What am I paying for?


In April 2010, we carried out a survey and asked the public what they worried about when they were buying glasses online. Just over half of the people we asked said that they were worried about not having an optician ‘fit’ their glasses. Although some styles are better suited to smaller faces and others to larger faces, most people should need little or no adjustment for a frame to feel comfortable. If you find it difficult to get frames to fit you, it’s best to try them on first. At Glasses Direct, you can try them on at home with our free Home Trial to help make sure that your glasses fit perfectly.

Most glasses frames are made in just a few places around the world, mainly in China and Italy. Whether you buy your glasses on the high street or online, the frames were probably shipped from the same handful of factories. The most expensive frames are usually designer labels or unique designs. The quality of materials, the hinges and finishes vary widely, but this is usually a small part of the overall cost of the glasses. This means that you can buy high-quality frames at fairly low prices if they are not a designer label or brand.


The lenses are slightly more complicated, but only because they are made precisely to your prescription. Lens blanks (lenses before your prescription has been added and before they are fitted to the frames) are made by a few companies around the world, and they are only made with prescriptions by a handful of laboratories across the UK. This means that whether you buy your glasses online or on the high street, it is likely that they will have been made by the same people. Virtually all lenses are made from optical plastic of different properties, which are shown by its index. An Index of 1.5 is the standard level for lenses that some opticians include free when you buy frames. A higher index like 1.6 or 1.67 means the lens can be thinner – the higher the number, the thinner the lenses can be. If you have a strong prescription, your optician will probably recommend that you choose thinner lenses which are more expensive the thinner they get, but always remember that you have a choice.