Health & Medical

Things to Consider When Buying Glasses

Seniors Buying Glasses

If you just found out that you may need glasses, you may be wondering what you should be looking for to ensure you find the right pair for your vision needs; besides the prescription lenses themselves, it’s worth also considering the type of lenses and frames you want. But how do you choose?

A few factors to consider when buying eyeglasses can be broken down into four general areas:

  • Current eye health
  • Lifestyle
  • Face shape
  • Budget

Thinking about each of these factors will help you find glasses suitable for your vision’s needs while matching your lifestyle and making you look great.

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Modern advancements in optometry and ophthalmology have given consumers a plethora of options when it comes to choosing glasses, from the average “This will get the job done” pair of glasses to the “I don’t know what I did before these” glasses. In the remainder of this article, we’ll offer tips for how you can pick out the perfect pair to keep you and your eyes happy. 

What Should I Look for When Buying Glasses?

As mentioned above, you’ll want to consider your current eye health, lifestyle, and face shape/skin tone as you start your search for a new pair of eyeglasses. What you should look for in your glasses will depend on where you fall in these areas

Considering Your Current Eye Health

Of course, before you start looking for glasses, you’ll need the help of a great eye doctor (optometrist), especially if this is your first time needing glasses. Most eyeglasses retailers require you to submit an updated prescription from your eye doctor to place an order, so it’s definitely worth paying them a visit. 

An optometrist will also inform you of any unique eye conditions you have that will affect your prescription or require you to have unique features added to your lenses.

Certain eye conditions require different lenses to correct. These lenses could range in size, width, or thickness depending on the condition; therefore, the range of available frames for you to choose from will also vary. 

For example, rimless glasses usually work well for thicker lenses because the lenses won’t need to be forced to fit within a specific shape or thin rim; the same can be said for thicker frames.

Types of Lenses to Choose From

The type of prescription you receive from the optometrist may affect the type of lenses you need. There are essentially three types of lenses:

Single Vision Lens

These are the most common type of lenses. They consist of a single prescription that is consistent throughout the entire lens.

The Bifocal Lens

This lens consists of a large single vision lens, along with a smaller half-moon lens, of a varying magnification or prescription set for nearsightedness. 

The Progressive Lens

This is similar to the bifocal in that it has varying prescriptions or magnifications; however, the transition is seamless. Whereas the bifocal contains a distinct, separate lens manufactured into a traditional single lens, the progressive lens has no such evidence. A progressive lens’s prescription changes based on where you’re looking. 

  • The top of the lens provides enhanced vision at a distance.
  • The center of the lens provides an intermediate/transitional area between far and near objects for enhanced vision.
  • The bottom of the lens provides enhanced vision at near distances.

Considering Your Lifestyle

The next thing to consider is your lifestyle and how that affects the purpose of your glasses. Obviously, they’ll be used to help you see clearly, but many people use different types of glasses for different tasks. For example, reading glasses will usually only be used for reading or seeing things up close, while many prescription glasses are used for driving or for seeing far away.

First, think about the things you do daily to help you narrow down your glasses options. Are you physically active? Do you only need glasses for specific tasks, such as reading or driving? Do you work or frequent an area that requires glasses to resist various hazards?

Depending on how much activity you do that requires glasses within a given day, you may want to look for glasses that are more durable and can handle frequent use. 

A Note on Glass Lenses and Durability

When you hear glasses, typically, the image of glass isn’t far behind. But in reality, glass is very rarely used for glasses nowadays because it is too heavy and breakable. Two types of lenses sit at the top of the list in terms of durability:

Polycarbonate Lenses

A polycarbonate lens is lighter and more durable than glass. These lenses are also generally made with a UV blocking treatment.

High Index Lenses

High index lenses are very much like a polycarbonate lens, but the lens itself is much thinner. The higher the index number, the stronger the prescription that it supports. 

Outside of durability, there is a slew of other features to choose from to create your perfect pair of glasses, such as additional treatment options.

Treatment Options

Most lenses are compatible with specific customization options or “treatments.” These treatments offer further benefits to your eyewear that can make your overall vision better or help protect your eyes:

TreatmentBenefit
Polarized LensesImproves visual clarity and reduces glare
UV ProtectionProtects your eyes from UV rays
Photochromic Lenses (Transition Lenses)Appears clear while indoors but becomes shaded when exposed to UV rays
Mirror LensesReflective to reduce glare
Anti-Reflective LensesEliminates glare, and provides a certain amount of UV protection
Scratch-Resistant LensesPrevents scratches
High Index LensesGrants a thinner lens than the polycarbonate counterpart
Polycarbonate FramesImpact-resistant 
Blue Light Filtering LensesFilters an increased amount of blue light than your typical UV protected glasses

(Source: Warby Parker)

It’s worth noting that not all these treatments are required, but you may want specific options based on your lifestyle. For example, if you’re outside a lot, UV protection is a plus. If you are always on the computer or your phone, either for work or leisure, blue light filtering is also a good addition.

Considering Your Face Shape 

The shape of your face can determine whether a frame can accentuate your overall appearance or detriment it. Below is a table of common face shapes and frames that look best with each:

Face ShapeGlasses/Frame Shape
Oval FaceWorks with any pair of frames
Square FaceA curvier frame can soften the angles and jawline
Oblong FaceSquare frames with “sharp angles” can add width to your face
Round FaceSquare frames can add angles to your face

(Source: Your Eye Site)

What About the Cost of Glasses?

You’ll also want to consider the overall cost of your glasses and how they may fit within your budget. In the United States, the average cost of glasses is $196, with a range between $50 to $1000 for a single pair.

A variety of factors will drastically change the price of glasses:

  • the type of lens material,
  • whether it’s single or multifocal,
  • and if the frames are brand name or not.

All play a critical role in determining the cost. 

How to Save Money on Glasses

Naturally, frames that come from a major brand will end up costing more than non-brand name frames. However, even though they look objectively better than lesser-known frames, that doesn’t mean they’ll always be of superior quality.

Therefore, if brand recognition doesn’t matter to you, you can save most of your money by ignoring these frames and going with a more economically priced option. But if it does matter, no one is going to argue that high-end brand frames will look better. 

Final Thoughts: How These Considerations Change with Age

While the basics behind choosing your glasses may stay the same, unfortunately, as we all get older, parts of our body don’t always work the way they used to. The eyes are included in that bitter fact.

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Chief amongst these changes are various conditions that can be brought about by age, such as the eyes’ lenses hardening, cataracts, glaucoma, and more. Thankfully, there are ways your optometrist can combat these types of changes and prescribe the right types of lenses and glasses—as long as you communicate them.

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