Let the Buyer Beware: A Closer Look at Ordering Eyeglasses Online

The Eye Center strongly advises purchasing from your optometrist

Download an infographic from the AOA[Memphis, TN, March 19, 2015] — Purchasing eyeglasses online may offer convenience to consumers, but The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry warns that the consequences of making an incorrect or uninformed purchase could cost patients more time and money in the long run. 

The Eye Center stresses that eyeglasses are an investment in your health and must be custom-fitted not only to be comfortable, but also to meet particular prescriptive needs, which only an eye doctor can determine. 

“Without visiting an eye doctor, patients run the risk of purchasing eyeglasses online with an improper fit or receiving the wrong prescription altogether,” said Dr. James E. Venable, Vice President for Clinical Programs at The Eye Center. “Ultimately, patients can expend more time dealing with order mistakes and making returns than had they simply visited their local optometrist in the first place.” 

An American Optometric Association (AOA) study published in 2011 with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council reinforces the drawbacks of online orders. The study concluded:

  • Of 200 glasses ordered online, only 154 pairs were received;
  • 44.8 percent had incorrect prescriptions or safety issues;
  • 29 percent had at least one lens fail to meet required prescription;
  • 19 percent of adult lenses failed impact resistance testing; and,
  • 25 percent of children’s lenses failed impact resistance testing.

Purchasing eyeglasses from a local optometrist is the AOA’s first and foremost recommendation. If patients are still interested in making a purchase online, The Eye Center warns consumers to do their homework before making a final decision.
“If a consumer believes that ordering a pair of glasses online is in their best interest, it is important for the consumer to be fully informed regarding the potential pitfalls in doing so,” Dr. Venable. “The peer-reviewed study revealed that nearly half of all glasses ordered online had either prescription errors or failed to meet minimum safety standards. Personally, I find that very scary. Patients deserve better than that.”

The Eye Center advises consumers to consider the following factors before making a purchase online:

The fit and material of the eyeglasses
How the eyeglasses fit is critically important — if the fit is incorrect, not only can a patient experience discomfort, such as pinching and headaches, but can also cause additional vision problems.
Consumers also need to consider the various options available for the lenses, and what is best for their particular prescription and lifestyle. Lenses come in various materials, such as traditional plastic, as well as thinner, lighter materials. Other considerations are the different coatings and treatments available such as non-glare coatings and photochromic lenses.

The accuracy of the prescription
Just because the eyeglasses “look right” on a person’s face doesn’t mean the measurements are correct, the AOA warns. Pupil distance (PD) determines where to place the center of each lens in your frames to customize the optics to your eyes. This measurement is necessary to ensure the eyeglasses serve your vision needs properly. 

Consumers need an optometrist to provide the PD and ensure precise measurements. However, the PD is not part of your prescription and not normally provided unless you ask for it. Your optometrist or optician can even legitimately charge for the service of providing your PD. The measurements needed for multifocals can only be accurately made once the frame is selected and properly fitted to your face, so typically this measurement is simply estimated for eyeglasses available online.

The retailer’s policies on purchases

  • Returns: What is the website’s return policy if you are not satisfied with your purchase? How will the website deal with issues of prescription inaccuracies or other mistakes (wrong lenses coatings, wrong color, etc)? 
  • Warrantees: Does the online retailer offer protection against lens scratching, how long this may be covered and what needs to be done to replace scratched lenses. How long is the frame warranty? What about children’s frames?
  • Shipping: The cost and timeliness of shipments varies. Who pays for shipping returns?
  • Pricing: Are protective eyeglass cases and cleaning cloths included, or are they “extras” added to the cost? 
  • Insurance: Some websites do not accept vision insurance. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), check to see what’s required to accept this as payment.
  • Maintenance: Some websites provide a contact for this and may offer online tips for minor adjustments, but it might mean shipping your glasses away and being without them until the service is completed and they are returned.

For more in-depth detail about factors to consider before purchasing eyeglasses online, click here to read a brochure offered by the AOA. 

As the leaders of primary eye care in the United States, doctors of optometry are crucial in helping patients achieve optimum eye health and vision, and are the best resource to offer the highest quality eyeglasses. 

To learn more about the many health benefits of seeing your optometrist, or to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam, visit http://tec.sco.edu/makeanappointment or call 901-722-3250. 

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.

Posted by Jim Hollifield at Thursday, March 19, 2015 | 0 comments

The Eye Center Helps St. Jude Patient Read Again Through Technology

Eleven-year-old Isaiah Travers has an infectious laugh and remarkable attitude. It is hard not to smile as he giggles and cheers during a fitting for new glasses that will allow him to see after almost a year of lost vision.

Isaiah recently came to The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry after being referred by a friend whose husband works at SCO. Isaiah experienced total vision loss after his second surgery to treat Craniopharyngioma, a benign tumor that develops near the pituitary gland and often damages the optic nerve or causes vision loss. Isaiah is currently being treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, where he has undergone seven surgeries, four procedures, and 31 radiation treatments.

Isaiah's mom, Maggie, said that doctors weren't sure if his vision would ever return. She explained that he only has light detection in his left eye and tunnel vision in his right eye. Isaiah cannot use peripheral vision in either eye at all, so he only sees from the center of his eye. The little vision he does have reads 20/400 on vision tests.

"It has affected every aspect of his life, his coordination, balance and his ability to do everyday activities, like watching TV with the family, eating, or playing with his friends," Maggie said.

In a recent visit to The Eye Center, Isaiah was given a portable Electronic Magnifier, also known as a CCTV, for reading. The camera-sized device allows him to place it on top of text and magnify it several times larger so he can read it. The device also allows him to view text using different contrasts. Because Isaiah reads best if the text is white on a black background, he can adjust the contrast to his liking.

Isaiah was also given magnifiers to take home. The magnifiers are glasses that are designed to help him see things from a distance, such as when he is watching TV or looking at objects from across the room.

Isaiah said he's most excited about being able to read again. He can now resume reading his two favorite books – The Magic Tree House and Nate the Great.

Best of all, according to Isaiah: "I can also play kickball during game time at Awana," a youth group program at his church.

His mother noted that she is most looking forward to her son regaining some of his independence.

"He has difficulty participating in things most people take for granted, such as following the readings in Sunday school class and doing his school work. These devices will allow him to be able to read along with his peers, and participate in everyday activities."

She added, "This will be life-changing for Isaiah. We're so grateful for this technology, and how it will impact his daily life."

Maggie is encouraging St. Jude to partner with The Eye Center to help other children who need low vision devices. Meanwhile, she intends to join several dozen other mothers of children like Isaiah by shaving her head to show their support. The Commercial Appeal recently ran an article about her effort.

Drs. Sharon Lee and Reena Lepine work with Isaiah Travers as he learns how to use a low vision assistive device.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Thursday, September 1, 2011 | 0 comments

Going Green can sometimes mean Seeing Green!

In the fashion world, the term "eco-friendly" and "fashionable" are rarely mentioned in the same breath. Traditionally, products that were considered "green" had the reputation of appearing "down-to-earth". A newer line of eyewear featured in the Optical of The Eye Center at SCO is changing all that!

Modo Eyewear has introduced the first line of affordable, luxury eyewear to bring environmental responsibility to the forefront. ECO® (Earth Conscious Optics) is the first and only certified eyewear brand made of 95% recycled stainless steel and plastic materials. Even the packaging uses recycled and repurposed materials. Each frame is contained in a pouch of organic cotton and packaged with 100 percent recycled paper. A user-friendly, mail-in recycling kit is included that allows you to donate your unwanted frames to charity - One Sight, that supplies eyeglasses to developing countries.

The ECO® line includes 10 styles with contemporary variations on aviators and retro-inspired designs for men and women. "These frames are very edgy and cool," says Dr. Gerald Eisenstatt, Chief of Ophthalmic Services and Materials at The Eye Center. "These high quality frames make a statement with distinctive details and a modern, clean look but are easy to wear".

They come in a variety of trendy colors and each carries an UL Environment Validation indicating that ECO's green claims are accurate according to the independent, third-party organization. Through a program called One Frame, One Tree, for each pair of ECO frames and sunglasses sold, a tree is planted in partnership with Trees for the Future, a non-profit organization that has helped communities around the word plant trees since 1989. For more information about The Eye Center's ECO® frames, make an appointment today at (901) 722-3250.


Posted by Erin Jaffe at Thursday, July 21, 2011 | 0 comments

Spring Runway and Trunk Show

An evening of French-inspired eyewear drew more than 100 invited guests to The Eye Center at SCO's recent runway and trunk show. Featuring the eyewear of Ooh la-la de Paris, the show offered guests the opportunity to enjoy food, fun, and friendship, as well as an art show in conjunction with the Memphis College of Art. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Eye Center's fund that provides eyewear to children in need.

Photos from the event:
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Monday, May 10, 2010 | 0 comments

The Eye Center Honored

The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry has been named a Center of Excellence by VSP Global. The company has some 27,000 member doctors and clinics, so The Eye Center is honored to be singled out for this recognition. VSP Global cited The Eye Center's "dedication to exceptional service and delivery of product to patients."
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Friday, December 4, 2009 | 0 comments

Kathy Bates Visits The Eye Center

Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates recently visited The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry. The actress and director's visit came during a trip to Memphis for the holidays and to speak at a Methodist Healthcare Foundation luncheon.

Bates said that she enjoyed the service and hospitality shown to her during her eye examination and brief tour of the facility. Following her examination, she graciously agreed to be photographed and visited with Dr. James E. Venable, SCO's Executive Director for Clinical Programs, Dr. Christopher W. Lievens, Chief of Staff at The Eye Center, intern Sam Winston, ’11, and Dr. Richard W. Phillips, SCO President.

“You have a first class facility here,” she told the group.

Bates' referral visit to The Eye Center was arranged in part by SCO Board of Trustees Chair Donna Abney, Executive Vice President of Methodist Healthcare.

“We were especially pleased that Ms. Bates chose The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry to provide her care,” said Dr. Phillips. “She has certainly proven her interest in supporting her home community. She was especially pleasant, and we thoroughly enjoyed her visit to our campus.”

The actress can currently be seen with Sandra Bullock in the hit movie, The Blind Side, a true story set in Memphis. Bates won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in the 1990 film, Misery. She also appeared in Hollywood’s all-time box office hit, Titanic, Fried Green Tomatoes, and many other movies.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | 0 comments

Venable, Lievens Selected to Lead The Eye Center at SCO

Dr. James E. Venable was recently selected to become Executive Director for Clinical Programs for The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry. The appointment was announced by Dr. Richard W. Phillips, SCO President, after a national search. Dr. Venable succeeds Dr. James Burke, who retired from the position at the end of June.

"Dr. Venable brings years of experience in private practice, co-management centers and has been actively involved in organized optometry throughout his years," Dr. Phillips said. "As he has served for five years as Chief of Staff at The Eye Center, the transition should be a smooth one."

Dr. Christopher Lievens was was recently named Chief of Staff for The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry.

"Drs. Venable and Lievens should be an outstanding leadership team, and I look forward to working closely with them to evolve our Clinical Programs even more, consistent with our developing Strategic Plan," Dr. Phillips added.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | 0 comments

Taub Named Chief of Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation Services

Dr. Marc Taub has been selected to become SCO's new Chief of Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation Services.

Dr. Taub formerly served as Director of Community Outreach, where he worked to increase The Eye Center's presence in the community by fostering relationships with numerous constituents. As Chief of his service area, he will work to solidify the combination of the Vision Therapy and Low Vision Rehabilitation Services into a premier resource for rehabilitative services in the Mid-South.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 0 comments

Elkins, Nicks Appointments Announced

Dr. Lindsay Elkins has been selected to become SCO's new Coordinator of School Screenings. Dr. Zakiya Nicks has been selected as the new Coordinator of Community Outreach.

The dual appointments reflected the growing need for outreach services through The Eye Center and split the responsibilities previously accorded to the Director of Community Outreach.

Dr. Elkins' responsibilities include coordinating SCO's School Screening program that serves thousands of Memphis area schoolchildren each year.

As Coordinator of Community Outreach, Dr. Nicks will oversee other outreach efforts, including vision screenings at health fairs and community centers.
Posted by Erin Jaffe at Friday, May 1, 2009 | 0 comments