Buyer’s Blog: Buyer Beware – Internet Rx Eyewear Compliance
Inevitably when you assemble a group of opticians, the conversation will turn to the problem of online eyewear sales. Being highly trained optical professionals, we have difficulty understanding why patients would put their visual health at risk in order to save a few dollars. But the internet is certainly here to stay, so researchers at the Pacific College of Optometry recently investigated how well prescription eyewear being sold in the internet complied with optical tolerances (is the prescription correct?) and impact resistance requirements.
The researchers ordered a total of 200 pairs of glasses from 10 of the most visited internet vendors. The eyewear consisted of differing lens and frame materials, lens designs and options and refractive conditions so they reflected US distributions.
Of the 200 ordered, 154 were received (meaning that 23% were never even delivered!). Of the 154 received, 28.6% had at least one lens that failed the Rx tolerance standard (the prescription was wrong), and in 22.7% at least one lens failed impact testing. Overall 44.8% of spectacles failed at least one parameter of optical or impact testing.
The study went on to say that a number of the eyeglasses were completely incorrect. For example, lens options ordered (like photochromic or anti-reflective) were omitted, and a pair ordered as single-vision was received as bifocals. Only one online vendor wanted to verify the prescription before filling it.
The researchers concluded that “Nearly half of prescription spectacles delivered directly by online vendors did not meet either the optical requirements of the patient’s visual needs or the physical requirements for the patient’s safety.” This study indicates how difficult is it to get internet eyewear sellers to follow industry standards as many of them are in other countries and not subject to US laws or regulations.
The result of improperly made spectacles may be as slight as mild to severe eyestrain, or as severe as the inability to use the glasses because the Rx is incorrect. More importantly, the fact that they fail impact resistance is more severe—a broken lens could potentially result in the complete loss of an eye. For this reason I would NEVER order children’s eyewear on line at a very minimum.
Please consider that in addition to being a fashion statement, your glasses are also a medical device. Your optician takes very precise measurements to ensure your visual comfort and the precision of the lenses. Most people would not consider ordering dentures or prosthetic limbs over the internet and trusting that an online order-taker can fit them properly! At Eye Elegance we have the latest in digital optical measuring devices, and we can also professionally fit , adjust and repair your eyeglasses—something NO online vendor can do!
Coming up next—the report from our trip to New York for Vision Expo East! We will try to share lots of pictures from the event, and I will update you on trends and new arrivals.