Buying Glasses Online – Our View

Dr Allan Simpson, 10 August 2018

More and more New Zealanders are opting to buy their glasses online to save money. The trend is to visit an optometrist or optician, get an eye test including an important measurement called pupillary distance (PD) and enter those measurements into any one of a number of online web sites. You choose your frame from thousands of options, input your credit card and the glasses arrive a week or so later from overseas. Whenever the glasses need replacing you go online again for a repeat using the same prescriptive measurements as last time. A no-brainer?
Dr Allan Simpson, Southern Eye’s Glaucoma expert, responds:
It’s not such a ‘no-brainer’ to buy glasses online without an eye examination each time. Simply repeating the same prescription when re-ordering glasses misses the very real point that your eyesight has invariably changed. Glaucoma NZ recommends that everybody gets an eye examination from an optometrist at the age of 45 and then every 5 years thereafter until 60. After turning 60 they recommend eye examinations three yearly. As there is no cost-effective population screening in New Zealand it is only these regular eye examinations that will detect diseases such as glaucoma, known as the ‘silent thief of sight’.
Glaucoma NZ’s key message for all New Zealanders is that early detection of glaucoma is vital when it comes to preventing blindness.
That means an eye examination for glaucoma every five years from the age of 45 and every three years from the age of 60. However, at any age, if you notice changes in your eyesight, then you should have your eyes examined at that time. For example, if you require hobby glasses, it is a good idea to have your eyes checked by an eye health professional, just in case there is an underlying problem. In addition if you have risk factors for glaucoma, such as family history, then you may need your eyes checked more frequently.
It is really important for people to know if glaucoma runs in their family, because if it does, your risk increases substantially. You are also at higher risk of getting glaucoma if you are 60 years and over, are short sighted, have a past or present use of steroid drugs, or previous eye injury.