We have already outlined the best places to buy glasses online but is the experience better than buying them in-store?

This guide explores whether it’s better to buy glasses in-store or online. To jump ahead to the different sections, just use the links below or keep scrolling:

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There’s almost nothing nowadays that you can’t get online. From buying clothes, furniture, household goods, and even groceries, we can also find romantic partners online. We apply for jobs, communicate with each other, and take in our news online.

The internet is a wonderful yet scary place but it brings us a wealth of convenience. Therefore, let’s settle the debate once and for all by comparing the benefits of buying glasses online versus in-store.

Why Would You Buy Glasses In-Store?

Glasses on display in storeOnce handed your prescription after visiting the opticians, the most logical course of action may be to buy your glasses on-location or head to the nearest boutique.

You’ll be able to try a dozen or so frames in front of a mirror before making your purchase and then you’ll be on your merry way. So let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of buying in-store.

Pros to Buying Glasses In-Store


If you’re lucky to have found a reputable outlet, you should get quality service and advice from a professional. A good salesperson will listen to your needs whilst taking into account your taste and budget.

With their knowledge of the store’s range, they should be able to quickly and efficiently direct you to some great frames. You’ll then be able to try them on with them so they can provide their honest opinion.

Curated Range

man's hand selecting glassesRather than stock their display cases and shelves with every possible frame imaginable, stores will sort them according to demand. This offers you a more limited albeit manageable range of options to choose from.

Some people can easily be overwhelmed when encountered with too much to choose from. Fortunately, the carefully collected ranges of stores can make this much easier.

Accurate Fitting

As store staff are trained experts, they’ll be able to correctly interpret prescriptions, take measurements as well as make adjustments. They’ll be able to cater to your head size and ensure that the frames you want will properly fit.

Cons To Buying Glasses In-Store

Untrained & Busy Staff

Weird salesman in round frames

Unfortunately, not all salespeople are considerate professionals that take pride in their job. Sometimes you may be out of luck and run into someone who hasn’t been properly trained and may make mistakes. After all, they’re only human too.

However, they’re not always as invested as you in finding the right glasses and may not provide the best advice that is the most honest. Matters can be made much worse if they’re busy due to new stock or too many customers. This could lead to an overall disappointing experience.


We’ve already suggested that a salesperson could be inattentive or undertrained. However, what if they’re the opposite and not in a good way? Sometimes you can run into a pushy seller who wants you to buy either the most expensive frames or to make your choice too quickly.

You’ll feel rushed and making decisions under duress never ends well. If staff work on a commissions basis, they may be even harder on you as they may hover rather than let you try in peace.


Free time is sacred and a rare luxury. Sadly, most of us tend to all have it at the same time: after work or on weekends. Therefore, the chances are that everyone else will be heading to the store the same time as you.

A crowded store surrounded by people is never a positive experience. When you’re doing something as personal as choosing glasses, it’s even worse. The result can lead to long queues, long waits to see a salesperson and a generally hurried experience.

Limited Selection

So-called “curated” ranges as we mentioned above are a double-edged sword. In one way, they can be liberating as the decision process is easier. However, they can be a nightmare as you may not find the glasses that you want.

If it isn’t in their inventory, you may be forced to make a special order. This means that you’ll then have to make time to come back another day.


You often hear jokes about remortgaging the house in order to get new glasses. This is perhaps an exaggeration but glasses typically cost a small fortune.

You can understand to a certain extent why stores charge so much. After all, you pay for the service but they also have a number of overheads from rent, bills and salaries.

However, as a consumer, this makes things so much harder. The entry price is often very high and almost impossible to achieve on a tight budget.

Why Should You Buy Glasses Online?

Man In Aviator EyeglassesTo the uninitiated, buying glasses online sounds quite scary. After all, those salespeople seem to know what they’re doing and glasses must be expensive because of this savoir-faire.

However, glasses have been long monopolised by stores that often manipulate their image. By appearing as specialists and treating their profession like a science, it feels inaccessible and hard to understand.

The technique is somewhat reminiscent of medieval priesthood or even early medicine where Latin was used as a barrier to exclude the common person. However, whilst optometrists are indeed technicians and scientists, a salesperson just knows the trade.

Buying online removes the middle man to a certain extent. It also reduces a number of overhead, which is why they can be so cheap. Let’s take a detailed look at the benefits and drawbacks of buying glasses online.

Pros To Buying Glasses Online


The most obvious reason why many people have turned to buying their glasses online is the added convenience. You can shop from the comfort of your own home or office without having to put time aside.

With some sites that are optimised for mobile devices, you could even do it during a commute or lying in bed! Buying glasses online means that you don’t have to take significant time out of your day but instead just put a few minutes aside.

No Crowds

As the entry above suggests, you don’t have to deal with the post-work hordes or Saturday shoppers. You can use the time saved wisely and even enjoy the personal experience of shopping for glasses online.

No Pressure

As we mentioned earlier, salespeople can sometimes be pushy, lack knowledge or simply overworked. No-one’s chasing after their sales commission and the worst thing you can expect is the odd banner or pop-up offering a special deal or free shipping.

Furthermore, many sites include integrated chat features where you can talk to a salesperson if you do need advice. Therefore, you won’t be alone to make your purchase should you need a hand. Nevertheless, thanks to the protective barrier of the internet, you won’t feel pressured into buying something you don’t want.


This links back to our first point. With no queues, crowds or closing times, you can take as long as you want in finding the best frames. Similarly, you can shop any time you want. If you’re a night owl or morning person, the site will be there 24/7.

You can save links or create an account to compare frames later if you find some but you’re still not sure. However, if time is on your side, your can sleep on it or even come back a few weeks later too.

Choice & Filters

As websites often work from offices and warehouses, they’re not limited in the same way as stores. With the only display being whats on the site, they can afford the luxury of having much more to choose from.

Cool hipster style glasses bougth online

While this may at first be overwhelming, the sites we recommend all feature well-designed filters to allow you to choose adding options such as price, size and style. You can then narrow down your search to include only your wants and needs. Suddenly, it becomes much more manageable!

Pricing & Quality

As sites can afford to work with smaller tight-knit teams from offices and warehouses, their running costs tend to be far less than stores.

Furthermore, they tend to work from different mark-up models so their profit margin may be orientated towards selling in volume. This means that because they sell more frames, they can lower their profits per sale and render them more accessible.

Consequently, sites can offer the same quality as what you’d get in-store for far less. If you’re still running on an in-store budget, imagine the quality designer glasses that you could buy for the same price!


The bests sites aren’t run by scammers or con-artists based somewhere in China. In fact, many companies have made the transition from storefronts to websites when they realised the opportunities it opened for both them and the customer.

As much as sites may seem anonymous at the front, they’re always run by people just like stores.

Moreover, many of those that own websites are professionals who deeply care about their trade. They’ve worked hard in creating ergonomic sites with a streamlined production behind it. Many lenses are crafted in the same labs and warehouses as stores too.

Online Cons

Dubious Online Retailers

Man shopping onlineIt’s well-known that buying online carries its own risks. From unsafe URLs to scammers or simply poorly-designed websites and spammy newsletters, it’s not easy finding the best places to buy online.

We’ve tried many outlets ourselves and had our own bad experiences. Fortunately, we have found some excellent sites too that offer a customer service and quality that are even better than in stores.

If you don’t want to take the same risks, head to our recommendations of the best places to buy glasses online now!

Too Much Choice

This indirectly links with our previous point. After all, there are thousands of sites that sell glasses each with thousands of options that they sell themselves. Sometimes their pricing and choices are similar. However, they may also overlap, which makes it even harder to choose!

If you’re making a decision with so many options, it can be daunting and leave you wondering if you bought the right thing from the right place.

This is why our guide to the best glasses to buy online includes sites that all differ in both styles and budgets. There will surely be something for you in there, which fits your tastes and needs perfectly.

Buying From A Distance

Blonde man in black glassesIf you can’t even touch let alone try on the glasses, how can you possible choose the right ones to buy? You run the risk of misinterpreting your prescription and may end up with frames that are the wrong size.

Fortunately, all the sites we recommend offer generous return policies so if they’re not right for any reason, you can send them right back. This is quite a comfort but what can you do to avoid making the same mistake twice?

Firstly, don’t hesitate to use the site’s in-built chat functions to talk with an expert about your prescription. They’ll help you fill out the details so you don’t have to worry about screwing up.

Secondly, choosing the right frames isn’t easy and the sites cater to that too. Many have their own sizing guides with interactive features for choosing the right ones.

Some sites, such as Warby Parker, let you try before you buy. This option allows you to be sent a few frames, try them on and then send them back. Better still, it’s completely free! We’ve even reviewed Warby Parker’s service if you want to see how it works.

Finally, we also offer our own guides to choosing glasses. One of our guides is on how glasses should fit, so you can find the right size. The other helps you choose glasses according to your skin-tone, personal style and face shape. Feel free to use those to help you out!

The Verdict

Rugged man in aviator glassesAlthough the choice is ultimately yours, we’re avid fans of buying our glasses online. Over our adult and professional lives, we’ve bought countless frames from many different retailers.

Having now tried and tested so many, we’re comfortable to say that we’ve identified the best places to buy glasses online. And any time that we did have issues with them, their excellent service always made us feel like valued costumers.

We’ve finally lost count of the time and money we’ve saved by buying our glasses online. Needless to say, it’s changed the way we look at glasses now (pun intended) and although we do miss the occasional friendly salesperson, we don’t look back.

What Next?

Whatever you choose to do, you can still use all our glasses resources to improve your buying experience. Check out some of the following guides to see how we can help:

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