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Understanding Prescription Glasses

a pair of prescription glasses and a book

Need prescription glasses? It can be a tall order to try and choose a pair nowadays with so many different options available. Navigating the world of prescription glasses lenses can be confusing. There’s a lot of terms and different products to understand, how do you know for instance whether or not you need coatings? What are photochromatic lenses and do you need blue light protection? And beyond that deciding on frame shapes and colours can be a challenge, there are so many options to choose from.

Luckily nowadays thanks to insurances and bulk billing, visiting the optometrist is often very affordable and can even mean that getting a trendy new pair of prescription lenses can be free. Simple single vision lenses are often very affordable but multi-focal prescription glasses and designer frames can get very expensive, so here are a few things you should know and understand about prescription glasses.

Where to buy them

There are a lot of different stores to buy from in Australia but the market is mainly dominated by two players, Specsavers and Luxottica which own other stores and chains. Some health fund providers also own their own optical chains and then additionally there are some smaller independent brands and chains. The large providers run great and very affordable deals but sometime better quality and customisation options can be found at smaller independent stores so where you choose to shop can depend on your needs and your insurance.

What to look for when purchasing

When you go shopping for prescription glasses the first thing you should do is go for an eye exam and get your optometrist to give you the correct script for your needs. It’s important to do this around every six months or a year, not only to refresh your script based on your current needs but also to help your optometrist pick up any eye health problems you may be suffering from. The script that your given will be tailored to your specific needs and your optometrist will also be able to assess any other issues like dry eyes and cataracts. Your frames and lenses should be chosen based on your eye health and needs and your lifestyle. Your optometrist will be able to help you select options that suit your needs. They will carefully measure your eyes and face to help you find a comfortable fit and will talk to you about the distances that you tend to read at. They’ll also let you know what frames suit your lenses. Not all frames are suitable for all lenses. Multi-focal lenses especially are not suitable for all types of frames and it’s important to talk to your optometrist to find a frame that will fit your needs, otherwise, it could stop your prescription glasses from working the way they should.


When buying prescription glasses you should know that there are many different lense options out there. From the standard type which is often super affordable and light weight but more prone to scratching, to aspheric lenses which are thinner and flatter and polycarbonate lenses which are impact-resistant and best for sports and activity. There are also other specialty types of lenses like safety lenses which are good for work environments, high index lenses which are made from plastic and are good for high strength scripts, and office lenses which are good for screen time.

When it comes to choosing frames you should think about your face shape and what feels comfortable for you. Plastic frames can be very lightweight but some people prefer wireframes for the way they can be moulded to the face.