At Spectrum Eyecare in Peachtree City, Dr. John Henahan works with thousands of patients to ensure their eye health, visual comfort and eye safety. As new trends emerge in eyecare, Dr. Henahan evaluates each one carefully in order to help his patients make the most of their vision.
“One thing that we have taken for granted for decades is the safety and accuracy of eyewear that is produced by optical laboratories in the United States. But a new breed of eyeglasses sold online that is manufactured and shipped directly from China is raising concerns about this basic assumption.”, reports Dr. Henahan. “A study published in a major Journal this month found that online eyeglasses get a failing grade, with nearly 45% failing for either accuracy, lens safety or both.” By comparison, fewer than 2% of eyeglasses purchased at brick and mortar optical shops fail on these standards.
This study included leading professors from Optometric Universities and a member of the federal standard setting committee for eyeglasses safety. They uncovered a disturbing lack of accuracy in the filling of the eyeglasses prescription. This can lead to blurred vision, headaches and eyestrain, says Dr. Henahan. The researchers purchased hundreds of pairs of eyewear from 8 of the largest online vendors. Nearly 30% of prescriptions were not filled accurately.
In addition to accuracy problems, more than 1 out of 5 pairs failed impact testing. This safety test determines if the lens would withstand an impact that might be experienced when wearing glasses during a car accident, playing sports or in a random event. This is especially scary because the lens could shatter into the eye and cause major damage or even blindness.
Another unknown revolves around the safety of the materials and paints used in the frame itself. With the recent discovery of toxic materials in children’s toys and jewelry, there are big questions about what we might be exposing ourselves to with a device that touches our skin all day.
Dr. Henahan urges patients to purchase their eyewear from one of the many retailers with a brick and mortar presence in their area. Any optical retailer, whether it is a private practice (like Spectrum Eyecare), a retail chain or even in “big box” store will provide assistance with choosing eyewear. They will help ensure that the glasses fit your face, are adjusted for comfort, and they will verify that all lenses pass inspection for accuracy and safety. Finally, if you have a problem they will work with you to adjust the glasses or prescription to give you comfort and clear vision.
“What I tell my patients is that eyeglasses are not like contact lenses, which are mass produced. Each pair is custom made to match their individual prescription, eyesize and frame selection. It is critical that they be correctly fit, measured and verified. Online retailers simply cannot provide that, and now the safety of the eyewear they produce is in serious doubt.”