VisiqueTuesday 21 February 2012, 1:58PM
Almost half the prescription glasses bought on internet
Kiwis tempted by cheap prescription glasses online are being warned
almost half of such specs have been found to be unsafe or
"Ordering prescription glasses online may seem like an easy way to
save money but it can impact on your eye health," says Visique
optometrist Melissa Hay. "Our advice to consumers is to be cautious
when ordering any medical devices online."
In a survey conducted by the Pacific University College of
Optometry in Oregon, 45% of prescription glasses ordered online
failed at least one parameter of impact testing - which ensures the
safety of the wearer, or optical testing - which determines if the
pair is appropriate for a person's vision.
Lead author of the study, Dr Karl Citek, says those who purchase
eyewear without the assistance of a trained professional may not
receive a suitable product in terms of performance, safety or
value. They also do not receive the benefit of ensuring an accurate
prescription and a proper fit.
"Here in New Zealand, we know people have been tempted by online
offers for prescription glasses but, if you truly value your eye
health, you should check with an optometrist first," says
Buying online significantly increased the risk of errors in the
type of lenses provided, the optical parameters and protective
During the Pacific University study, which was published in
American journal Optometry late last year, 10 individuals ordered
two pairs of glasses, including pairs for adults and children, from
10 of the most visited online optical vendors, giving a total of
200 pairs of glasses. They were ordered with varying lens and frame
materials, lens styles and prescriptions.
Of those ordered, 154 pairs were received and evaluated, including
measurement of sphere power, cylinder power and axis, add power (if
indicated), horizontal prism imbalance, and impact testing. Several
pairs were provided incorrectly, such as single vision instead of
bifocals or lens treatments being added or omitted.
In 29% of glasses received, at least one lens was not within the
parameters of the prescription. In 23% of glasses, at least one
lens failed impact testing. Of the lenses that failed impact
testing, 38% of them had an added Anti-Reflective coating. Of the
children's glasses tested, 29% failed impact testing.
Overall, 44.8% of the spectacles failed at least one parameter of
optical or impact testing which, according to Visique optometrist
Nick Burbery, is unacceptable.
"A lack of impact resistance can lead to eye injury if people were
to say... walk into a door or have an object thrown at their face,"
says Burbery. "Your glasses are all that stand between you and any
impact, so impact resistance is crucial. Do you really want to risk
your eye health on cheap glasses that could potentially permanently
damage your vision?"
While buying spectacles online may seem like the cheap option, this
study shows consumers need to be aware such glasses may be inferior