Tips for Buying Optical Lenses


With the amount of options (lenses, coatings and frames), it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the choices and knowing which ones are worth buying. Below is some information to keep in mind when you are searching for that perfect fit.

Some of the first things that you will need to determine are your prescription details and measurements. Once you obtain those from your doctor, you can move on to the next step in the process and decide the following features of your eyeglasses:

  • Lens type (photochromatic lenses, clear lenses, or Tinted or Polarized)
  • Lens index and thickness (Standard Index 1.50, Index Trivex 1.53, Hi-Index 1.67, etc.)
  • Lens coating (Anti-reflective, scratch resistant, hydrophobic, ultraviolet)
  • Frame style (plastic, metal, rimless, etc.)
  • Temple style and bridge fit

While there are a dozen different types and shapes of frames, knowing which ones best suit your face shape will narrow down the options. From there, you can select the proper size as well as the ones that will match your personal style.

Buying from an Optical Shop:

If you are purchasing your eyeglasses at an optical shop, you will have the advantage of finding the perfect fit. Specialists are there to guide you through your options and will provide any additional insight and/or advice to making the right selection. You can expect that the following services and measurements are done to ensure you receive the best lens and frame.

  • Segment height
  • Vertical optical center
  • Eye size
  • Bridge size
  • Temple length
  • Frame model and color
  • Lens material and index
  • Multifocal design and brand
  • Lens features (tins, coatings, etc)
  • Eyeglass dispensing adjustment

Additional benefits of buying from an optical shop include education and training (on caring for your lens and frame), ongoing adjustments and minor repairs as needed.

Buying from an Online Vendor:

While optical shops provide the advantage of finding the perfect fit, online vendors are available for those who prefer a lower cost and larger selection of frames. However, it is important to keep in mind that the challenge with buying online is that the “fitting” becomes increasingly more difficult. Internet vendors cannot meet with you in person, so they are unable to provide the services listed above, and the measurement tricks are not going to be as specific as they would be if you went into a shop. While some sites allow you to upload a picture of your face so you can see what the glasses would look like, you are not able to take into account the weight and comfort of the frames.

If you do buy your eyeglasses online, speak with your doctor first to understand what services he/she will provide ahead of time. Services such as pupillary distance and prescription verification are two components that may not be done if you are not purchasing your glasses in the shop.

When you are ready to take the next step in purchasing your first (or next) pair of eyeglasses, please consult with your optometrist, ophthalmologist, or contact your closest optical shop.