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Buying eyewear online can often be quick and convenient. Some online retailers, such as Warby Parker, offer a way for people to try on frames virtually before purchasing them.

In 2019, online retailers sold almost 1 in 10 pairs of prescription glasses in the United States. Advances in technology mean that it is now possible to try on hundreds of frames virtually without stepping into a store.

This article introduces Warby Parker and explains how the company’s Virtual Try-On service works. It also looks at why having the correct eyewear is so important for vision health.

Warby Parker designs glasses in-house and sells them directly to the consumer, allowing it to offer its products at lower prices. People can purchase the eyewear online or in stores across the U.S. and parts of Canada. The company offers:

  • prescription and nonprescription eyeglasses and sunglasses
  • contact lenses
  • eyeglass accessories, including cases, chains, and cleaning kits

The company also offers a Home Try-On service, allowing users to order a certain number of eyeglass frames to try on in the comfort of their home.

In 2019, Warby Parker introduced a Virtual Try-On feature via the company app, which Apple named as one of its 10 best apps in 2016. However, this feature is only available on iPhone X and above.

At the time of publishing, Warby Parker had a Trustpilot rating of 3.3 out of 5.0 stars. Reviewers state that the prices are affordable and the frames stylish. However, negative reviews report that the company has slow delivery times and that its customer service is poor.

Apple users currently award the Warby Parker app 4.9 out of 5.0 stars on the App Store. The positive reviews mention that buying through the app is convenient and that the company’s customer service team is helpful.

However, other users say that the app can be difficult and confusing to navigate. Some reviewers state that the customer service team did not communicate delays and changes to their order.

Warby Parker’s Virtual Try-On feature allows users to try on hundreds of frames virtually using an iPhone camera. A person can select any pair of frames via the app, pull down their camera, and see how the frames look on their face.

How does it work?

The user can move their head from side to side to see how the frames look from different angles and tap to change the color of the frames. There is also an option to take a screenshot of the virtual frames, so users can store images on their phone to compare before committing to purchasing a particular product.

Customers with a Warby Parker account can store their favorite frames by tapping the heart icon, and they can also select up to five pairs of frames for Warby Parker’s Home Try-On service. This service allows people 5 days to try their selected frames at home. Shipping and returns are free.

How to order

Once an individual has decided which frames they wish to purchase, they can order eyeglasses through the app.

The process of ordering through the app is the same as ordering through Warby Parker’s website.

A person will need to have a current prescription to order prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses. The company offers eye exams in various locations if a person does not have a current prescription.

Warby Parker will send eyeglasses and sunglasses to the purchaser’s chosen address free of charge. If a person needs to return their purchase, the company offers free returns.

People who would like to use an alternative virtual service to try on and buy their eyeglasses have several options, including:

  • Zenni: A Virtual Try-On service allows users to upload a 5-second video to get a 180-degree view of how the frames will look. Users can try up to 50 frames. Zenni also offers a tool that matches frames to face shape, and users can share their images with friends for feedback. The company provides a service called Zenni Frame Fit for users who wish to see a 2D preview.
  • GlassesUSA: This company’s Virtual Mirror allows customers to try on any pair of glasses online by taking a selfie and uploading it or using a model with a similar face shape. The service is available for all adult frames.
  • EyeBuyDirect: This company offers a 180-degree virtual mirror with more than 1,800 styles to try. Those who do not have a camera, or those who are buying for someone else, can upload a picture to virtually try on glasses.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) states that more than 150 million people in the U.S. use corrective eyewear, spending a total of more than $15 billion each year on eyeglasses, contact lenses, and accessories.

The AAO recommends that all adults in their 20s and 30s have at least one complete exam by an ophthalmologist every 5–10 years.

Adults should then have a baseline eye exam at the age of 40 years, or sooner if they have symptoms of sight loss or a family history of macular degeneration or glaucoma.

Being aware of an individual’s family medical history can help an ophthalmologist spot early signs of conditions and prevent further vision loss.

The AAO has developed specific eye screening guidelines for children from birth to 5 years and older. The recommendations include newborn, 6-to-12-month, and 12-to-36-month screenings, plus a check at 3–5 years.

Nonprescription eyeglasses and health

Eyewear, such as glasses and contact lenses, can help correct many vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Glasses can have other health benefits. Some lenses have a filter that aims to protect the eyes from blue light. Blue light can come from smartphone and computer screens, LED lights, and the sun. Eyeglasses with a filter may reduce eye strain.

Sunglasses can protect the eyes from harmful UV light, which may help prevent cataracts and minimize the exposure that the tender skin around the eyes gets to the sun.

As well as attending routine eye tests, people should make an appointment for an eye test if they experience any of the following:

  • difficulty reading small print or seeing anything else at a distance
  • changes in their vision, such as blurring or black dots
  • headaches after reading, using a computer, or driving
  • persistently dry, watery, red, or itchy eyes

Individuals with a family history of diabetes, glaucoma, or age-related macular degeneration should make the eye doctor aware of this information.

Using a virtual service, such as Warby Parker’s Virtual Try-On, allows people to see whether eyewear suits them before they purchase it. Warby Parker’s Virtual Try-On service is only available on iPhone X or more recent models.

It is important to use eyewear to correct and protect vision. People should see an eye doctor as soon as possible if they notice any changes in their vision.