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The leaps we have made with technology are astounding. With the internet at our hands, nowadays you can order groceries from your laptop and have them delivered straight to your home. But should you consider this method for ordering a medical device such as corrective glasses? When it comes to prescription glasses, it’s not so direct and simple. Glasses must be custom-made to your prescription and facial measurements.

The College of Opticians of Ontario state that “prescription eyeglasses are both classified and regulated as medical devices by Health Canada and many glasses purchased online do not meet Health Canada’s Standards. The dispensing of corrective lenses is a controlled act, subject to Ontario legislation, that definitely requires a regulated health professional’s involvement. Mail order over the internet without the involvement of an optometrist or optician is inconsistent with legislation.” In Ontario, dispensing prescription eyewear is considered a controlled act under the Regulated Health Professions Act. Although the internet allows you to access websites outside of Ontario, it is considered illegal to purchase corrective eyewear online. The law is in place to protect you, the public. 

A recent study by the American Optometric Association found that 44.8% of eyewear ordered online had incorrect prescriptions or did not meet physical parameters to provide sufficient protection to the wearer. 

As experts in the field, we at Oxford Optometry have composed a number of cautions for those considering purchasing corrective lenses online. 

1. Prescription issues
You’ve found the perfect frames, and you patiently await your new glass’s arrival at your doorstep. Then you receive the delivery only to find you can’t see out of the lenses. This is not an uncommon scenario when it comes to buying glasses online. Trained professionals, like those at Oxford Optometry, have the know-how to properly interpret your prescription and help you select the frames, lenses, material and lens coatings that are best suited to your individual eye-health needs. Glasses must be made accurate to the prescription, with acceptable limits of error. Getting the wrong prescription glasses 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. Safety 
All lenses must meet a minimum thickness for safety reasons. In cases where shatter-resistance is required, these standards are even more strict. There is no guarantee of these standards being met by online retailers. One study showed that 23% of eyewear ordered failed impact testing, compared to <0.5% failure rate for lenses produced by ophthalmic labs that undergo regular inspection. 

3. Health 
The Canadian and American Optometric and Ophthalmology Associations recommend routine, regular eye exams by an eye doctor. Online sellers cannot assess your overall eye health and are therefore not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a regulated eye care professional. Just because you can see, does not mean you may not have an ocular health issue. Even with 20/20 vision, 1 in 7 Canadians will develop a serious eye disorder.

4. Fit 
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 off angle or slip down your face. Their shape should complement and enhance your face. 

 In the days when 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. Proper fitting glasses will help you avoid fatigue, headaches, nausea and pain or pressure around the nose or ears. By simply emailing your prescription, the elements of a proper fit are not being done. Even if your prescription is correct, you still may be unable to see clearly or comfortably. 

5. Measurement
Getting proper measurements and advice is the only way to ensure your prescription provides ideal vision and is safe. The curvature and thickness of the lens, the location of the optical centre in the frames and the position of the bifocal or progressive lens can affect your vision correction and is best determined in person by a vision health professional. Glasses must be made accurate to the prescription but 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 1mm can create a “prismatic effect” which changes the prescription. This can lead to eyestrain, headache, blur and double vision. 

6. Coatings
There are many different types of anti-reflective, scratch-resistant and blue light coatings available. Low quality coatings damage easily and can be much harder to clean. Ordering online does not guarantee that you get what you ask for and many lenses end up being sent with missing coatings. 

7. Accountability 
We strongly believe that you should never be stuck with a pair of glasses that you cannot use. If something is wrong with either the prescription or frame, it’s important that there is someone who can help solve 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.

If you are looking for an optometrist in Woodstock, ON, reach out to us at Oxford Optometry. Our staff is friendly and professional. Our commitment is to provide exceptional service to all of our Woodstock patients. We take pride in our personalized care and strive to spend the necessary time with each patient to ensure a comfortable experience. Our professionals are passionate about providing high-quality care to our patients.

We focus on providing comprehensive eye exams, a large selection of fashionable eyewear, and the best possible vision care. We offer services like comprehensive eye and vision exams for all ages, co-management of LASIK eye surgery, hard-to-fit contact lenses, Ortho-K corneal reshaping technology, computer vision solutions, sports vision solutions, prescription sunglasses, blue light vision care, dry eye treatment, eye condition diagnostics and screenings to clients across Woodstock, Ingersoll, Norwich and the surrounding areas. To learn more about the services we offer, please click hereTo get in touch with us, please click here.


Written by Dr. Sarah Andreasen

More Articles By Dr. Sarah Andreasen

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