's face and head. This is impossible over the internet.

And finally, after the new eyewear is received, who is to adjust the new glasses so they fit correctly? What happens if something breaks, or the finish deteriorates, or the lens coatings deteriorate quickly? Or if what you received doesn't match what you saw on the internet? Most offices such as ours will not take any responsibility and usually refuse to even offer a simple adjustment in fear of damaging your new eyewear.

As in most things in life there is a wide variety of quality in whatever we shop for. Eyeglasses are no different. We, at Wright Vision Care, try not to carry any eyewear that is not of the highest quality, is discontinued merchandise (not replaceable), or has a poor tract record for repair.

You can see, there is a lot to think about when it comes to ordering prescription eyewear over the internet. While the internet is wonderful for finding many items at a good value, eyeglasses are not one of them.

I say 'Buyer Beware!' internet glasses maybe the most expensive item you can purchase in terms of costs, frustration, and time. We have seen it too many times!

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by Dr. Richard Wright, Owner, Wright Vision Care, LLC