Ordering glasses online: Prism edition
June 18, 2019 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I just dropped $300 on an eyeglasses prescription. I'm feeling ripped off (though I know that's pretty standard). I'd like to order a spare online, but I have bifocals AND a prism. Is buying online a bad idea? How do I know the company (Zenni, Warby Parker, whatever) got the prescription correct, besides the obvious and trying them on? I know a ton of people do this, but how do you actually get it right? Especially with bifocals?

I asked the optometrist's office to send my prescription, and they did without a problem, but didn't include pupillary distance so I have to get that, too. And I feel weird about walking in and asking them to check the Rx to make sure it's correct.

If it matters, this is the difference between my two prescriptions. Apparently I now have an astigmatism.

Sphere +0.50, cyl power -0.25, axis 085, add +.75, prism 1[superscript triangle] 1n

Sphere +0.50, cyl power [none], axis [none], add +.75, horizontal prism 3.00 BI, vertical prism 0.50 BD, add +0.50
posted by onecircleaday to Shopping (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm kind of in the same boat; I spent way more than that on my progressive lenses / anti-glare / varilux / blue blocking etc. I don't have a great reason other than I was able and had insurance cover a % of it.d

That being said: I would not feel one bit guilty asking my optometrist / optician / eye doctor about anything having to do with my prescription, if I got one from them. I typically ask for my eyeglass prescription every time I have a checkup anyhow.

I presume if I decide to get a spare pair, those mail order web sites guarantee the lenses are ok when you wear them at home or what not, and if not, they refund you or replace them if you think they made a mistake. If not, I wouldn't order from them
posted by bitterkitten at 5:01 PM on June 18, 2019

I order from Zenni (but I don't have any insight into bifocals or a prism, sorry). Just wanted to mention that you don't need to go back to the optometrist to get your pupillary distance--Zenni tells you how to measure it at home. When you order, they even send you a little plastic ruler for next time.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 5:36 PM on June 18, 2019

I don’t have prism, but I was not happy with my Zenni glasses. I’ve tried multiple times (they’re cheap, it was a gamble), and they always gave me headaches. Returns the first time around are pretty easy.
Everyone else seems to love them, though.

I read comparison reviews (wirecutter, maybe?) that claimed Warby Parker to be the best. They are more expensive, though.
posted by Neekee at 5:40 PM on June 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’ve ordered glasses online for the last 10 years and never had a problem but I had a simple prescription.

Your PD usually doesn’t change so I just noted it when I got measured one time. Warby Parker used to have an online tool that used your computers webcam to measure your PD. There are other ways to do it yourself also.

All that said, this last time I had to get bifocals and ended up purchasing from my local Sams Club.
posted by LoveHam at 6:17 PM on June 18, 2019

I have a heavier prism than you do, such that some online vendors refuse to even try to fill my script, and have had mixed result with them. I'm lucky enough to have a personal connection through a good friend to an optician in Holland, MI that I trust implicitly with all my scripts from the recent past and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:41 PM on June 18, 2019

I was happy with Zenni for true bifocals and single-strength computer glasses, but their progressive were terrible. It turns out there are several ways of grinding progressives, and theirs are narrower than the ones I ended up getting at Sears Optical. I’m not sure I’d trust an online source for complex prescriptions.

My OD, who doesn’t sell glasses, warned me, but the prices were so cheap, it was worthwhile to find out for myself without dipping into my optical insurance, (and I kept the bifocals/computer glasses as backups).
posted by lhauser at 6:49 PM on June 18, 2019

I just dropped in to add that any optician who has made glasses for you can give you the PD. No need to measure it yourself.
posted by DrGail at 8:12 PM on June 18, 2019

I've ordered pretty strong glasses with prism from Zenni. The first time something seemed off, but they replaced them when I complained and the second pair has been great. (On reflection, it may not have been the lenses so much as the frame not sitting right on my nose. I opted for a different frame design the second time.) Haven't tried ordering a progressive prescription from them, though that time is coming soon.

With both prism and progressives, you're really reliant on the lenses being positioned exactly where they expect your pupils to be. When you get glasses from an optician in-store, they can tweak the nose pads, bend the earpieces and whatnot to make a standardized frame work for the reality of asymmetric faces, ears and noses. Ordering online puts that tweak-burden on you, which can be tricky depending on what material your frames are made of. I've never tried visiting an optician to get a 3rd party frame dialed-in, and don't know what the protocol for that is.
posted by mumkin at 9:12 PM on June 18, 2019

I've been using Zenni for over 15 years. I have astigmatism and get progressive bifocals. Only had one pair that were not right, and they replaced them quickly. Lately, I have been getting the photogray lenses. With antireflective coating and lightweight lenses and metal frames, they cost around $100. I get the frames that have little magnets in the bridge that hold polarized sun lenses. The only drawback I've found to Zenni is the metal plates imbedde in the silicone nosepieces are brass or something that turns green over time. This color doesn't leach out onto my nose, and is not visible when I'm wearing them, so I live with it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:09 AM on June 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also, I do usually have to bend the nosepieces for a proper fit. If you don't think you can do that, your optometrist should do it for free.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:11 AM on June 19, 2019

Can you ask your optometrist if you can buy frames elsewhere and pay them to do the lenses? My husband has a prism and it's greatly improved his vision but they need to be fairly precise.
posted by typecloud at 7:49 AM on June 19, 2019

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