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Many of us avoid getting a new pair of prescription glasses because we can’t be bothered with the hassle and expense that comes with paying for an eye test and then shopping for a pair of glasses that suit our face shape, nose size, or you know – even our wardrobe. And I’m no different. I find going to an optician nothing short of traumatising so always resort to shopping for glasses online. It saves money, time and definitely those mild episodes of stress that come with going to Specsavers. I’ve put together this guide that will hopefully make it easier and cheaper to buy your next pair of prescription glasses.
Shop for Glasses Online
The first piece of advice is to shop for prescription glasses, reading glasses, and sunglasses online. Online businesses save a lot of money by avoiding the added expenses involved in running a high-street store, such as sales assistants, higher rent, interior décor, etc. Online stores tend to work from cheaper warehouse spaces, so they can buy products in bulk from suppliers or develop their own products on site, considerably lowering overheads. The plus side of all of these savings is that online eyewear retailers can pass all of the savings onto their customers. This is why online glasses and sunglasses are considerably lower than traditional stores.
Another benefit of buying online is that you usually have much more of a selection to choose from. This is because it’s easier for a website to add 100 more product pages than it is for a physical store to find a place to display 100 new pairs of glasses in their store. Online stores like Foster Grant have a wide range of sunglasses and reading glasses to choose from.
Online eyewear retailers also save money by avoiding the added costs associated with sight equipment and salaries for optometrists to provide eye tests for customers. However, this also means that they cannot test your eyes and update your prescription for you. Although there are ways of obtaining a free eye test, saving even more money on your next pair of glasses.
Free Eye Tests
Obtaining an eye test can cost money, and the cost and hassle associated often put people off even trying. Many people use their old prescription. However, your prescription only lasts about two years, and buying new prescription glasses or sunglasses with an old prescription will just mean that they are out of date from day one. However, you may be able to obtain a free eye test through the NHS. If you live in Scotland, for example, then you are entitled to a free eye test through the NHS regardless of your circumstances. This is because Scotland’s NHS budget is a devolved issue and the Scottish parliament has dedicated budget to ensure that everyone can obtain a free eye test.
If you live in the rest of the UK, however, you will need to meet more specific criteria in order to qualify for a free eye test through the NHS. There are numerous criteria, and you can find them all on the NHS website, but here are a few of the more common ones:
- If you’re over 60
- If you’re under 16
- If you’re under 19 and in full-time education
- If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma or you’ve been told that you’re at risk of glaucoma
- If you are a diabetic
- If you are registered as partially or severely sight impaired
- If you require complex lenses to see
There are various different criteria that may qualify you for a free eye test in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and you only need to meet one criterion to qualify.
However, you may not meet any of the criteria required to receive a free NHS eye test and you probably aren’t willing to move to Scotland to receive one… Although you still may be able to get a free eye test from a private optician. The key is to look out for special deals from opticians in your area. Many of them offer free eye tests at different times of year in order to promote their business and encourage people to buy prescription glasses and sunglasses from them. But you aren’t legally obliged to buy a pair of glasses from them after you’ve received your free eye test, so it’s a great way to get a free sight prescription.
Figuring Out Your Face Shape
The final part of the process helps you buy the right prescription eyewear to suit the size and shape of your face. The one drawback of buying eyewear online is that you can’t try on the glasses or sunglasses before you buy them. This is a problem because most of us find that some glasses suit us much more than others. This comes down to the shape of your face, and its size. Measure the width of your face and ensure that the eyewear you buy is roughly the same width. If it is too narrow, then it might not fit and it will dig into your face. If it is too wide, then it will jiggle around on your face and perhaps even slip off. The width of a pair of glasses should be available on most websites. It is usually displayed as the width of the lenses and the width of the bridge. Add these together (making sure to count the lenses twice) and you’ll have the width of the entire frame.
There are some tried and tested guidelines that can help you choose specific styles for your face. First of all, it’s important to work out what shape your face is. With the exception of identical twins, most people have unique face shapes. However, there are various common templates that most of us adhere to. To work out your face shape, it’s a good idea to use a crayon (or something else you can wash off) to draw around the outline of your face in the mirror. The shape will be uneven, but it should give you a rough idea of which face-shape group you belong to.
If your face is round, it doesn’t mean that you are overweight; it just means that it is as tall as it is wide and your jawline and temples taper in slightly, creating a rough circle shape. For round faces, it’s best to use harsh angles to balance out your soft features, so opt for square and rectangular rims.
You’ve won the attractiveness lottery if you have an oval face, as it is widely regarded as the most naturally beautiful face shape. Your face is oval if it is slightly taller than it is wide and its forehead and jawline taper slightly. With an oval-shaped face, you can probably wear whatever style of glasses and sunglasses you like, as they all seem to suit oval faces!
Like round faces, square faces are as tall as they are wide, only they don’t taper at the jaw or the temples, meaning that the temples and jaw are as wide as the cheekbones, which creates an approximately square shape. Square faces are angular, so it’s best to use softer round and circular shapes to balance out your features.
Rectangle and Oblong Faces
These face shapes are just longer versions of round and square faces. As such, you should wear round and curvy glasses with rectangle glasses and angular/square glasses with oblong faces. However, as rectangle and oblong faces are usually significantly longer than they are wide, it’s usually a good idea to wear larger-rimmed glasses, as they will make your face appear slightly shorter.
Diamond- and Heart-Shaped Faces
These faces don’t really look like hearts or diamonds. However, they are characterised by pointy chins and wide cheek bones. The only difference between the two is that diamond-shaped faces narrow slightly at the hairline and heart-shaped faces are as wide at the hairline as they are at your cheekbones. The same styles of glasses work for both face shapes, however, as the main goal is to pull people’s gaze up to the top of your face and away from your pronounced chin. The best way to do this is with top-heavy designs, such as Clubmasters, Aviators, and cat-eye glasses.
If you ensure you get a free eye test, shop online, and that you put a little thought into choosing the right eyewear for your face’s shape and size, then you’re sure to save time and money on your next pair of prescription glasses.
What are your best tips for when you’re shopping for a new pair of prescription glasses?