According to a news story or a set of reports I just read, researchers found that nearly half of prescription glasses purchased online either contained the wrong lenses or did not meet the standards for impact testing. If your child wears glasses, this is potentially a big deal considering the lens might be more predisposed to cracking and shattering. This report was published last year in the journal of Optometry. Keep in mind that it was a small study but the results might be worrisome for some parents.
The researchers ordered a total of 200 pairs of glasses from 10 of the most popular online retailers and evaluated 154 pairs they received. The study does not state who these online retailers were or how they were able to come up with the criteria of "popular."
Their findings included:
- Instances where single vision lenses were received instead of multi-focal
- Anti-reflection coatings were either incorrectly added or omitted.
- In nearly a quarter of glasses, at least one lens failed impact testing which is required due to glasses being deemed a medical device requiring a prescription per the FDA.
Additionally, "a lens might be slightly off in the optics; if you don't have someone verify (the prescription), you might not know it's wrong," said Karl Citek, a professor of optometry at the Pacific University College of Optometry and lead author of the study. Citek does not recommend buying eyeglasses online. Vendors generally don't call your doctor to verify prescriptions, but even that "can't ensure that the lenses are safe since a doctor has no way of assessing impact resistance for finished eyewear," he said.
According to the Vision Council, a trade group for the optical industry, 1.9 million pairs were bought online in 2010, about 2.8 percent of the total 66.8 million pairs bought in the United States.
All is not lost if you really need to save money as Citek recommends asking your doctor to verify the prescription and to adjust the frame once you've received the glasses. Doctors may charge for this. He also stated, "never order children's eyewear online," he said. The study finding that one in four pairs of children's eyewear failed impact resistance testing is "unconscionable," said Citek.
Read more: Eyeglasses bought online not always what doctor ordered | Aiken Standard
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