7 Most Common Dangers of Replacing Prescription Lenses Online
While working at a small local optical store, I noticed more and more people coming in and wanting to either replace the prescription lenses using their existing frames, or have new lenses made for a frame they purchased online. The place they used to get this service done would no longer do it, and this brought them to our retail store. What really concerned me, was hearing of stories where customers weren't even allowed to reuse their frame at the place they just bought them from the year before!
As someone who not only tries to be frugal myself, I also hate the idea of wasting a perfectly good frame - I thought to take this idea online and thus, UseMyFrame.com was born in May of 2015.
I've managed labs that completed over 2,000 pairs of glasses daily, I have an advanced certification from the American Board of Opticianry, and have been in this industry since 2007. Here are my thoughts on some of the dangers I see when trying to order replacement prescription lenses online.
- Damaging Frames
- Most online opticals do not make the lenses in-house. Instead, they take the orders and send the glasses to be made else where; usually, the lab is in another location (town, state, country, etc.). These high traffic labs receive glasses from all over and there’s a definite priority placed on speed.
- The main problem with this scenario is there is always the risk of an inexperienced worker breaking the frame while removing the old lenses, or installing the new. This leads to another problem, which I’ll discuss in point #4.
- It’s important to select a company with a good reputation and experienced staff that is used to working with different frames (e.g. old and new, cheap and expensive, different manufacturers, etc.). Make sure to know who you’re dealing with and if your glasses will be completed on site or sent to another location.
- Inaccurate PD and Segment Height Measurements
- Eye doctors don’t always provide this information, so it’s important to ask when needed. At UseMyFrame.com we actually have the ability to determine your pupillary distance from existing prescription lenses; and our lab program can calculate a default segment height based on the measurements of the frame (which are traced to the accuracy of a hundredth of a millimeter!).
- Order Wrong Options by Mistake
- Most websites are designed by web designers for opticians, and are difficult for non-opticians to understand. They are filled with hard to understand jargon and superfluous options that can easily confuse the customer and lead them to ordering options they don’t want, won't benefit from, or even ordering the wrong options entirely!
- Others will make their customers enter the prescription information which can be hard to read (duh, it’s written by a doctor!), and it’s easy to mistake things like a plus/minus sign, prescribed prism, and add power, etc.
- When shopping online, make sure to choose a company that either allows you to upload a picture of your prescription, or includes an option to send a paper copy with your frames.
- I’ve had plenty of customers call me and ask for the “best” lenses for them, only to be surprised because, for their particular use case, the least expensive option was just fine! You don’t need high index lenses for a -1.00 prescription!
- Terrible Customer Service (no accountability)
- I alluded to this earlier in point #1 under the topic of what happens if your frame does break. Who do you talk to if this happens? What will they repair/replace? Is there someone in charge in case things escalate? Will you get stuck in a phone menu (one of my personal pet-peeves)?
- I cannot emphasize enough, of how important it is to choose a company that is easily reached. Address and phone number on each page, a responsive live chat option is a bonus.
- You Don’t Have to Purchase Prescription Lenses from Your Eye Doctor’s Office
- Many people are surprised to hear that after your eye exam, you are free to get your glasses made anywhere you’d like. The problem with that is, you’ll pay more for your frames and prescription lenses at the doctor’s office than you will online. Why? First, there's much more overhead at the eye doctor's office (more employees, specialized eye health equipment, etc.) Secondly, some online retailers specialize in making lenses, so they get greater discounts on frames, lenses, coatings, etc.
- Paying with Insurance Usually Costs More
- Surprised? Most people are when they first hear that, but it’s true. By the time you add up your monthly premiums, co-pays, and the fact that you’re limited to what doctor to see and certain frames and lens options, for most people, it makes more sense (saving cents!) to simply make their purchases outright. In fact, you can usually still get reimbursed by choosing an open-access (or “out of network”) eye-care provider (like UseMyFrame.com).
- Don’t Compromise on Quality
- It used to be a trade off when replacing prescription lenses online. If you wanted quality lenses, you would have to pay more at your local optical store; or if you wanted to save money, you could purchase replacement lenses online - but you’d have to sacrifice quality in the process. Things have changed drastically since then, and the internet has changed everything. Companies, large and small, are having to adapt to be able to sell the same quality merchandise online as in-store, but at reasonable prices, and all from the convenience of their customers’ homes.
- That’s not to say that all opticals online are equally good, of course not! It’s important to research the companies' reviews, as well as social channels like Facebook and YouTube.
Thank you so much for reading this article, I hope it has benefitted you in some way! Please consider subscribing to our mailing list to learn more and email me at UseMyFrame@gmail.com or shop our lenses here.
Neil F. Uher II, ABO-AC