Safety and Compliance of Prescription Spectacles ordered by the Public via the Internet

Optometry – Journal of the American Optometric Association

Volume 82, Issue 9, Pages 549-555, September 2011


This study investigated prescription spectacles ordered from online vendors and delivered directly to the public for compliance with the optical tolerance and impact resistance requirements for eyewear dispensed in the United States.


Ten individuals ordered 2 pairs of spectacles from each of 10 of the most visited Internet vendors, totaling 200 eyewear orders. Spectacles ordered consisted of ranges of lens and frame materials, lens styles, and refractive corrections reflecting current distributions in the United States. Evaluations included measurement of sphere power, cylinder power and axis, add power (if indicated), horizontal prism imbalance, and impact testing.


We received and evaluated 154 pairs of spectacles, comprising 308 lenses. Several spectacles were provided incorrectly, such as single vision instead of multifocal and lens treatments added or omitted. In 28.6% of spectacles, at least 1 lens failed tolerance standards for at least 1 optical parameter, and in 22.7% of spectacles, at least 1 lens failed impact testing. Overall, 44.8% of spectacles failed at least 1 parameter of optical or impact testing.


Nearly half of prescription spectacles delivered directly by online vendors did not meet either the optical requirements of the patient’s visual needs or the physical requirements for the patient’s safety.