Readers of this blog will know that I am very particular about my glasses and purchasing any new pair requires quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and usually an eye test before I commit to spending what generally amounts to a not inconsiderable amount for them. So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to review a pair of rimless glasses from Online Opticians UK.
My current frames are all made of lightweight titanium with the thinnest possible lenses and anti-allergy nose pads to avoid the remotest chance of irritation. I hate heavy glasses as my nose is very sensitive and I cannot bear the burning sensation which these create. I was, therefore, keen to try Online Optician’s price-friendly offering of a very similar frame type and lens style – from the Superlite range, a pair of Superlite 37 Titanium Rimless Glasses.
Although I often order contact lenses online, this was my first time ordering glasses and to do this you will need your current prescription which your optician is obliged to let you have.
Now, since it is recommended that you have an eye test every 2 years to check the health of your eyes, if your prescription is close to hitting this age then it would be worth having your eyes retested before you invest in lenses which don’t give you the best vision. You may be entitled to a free eye test on the NHS if you meet certain criteria.
You will also need to know a piece of data that you may well have to return to your optician to get – as, in my experience, it is seldom measured during a routine eye test – it is called pupillary distance or PD.
This is the distance in millimetres between the centre of one pupil to the centre of the other and having a correct PD on your glasses prescription ensures that you are looking through the ideal spot in your lenses.
Now there are instructions on the website to explain how to measure pupillary distance yourself but I prefer to have an accurate measurement done by someone qualified.
So, before ordering lenses online, make sure that you have an up-to-date prescription which includes your PD.
Ordering your specs with Online Opticians is, however, quite simple and the website takes you through 4 stages in the ordering process.
Step 1 select your frame
The first step is to select your frame and you’ll need to check your measurements. The easiest way to do this is to use an existing frame and compare the dimensions online. You’ll need to check three measurements – eye size, arm size and bridge size. Discover how to find your glasses measurements here. Online Opticians recommend that you order frames which are +/- 4mm of your existing frames.
Some frames also have different colour options. The Superlite Rimless 37 is only available in bronze.
Step 2 select your lenses
Distance, Reading and clear lenses are free but there is a surcharge for the 3 levels of varifocal frame offered by Online opticians.
I will be honest and say that getting a varifocal prescription just right is something that, personally, I would rather do face to face with an optician in person due to the complexity of my requirements.
For that reason, I opted for distance lenses as it is always useful to have a spare pair for driving or just to have in your bag. As a contact lens wearer there are still those moments of “I wish I could take them out and put my glasses on” when, for example, dust or dry eye hits or, worse, you get something in your eye which then irritates for ages afterwards.
Depending on which Superlite frame you choose, the lens shape varies so you need to look at them all to choose one that you think will be the most flattering. I chose this frame as the shape is closest to my current specs.
Step 3 choose any lens option
Next you need to decide whether you wish to add any of the options in the online form the website presents you with. Simply click to display a range of options but note that all of these incur a small additional charge and you do not have to select any of them.
For example, there’s a specific lens option if you are going to wear your glasses for driving. You may require an anti-scratch or anti-glare coating, or an accessory like a cord or chain. You can even have a coating to protect your eyes against blue light from digital equipment and, of course, you can choose to have a thinner lens or even an ultra-thin lens.
I am a huge fan of thin lenses because they reduce the weight of the frame on the nose and avoid that ‘milk bottle’ look. And, for me, an anti-scratch and an anti-glare coating are non-negotiable – especially when you have kids.
Step 4 add your prescription details
With your prescription to hand, simply enter the measurements one eye at a time starting with the right.
For both eyes you will need to know:- sphere, cylinder, axis, and Add (near) and as mentioned, pupillary distance (one measurement covering both eyes).
Take your time and double-check your input to make sure you’ve got it right.
There is also a form field for you to add any extra comments.
You will then need to agree to Online Opticians terms and conditions before you finally order your glasses safe in the knowledge that there is a 100% no-quibble money-back guarantee. Delivery is free on all orders over £64.95 and payment is via a credit or debit card or Paypal.
Orders are despatched within 3-5 working days depending on the complexity of the prescription or specific requirements.
I particularly like that Online Opticians donate a pair of glasses for every pair they sell to help eye care charities in Burma, Ghana and Zambia.
After placing my order, my glasses arrived in around 5 days and came with a sleek black case, cleaning cloth, lens cleaner and, as a nice extra touch, a miniature screwdriver to tighten the frame screws.
The lenses were immaculate and the prescription was spot on and, whilst the titanium frame was not of the same quality of the usual higher-end brand I wear, it was perfectly acceptable for the price point of £79.95.
There was only one small detail which wasn’t quite right and that was the lugs housing the nose pads were not entirely symmetrical and the nose pads themselves were smaller than the ones I prefer. This means that the glasses do not sit entirely flat on my nose.
Neither of these is insurmountable and any frame will need to be fitted properly, no matter where you buy it.
This does mean, however, that if you do buy glasses online, you may still need to visit an optician to have them correctly fitted. Whilst tightening the frame screws is something you can do yourself, altering the nose pad lugs and changing the nose pads is definitely not.
Most opticians will make these alterations for you free of charge, although I always think it’s a bit cheeky asking if you haven’t bought the specs there.
Would I buy glasses online again? To be honest, no.
I prefer the personal service I get from my own local optician. He knows how my prescription has changed over the years and exactly how I need my glasses to be fitted. He also knows that I need silicon nose pads as I am allergic to other types.
That said, if you are looking for a replacement or spare pair or you can tolerate pretty much any frame, then online opticians are ideal.
Make sure though, that you get your eyes tested by an optician you trust – and that you get a fresh prescription every two years.
Not least because an eye test can flag up other problems with your health which need dealing with as soon as possible.