With online shopping providing fast delivery of everything from coffee beans to cars, why would you ever bother to leave your lounge?
If you’re not particularly fussy or have a very straightforward glasses prescription, an online eye wear purchase can work a treat – especially if you already know what you want or have had the product before. But what many customers are finding, is that, when it comes to buying eye wear, bricks and mortar beats the virtual experience hands down.
We’ve put together a list of things you don’t get when you shop online for your new glasses:
1. Professional advice
Choosing a new pair of glasses is no different to choosing a new swimming costume; you need expert advice to find the most flattering style. No matter how good the online experience, there is no one to tell you if a frame suits your face.
A frame stylist can help you to find the perfect frame – one that will have people stopping you to ask, ‘where did you get those glasses?’ You are also more likely to try on new styles you wouldn’t usually go for in you’re in a real store.
2. Perfect fit
Even if a virtual store uploads a photo of your face, you can’t actually try anything on. While it might look great on the screen, once your delivery arrives you have the hard evidence of your choice. Often, one glance at it on your face and it’s straight back off again because it’s simply too big or too small or too high and so on. And back to the online store they go…
3. Optimal comfort
Just like a good pair of jeans, comfort is king when it comes to eye wear. You want a pair that not only look great but fit like a glove and feel almost weightless. This is hit and miss with an online purchase (as anyone who’s ever purchases jeans online will know!) There’s just no substitute for trying on and having any adjustments made on the spot by a professional dispenser. Many frames can now be customised, so they can be tailored to your unique requirements.
4. Most suitable frame for your prescription
If your prescription is straightforward, (such as -2 or +1.5) and just for reading or distance only, you can choose from a wide range of frame shapes and sizes without any trouble. But if you have a high or complex prescription or if you’ve been prescribed multifocals or office glasses, you do need to be careful what frame you choose. Appropriate frame shape is very much dependent on the lens prescribed by the optometrist. This is where problems can occur: you fall in love with a frame, buy it, try it on, love it, then take to your optometrist to get your lenses only to find out it is unsuitable. This is particularly relevant for multifocal wearers.
5. Accurate measurements
Lenses have to centred perfectly for comfortable vision to be possible. This is particularly true for higher prescriptions, where you can feel like your eyes are being pulled if this measurement is not correct. It may even be that you have been wearing poorly centred lenses for years and your eyes are used to them, so that getting the ‘correct’ measurement now feels weird. This becomes really critical if you have a high prescription. And when it comes to multifocals, you absolutely must have them measured up in person! Even a couple of millimetres out and they just won’t work.
6. Quality control
There are real benefits to shopping in a real store where you can take in the surroundings and the quality of the frames on sale. The ability to see and feel the quality and workmanship is a major bonus of real life shopping compared to online. Frames can look alike online, but in a real store you can handle them, try them on, and experience the various sensations that make that particular frame special.
7. Peace of mind
While the frames themselves will usually be covered by warranty, regardless of whether you buy them from good online retailers or a real store, the lenses will be what you order – whether they work for you or not! One of the biggest advantages of having your eyes tested and lenses prescribed at the same practice that makes up your new glasses is that you can come back if you’re having any trouble and the lenses can be exchanged at no additional cost. This is not usually the case if you take your prescription with you and shop online.
So, remember: if you know exactly what you want and are confident that your online retailer is the real deal, the online experience may satisfy your needs. But if you want the best possible outcome in terms of a quality frame that fits like a glove, there's no substitute for a real-life store.