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Buyer Beware: 5 Dangers of Ordering Glasses Online

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Buyer Beware: 5 Dangers of Ordering Glasses Online

We absolutely love the ease and convenience of shopping for deals online; however, when it comes to glasses, it’s not so simple. Glasses must be custom-made to your prescription and facial measurements. Since they are Class I medical devices, they must also meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) requirements, which are rarely regulated online. So, when patients ask for our opinions on purchasing online, we warn them of the following dangers.

  1.  Prescription Issues. Glasses must be made accurate to the prescription, with acceptable limits of error. Not only must the strength be right, but the center of the lens must also sit in front of the eye’s pupil. This relies on having a correct pupillary distance (PD) measurement. A PD that is off by even 1 mm can create ‘prismatic effects’ which change the prescription. This can lead to eyestrain, headache, blur, and double vision. In a Canadian study assessing popular online retailers, 81% of glasses had the wrong prescription.

  2. Fit Issues. Frames should never squeeze your temples, leave uncomfortable imprints on your nose, sit too close or too far, fit too wide or narrow, tilt at an odd angle, or slip down your face. Their shape should complement and enhance your face. And these days, a trendy pair of glasses are a fashion statement! Virtual fitting simply does not compare to trying on frames in-store, with the input and advice from a certified optician or optometrist. 70% of frames purchased online do not meet basic comfort and position criteria.

  3. Safety Issues. All lenses must meet a minimum thickness for safety reasons. In cases where shatter-resistance is required, these standards are even more strict – the lenses must be even thicker and only certain lens materials provide maximum protection. Again, there is no guarantee of these standards being met by online retailers. One study showed that 23% of eyewear ordered online failed impact testing, compared to <0.5% failure rate for lenses produced by ophthalmic labs that undergo regular inspection.

  4. Coating Quality Issues. There are many different types of anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and blue light coatings. Low-quality coatings damage easily, and are also much harder to clean. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to constantly clean dirty fingerprint-covered lenses! Ordering online also does not guarantee that you get what you ask for – many lenses end up being sent with missing coatings.

  5. Accountability Issues. We strongly believe that you should never be stuck with a pair of glasses that you can’t use. If something goes wrong with either the prescription or frame, it’s important that there is someone who can help problem-solve through the issue. Your glasses should have a dependable warranty that includes the ability to change the prescription if you are unable to adapt to it.

The bottom line? Protect yourself by ensuring that your glasses have been inspected to meet medical standards. We encourage ordering your glasses from a reputable retailer with a physical store and trained staff. When it comes to vision, it is well worth investing in glasses with high-quality materials and coatings so that you can see your best. 

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Written by: Dr. Natalia Fong

Photo Credit: Photo by John Schnobrich

References:
https://optometrists.sk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/OnlineEyewearEvaluation.pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21871395

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Test your eye health knowledge with these commonly asked questions!

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Test your eye health knowledge with these commonly asked questions!

Does sitting too close to the TV damage your vision?

Sitting closer than necessary may give you a headache, but it will not damage your vision. Parents of children and teens who habitually sit close to the TV should consider having their vision measured to screen for uncorrected refractive errors.

Does reading in the dark weaken your eyesight?

You may experience eye strain from reading in dim light, but it will not weaken your eyesight or harm the eyes. Reading in the dark is counterproductive because the parts of the eye that generate the clearest, most precise visual images require light in order to function.

Will using glasses or contacts weaken my eyesight? Will my eyes will eventually become dependent on them?

Vision correction (whether with glasses or contact lenses) focuses light rays entering the eye in order to create a crisp visual image on the retina. It is true that nearsighted children become more nearsighted up until age 30 or so, but don’t blame the eyewear! The focusing power of the eyes changes throughout life. That is one reason why routine eye exams are so helpful. Use of eyeglasses or contact lenses will not weaken eyesight or cause any focusing problem to worsen.

Can children with crossed eyes be treated?

The medical term for cross-eyed is strabismus (STRUH-BIZ-MUSS). There are several different causes for misalignment of the eyes, and a thorough eye exam is necessary to accurately diagnose the problem and its cause. Depending on the cause of the crookedness, some children with strabismus can be managed with prescription eyeglasses, whereas other kinds of strabismus require surgery. Prompt treatment is essential to protect the deviated eye from losing vision – a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye).

Is there anything you can do to prevent vision loss?

Most cases of vision loss can be treated. Depending on the specific disorder, vision loss can be halted, reversed, or even completely restored. See your doctor if you experience decreased vision, abrupt flashes of light, or the presence of a “curtain” that obscures your eyesight. Sudden, total loss of vision is a medical emergency – get immediate help.

Will using a nightlight in your child’s room contribute to nearsightedness?

Some researchers have suggested that use of nightlights may contribute to nearsightedness (myopia); however, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. Keeping a nightlight on in your baby’s room may actually help stimulate the infant’s visual development and eye coordination skills when they are awake.

Do YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT EYE CARE YOU WOULD LIKE ANSWERED?

We'd be happy to answer your eye care questions, e-mail us at info@drfabiantai.com

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