Online Glasses

Are you thinking of buying your eyewear online?

A study by the School of Optometry, l’Université de Montréal, found an astounding 94% failure rate with a random sampling of eyeglasses ordered online. (Download PDF).

Statement in Response to CBC Marketplace (February 24, 2012)

On February 24 2012, CBC Television’s Marketplace program featured a story on the price of prescription eyeglasses. Be aware that absent from the story was any reference to eye health or acknowledgement of the health risks associated with patients purchasing from unregulated retailers or the safeguards provided by regulations.

As Doctors of Optometry, our key priority is our patients’ vision and eye health. In our role, we monitor the health of your eye for eye diseases that lead to blindness, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, and also detect for systemic health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which can be detected during a routine eye exam. Regular, routine eye examinations are the best way to protect and preserve life-long vision. The regulatory systems across this country were established with patients’ safety at their core. British Columbia is an anomaly where recent regulatory changes, as highlighted in the Marketplace story, put the eye health and overall health of British Columbians at risk.

It is important to note that we support consumer choice in eyewear dispensing as long as it is a regulated practice, meaning there are safeguards (i.e., a valid prescription and a regulated provider) in place to ensure patients’ eye health. Featured prominently as a source for the Marketplace story was an individual the Ontario Superior Court of Justice determined was operating in contravention of the law, and by doing so, was placing Ontarians’ health at risk.

As Doctors of Optometry, we are proud to be on the frontline of protecting the eye health of Canadians.

Prescription Glasses

Shopping for glasses on the internet may seem to be a harmless purchase. Did you know that there are regulations for prescribing and dispensing eyeglasses that are intended to protect you? Many online retailers are not regulated, which could place your eyes at risk.

Prescription eyeglasses are classified and regulated as medical devices by Health Canada. Glasses purchased online may not meet Health Canada’s standards.

The Canadian and American Optometric and Ophthalmology Associations recommend routine, regular eye examinations by an eye doctor. Online sellers cannot assess your overall eye health and are therefore not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a regulated eye care professional.

Just because you can see, does not mean that you do not have a problem. You may fall into a false sense of security that all is well, when it may not be so. Even with 20/20 vision, 1 in 7 Canadians will develop a serious eye disorder.

Once you have a prescription you may purchase eyewear from a regulated eyewear provider. These trained professionals have the know-how to properly interpret your prescription and help you select the frames, lenses, materials and lens coatings that are best suited to your individual eye-health needs.

Getting proper eye measurements and advice is the only way to ensure your prescription provides ideal vision correction and is safe. The curvature and thickness of the lenses, the location of the optical centre in the frames and the position of bifocal or progressive lenses (if required) can affect your vision correction and is best determined in person by a vision health professional. Proper fitting eyeglasses will help you avoid fatigue, headaches, nausea, double vision, and pain or pressure around the nose or ears. By simply emailing in your prescription, many of these components of a proper fit are not being done. Thus the numbers of the prescription may be correct, but you may be unable to see clearly or comfortably. Buyer beware!

Eye health means more than just getting new glasses!

Adapted from the website of The Canadian Association of Optometrists (

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