Your choices as to where you can purchase prescription or non-prescription glasses include:
- Eye care provider’s office
- Over the counter
If your glasses require a prescription, you can purchase the glasses either through your eye care provider or online, both of which require a valid prescription and oftentimes one that is less than 12 months old. Glasses that require a prescription cannot be purchased over the counter, such as at a drugstore, because they are considered a medical device.
The types of glasses that can be purchased over the counter and without a prescription are reading glasses or “readers,” and some computer or gaming glasses. Readers are available in a variety of power choices, from low magnification to higher magnification, depending on your needs, and are usually inexpensive. Readers and computer glasses can also be customized by your eye care provider.
Many eye care providers often also have an optical department offering a wide variety of frames and styles to suit every taste and need, as well as popular lens options and treatments that you may need. Purchasing prescription glasses from your eye care provider can be a quick, convenient option as glasses can be finished in just a few days, or less.
The benefits of buying glasses from your eye care provider or from a bricks and mortar store instead of buying online include:
- Being able to try on the glasses to ensure proper fit and that they are comfortable.
- The eye care provider can make any needed adjustments to the glasses to ensure everything fits well.
- You can try on multiple pairs of glasses and see for yourself in the mirror how they look.
- Receive proper customer service and get answers to your questions.
- A free case is often provided with the glasses
Purchasing glasses online is another option, albeit one that is still in its infancy as it represents only a small percentage of eyeglass sales. If you decide to purchase your glasses online, make sure you approach the endeavor with a healthy amount of patience. You’ll need a copy of your prescription from an eye care provider. The online retailer will verify that it is up-to-date before manufacturing the glasses. The prescription should also include your pupillary distance (PD), or the distance between the centers of your pupils. The PD ensures that the corrective lenses are placed and centered directly in front of the pupils. Your eye care provider should take this measurement during a routine exam. Although it is possible to take the measurement yourself, it is not recommended, as a faulty measurement can result in glasses that are not providing ultimate vision correction.
You will also need to know exactly what you want in your pair of glasses because there is no one available to ask for advice, unlike at a bricks and mortar glasses retailer. Items to consider include:
- Lens material
- Treatments such as anti-glare, UV or HEV
- Tints or colored lenses
Quality, in terms of the lenses matching your prescription, is usually very good when purchasing glasses online, but if there are any doubts, take the glasses to your eye care provider and he or she can measure the lenses’ power to confirm it matches your prescription.
Another option is to purchase the frames online and then take them to your eye care provider or retailer and purchase the lenses from them.