The Internet is wonderful in many ways. But it can also be the source of misleading—even dangerously misleading—“facts.” Here at Optique Eyewear/Eyecare, we are particularly concerned about Internet articles—usually written by paid bloggers with no optometric experience—that lure you to purchase eyewear online because of “huge savings” or flat-out-false promises of comparable quality and service.

Let’s take a few minutes to focus on 5 of the most dangerous myths peddled by certain online eyewear services:

DANGEROUS MYTH #1:  Online services offer adequate eye-care quality and safety

According to a recent article published by the American Optometric Association, there is a serious question about the quality and safety of prescription eyewear ordered online.

“In a recent study,” the Association reported, “researchers [with the Optical Laboratories Association and The Vision Council] discovered that nearly half of all glasses (44.8 percent) ordered online either contained an inaccurate prescription or didn’t meet safety standards designed to protect the eyes.”

This research was very “real-world”—based solidly on what people would actually experience when shopping online. The researchers asked 10 average people to order two pairs of eyeglasses each, from each of the 10 most popular online optical vendors. Thus, 200 pairs were ordered, with the frame materials, lens styles, and prescriptions all varying.

Once the orders were received back, the researchers studied the quality of the services. They closely analyzed lenses—including measurement of sphere power, cylinder power, and axis—add power (if specified), separation of distance of optical centers, and center thickness.

The results were extremely worrisome.

Several of the eyeglasses were incorrectly and incompetently made, such as offering single vision when the prescription called for bifocals. Others featured lens treatments—or no lens treatments—when the prescription called for the opposite.

To make matters worse, nearly 30 percent of the eyeglasses featured at least one lens that failed to meet the required prescription. And nearly 25 percent of the lenses failed standard impact-resistance testing, opening the door to a potential major safety problem.

DANGEROUS MYTH #2:  Online services offer comparable over-all service

The problems we just highlighted reveal the dangers of trusting a very serious thing—your vision—to “cookie-cutter, trendy-appearing” online optical services. As we just saw, you can’t even trust them to “cut the cookies” correctly!

But the problem is deeper than that. It’s about the distinction between in-person service that puts you first . . . or online companies for which you’ll always be a “faceless number.” Highly trained, flesh-and-blood optometrists and opticians such as those at Optique are personally vested in serving you with individualized, state-of-the-art solutions for every type of eye problem or situation you face. As a result, you get vastly more personal time and attention when you trust your eyes to professionals.

DANGEROUS MYTH #3:  Online services offer “huge savings” over traditional eyecare / eyewear services

As devoted optometrists who care deeply about our patients’ vision, we are appalled at the explosion of Internet articles promising “huge savings” for those who shop online. The three questions everyone who reads these articles should ask are:

Who is the author of the article?

Do you actually achieve “huge savings” when you shop for contacts and eyewear online?

And if you do achieve some savings, what are the “hidden costs” of those savings to you?

The truth is, most of the “Online Eyecare is Great” articles are written by hired writers with absolutely zero optical expertise or training. And their savings claims are often demonstrably untrue. How do we know? Because we’ve conducted our own research on the subject. And the results were unequivocal—Optique’s prices can be even lower than those of retailers such as those in big box stores, and online services such as 1-800-Contacts.

But even if you do achieve savings by using online eyeglasses or contact lens services, the hidden costs to you can be tremendous. The blunt truth is, most of those services offer you and your eyesight minimum protection. One of our very deepest concerns about the order-online fad is contact lens resellers who blatantly break the law, putting people like you and your family at serious risk for permanent vision loss.  We have seen cases in our practice of normal folks who have permanently lost vision because they purchased contact lenses online.

DANGEROUS MYTH #4:  Ordering eyewear online is as easy as ordering blue jeans or concert tickets

Anytime you order a very serious product such as eyewear from a website based far away—rather than from trained professionals in your own backyard—you’re risking serious reliability and quality-control problems. Remember the research experiment we mentioned above, conducted by the American Optometric Association? When participants in the survey ordered a total of 200 pairs of eyeglasses online—from the Top 10 online sites, mind you—fully 46 of those pair were never even delivered. That’s 23 percent.

Would you order a book from Amazon if you believed there were nearly a 1 in 4 chance your book would have a different ending?

DANGEROUS MYTH #5:  Online services assure a great look and proper fit

Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported on some of the drawbacks of buying eyewear online. The highly respected newspaper reported, “It can be harder to get glasses to fit properly when buying online, especially for people who need significant optical correction, experts say. As a result, people with extreme nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, or those who wear bifocals, may end up with glasses bought online that don’t fix their vision problem.”

And what about the “great frame selection” online services boast about? In truth, their selection is often more limited than those of tradition stores such as Optique—and they often don’t allow you to try your frame on before ordering. What if it doesn’t fit well or is uncomfortable?

On the other hand, Optique’s collection of eyewear is unparalleled in Nashville—pretty much assuring you glasses that will look terrific. Each frame is hand-picked for quality, style, and distinction. We are Nashville’s exclusive provider of Dita Eyewear, and we also offer an amazing selection of other frames, including Tom Ford, Rayban, Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Silhouette, Kate Spade, and Christian Dior.

The bottom line is this: Your eyesight is too precious to trust to online services that offer you highly questionable eyecare. If you want to feel you are being served by real, flesh-and-blood professionals who care deeply about your vision, we invite you to contact us at Optique Eye Care / Eye Wear.