BUYING EYEWEAR ONLINE
A Gamble At Best

There is no question that online shopping is here to stay: the convenience of shopping from one's own home is marvelous, and that luxurious feeling of being able to browse as you like, with no pressure from salespeople - can't beat it!

For books, for clothing, for home décor - we're all going online these days. As Martha Stewart might say, "It's a good thing!", and she'd be right... most of the time.

For some things, however, maybe it isn't wise to go online. Maybe all that convenience comes at a price that isn't reflected in that way-less-than-the-real-world price tag?

In real-world Canada, the people who take your prescription and combine it with carefully taken measurements and knowledge about your lifestyle, your occupation and your preferences to provide you with eyeglasses or contact lenses that are well suited to you are trained, educated eye care professionals. These opticians are licensed and regulated to ensure that they provide competent vision services to their clients in compliance with a code of ethics and high professional standards, and in cooperation with the eye doc who issued the prescription.

In the online world, who are you dealing with? Not likely an optician or an optometrist - neither of these eye care professionals would consider providing eyewear to someone they haven't even seen to measure or to discuss their needs. So you're dealing with a salesperson instead of a health care professional to purchase an appliance which will correct your vision - vision that is, presumably, precious to you? You really want to do that?

According to Which? - an online site from the UK that reviews products and services for consumers - purchasing your eyewear like you'd buy your socks might not be such a good idea. They had their researchers purchase 36 pairs of glasses online: 15 of those didn't pass muster when checked out by a group of real-world optometrists. (for a summary of their findings, go to http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/05/10-things-to-watch-when-buying-glasses-online-286294/ ). The buyer's chances of getting a good pair of eyeglasses were better when buying single vision in a low power, but the chance of error increased dramatically as the strength of the lens increased, or when the glasses ordered were multifocals (progressives).

There are a lot of choices in eyewear these days: free form technology for lenses versus standard lenses; assorted lens materials; coatings and tints that enhance vision/beauty/safety; frames in a range of materials, sizes and shapes; contact lenses soft or rigid, single vision or bifocal. Your eye care professional can explain these options to you and relate them to your personal needs: the online salesman hasn't either the training or the education to do that.

Finally: if you do go ahead and purchase your eyewear online, what then? Are they going to come perfectly adjusted for your head? Of course not, because heads - with their attached ears and noses - don't come in a one-size format! Then what? Are you going to approach a real world professional and ask him/her to spend time with you to fix a problem caused by the unlicensed guy online? Really?!

Good vision is a vital part of a happy, successful life. Licensed professionals can help you maximize that vision. It makes sense to visit your optician - not your laptop - for your eyewear needs.


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