Prescription lenses for glasses are easy to buy online, if you follow our simple steps, and you can save more than half the cost compared to retail stores, for the same high quality lenses. In this guide, we are going to walk you through the steps, because the more you know about eyeglasses, the less money it will cost you!
You can buy a frame with prescription lenses online. Or, you can send in frames for replacement prescription lenses (we call that "replacement lenses"). Replacement glasses lenses are perfect for online mail order.
Buy Prescription Lenses Online in 5 Easy Steps:
- Get your prescription
- Choose a type of eyeglass lenses based on your lifestyle
- Choose a lens material based on your prescription
- Pick a lenses model
- Add lens options
- Checkout. Then submit the invoice to your vision insurance plan
Get Your Prescription
When you go to your doctor for an eye exam, be sure to leave the office with a paper copy of your prescription with the pupil distance on it. State and federal law requires that doctors give you this information. Once you have it, you can then submit your prescription to us, and we will make your lenses accordingly.
If you are not sure if you need prescription eyeglasses lenses, you can try an online vision test. You cannot use a contact lenses prescription for eyeglass lenses.
Choose A Lens Type Based On Your Lifestyle
The type of prescription eyeglass lenses you choose is determined by your lifestyle and your needs. It is not determined by your doctor, although a doctor can help you make your decision. For example, if you need your glasses only for distance vision, or only for reading, then single vision lenses are the best choice.
Choose progressive lenses if your prescription has a reading addition AND you want your prescription glasses lenses for both distance and reading/computer vision. Progressive lenses are also known as "no-line" bifocals; they are great for most people, but some people experience problems with progressive lenses. In these cases, regular bifocal lensess or trifocal lenses may be a better choice.
For us to make progressive lenses in new frames, we may ask you for a segment height measurement. For replacement lenses, we can read the segment height from the lenses so you don't need to send it to us.
Choose A Lens Material Based on Your Prescription
Most of the time, your prescription will determine the best lens material to use. In general, a high index lens will be thinner, but ONLY if you have a high enough prescription. If your prescription is under +/-3.00, then spending more money on a higher index lens will not help you. Conversely, the thinnest lenses for a high prescription will be the higher index lenses.
Regular Plastic/CR39/1.56 Index Lenses
Good for glasses prescription up to +/-3.00. Least expensive. Cannot be used for rimless glasses.
Polycarbonate, 1.59 Index Lenses
1.67 High Index Lenses
Good for prescriptions from +/-5.00 to +/-8.00.
1.74 High Index Lenses
Thinnest lenses for high prescription. Good for prescriptions over +/-8.00.
This is a specialty material that is recommended as a substitute for polycarbonate lenses. It is used to make rimless glasses, and also for prescription sunglasses. It is more expensive than polycarbonate.
Glass offers the best optical clarity of any lens, but with some drawbacks: it is considerably heavier, more expensive, and takes 3-4 weeks to process.
Choose A Lens Brand And Model
We only use the highest quality lenses available in the U.S. - Crystal Vision Lenses, and Varilux lenses. For every lens group, you will see a "good, better, best" choice within that group. We do not sell any low quality, cheap lenses.
Add Lens Options
Once you have picked out a lens, you can then add options and features. Here are the most popular ones:
- Anti-Scratch Coating (FREE, included on every lens)
- UV Coating (FREE on all lenses, except for regular plastic)
- Crizal (Super hard and anti-reflective coating, 2 year warrantee)
- Lens Tinting (For fashion, or sunglasses)
- Polarized Lenses (For sunglasses)
- Transition Lenses (Photochromic, color-changing lenses)
Prescription Lens Services
For people that really know how to buy lenses, and what they need, we also offer a menu of prescription lens services.
Checkout, And Use Your Vision Insurance Wisely
Once you have used our easy step by step system for choosing the perfect lenses for your needs, it is time to checkout. If you have vision insurance, there is a hack to get the most out of your plan: Send your invoice to your insurance company and receive your out of network benefit. Follow this link to find your vision insurance plan.
How Are Prescription Lenses Manufactured?
We use Essilor to make all of our lenses. Essilor is the largest and highest quality eyeglass lens maker in the world, with over 200 lens labs in the United States alone. So when you ask Eyeglasses.com to make your lenses, you are not getting a local guy cutting lenses in the back room on aged equipment. You are getting the very best plastic (or glass) lens, installed in a quality controlled, ISO 9000 lens-making laboratory. Your lenses pass through 16-21 quality control stations before they are finally released. If the lenses fail at any one of those stations, they are returned for further processing, or they are scrapped and begun again. Perfect lenses, guaranteed.
What Is An Eyeglass Lens?
Eyeglass lenses are nothing more than a carefully carved block of clear plastic. Lens quality is determined by four factors:
1) The clarity of the plastic
2) the precision of the carving
3) the accuracy of the prescription and pupil distance measurement, and
4) the accuracy of the cutting of the lens to fit your frames.
Who Makes The Lens?
Five different groups are involved in the making of prescription lens. A problem in any one of these groups can lead to less effective lenses. The store you choose to make your lenses must insist on quality at every level in order for you to receive the best quality product. This kind of quality control is essential in order to ensure consistent results.
1) The maker of the plastic determines the clarity of the plastic: Essilor, Zeiss, Pentax, Seiko, many others.
2) The cutter of the plastic determines the precision of the carving. The plastic maker does the surfacing for stock lenses.
3) The lens laboratory does the carving for surfaced lenses.
4) The eye doctor determines the optics for the lens such that it will work best for your eyes' condition. An eyewear store employee measures the pupillary distance.
5) The person that cuts ("edges") the lens for your frame installs lenses so that the optical centers match the pupillary distance measurement. This could be an eyewear store employee, or lens laboratory.
About Lens Laboratories
There are hundreds of lens laboratories around the country, several in each state. A typical lens laboratory will do a minimum of a few hundred lenses a day with a large staff of highly trained and experienced technicians. A few optical stores (like Lenscrafters) have small surfacing facilities in each of their stores doing much smaller lens volume.
To surface a lens, the lens laboratory takes the blank and puts it through a series of grinding machines, which grinds the surface the lens and shapes it exactly to the specifications of the prescription. Lens laboratories also provide other services like edging and mounting, which optical stores can choose to use or not, depending on whether they want to do that work themselves. As with any custom service, the quality of the surfacing and any other services that the lab provides-- is determined by the experience and the expertise of the laboratory, its personnel, and the equipment it uses.
At Eyeglasses.com, we only use labs that employ a large staff of highly trained technicians, doing a large volume of lenses every day. We do none our own edging services ourselves - all of it is done by our lens laboratories. Most of our orders require stock lenses; all of our custom surfacing work is done by lens laboratories. The laboratories that we use each have many years of experience and do thousands of lenses each week. Each lab that we use inspects each lens several times during the manufacturing process. When we receive the finished product from the lab, we do our own final inspection.
Eye Doctors Do Make Mistakes
The optometrist (OD) or ophthalmologist (MD) that issues the prescription is not involved in the fashioning of the lens, but the prescription they issue is crucial to the overall effectiveness of the lens. Occasionally the OD or MD can issue a prescription that is not quite right. Also, it is possible for your eyes, and your prescription, to change rapidly during some stages of your life.
Edging Lenses: Who Does That?
After the lenses have been made, they need to be installed in the eyeglass frame. They are then “Edged” or cut and formed to fit precisely into the frame. Edging is performed in a number of different ways. It can be done at the lens laboratory, or in the optical store. Either way, it is not required in any state that the edging be done by a licensed person. About one-half of the states in the United States have opticianry laws. In those licensed states, edging can be done by an unlicensed person that is "overseen" by a licensed person.
The edging for most glasses made in this country is not performed by a licensed professional. However, all of the edging that is done for Eyeglasses.com is done in a state-of-the-art lens laboratory. When we ask our laboratory to do the edging, it is done by an employee/tradesman that does at least hundreds of jobs per day. That person has a very high skill and accuracy level that we have found to deliver very high quality.
Author of this article:
CEO of Eyeglasses.com, which he founded in 1999. For over twenty years, he has educated consumers, improved their vision choices, and reduced costs in eyewear. Mark authored The Eyeglasses Buying Guide, the most comprehensive and best-selling glasses buying guide in the world.
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