As most are aware, you can buy almost anything online. There are sites that sell everything from computer supplies and electronics to weapons and illegal substances. Many of the things you can buy in a local brick and mortar shop can be purchased cheaper online. These internet merchants have very little overhead, few employees (thus affecting the middle-class job market) and little or no skill to repair the product you just purchased.
This issue is also true in the optical industry. There are at least a dozen places you can buy complete eyeglasses online. They will tell you all the benefits of buying from them, but never the problems. I recently took some time to investigate the online eyeglass market and discovered why so few people buy these products online and why even fewer are satisfied with their purchases.
- Eyeglasses need to fit properly. Some sites have software that will allow you to “see” the frame on your uploaded face. This works great for appearance but offers no help in how the frame will really fit when you receive it. Plastic frames need to fit right from the beginning because they are not adjustable on your nose. Both metal and plastic frames must also be chosen based on the size of your nose and the bridge size. If they are not properly fit, you will have discomfort for the life of the frame. Temple length is also important for comfort and to keep them on your head.
- Measurements for pupillary distance and bifocal heights must be done with the chosen frame on the patient. These measurements are critical for comfort, to prevent eye strain, and to prevent distortion and double vision. A properly licensed Optician will do this for purchases in the office, but seldom for an internet purchase for liability reasons.
- Warranties, repairs and adjustments are difficult to do through a computer monitor. I noticed that there were many complaints for online optical stores. The worst reviews were for warranties and service. It’s too easy to dodge your responsibility to your customer when your office is in Israel or some other country rather than down the street. Your local Optician will always be there to tighten a screw, fix a broken temple or replace scratched lenses on warranty.
- Cheap usually means cheap, and not just inexpensive. So many of the frames sold online are lower level Chinese products. The plastics are low quality and don’t hold up well, the metals and their coatings are also prone to corrosion and degradation in a shorter period of time. These glasses are designed to force the consumer to buy the product more frequently.And finally:
- Personal service cannot be had on a computer. When your Optician and Optometrist know you and your needs, they will direct you to frames and lenses that are appropriate for you and your lifestyle. Your long term satisfaction is of utmost concern to them. Not so for an internet buy. Online merchants never have a personal relationship with you and therefore are not invested in your well-being. So invest in your local merchant because they will invest themselves in you.