Give me my damn pupillary distance!
May 5, 2015 9:36 PM   Subscribe

I just want my effing pupillary distance and I want it to be right. I want it without having to measure it myself -- I did that once and though I still use those glasses, I do worry I was slightly off. I want someone who has done it before to do it for me so I can get this number and know it's right once and for all. Ideas?

I called the last brick and mortar glasses shop I got glasses from and they refused to give me the number. When I had an eye exam done by my eye doctor recently, I was told doctors don't do that and opticians do. (My doctor does not have a glasses shop the way some doctors do.) Where can I get someone to give me my pupillary distance?

I don't actually need another eye exam, but I will do one (cheaply and soon) if I can get my PD so I can get some cheap glasses online. Like I said, my doctor is an ophthalmologist and didn't provide it, so would a glasses shop eye exam give me the PD number? Or would I only get that number at the point of purchasing lenses/glasses? Every brick and mortar store I go to for buying glasses costs wayyyy too much, so while they would measure it for me if I bought something from them, I am not willing to pay $150 or more just for lenses to go in my current frames, let alone more for full glasses -- that seems crazy to me.

Are there any places that will measure my PD for free, or a good place where I can pay for either an eye exam or lenses cheaply (and quickly) so I can obtain that number? I don't want to wait weeks to get an appointment for this, I need them in the next three weeks. (Again, I am not looking for advice on how to measure it myself. I did every method I could find last time and never felt 100 percent on the money -- I am only looking for advice on my best options to have a professional do it for me.) Thanks!
posted by AppleTurnover to Shopping (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
If you are a Costco member their optical center should do this for you no problem.
posted by phunniemee at 9:42 PM on May 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you're considering ordering from Warby Parker, their physical stores (or at least the one in Chicago) have optometrists who will do this for you.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:46 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

1) This should be on your prescription, but since eye checkups are tied so closely to buying glasses, they want you to buy from them and often leave it off the prescription. Ask and make sure it's on there next time.

2) Your last checkup people are jerks for not telling you.
posted by rhizome at 10:05 PM on May 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Every time I get an eye exam, the optometrist associated with the doctor gives me the IPD on request after they've checked me out. I would think that one route would be to update your eye exam with an eye doc who is associated with an optometrist, and then get it right after your exam.
posted by zippy at 10:05 PM on May 5, 2015

Seconding Costco. They're very customer-focused and even if they think you might want to purchase glasses elsewhere, they'll still measure your PD for free. I'm a repeat customer with my Costco optometrist and asked him for my PD in between exams and he teased me asking if I was planning on purchasing online and I straight up told him, "Yeah! I need a spare pair of cheap glasses." He laughed and did it for me no prob.

Try to go when it isn't very busy in the optical department.

I've also, in the past, measured my own and stopped by one of those eyeglasses stores in the mall during a slow time and pretended to be browsing. Then, when approached by someone who worked there, feigned confusion about which pair of frames I might buy and asked if s/he could help me confirm my PD so I could pick the most suitable frames. Most will be happy to oblige since they're bored anyway and it might lead to a sale.

And lastly, if you buy from Zenni Optical, they'll include a free mini PD ruler with your order.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:15 PM on May 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Tell your old optometrist's office that you want all of your medical records faxed/mailed to you, making no mention of what you're actually after. It'll almost certainly be in there somewhere, and if you're in the US, you have a legal right to receive the documents.
posted by teremala at 10:33 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've always had good service from Lenscrafters. I was ordering a pair of Rx motorcycle goggles online last year and IIRC the person at Lenscrafters measured my PD for free and even helped me fill out my order form.
posted by Beti at 10:57 PM on May 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

My eye doctor put up a fuss about doing the measurement for me, but he did it after I insisted. He had a little ruler thingy he used, I would venture to guess that every eye doctor actually CAN do it, they just don't want to. He gave me a lecture about my prescription being too high to buy from online shops, at which point I kind of snapped and told him that I don't get paid enough money to buy prescription sunglasses in a store so it's online or nothing (joke's on me, my prescription is actually so high that the online places don't have labs that can handle me). My doc said he'd write my PD on my new prescription, but when I picked up my prescription, lo, the PD wasn't on there, so I called his office and told them I wanted my PD measurement. So, it took a lot of being demanding but it was possible, and I bet your eye doctor is perfectly able to do the measurement, they just weren't willing. If I were you I would call my eye doctor back and be pretty pushy about it.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:44 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

From my experience it is the person selling the frames that measures the PD, not the optometrist. Last time I bought frames retail I asked them my PD after they measured.

Warby Parker has an online tool you can use if your laptop has a webcam:
posted by LoveHam at 4:39 AM on May 6, 2015 [10 favorites]

My optometrist did my PD on request last time I visited without a fuss. They do sell glasses but it probably helped that I have bought contacts from them in the past rather than just glasses. Optometrist s should be fully capable of doing this for you.
posted by sciatrix at 5:00 AM on May 6, 2015

I guess I've been lucky because it's always been on my prescription even when I wasn't ordering my glasses from the eyed octor. Call your optometrist, if they don't have it on file, just set up a time to go in & do it. It's none of their business as to why you aren't buying glasses from them, but I know one eye doctor told me to always keep my prescription in my wallet, in case something happened while I was traveling/away from home, so that's one reason if you don't want to get into where you are buying from & why.
posted by katemcd at 5:09 AM on May 6, 2015

If there's not a Costco by you, Sam's Club will do it for free & no hassle. Where I live you can go in a Sam's Club without a membership (and buy booze!) so you might not even need a membership card already. I just got mine measured a few weeks ago (so I could get glasses online from Zenni Optical, which I love) and it was super quick and easy.
posted by csox at 7:02 AM on May 6, 2015

Go to optician; ask them to take your pupillary distance; if they won't give it to you, pretend like you're going to buy glasses from them, make a note of the PD when they write it down, then cancel your order. Shady? Sure, but they started it.

The "medical record" stuff won't always work because in some places PD isn't considered part of your medical information, it's more like sales information. Which is bullshit, but there you go.
posted by mskyle at 7:04 AM on May 6, 2015

I once got my pupillary distance measured, for free, at the eyeglasses counter in Walmart. Measuring PD is extremely easy and requires little or no special training or skills, but naturally it's much easier to do it for someone else than for yourself. Head up to the person behind the counter when they're not busy and ask nicely. It's not like they have anything better to do.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:38 AM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ask some place to do it, browse and take pictures of yourself in different frames, and tell them you'll be back after your freinds help you decide which looks best on you.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:39 AM on May 6, 2015

I had mine done for free at Pearle Vision, where I had previously bought glasses, but the lady who measured my PD didn't know that. No hassle - I think she asked something like "why?" and I gave her a vague answer of just wanting to have it on file so that I could find out whether I had the *option* of buying frames online. Nobody pressed further or gave me a hard time about it. I had to wait until the frames lady was free, but then the process took maybe a minute.

It helps to go in at a non-rush hour (whatever that is... maybe call ahead) and say please.
posted by jessicapierce at 10:07 AM on May 6, 2015

I called my last two opthamologists. They simply do not measure the PD or record it in my records. That's not something optometrists do and it's something people fitting you for glasses frames do. Also worth noting is I don't live near either of them anymore because I moved recently so it's not like I can go back and ask them to do it either.

Maybe I will try going into a chain store where workers don't actually care where you buy glasses from and ask. Some shops clearly seem to know that asking for a PD is code for wanting to buy glasses online and won't do it. But I'm sure other shops may do it. I'll report back what happens. If I can get in for an eye exam quickly (I get a free one with my crappy insurance) I may do that, but only if they say I will get my PD.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Follow-up question: Does anyone know of a way to get new lenses for a frame you already own for cheap? Every store I check with, it's actually cheaper to just buy a new full set of glasses, which makes no sense to me. Is there a way to get lenses direct from the lab instead of going through an eyeglasses shop?
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:49 AM on May 6, 2015

Maybe I will try going into a chain store where workers don't actually care where you buy glasses from and ask.

AppleTurnover, this is slightly off topic but you might find it interesting. The reason why it's so darned hard to get them to tell you your PD is because of Luxottica. Short news doc here if you're interested in details. I don't know for certain, of course, but I strongly suspect that there's a corporate mandate to keep PD numbers from consumers to limit their ability to go outside the family for better prices on glasses. You'll probably have better luck if you make sure the chain you go to isn't a Luxottica-owned franchise.

The last two times my prescription has changed my ophthalmologist's office has been able to update my lenses in my (not purchased from them) frames for a nominal cost.
posted by phunniemee at 1:12 PM on May 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Re: your followup question. I've had good luck getting new lenses for existing frames at Costco. They change around $10 to do it (over the price of the lenses) but that's still a lot cheaper than new frames. That said, it only works if you have a backup pair you can wear in the meantime since it takes them a couple of weeks to get the frames back with the new lenses installed.
posted by kbuxton at 4:34 PM on May 6, 2015

Re, followup: I had the same question for a long time, and a couple of frame places told me they didn't do that (artificial restriction like PD I'm sure). However, I was buying frames at another place and they said it was no problem, so if it's just a policy thing you'll just have to call around.
posted by rhizome at 4:53 PM on May 6, 2015

An update. I opted to just use my free annual eye exam through my insurance, and I was very clear about needing my pupillary distance. They said it was no problem, and they had a cancellation so I got in right away. The PD took about all of 10 seconds to measure -- they held this thing up to my eyes and had me look straight ahead. It computed the values for them. Seems like this would be an easy thing to convince someone at certain places to do for you since it required so little effort on their part to do. Turns out, my PD was only .5 mm off what I measured myself last year. (It's worth noting that when I did my own pupillary distance myself, I did several methods -- rulers, dots over my glasses, web cam/credit card calculation -- and averaged the number I got because I was getting different results with each method. Turns out that worked pretty well.)

And now it's time to buy some $30 glasses online. Sorry brick and mortar stores, but even with my insurance, you still cost well over $100 per pair. I'm giving up the idea of putting new lenses in my old frames for right now. Even at America's Best, which is dirt cheap, it was going to cost over $100 to do with anti-glare. Sheesh. New complete sets of glasses online, even with coatings and shipping, are cheaper.

Thanks again, all!
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:10 PM on May 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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