How to buy eyewear online without surprises

  • By Debra D. Bass St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Monday, February 3, 2014 11:35am
  • Life

We are in the midst of an eyewear revolution, or should I say zeitgeist. It’s desirable to be a girl (or guy) who wears glasses.

This wasn’t always the case, as you’ll remember from those unflattering childhood rhymes.

There are fancy glass-walled boutiques of eyewear that look more like jewelry than medical devices, and prices soar near four digits even with insurance plans.

Then there are practical websites of frames that you can order for the cost of shipping and handling.

My last two pairs of prescription glasses purchased over the past six months cost $226.39 and $15.48.

The former was thanks to my insurance benefit, which dropped $161 from the price. The latter was attributed to an online promotion.

Buying online

1. Visit an optician and get your eye health thoroughly checked out.

2. Ask for your prescription and have them make note of your pupillary distance or PD.

This is the distance from the center of one pupil to the next, and it’s important for the technician creating your glasses.

If you forget, don’t worry. This is pretty easy to figure out. You can download a PD ruler online that is printed backward so that you can read it in a mirror.

3. Start shopping after your exam. Try on a variety of glasses to figure out your style.

4. Make note of the glasses that fit you best based on the dimensions, not just style. Face size matters.

Look inside the temple and you’ll see a series of numbers in millimeters that correspond to the eye (width of one lens); bridge (distance between the two lenses); and temple (from lens to tip that fits behind ear).

If you own a pair that fit, check out those dimensions.

5. Go online and start narrowing your choices. Most sites will let you select by width. Start there, but don’t guess or go by the photos. Check the dimensions. Then double check before buying.

6. If you want thinner glasses or specialty lenses or tints, the cost goes up.

7. If you can request the glasses for a free try-on before you buy, do it. Don’t just assume the online, virtual try-on tools are accurate. Some are better than others, but they typically aren’t so good.

8. Find out the return policy.

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