Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Online Eyewear: Deal or No Deal?

Buying eyeglasses online may seem like a really cool, money-saving idea at first, but too often patients come to us with their sad tales of woe about problems with online eyewear.  And, quite frankly, it's no surprise to us!

In fact, the American Optometric Association (AOA) warns that the consequences of making an incorrect or uninformed purchase could cost patients more time and money in the long run. 
An AOA study published in 2011 with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council reinforces the drawbacks of online orders. The study concluded:
·        Of 200 glasses ordered online, only 154 pairs were received;
·        44.8 percent had incorrect prescriptions or safety issues;
·        29 percent had at least one lens fail to meet required prescription;
·        19 percent of adult lenses failed impact resistance testing; and,
·        25 percent of children's lenses failed impact resistance testing.

A few things that online buyers failed to consider were things like the fit and material of the eyeglass frames.  Are they the correct size and shape to fit my face? Are the lenses perfectly aligned with the center of each of my eyes?  Is the nose piece the best for shape of the bridge of my nose? Do they fit correctly over my ears?      

And just as important, what are the retailer's policies on purchases?

·         Returns: What is the website's return policy if you are not satisfied with your purchase? How will the website deal with issues of prescription inaccuracies or other mistakes (wrong lenses coatings, wrong color, etc)? 
·         Warrantees: Does the online retailer offers protection against lens scratching, how long this may be covered and what needs to be done to replace scratched lenses. How long is the frame warranty? What about children's frames?
·         Shipping: The cost and timeliness of shipments varies. Who pays for shipping returns?
·         Pricing: Are protective eyeglass cases and cleaning cloths included, or are they "extras" added to the cost? Insurance: Some websites do not accept vision insurance. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), check to see what's required to accept this as payment.
·         Maintenance: Some websites provide a contact for this and may offer online tips for minor adjustments, but it might mean shipping your glasses away and being without them until the service is completed and they are returned.

Yes, cheap prices can be attractive, but it's the "seeing" part that is usually the reason for getting the glasses in the first place. And if the eyewear isn't comfortable, it may tend to drive you nuts.

Hello?  Did I just hear someone say, "buyer beware"?
One thing do I hear a lot from people who purchased eyewear on line starts out something like this:  “Doc I got a great deal on these glasses plus I got an extra pair free…they were cheap as dirt, everyone says they look terrific on me and everything,  but the only problem is that I am having trouble seeing.”

It has been my experience over the years, the better the “deal” you got on your glasses on line, the more times you will likely come to see me to fix a problem. 

One thing is for sure, when you pass by our Optical Department,  prescription in hand on the way to the internet, that can be where and when the bulk of problems begin.

First of all, the internet optician doesn't have your face in front of him/ her so there's no way to tell whether or not the frames actually fit your face. Or if the lenses meet the appropriate center of both your eyes. Since they can't recommend the correct lenses or features that match your specific needs, there will likely be a problem with how you see with your new glasses. 

When you purchase your glasses from our Optical Department after your exam and we have diagnosed your specific vision problems, we can literally walk you over one of our opticians and recommend exactly what you need to make your new eyewear perfect for you.

Where we shine at Koby Karp Doctors Eye Institute is in our commitment to making things right. If you are having problems with glasses you purchased from us, please let us help you by doing what it takes to help you see the best that you can possibly see.

 - Dr. Chris Stroud