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Best eyeglasses online 2021: Where to buy glasses online

Best eyeglasses online 2021: Where to buy glasses online
(Image credit: Getty)

The best eyeglasses online are suitable for people who have prescription eyewear needs, as well as for those seeking new frames or lenses only, or perhaps a stylish pair of designer sunglasses. You can find endless pairs of snazzy reading glasses online too, with prices often much lower than what you’d pay in-store, as well as eyeglasses accessories such as cleaning kits and protective travel cases. When buying glasses online, you’ll quickly discover that there are some big differences between the major retailers, and the truth is that some offer a higher level of customer service than others, not to mention discounts and reward schemes.

Nearly all of the top-rated online eyeglasses stores also carry the best contact lenses online, which is convenient if you switch between both types of eyewear and want to deal with just the one company. In our experience, the very best eyeglasses online brands offer discounts when you order both types of vision wear at once.

Editor's Choice: GlassesUSA.com

GlassesUSA.com carries a large selection of non-designer frames and makes all the lenses it uses in its own laboratory to ensure they are of the highest quality. Both these reasons make it a good choice for purchasing glasses online.VIEW DEAL ON GlassesUSA.com

These brands also carry the largest ranges of frames (colors, styles and materials) and lenses (with different treatments such as blue light filtering or anti-glare). Established online glasses stores are also able to work directly with the best vision insurance companies, saving you precious time.

Buying prescription glasses online is easier than it’s ever been, but we’d highly recommend teaming up with one of the best eyeglasses online retailers as they have years of experience with handling prescription orders. They’ll have experts on hand too, via phone, email or an online chat function, to guide you through your bespoke order should you have questions. This support is vital if you’re new to buying glasses this way.

We’ve been reviewing the best eyeglasses online for years and can spot the good sites from the ones you should avoid. Our top pick is GlassesUSA, thanks to its reliable customer service, reasonable prices, and a stellar range of online glasses from designer and affordable brands. When choosing eyeglasses online, look for brands that offer ‘try at home’ services, or a virtual try-on feature, so that you can see what frame shape and color suits your face before you spend a dime. 

10 best eyeglasses online

1. GlassesUSA: The best eyeglasses online overall

Best eyeglasses online: GlassesUSA.com

(Image credit: GlassesUSA.com)

GlassesUSA

The best online glasses retailer for sheer choice

Reasons to Buy

Quality own-brand frames & lenses
Trusted range of designer brands
Virtual try-on tool

Reasons to Avoid

Might be too much choice for some

GlassesUSA.com has over 6,000 frames in stock from more than 45 designers, and is our top pick for the best eyeglasses online. You can shop by the type of glasses you want, like multifocal lenses or sunglasses. There are numerous kinds of glasses available, including prescription glasses and glasses in a range of colors and styles, To make it easier to find your perfect glasses, you can even search by brand, sales and even trends like lightweight glasses, tortoise shell frames or clip-on sunglasses.

GlassesUSA.com frequently offers coupon codes and discounts, so you'll most likely be able to find something affordable as well. If you're unsure what kind of frames will look best on you, the website also has a digital try-on feature, called the Try-It Mirror. 

You can use preloaded photos of models or upload an image of yourself or your child to see what the glasses will look like. This eliminates the chance of getting your glasses in the mail and immediately hating them. Every pair you buy is backed with a 365-day warranty, and you get free shipping and returns in the United States. 

Customer service is proactive too, responding professionally to every review on leading user-review sites like TrustPilot, and offering to resolve any negative issues that are mentioned. With a wide selection, easy-to-use website and great shipping and return options, GlassesUSA.com is one of the best places to buy glasses online.


2. Warby Parker: Best online glasses for trying at home

Best eyeglasses online: Warby Parker

(Image credit: Warby Parker)

Warby Parker

The best eyeglasses online store if you want to try before you buy

Reasons to Buy

Easy to use ordering system
Genuinely helpful customer service

Reasons to Avoid

No designer frames here
Quite a small range, really

Warby Parker sits highly in our guide to the best eyeglasses online because it enables customers to try out multiple frames at home. That alone is a huge confidence booster, as you can rest assured that you’re choosing frames that actually suit your face shape and skin coloring. 

So how does it work when buying glasses online at Warby Parker? Well, after taking a brief quiz to determine your face shape and preferred aesthetics, you select up to five frames to try on at home for five days. If none of them suit you, send them back free of charge and try on another batch until you land on the frames you love. Easy, right?

With free shipping, free returns, and frames (with prescription lenses) starting from only $95, Warby Parker is one of the best eyeglasses online companies for an easy purchasing process. Even better, for every pair of eyeglasses you buy, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need. To date, the company has donated more than five million pairs of glasses. Get some flattering new prescription glasses or sunglasses and help someone see better. Sounds like a win-win to us. 


3. EyeBuyDirect: Best eyeglasses online for value

Best eyeglasses online: EyeBuyDirect online glasses

(Image credit: EyeBuyDirect)

EyeBuyDirect

Head here for a good range of eyeglasses at affordable prices

Reasons to Buy

Wide range
Great prices

Reasons to Avoid

No designer frames
Price doesn't include lenses

EyeBuyDirect is the discount supermarket of the online eyewear world. The signage might be plain and a little dated and the range might not be exactly what you had in mind in for, but the prices sure do make up for it and there are real bargains to be had. 

Of course, there isn’t the touchy-feely appeal of the newer start-ups, or the premium appeal of the high-end stores and sometimes these bargains come at the expense of the feel-good factor or polish you might get elsewhere. 

Moreover, the pricing might not be as transparent and simple as some other sites, but frame and lens prices or low, so as long as you keep a tally you won’t be in for any nasty surprises. 


4. FramesDirect: Best eyeglasses online for custom frames

Best eyeglasses online: FramesDirect

(Image credit: FramesDirect)

FramesDirect

Ideal for those who need more custom eyeglasses

Reasons to Buy

Very professional website
Large, all designer range

Reasons to Avoid

No web gadgets
No extra info or advice

If you want to browse every last possible version of a set of frames, down to the tiniest detail, then Frames Direct absolutely has the best eyeglasses online for you. Sort options by categories like 'hipster' or 'unique', frame shapes, bridge sizes, colors, and frame materials. You can mix, match, sort, organize, remove all the filters and start again for an afternoon (or three) of nonstop eyeglass frame browsing.

There’s no at-home or virtual way to try on your frames, but the amount of cash you can save nearly makes up for it. You’ll find designer frames at Frames Direct for substantially less than you would at a brick-and-mortar shop, and you can even use funds from your insurance’s flexible spending or health savings account. 


5. Eyeglasses.com: Best eyeglasses online with a virtual try-on

Best eyeglasses online: The Eyeglasses.com logo in deep blue on a white background

(Image credit: Eyeglasses.com)

Eyeglasses.com

A well-rated online glasses brand with a fun virtual try-on function

Reasons to Buy

20 years’ experience with online glasses
Great range of designer frames
Online frames try-on function

Reasons to Avoid

Returns aren’t free

With 20 years’ experience of selling the best eyeglasses online, the aptly named Eyeglasses.com is a safe pair of hands for designer frames, reading glasses and bespoke prescription glasses. The company has attracted high user reviews, with plenty of existing customers praising the expanded range of affordable and designer eyeglasses, and free US and international shipping. We also love its Give Back Vision charity scheme. 

Although, the lack of free returns has definitely irked some people, and quite rightly so, and while some have nothing but good things to say about the swift and thoughtful customer service, a minority experienced the opposite. Sitejabber has over 12,000 5 star reviews for Eyeglasses.com, while the Trustpilot score (at the time of writing) sits at 4 out of 5 stars.

If you’re hoping to choose from a large selection of online glasses, you won’t be disappointed by the stock on offer at Eyeglasses.com, and the prices are generally very reasonable too. The brand also offers discounts, like GlassesUSA and others, with plenty of bargains to be snapped up. The virtual try-on feature is fun and can give you an idea of how a particular frame shape or color would suit your face. 

This online glasses retailer takes around one to two days (on average) to process non-prescription lenses, while prescription eyeglasses can take three to five days on average. We’d recommend reading the Eyeglasses.com returns policy before purchasing, as the brand states that frames must be returned in perfect condition within 30 days for a full refund, but you have to cover the cost of return postage on the majority of frames (there are some partial exceptions). Other companies in our roundup of the best eyeglasses online offer free returns.


6. DiscountGlasses: A good option for cheap eyeglasses

Best eyeglasses online: The DiscountGlasses logo in blue and yellow lettering on a white background

(Image credit: DiscountGlasses)

DiscountGlasses

One of the best eyeglasses online stores for low income households

Reasons to Buy

Plenty of cheap glasses to pick from
365-day trial period

Reasons to Avoid

Limited designer options
No live chat (help) function

Not all of us have the budget for designer eyeglasses, while others may simply need a cheap pair of glasses to use as a back-up. If either of these apply to you, then DiscountGlasses could be the best eyeglasses online store for you. There are other brands featured in this guide that sell affordable frames and lenses, but the difference with DiscountGlasses is that it mostly focuses on cheap eyeglasses. So you won’t have any surprises come checkout time, and you’ll know from the start that you’re shopping within your budget. 

Even though we’re mainly looking at cheap frames here, during our review process we were still able to find some very stylish eyeglasses for less, which goes to show that expensive doesn’t always equal the best. That said, if you do want designer glasses without the luxury price tag, there isn’t a big selection at DiscountGlasses, so you’re better off looking further up this guide for more appropriate retailers. 

Like Eyeglasses.com, you’ll be able to use a virtual try-on function when perusing the frames on offer at DiscountGlasses. We love a good try-on feature, as buying online can be a little intimidating - how do you really know you’ve picked a pair that will suit your face shape or complexion? The other massive draw with this company is the 365-day trial period. Yep, you have an entire year within which you can return your eyeglasses if you aren’t happy with them - again, read the terms and conditions to understand exactly what will and won’t fly here. 

We’d prefer it if DiscountGlasses had an instant online chat function, as not everyone feels comfortable picking up the phone, and with emails there’s an inevitable delay in getting a response. That puts a roadblock in the way of placing an order when you have an urgent need for some new eyeglasses. However, compared to the cheap prices, wide selection of frames and the virtual try-on feature, this is a minor complaint. As for what existing customers have to say, the reviews are mostly positive, with DiscountGlasses scoring 8 stars out of 10 on US Reviews for its service and pricing.


7. Zenni Optical: Best eyeglasses online for extras

Best eyeglasses online: the Zenni glasses logo in light blue on a white background

(Image credit: Zenni)

Zenni Optical

The best online glasses store if you need to keep costs down

Reasons to Buy

Unmatched value
Lots of add-ons and optional extras

Reasons to Avoid

No designer options
Basic website and tools

Zenni has an enormous range of stylish customisable frames and lenses, even if there is a distinct lack of labels. With thousands of fully customizable frames and lenses, many of which are available in a range of colors and materials, there's lots to choose from. 

The costs of all this are kept low by manufacturing and shipping from China, without those pesky middle-men adding both time and extra cents to your order. However, this lack of designer options and bricks and mortar stores may keep the costs down but may also limit the appeal to some customers. 

Shipping can also take a few weeks and there’s no “try before you buy” scheme, so you’re taking a small risk and you do need to keep a keen eye on the optional extras. Still, Zenni is a good addition to our best eyeglasses online guide thanks to its jam-packed range of frames. 


8. Coastal: Best eyeglasses online for buying advice

Best eyeglasses online: The Coastal glasses logo in all black

(Image credit: Coastal)

Coastal Eyewear

The ideal online glasses store if you want plenty of advice and tips

Reasons to Buy

Smart appearance
Designer range

Reasons to Avoid

Not the cheapest
No ‘Try at Home’

Coastal is one of the newest online glasses retailers, trading since just 2000, but already it has a good reputation. The site is also a valuable resource for information about everything from guides on how to buy prescription glasses online, to tips, trends and eye care advice. 

The online glasses range is well curated, with plenty of classic and more unusual frame choices to pick from. Coastal regularly runs offers too, and new customers can get 40% off their first pair of glasses, which is a considerable saving. 


9. Lenscrafters: Best eyeglasses online for a store feel

Best eyeglasses online: The LensCrafters logo featuring grey lettering with a red heart and blue eye symbol

(Image credit: LensCrafters)

Lenscrafters

An online glasses retailer with physical stores to visit too

Reasons to Buy

Large designer range
Insurance options

Reasons to Avoid

No home or online try on
Pricey 

You may like the ease of online shopping, but feel reluctant to use it for something as important as your eyeglasses or sunglasses. If that sounds familiar, the best eyeglasses online for you will likely come from Lenscrafters. 

With more than 1,000 physical locations across the US, there’s almost certainly a Lenscrafters near you, ready to provide any in-person customer service you may need.

Lenscrafters offers plenty of brand names and styles, but at higher prices than other online shops. However, Lenscrafters’ site makes it easy for you to determine how much of your total cost will be covered by your insurance. 

You can browse different styles online, calculate how much co-pay is needed, then head to the store when you’re ready to buy. So this is a nice balance of shopping comfortably at home, with the added reassurance of professional in-store help.


10. Lensabl: Best eyeglasses online on a budget

Best eyeglasses online: The Lensabl logo in black, with a pair of glasses drawn into the logo's lettering

(Image credit: Lensabl)

Lensabl Glasses

The best eyeglasses online if you're on a very tight budget

Reasons to Buy

Great if you just need lenses
Can work out to be really good value

Reasons to Avoid

Limited appeal
Ultra basic frame line

Lensabl takes your trusty old frames and fits new lenses into them, even sending you a box to ship your old frames to them. The whole process takes as little as two weeks. If you really want to buy some eyeglasses you can but the range is quite limited so it’s just as easy to buy some budget frames of your choice and get some lenses popped in. 

While getting some new lenses might not be as exciting as a whole new pair of frames, your new purchases will arrive in a nice, smart package so it still feels like a bit of a treat. This is a great and easy way to hang on to beloved frames without going to the hassle of an optometrist trying to talk you out of it. 


11. Ambr Eyewear: Best eyeglasses online for eye health

Best eyeglasses online: The Ambr Eyewear logo featuring white text on a deep gray background

(Image credit: Ambr Eyewear)

Ambr Eyewear

The best eyeglasses online if you want blue light filtering options

Reasons to Buy

Blue light filtering to suit you
Free worldwide delivery

Reasons to Avoid

Very limited range
Limited prescription options

At night our phones and tablets are stimulating our brains and keeping us awake and Ambr sells blue light filtering glasses, albeit in a restricted range. The lenses are glare and UV resistant as standard, and their blue light filter comes in a variety of strengths and flavours, including sunglasses and transitions. 

The company can fulfill your prescription needs, as long as they’re on the modest side and its webcam ‘try on’ is a lots of fun. It’s an option worth considering if you’re someone who spends a lot of time with their nose pressed against a screen (guilty as charged).  

Ambr’s range of frames is about the smallest we’ve tested and the range of lens options is very similar. While this has its disadvantages if you’ve set your heart on some window shopping, it does make the checkout process much easier and reduces your screen time (winner on all fronts). 

Tips for buying glasses online

What to look for in a good eyeglasses online retailer

  • Verified customer reviews
  • Clear and concise pricing
  • Free delivery and returns
  • Order tracking function
  • A range of cheap and designer eyeglasses
  • Various easy ways to contact customer service

How to buy the best eyeglasses online for you

Like anything you buy online, price is a deciding factor when it comes to the best eyeglasses online for you. The amount you’re prepared to pay depends on your own personal circumstances, how often you wear your glasses, how many pairs you need (if you’re anything like us, a second pair always comes in handy, especially if you’re prone to leaving them in classrooms/shops/the garden). 

What you end up paying for glasses also depends on discounts and hidden extras, as well as how fond you are of a designer name. So looking closely at the terms and conditions and deciding whether you really do need those Dolce and Gabbanas or whether you can put up with your trusty old frames, some fresh lenses and a new way of seeing things, can be important.

Website performance is an increasingly crucial part of the online retail process. How often have you abandoned a shopping spree because the page failed to load or added something to your basket only to find it’s disappeared? Ease of use and speed of transaction is important, along with speed of customer service response. And, importantly for any retail purchase, a try before you buy option is worth taking very seriously. 

We’ve done our best to seek the best ones out in our online glasses reviews. Start with our buyer’s guide to buying glasses online below and then follow the links to our full reviews.  

Eyeglasses online FAQ

Do you have to pay for shipping when buying glasses online?

Most online eyeglasses retailers will ship your glasses for free, whether you’re buying prescription lenses or not. The few websites that do have a free shipping minimum usually set it at purchases of around $50 upwards, and as most glasses cost that much (or more), it's most likely not going to be a problem for you.

Best eyeglasses online: A woman wearing a yellow top and black frame glasses smiles while looking at her phone

(Image credit: Getty)

Do you need a valid prescription before buying the best eyeglasses online?

You can buy fashion statement frames and regular sunglasses without a prescription. You’ll have to input your prescription information in order to buy anything that corrects your vision. Often, you can email or fax your prescription information if you prefer. If you don’t have a copy of your prescription or are confused about which numbers mean what, many online glasses companies can contact your eye doctor’s office to get the necessary information.

Reputable online glasses stores strongly encourage customers to get regular eye exams. Some, like Eyeglasses, even have locator features on their websites to help you find a local eye doctor.

If you have excellent vision naturally or wear contact lenses but like glasses for their stylish flair, you can buy non-prescription glasses from many providers. You’ll typically still have to pay for the lenses, but non-prescription lenses cost much less than the corrective kind. Some online stores include very basic non-prescription lenses in the price of the frames. In addition, some companies let you enhance non-prescription lenses with extras like anti-reflective coating, anti-scratch coating or even UV protection. However, you need to pay for those features as well.


What is the returns process with prescription eyeglasses online?

If you follow all the steps correctly to get your online prescription glasses and they just don’t work for you, reputable companies will exchange the glasses, provide a full or partial refund or sometimes give store credit. That said, not every company offers the same amount of time for you to decide, so check before you buy. 

For example, Zenni Optical gives you 30 days to call for a “return authorization” and offers a 30-day warranty, while Coastal gives you 14 days for an exchange or refund, and has a year-long warranty covering manufacturing defects. Some firms give you a full year, but they often require that the prescription glasses must be returned in unused condition, and some companies, in rare cases, will deny returns.

If you’re having trouble seeing with the glasses you ordered, you can take them to the optometrist who initially examined your eyes and wrote the prescription to inspect the glasses for accuracy. However, you’ll likely need to pay for this service. In rare cases, you’ll discover that your prescription needs adjusting or your lenses were ground incorrectly.

Best eyeglasses online: An image of two pairs of rose colored glasses suspended on wire

(Image credit: Getty)

Can new prescription lenses be added to old frames?

As long as the frames are good quality and well made, you shouldn’t have much trouble popping new lenses into them. Attempting to put prescription lenses into cheap drugstore sunglasses isn’t likely to work. A colleague at Top Ten Reviews has recycled the same pair of glasses frames three times, getting new prescription lenses as her prescription changed.

She said she was cautioned by the retailer that the process of inserting new lenses into older frames might not be successful because it can put a lot of stress on the old frames, but so far it has worked well for her. She likes her existing frames and appreciates the fact that she doesn’t have to always buy new ones. This cuts the cost quite a bit. Note that as your prescription changes, the shape of your lens may also need to change. Progressive lenses need to be large enough to fit both magnifications, for example.

In the online platform Quora, several people weighed in on the question of whether you can put new lenses into frames for sunglasses, and the consensus was yes, as long as the frames were high quality .

In that Q&A, Neda Gaikwad, who is working toward a master’s degree in optometry and vision sciences at the University of Hyderabad in India, addressed the question of putting new lenses into sunglass frames. She suggested instead considering light-sensitive glasses that darken when you go outdoors. “It'll be amazing when you're out in the sun and you don't have to decide between sun glasses or your own spectacles,” she says. However, she cautions that these kinds of glasses cause a bit of trouble inside where the lighting is low due to lower contrast.

Best glasses online: A pair of black frame glasses on a yellow background

(Image credit: Getty)

Are prescription sunglasses necessary?

The short answer is, yes. Not only are sunglasses chic, but they also serve a vital purpose in protecting your vision. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says, “The sun can be harmful to your eyes and skipping protection for them altogether can be dangerous.” This applies whether you need glasses for vision correction or if you have 20/20 vision.

“The most important part of any pair of sunglasses – prescription or not – is the UV-blocking lens. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays contribute to a number of eye problems, including cataracts, cancer and growths on the eye,” according to the AAO.

For people who need glasses to see clearly, prescription sunglasses can be a boon. With them, there’s no more fiddling around with snap-on dark lenses, which might not block all or close to 100 percent of UV rays – something that’s essential for the best vision protection. 

You also don’t need to bother with contact lenses to actually see what you’re doing. Buying prescription sunglasses online is similar to buying regular glasses, and virtually all the companies we reviewed offer a variety of sunglasses. If your prescription hasn’t changed all that much, you can often tint your old lenses and pop them into sunglass frames.


How to buy the best eyeglasses online to suit your face

Buying eyeglasses online is tricky enough just with getting the lenses right, but finding frames that look good adds yet another complication. There are four factors to consider, according to an article on international vision insurance company VSP’s website.

The first consideration is your face shape. If you have a round face, VSP recommends square or rectangular frames. For an oval face, choose frames that are wider than the broadest part of your face and look geometric in shape. Oval and round eyeglass frames look good on square faces. If you have a diamond face, try frames that are wider than your cheekbones and perhaps slant upward. For a heart-shape face, check out frames that draw attention to the lower part of your face and draw an onlooker's eye away from the forehead.

VSP also recommends you considering your skin tone. Gold, bronze, honey or tortoise best suit warm skin tones, while cool skin tones are better served by black, dark tortoise, silver or even colors such as pink or purple. In addition, the company suggests you consider your personality and lifestyle when choosing frames.

Many online glasses retailers help you pick frames with virtual try-on features. To use this tool, you either upload an image of yourself or use a webcam, then try different frames on the picture to see how they look on you without even leaving home. Five of the online glass companies we reviewed offer this useful service: GlassesUSA.com, Eyeglasses.com, SmartBuyGlasses, FramesDirect and Zenni Optical. Even more helpful are sites that ship you the actual frames for in-home review.

Why are eyeglasses so expensive?

You’d think the technology and craftsmanship that goes into lenses would be the driving factor that hikes the price of glasses, but the cost of frames can do quite a bit to boost the final price. Finding good-looking frames isn’t the challenge, finding ones you can afford is.

One reason frames are so pricey is that glasses have evolved from simple vision correction devices to fashion statements. Perhaps the more influential reason is that a single Italian company, Luxottica, manufacturers most of the designer brand frames. Prada, Armani, Tiffany, Chanel and Ralph Lauren frames come from Luxottica, according to a 2014 report in Forbes.

Best eyeglasses online: A women white short black hair and dressed in a white shirt tries on some black frame glasses

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Luxottica also makes frames for companies not traditionally associated with luxury such as Target Optical, Lenscrafters and Pearle Vision. Luxottica is the biggest eyewear company in the world, and with such size and reach, it can influence prices. However, the company denies it is a monopoly and notes the quality and appeal of its frames.

Of course, there are online eyeglass retailers with fine selections of attractive, more reasonably priced frames. Zenni makes its own frames, which cuts out the middleman and can help keep costs down.

There are also sale sections on its website with glasses that start as low as $6.95 for frames and basic, single-vision lenses. Naturally, the cost of these rock-bottom price glasses increases when you add specialty lenses like bifocals and if you get anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings, but they’re still very inexpensive.


Best eyeglasses online for for children

So long as you have a copy of your child’s prescription and information about their pupillary distance (PD) from their eye doctor, you can buy their glasses on many of the same sites you can use for yourself.  However, there are some special considerations to keep in mind.

Since your child’s nose is small and still growing, it can be difficult to get a proper fit on the bridge to keep their glasses from sliding down. Nose pads affixed to the inside of the glasses can help. A saddle bridge, which loops entirely over the nose but does not use nose pads, can also help if it fits tightly enough.

To further aid in keeping glasses positioned right on your child’s face, you can purchase frames with a cable temple – a C-shape extension of the frame that extends down from the top of the ear and around it. It should fit snugly but not tight enough to be uncomfortable.

Parents with energetic children will appreciate flexible eyeglass frames that can withstand twisting and still not break, not to mention anti-scratch and anti-glare coatings. The latter helps reduce eyestrain and strain-induced headaches, especially when your child is under fluorescent lights at school, watches TV and uses mobile screens.

When you buy glasses for kids online, it’s good to shop on a site that has a generous return policy since it may take some trial and error to get frames that fit right.


Are special eyeglasses lens coatings really necessary?

As you order glasses online, you’ll notice the sites always offer a number of lens coatings. They jack up the price enough that you might wonder if any of them are absolutely necessary.

Certain coatings can make your lenses more durable and prolong the life of your glasses. Scratches, glare from strong sunlight and glare from computer screens can hamper your vision, and in many cases, they cause eyestrain and headaches. Lens fogging can also cause vision problems.

Anti-scratch coatings are usually always worthwhile. “Today, most eyeglass lenses, including high-index lenses and lenses made of polycarbonate and Trivex, have a built-in scratch-resistant coating,” according to a 2017 article in the online publication AllAboutVision.com.

However, blog author Dr. Gary Heiting, an optometrist, says lenses with scratch-resistant coating on the front and back have a harder surface that resists scratches caused by being dropped or being cleaned with something rough like a paper towel.

AR coating is highly recommended for all eyeglass lenses, but particularly for polycarbonate and high-index lenses, which reflect more light than regular glass or plastic lenses if anti-reflective coating is not applied

Dr. Gary Heiting

Anti-reflective coating can cut down on or even get rid of glare from light reflecting off your lenses. This coating is especially useful for night driving, reading and using a computer. “AR coating is highly recommended for all eyeglass lenses, but particularly for polycarbonate and high-index lenses, which reflect more light than regular glass or plastic lenses if anti-reflective coating is not applied,” Heiting says.

If you live in an area that gets very cold, an anti-fog coating could save your life, since fogged up glasses can hamper your ability to see once you come inside a warm place. There is a coating called Fog Free that gets rid of moisture condensation on lenses and prevents glasses from fogging up. “Fog Free can be applied to plastic, polycarbonate and other eyeglass lenses, including high-index lenses and Transitions photochromic lenses. The anti-fog coating is applied to the lenses before they are cut to fit into your frame at the optical lab. Ask your optical retailer about pricing and availability,” Heiting says.

You can also try Optifog lenses. For them to work, you need to apply a drop of Optifog Activator onto each lens, then use a microfiber cloth to smooth the liquid fully across both sides of the lenses. One drop per lens eliminates fog for as long as a week.

In addition, you may want a coating that blocks ultraviolet (UV) light. The sun’s rays can contribute to cataracts, retinal damage and other problems, according to Heiting. This coating helps protect your sight. Most plastic prescription lenses already have some UV light protection, but you can opt to pay for a UV-blocking dye that gives you complete protection. You don’t need this coating if you get photochromatic, polycarbonate or high-index plastic lenses.


The best eyeglasses online: A look at aftercare

No matter if you wear glasses all day or just for reading, eventually they’re going to get smudged and dirty. It’s important to clean them correctly to protect your investment, even if you nabbed an online bargain. Scratched lenses won’t hurt your vision, but they can cause eyestrain and headaches, according to a 2018 Q&A section on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s website.

Your handy shirttail can create tiny scratches in your lenses, as can tissues and paper towels. You should also avoid using spray liquid window cleaners and other household cleaning products at all costs, since they can harm the protective coatings.

According to an article on AllAboutVision, the best approach is to blow off any debris and then gently wash the glasses with warm water and non-lotion dish detergent. Make sure to clean all areas, including the frame and nose pads, then shake the glasses a bit and dry with a lint-free dish towel that hasn’t been treated with any kind of fabric softener (liquid or dryer sheet). “A cotton towel that you use to clean fine glassware is a good choice. Make sure the towel is perfectly clean. Dirt or debris trapped in the fibers of a towel can scratch your lenses; and cooking oil, skin oil or lotion in the towel will smear them,” the article says.

When you’re on the go or even at home, microfiber cloths intended for cleaning glasses work beautifully, and they don’t harm the lenses. Glasses retailers will often include one with your purchase.


Is it normal to experience headaches with new glasses?

If your new glasses are giving you a headache, there are several things that could be causing the problem. The most common cause of headaches with new glasses is a prescription change. It’s not unusual for your head to hurt a bit and your eyes to feel tired as they adjust to your new prescription. If you’re still uncomfortable after several days, visit a doctor's office and make sure your lenses are the right prescription. There's always a chance the online company made a mistake, and even a slight deviation can make a difference. 

Your glasses can also cause headaches if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen. If you have this problem, invest in an anti-glare filter and make sure your prescription isn't too strong for close-up reading. If you get headaches during certain times of the day or during certain activities, the lighting may be to blame. Bright lights combined with an incorrect prescription is a recipe for disaster and usually means it's time to get new lenses with an updated prescription.

If you're experiencing headaches, blurred vision or have difficulty concentrating visually, there's a possibility you're experiencing overprescription. If you've already consulted with your eye doctor more than once about these problems, we'd suggest getting a second opinion. Wearing lenses with a prescription that is too strong can cause a multitude of side effects that can be avoided simply by wearing a different lens.


Buying the best eyeglasses online: Extra features to consider

Not everyone needs specialty coatings or lenses, but they may help your vision, improve comfort or make wearing glasses more convenient. Even though they add to the cost of lenses, most people find things like standard coatings to be necessary. For example, anti-scratch coatings are essential for both children and adults, and anti-glare coatings can prevent eyestrain and its accompanying symptoms such as headaches. However, some online retailers offer other extras you might like. Here are some to consider:

Polycarbonate lenses: These plastic lenses are lightweight and can take plenty of knocks. They’re often used for children’s glasses but are also an excellent choice for active adults who risk having their glasses knocked off in sports, gymnastics, dance and other activities.

Progressive lenses: These glasses don’t have the obvious lines found on regular bifocal and trifocal lenses. Progressive lenses look better and are less aging. In addition, they can make it easier to see since there aren’t dividing lines in the middle of the lenses.

Photochromic lenses: These dual-purpose lenses correct vision in indoor lighting and darken when exposed to sunlight. However, they don’t get quite as dark as most sunglasses.