How to deal with measurement and adjustment for online glasses?
May 1, 2012 11:15 AM   Subscribe

How to deal with measurement and adjustment for online glasses?

I would like to buy my next pair of glasses online because it is cheaper and the sites offer a much bigger selection than what any one store could carry. But I have some questions about the physical aspects of this process. I think they are the only roadblocks to my getting a new pair of glasses online:

First is pupillary distance. My eye doctor did not fill this part on my prescription, and I was told by a local Lenscrafters optician that it's against NJ state law to provide it separate from buying a pair of glasses. If I go back to my doctor, will he say no, for whatever madeup reason?

The bigger question is frame adjustment. I presume it is generally necessary for a new pair of glasses to be adjusted to fit my head type (and being Asian, perhaps especially needed)? I have read that many optical stores will do it for free, or a small service charge. Is that still true?
posted by polymodus to Shopping (21 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Glassy Eyes is an excellent resource for buying glasses online. There's even a guide to measuring your PD.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 11:20 AM on May 1, 2012

When I bought glasses on Zenni Optical, I just measured my PD with a ruler in the mirror. It's just the distance between the centers of your pupils, you don't NEED a doctor to do it. You could get a friend to do it if the mirror thing doesn't work for you. Measure multiple times if you want to be really sure.

As for the frame adjustment... er, well, since I got a plastic frame, I just heated it up with a hair dryer and bent it with my fingers. I know it sounds sketch but that's pretty much what they do at the store! And it worked like a charm.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:21 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Heh. I don't know about NJ law, but I'm certain that it's against Lenscrafters law. I had the same experience with my eye doctor: All pertinent information was filled out except pupilary distance. I just called and said, "Oh, hey, you guys forgot to fill this in; what is it, please?" and they (grudgingly) told me.

Also, fyi, I ordered my glasses from go-optic. Their staff are excellent, but their online form is horrible and led to confusions and sending back of glasses, etc, before the nice people finally managed to get it cleared up.
posted by miss patrish at 11:22 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's really easy to measure your pupillary distance yourself. I had my mom do it with a ruler (it's measured in centimeters, from the middle of one pupil to another). But if you want to be a bit more precise, take your current glasses, a ruler, and a wipe-off marker. look straight ahead and have a friend mark the center in each pupil. Then take your glasses off and measure in centimeters.

Not sure about head adjustments. It can't hurt to ask, though I've never bothered with cheapo glasses I've bought online.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:22 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've bought glasses for my wife and young son online. Places like Zenni have a printout for PD you can use to get the generally right distance measured. If you have an old pair of glasses, you could also use those as a check to see how well your measurement seems.

Adjustments I did myself with a Leatherman.

Everything worked fine, and my wife still mistakes the $30 pair I got with the $450 pair she paid for at the store.
posted by rich at 11:23 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also measured my PD in a mirror with a ruler, and also got my fiancee to measure it. Both numbers were within a few mm, and the glasses I ordered with that distance work fine for me. I wear the glasses I got with that distance from Zenni Optical every day and am quite happy with them. I don't recall doing much adjusting of them.
posted by pombe at 11:24 AM on May 1, 2012 has a tool where you take a picture with a credit card (the back of the card) or some other card that has a standard sized magnetic strip. They use the strip as a scale and measure your pupillary distance that way.
posted by sarae at 11:27 AM on May 1, 2012

It's also very simple to measure, but I would recommend someone else do it for you, since doing it in a mirror will cause it to be unnaturally small because you're looking at the mirror image.

What? Not if they hold the ruler up to their own face.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:46 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was pretty doubtful about the "against the law" bit, but it looks like it might rest on a particular interpretation of this law, which should probably be termed the Full Employment for Opticians Act:
2. Any person using the equipment listed in (c)1 above to obtain information for the purpose of fabricating, dispensing, verifying, or duplicating a lens or pair of eyeglasses shall be deemed to be practicing Ophthalmic Dispensing and Ophthalmic Technicianry.]
Still, this strikes me as a piece of health information which you're entitled to, and as long as you're not doing any of the above (and you're not), you should be able to get the PD. But I understand wanting to avoid it because they make it a pain in the ass; and they do it because they know exactly why you want it.
posted by Miko at 11:50 AM on May 1, 2012

I bet if you called your eye doc and asked for it, they'll give it to you, it's in your chart. There's no reason they can't give it to you.

You can also measure it yourself with a measuring stick.

However, this is what I did and found it easier than holding up a ruler to my face.
I got the information how do this online awhile back, but I can't find the source.

Get out your current glasses and put them on.
Grab a NON Permanent Marker (like one for white board) - NON PERMANENT!
Cover one eye with a piece of paper or card stock.
On the uncovered eye, mark the center of your pupil with the marker.
Do the same for the other eye (making sure to cover up the other eye while you do it)
Now measure the distance from center point to center point on the glasses with a ruler that has millimeters.

This worked perfectly for me at a time when the Optometrist's office was closed. I checked my work later and I was spot on!

Hint: If the marker leaves any kind of ghost then re-wet/cover the mark with the SAME marker and wipe, it'll come right up. That works for white-board ghosting too. PLEASE do not use a permanent marker on your glasses!
posted by trixare4kids at 11:58 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did the whiteboard marker method and have been happy with the 8 or so pairs I've bought online.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:03 PM on May 1, 2012

Doesn't matter what NJ law says -- where federal and state law conflict, federal wins, and HIPAA clearly gives you the right to your medical records. You may have to go to the office to get it.

Note: not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. I just work with HIPAA as a regular part of my job.
posted by bfranklin at 12:16 PM on May 1, 2012

I bought glasses online from Warby Parker, and they offer to reimburse you if you get charged for having them adjusted (but that apparently most places do it for free, no big deal).
posted by MadamM at 12:56 PM on May 1, 2012

I'm not talking about the fact that it's a mirror. I'm talking about the fact that your eyes are focusing towards a target that's very close, rather than looking "through" or farther away. The difference is only a few millimeters, but should be noted.

But your eyes don't cross when you look in the mirror, so why would your pupils move closer together? They might dilate, but since you're measuring from center to center it doesn't matter.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:29 PM on May 1, 2012

When I bought my last pair of glasses recently, I thought it might be nice to have a spare pair, or just something for a change in appearance, and I asked my (CT) optometrist for my prescription, which they gave me, and my pupil distance, which they told me was illegal to give me.

Shortly thereafter I bought a pair of glasses for my daughter at a different optometrist's office (because they take her state vision insurance). I asked for a copy of her prescription and for her pupil distance--and by golly, they ponied right up.

I haven't gone back to my previous optometrist to ask about why they lied to me about the illegality.

I may never go back to them for anything, though.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:00 PM on May 1, 2012

You're going to take the measurement off the actual ruler anyway - not the reflection of the ruler. The mirror is just for alignment.

I think when you change focus, your pupils don't move side to side - it's the lens that moves forward or backward.
posted by Miko at 2:00 PM on May 1, 2012

We had trouble with the ruler method, so I came up with using my binocs to measure it. You're supposed to measure the distance when you're focusing in the distance. I focussed the binocs perfectly, then measured the distance between the eyepieces. (Like, from the left edge of each, which is the same as the distance between the centres.) Worked for me. The glasses are fine.

(The optometrist here gave me some bs about liability. Then the province changed the law so they have to give it to you now. Yay.)

The frames come in different sizes. Measure your current frames and pick something close to it if the current frames suit you. I have never had glasses adjusted for fit, but just picked an appropriate size for me. I would think glasses shops will still do an adjustment for you if needed, probably gratis though I feel like I would want to pay something.
posted by Listener at 2:08 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you order glasses from them, Zenni Optical sends a handy little PD measurement ruler thing with eye cutouts. I bet you can find a similar device online and just print it to scale.

It might be worth buying a few pairs of frames from Zenni just to get a sense of what your head measurements are like. They'll include the PD measurement thing and you can go from there. I've never had to have my frames adjusted as long as I choose a frame with measurements that are close to those of previously-fitting frames.

Warby Parker also allows free frame trials. They send a very well-designed, prettily presented box containing five frames of your choice. You'll send them back after a few days and if you so choose, put in an order for the ones you like most.
posted by theraflu at 2:14 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

My eye doctor's office (in California) charges $10 to measure pupilary distance if it's not part of an eye exam. If you can't get your eye doctor to give you the exact measurement, maybe a different doctor will - you could try just walking in to somewhere that sells glasses as asking, there is a machine that a tech can operate that will measure it in 30 seconds. The doctor doesn't need to be involved. It's an easy $10 for them, if they're willing to do it.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:43 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I bought two pairs of glasses online from Zenni Optical (using my exactly correct PD), and both fit perfectly, so I didn't need to get them adjusted. But again, I would be very surprised if you couldn't find someone who would adjust them for a fee.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:45 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought 4 pairs from zenni recently. Went into my local eye glass shop and ask for adjustments on all pairs. I was super nice, went in at a non busy time, and slipped the guy a $20. Professional fittings and 4 pairs if glasses for $80.

Ps. My glasses from zenni came with a free pd ruler. I can send it .to me.
posted by bleucube at 6:59 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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