• We buy almost everything online, from groceries to gifts, even our clothes and shoes. But what about buying glasses online - is it safe and the best idea for your eye health?

  • The answer is both yes and no. It is not a good idea to buy glasses online if you haven’t had a comprehensive eye examination to understand your prescription requirements and the effect of any underlying medical conditions you may have. Even if you had an assessment years ago, as our vision and eye health changes over time, it’s important to have had a repeat in the past 12 months.

  • It is safe to buy glasses online when you’ve had a recent exam with an eye care professional, and you’re doing so from a trusted and reputable company like The Optical Co, where you can trust the care and quality behind the products is exceptional. In many cases, this is for those that want a second pair of glasses or to try new frames.

  • For those that have not seen an optometrist or had their eyes assessed recently, we highly recommend avoiding online shopping and coming in for a comprehensive eye exam first. Here are six reasons why.

  1. Your Eyes May Have Undetected Underlying Issues
    Even if you already have vision loss that requires glasses, other underlying medical issues may contribute to your vision disturbances. Often, the early signs of problems with the eyes (like glaucoma or retinopathy) are very subtle, which is where your eye care professional’s knowledge and experience can have a significant effect on your eye health and your quality of life for the long term. This is why if you need new glasses, you should also seek an in-person comprehensive eye examination with a registered optometrist, recommended every two years here in Australia [1] and every year if you’re over 65, even if you have no concerning symptoms.Many other eye diseases have few or no early symptoms and can develop at any age. However, a trusted team of experienced optometrists can use their comprehensive knowledge paired with digital tools to help track subtle changes in your eyes over time and pick up on any concerns as soon as they arise. This enables you to start your treatment and management plan as soon as possible, including fitting you with carefully prescribed corrective lenses and glasses to improve your vision.In a comprehensive eye exam such as those provided at The Optical Co, your eye care professional uses a gentle approach combined with innovative medical technology, including Digital Retinal Photography and Optical Coherence Tomography scans, to go beyond simply assessing eyesight and help to identify diseases and conditions as early as possible. Your comprehensive exam may include:

    - Going through your personal and family health history, detailing when your symptoms began, medications you’re taking, work and environmental factors, and more
    - Visual acuity measurements using reading charts to assess exactly how each eye can see
    - Tests of your eye health which may include depth perception, colour vision, peripheral (side) vision and how your pupils respond to light
    - Assessments to measure which power of lens you require to correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism
    - Eye focusing, eye teaming and eye movement activities to examine how well your eyes focus, move and work together
    - Eye health examination using a range of technologies to detect underlying conditions

    After your exam, your optometrist will be able to discuss your diagnosis and treatment plan options with you to protect your eye health, prescribe and fit you with glasses and lenses to best correct your eyesight, and help give you the freedom to do the things you love.

  2. Your Prescription Needs May Have Changed Over Time
    Even if you’ve seen an optometrist in the past and you know your lens prescription, this doesn’t take into account the subtle changes that your eyes make over time, and we recommend clients visit our trusted optometrists every year to ensure that their prescriptions are accurate and up-to-date.It should also be noted that getting the right glasses for optimum eye health goes beyond the prescription alone: your optometrist needs to measure your pupillary distance and your optical centre to ensure your glasses are a perfect fit and accurately improve your vision. Many online stores automatically place the optical centre in the middle of their lenses; however, this should be placed higher or lower than the centre depending on your eye measurements and the design of the frames. If these placements are done incorrectly, your vision can be negatively affected, and it may contribute to unwanted side effects such as headaches and eye strain.

  3. Some Online Glasses Stores Are Unregulated And May Not Reach Safety Or Optometry Standards
    Although you may see slogans stating that certain online glasses are the “same top quality” as those purchased from professional eye care stores, it may be difficult to ascertain whether the products meet Australian safety and quality standards, especially if they originate from countries that have different laws when it comes to product testing and regulations.Lenses aren’t created equally. Many online stores selling cheaper prescription glasses create lenses in their factories instead of in specialised optical laboratories that meet Australian safety and optical standards. Because of this, there are wide variations in the levels of scratch resistance that different lenses and lens coating have, as well as differences in optical performance, comfort and durability.Wearing glasses with substandard or weaker lenses and frames can increase the risk of them breaking, and when dealing with your eyes, broken glass or frames is something you need to avoid. When you’re buying online, you can never be sure what you’re going to get.

    Interestingly, two recent studies investigated the quality of lenses and glasses purchased online. One found that across three online retailers, almost 1 in 10 spectacle lens prescriptions failed to meet American national standards for optical quality,[2] and another study of over 200 online orders discovered that almost 50% of prescription glasses 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.”

    So, when buying lenses and glasses, it is best to choose those found in-store with the support and guidance of a trusted eye care professional.

  4. Virtual Try-On Tools Aren’t A Reliable Replacement For The Real Thing
    Although there have been amazing developments in artificial technology in recent years which can allow you to see how a pair of glasses may look by simply using your phone’s selfie camera, they aren’t a reliable replacement for trying on a pair of glasses in-store for first-time buyers, for a range of reasons:- You may see how the glasses look, but there’s no way to know how they’ll feel on your The size of the glasses might not be in proportion to reality, meaning that frames could look larger or smaller than they actually are, or sit too tight on your face or slide down the bridge of your nose, which you won’t know until they arrive and you try them on. However, selecting glasses in-store, your optometrist can often adjust frames personally to ensure a perfect fit. Then, you’ll know it’s safe to select the same style online in the future.- Your preferred glasses may look wonderful on a screen, but you can’t tell how they will feel. Not all glasses are made from premium materials like the ones offered at The Optical Co, and low-grade materials can feel scratchy on the skin and even cause irritation. Cheaper plastic coatings may even begin to bleach or peel after sun exposure or repeated use, while cheaper metal frames may discolour.

    - The weight of a pair of glasses can change significantly depending on how heavy your prescription lenses are, which may impact whether you select a finer or thicker frame. This is an important factor to consider as your glasses need to be as comfortable for you as possible, and your optician can support you to achieve this by guiding and tailoring your selections in-store.

  5. UV Protection May Also Be Unregulated
    Here in Australia, sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection are essential to protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of exposure to the sun’s powerful UV rays, which can cause damage to your eyes over time.Some online retailers may claim that their glasses provide effective protection. However, the reality is that these claims are often unregulated and cannot be relied upon.  Substandard sunglasses can appear very similar to premium quality sunglasses at first glance, and even if the lenses are dark, this is no indication of their protective abilities.To ensure you’re protecting your eyes as well as you can, make sure you talk to your eye care professional, who can explain which trusted brands of sunglass lenses offer the best protection from harmful rays while helping you select the best lenses for your outdoor activities and visual needs, including polarised and light-adaptive lenses.

  6. Suboptimal Glasses Can Cause Eye Strain
    Our eye care professionals regularly see clients who are bothered by eye strain, often related to their wearing of reading glasses purchased online without a prescription or assessment to help them read better or watch TV more clearly. Although it can be tempting to pick up a pair of cheaper glasses online if you only need to use them when reading or using the computer, wearing lenses with incorrect prescriptions and substandard lens quality can contribute to the symptoms of eye strain such as fatigue, dryness and headaches.If you’re experiencing eye strain, it’s best to visit an eye-care professional who can support you with an accurate prescription and rule out any other underlying conditions while you’re there. Additionally, they can provide extra services such as blue-light lens coatings to your glasses to protect your eyes from high-energy blue light emitted from computer screens and other digital devices to suit your lifestyle if needed.

Prioritise Your Eyes Today With Quality Glasses From A Trusted Optometrist

  • Getting the best glasses for you starts with a comprehensive examination with your optometrist, who assesses your vision, identifies any problems or disturbances, and gets to know your lifestyle, work requirements and various other key factors combined to give you an optimal lens prescription. Our team is meticulous in the way we work, pays careful attention to detail, and involves you in every aspect of your care and prescription, so you know exactly what you’re getting and how it will work to best support your vision.

  • Once you have your prescription, your glasses can be further optimised by selecting coatings and other protective features, such as polarised lens coatings to reduce UV glare, anti-reflective coatings that are easy to clean, blue light lens coatings for screen use, or lightweight safety lenses to best match your profession. We’ll discuss all of these options with you at your appointment.

  • As a team dedicated to helping you get the most out of your eyesight, we offer high-quality lenses sourced from leading manufacturers who use innovative technological advancements to help create the best eyewear products. You’re in the best hands with us.


Perfectly Matched Frames

  • While your optometrist-prescribed lenses will help improve your vision and promote your eye health, we understand that choosing the right frames is very important to our clients who want to feel confident and like themselves in their eyewear. This is why after you have your lens script, you’ll select the best frames together with the help of our expert team out of our wide selection.


World’s Thinnest Lenses

  • With many prescriptions requiring thicker lenses, we proudly offer the world’s thinnest plastic lenses for premium comfort without compromising vision. They are called the S-line lenses, and they solve several common problems of thick lenses, such as being heavy and slipping down the nose and generally being more difficult to wear. Instead, we use innovative technology to prescribe perfectly scripted plastic lenses that reduce thickness and weight without compromising quality.


Lenses & Coatings

  • We’re proud to be trusted by thousands of Australians every year. To help you know what your high-quality eyewear with us could look like and feature, click on the titles below to see some of our common coatings, lens types, add-ons and benefits we offer. Remember, your eye care professional will be with you every step to help you get the best prescription and glasses, ensure they are suited to your lifestyle and daily activities, and, importantly, that you love how you feel in them.


To book your comprehensive eye exam or to purchase a new pair of frames or lenses with our trusted and friendly optometry team, contact one of our local clinics here.


[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34905522/

[1] https://www.visionaustralia.org/information/eye-health/eye-care