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Customers sometimes say to us that they want to buy a cheap pair of specs online and it is useful to know what the risks and benefits are.
Know your rights
- You should always receive a copy of your spectacle prescription once you've had an eye test. You should never need to ask!
- You can buy your spectacles wherever you choose, you do not have to buy from the place you get your eye test.
- Your prescription does not include a PD measurement (see below) and the optician does not have to provide it to you.
- You need to provide an accurate measurement of the distance between your eyes (PD). Get it wrong and at best your specs will give you eyestrain and headaches and, at worst, you'll have double vision or the specs will be unwearable. The higher your prescription the more accurate you need to be.
- If the frame fits you badly, you may not be comfortable wearing it and your optician may refuse to adjust it.
- We've tested many glasses that have been made by online retailers incorrectly.
- You might save a few pounds!
What is a PD (pupillary distance)?
Simply this is the distance in millimetres between the centre of your pupils when looking straight ahead in the distance (or at a close working distance for reading specs). It usually varies between 55mm and 75mm.
We train our staff to take this measurement and although it looks like an incredibly simple thing to do, it takes months of training and practice before it is measured accurately enough that we would use it to make up specs. You can't easily measure it on yourself because you need to be looking into the distance with both eyes parallel. If you are focusing on your image in a mirror, your eyes turn in and so you will get a measurement which is probably too small. Asking an untrained friend can give some hilariously poor results!
On some prescriptions, if you are more than 1mm out, they could be unwearable!
Your optician may not want to provide you with your PD as, if you have problems, they can be drawn into the time consuming and costly correction process.
At Robert Stanley Opticians, we are happy to take your PD measurements for a small fee (currently around £15). Once you receive your spectacles from the online company, we will also be happy to do two further things for you as part of that fee;
- We will verify the prescription is made correctly for you and the PD has been included in the manufacture of the glasses.
- We will, where possible, adjust the glasses to optimise the fit of the frame.
If you do want to buy online, we have seen one or two sites that do it very well. We recommend choosing a company run by dispensing opticians. These are fully trained and qualified people who will be able to communicate with you about your prescription needs and the importance of your PD if necessary.
One website we recommend viewing is www.latesteyewear.co.uk