It often seems like there is a long time gap between order and pickup for eyeglasses. This might make you wonder, “Why do glasses take so long to make?”

Every eyeglass prescription is unique, meaning that there are thousands of different possibilities as far as dimensions and designs for making your pair of glasses. Eyeglasses are made during an intensive process, which often occurs at a third-party optical lab.

You can get your glasses faster if you visit an optical shop that also has its lab. You may also consider ordering your glasses online, so that you may receive your new glasses at your doorstep. More details on what to expect from the process are included below.

How Long Does It Take to Make Glasses?

You should prepare for the possibility that it may take 2-3 weeks for you to receive your glasses, depending upon the details of your prescription. 

If you have a high prescription or require progressive lenses, then it is more likely that you’ll have to wait. Lower prescriptions tend to be in higher demand, so there’s a greater chance that the optical shop already has your lenses in stock. 

Why Glasses Take So Long to Make

The time between order and pick up depends upon a host of factors, including the details of your prescription and the availability of the lab where the glasses are made. 

How Lenses Are Made

The first step in the process is to make the lenses for your glasses if the shop doesn’t already have your prescription in stock. 

These are the stages in which glasses lenses are made:

  • Stage 1: In their raw form, lenses are blank pieces of glass or plastic with a flat back and a curved front.
  • Stage 2: A lab technician will take this blank piece and cut it at the correct angle to match the prescription.
  • Stage 3: The final stage of the process involves edging the lenses to fit into the frame of choice.

Lenses are crafted according to a series of measurements, which you may recall your optician jotting down. First comes the prescription and the variable of whether you are far-sighted or near-sighted. Then, there is the cylinder or magnitude of your astigmatism. You’ll also have the ability to choose which materials you want the lenses to be made of.

Manufacturing of Lenses Is Often Outsourced

Most optical centers do not have their labs, due to the cost of the advanced equipment and labor required. These duties are outsourced to a third-party lab, where lab technicians must ensure that thousands of lenses are cut and fitted per day.

The finished product must then be mailed to your optician. Depending on the distance between the lab and your optician, it may take several days, or even weeks, for your glasses to arrive. 

High Demand for Eyeglasses

Approximately 75% of adults need vision correction of some sort, and only 11% of people are comfortable wearing contacts. The vast majority of adults taking action on vision impairment require glasses. These numbers do not begin to account for the number of individuals who need multiple pairs of glasses.

It’s Not Easy to Fit Lenses Into Frames

Even the most advanced machinery cannot fully automate the frame-fitting process

Here is the process of lens fitting:

  • Step 1: A tracing machine produces a 3D image of a lens perimeter matching your frame.
  • Step 2: A milling machine then cuts the lenses to the desired dimensions.
  • Step 3: The lenses are then hand-fitted into the frame. It would be nice to have robots that could do this, but the technology does not exist for such a finely-tuned process.

Now, let’s move on to the next reason why glasses take so long to make.

Quality Control 

Glasses go through rigorous quality control before they are deemed ready for delivery to the customer. Every single measurement is double-checked and the lenses are thoroughly inspected for defects. Being that glasses are a considerable investment, you certainly want to roll with a reputable optical laboratory that takes these final steps seriously.

Are Online Glasses Made Faster? 

As long as you have a copy of your prescription, you can always order glasses online. 

Ordering your glasses online doesn’t necessarily speed up the process, although it can certainly be convenient. If you go with an online retailer, then you’ll have your glasses delivered directly to your doorstep. 

How Can I Get My Glasses Faster?

If you need glasses quickly, you might consider seeking out an optical center that makes glasses on-site. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to hang tight for 7-14 days. Shops with their labs may also offer a larger variety of choices.

If you need to schedule an eye exam for a prescription, you may also consider asking the office if you can try on a few pairs of glasses ahead of your appointment, so that you have a good idea of which design suits you best. 

Lastly, you are strongly encouraged to get a backup pair of glasses if you can. Having an extra pair of glasses is an excellent security blanket, especially since tragedy seems to strike at the most inopportune of times, such as right in the middle of a vacation.

Final Thoughts

Eyeglasses can take anywhere from a day to several weeks to arrive in your hands. The speed of the process depends upon your specific prescription. The manufacturing process cannot be fully automated, owing to the complexities discussed above.