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Buying eyeglasses

You just received your eyeglasses prescription, so the next question is: Where to buy your glasses?

Should you purchase your glasses from an optical store near you or buy glasses online?

Where is the best place to buy glasses? That depends on what's most important to you.

If convenience and cost are your primary concerns, buying glasses online might be your best choice. Look for special promotions on eyeglasses and sunglasses.

If you have a strong or complex glasses prescription and you want a trained optician to guide you in the selection of lenses and frames, a traditional brick-and-mortar optical store might be a better option, though some online suppliers have qualified opticians on hand for help and advice.

Let's walk through the process of buying glasses online and in person:

Frame selection: Number and variety or personal service

Where and how to choose your glasses frames?

Online retailers often have far more frames to choose from than the selection you find at an optical store. There is only so much shelf or wall space to showcase frames in a store, after all.

A vast selection of frames online can be a good thing if you don't want to miss out on the perfect style, but sifting through all of those options can either be fun or overwhelming.

Not sure where to begin in your search for a chic new look? What is your face shape? Some glasses styles look better on round, oval, diamond and other face shapes.

If you're shopping in a high street store, your optician can guide you to the frames that might look best on your face shape. Do these frames look too heavy? Too bold? Just ask your optician.

If you're shopping for glasses online from the comfort of your home or office, look for a style finder online to help you narrow your search. Then use a virtual try-on tool, or free home trial service, if available, to see how your favourite glasses will look on your face.

Facial fit: Lenses and frames

Pupillary distance and lenses

What is pupillary distance?

Your pupillary distance (PD) is an important measurement to position the optical centre of each spectacle lens in front of the centre of each pupil. An incorrect PD measurement could cause eye strain, blurred vision or even double vision. This is especially true for stronger prescriptions.

At a brick-and-mortar store, your optician will measure your pupillary distance for you.

At online glasses stores, instructions will walk you through how to obtain your pupillary distance if your optician hasn't already provided it. In some cases, your PD can be measured from a photo of you holding a credit card-sized plastic card. These are all a standard size so are good for scaling purposes.

Special PD measuring Apps are being developed with impressive accuracy which will make taking an accurate PD much easier in the future.

How do those frames fit on your face?

How will those snazzy new frames fit your face? Start with the pair you're currently wearing.

In a store, your optician will begin the fitting process by getting the measurements of your current frame.

At an online glasses store, videos and guides will walk you through finding the measurements of your current frames.

Once you've selected your frames, it's time to pick your lenses.

Lenses: What are your options?

After your eye exam, your optician probably explained a bit about your prescription. He or she may have discussed your lenses options — such as progressive lenses or bifocals if you are over age 40 and need multifocal lenses.

If you are ordering your prescription glasses online, especially if you need only single-vision lenses, the process is pretty simple.

Once you've landed on the perfect frame, choose your lens type (single vision, progressive, bifocals, reading glasses or non-prescription), and select your lens material (plastic or polycarbonate, for example).

Then choose your lens option packages and add-ons (anti-reflective coating, for example)

Your glasses prescription, which details the lenses you need, is just a starting point. There is an array of lens coatings that can further improve your vision and protect your eyesight.

Do you want photochromic lenses, such as Transitions, to help you adapt to light as you go from indoors to bright sunshine? Do you want lenses to filter blue light from your computer screen and digital devices?

Knowing what you want in your next pair of glasses will ensure you get the best glasses for your vision needs.

Check online reviews and warranties

Before you shop for and buy your glasses, check the reviews for your optician or online glasses store.

Chances are that if other people are happy with the glasses they purchased, you will be too.

But what if something goes wrong? What if you're not happy with the fit of your glasses or you don't see as clearly as you expected?

Whether you buy your glasses online or in a store, they almost always come with a manufacturer's warranty that covers repairing or replacing your glasses free of charge. Whether you buy them in store or online most progressive lenses come with a 'tolerance guarantee' to allow you to return them if you don't get on with them.

Getting the best glasses for your vision needs

The best lenses to correct your vision and the best-fitting frames will enable you to see better and comfortably.

Where is the best place to buy your glasses? That depends on what matters most to you.

For personal service, your optician will guide you through picking your frames and lenses. If you have a simple glasses prescription and a do-it-yourself mindset, you may save time and money buying your glasses online.

Wherever you choose to buy your glasses, the first step is to schedule an exam with an optician near you to update your glasses prescription. Take that step today.

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