The American Optometric Association (AOA) teamed up with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council to look into the online market for prescription eyewear. According to the AOA, the study found a disturbing number of problems with prescription compliance and impact resistance. In fact, almost half of the eyeglasses tested in the study (the AOA reports the number at 44.8 percent) didn't have the correct prescription strength or presented problems with safety.
The study analyzed 200 pairs of glasses that had been ordered from 10 different websites. The lenses were analyzed based on a number of criteria, including measurement of sphere power, cylinder power and axis, add power (if specified), separation of distance of optical centers and center thickness. The AOA reports that in some cases, single vision lenses were delivered instead of the bifocals that had been ordered. In other cases, specific lens treatments were either added to an or were left off.
"Nearly three out of 10 (29 percent) pairs had at least one lens that failed to meet the required prescription, a problem typically found and corrected when ordered through and delivered by an optometrist," the AOA says. "Nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of the lenses failed impact resistance testing, which highlights a major safety issue."
The safety concerns regarding children's eyewear purchased online should be of particular concern to parents. "Children's glasses performed even worse, with 29 percent failing impact testing," the AOA reports.
The study was professionally conducted under the direction of researchers: 10 people were each asked to order two pairs of glasses from one of the top 10 online optical vendors. Each order included one pair of prescription children's glasses and one pair of prescription eyeglasses for adults. The frame styles selected fell in the midrange for prices. A variety of frame materials, lens styles and prescriptions were included in the study.
Despite the popularity of the websites used in the study, only 154 pairs of glasses out of the 200 ordered were received.
The takeaway is pretty clear. When it comes to shopping for prescription eyeglasses online, caveat emptor – buyer beware!
"Ordering a pair of glasses online is not as easy as purchasing a pair of blue jeans or theater tickets," the AOA says. "Every pair of eyeglasses must be custom-fitted to not just comfortably suit your face but also to meet your particular prescriptive needs. In short, you, your optometrist and your optician must work together to ensure a proper fit."
And, as the AOA reminds us, "There's also a lingering question about the quality and safety of prescription eyewear ordered online."
Think about it – if almost half of the products you ordered from a particular website weren't exactly what you ordered or didn't live up to the product's safety claims, would you still shop there? Well, as researchers discovered, 44.8 percent of prescription eyeglasses ordered online as part of the study contained an inaccurate prescription or didn't meet safety standards designed to protect the eyes.
Online shopping is great for a wide range of products. In the past, something that might have required you to spend a day driving from store to store, can now be found online with a few clicks. Fortunately, when it comes to prescription eyeglasses, it's easy to find a wonderful array of styles to fit every face and every budget – from a simple unassuming frame to the Ray Ban Clubmaster celebrities adore - without turning to the Internet.
Dr. Kathy Chriqui, a popular optometrist in Northridge, offers her clients a professionally staffed optical shop, fully stocked with the latest looks in fashion eyewear from the country's leading brands. Stop by and check out wall after wall of frames and let our opticians help you find the perfect frames.