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Wellness

How to find your eyeglass prescription without getting an exam

Need your vision specs so you can order new specs? This magical new tool can give you the numbers.

Eyeglasses for sale in an opticians on Coray way.

You don't need to call your eye doctor if you want find your current eyeglass prescription.

Jeff Greenberg

Want to freshen your face with a new pair of eyeglass frames? As you probably know, you can save a small fortune by ordering glasses online.

Just one wrinkle: You need to know your prescription. Sure, you can call your optometrist to get the numbers -- unless the office is closed. Or you just feel weird about asking because they'll know you're shopping elsewhere.

Thankfully, if you have a pretty basic prescription (meaning they're not bifocals, progressives or Coke-bottle lenses), there's a free tool from GlassesUSA.com that can scan your current glasses. I took it for a spin with my son's glasses and the results matched his current prescription.

Read more: Use your phone to check your vision | Best places to buy prescription glasses online in 2019

And according to GlassesUSA.com, the results are "in line with the standard range of deviation as in any doctor's office" -- though this isn't meant to take the place of an eye exam. Indeed, if you haven't had your vision checked in a year or more, it might make sense to schedule an appointment.  

But if you just want a quick and easy way to find out what kind of lenses you have right now, here's how:

Step 1: Grab your current glasses, your smartphone and a credit card (or any other plastic card that's the size of a credit card -- it's used to calibrate the app, not for payment). Then, plunk down in front of your computer and point your browser to www.glassesusa.com/scan.

Step 2: Enter your phone number or email address to receive a link for the GlassesUSA app.

Step 3: Once you've installed the app, following the guided tutorial. You'll first need to scan an onscreen QR code, then hold the credit card up to the screen and scan that. From there you'll hold your glasses between the phone and the screen for various readings. It ends with a pupillary-distance (PD) scan, which rather amusingly requires you to hold the card up to your forehead.

glassesusa-prescription-results

Once the scan is done, the site will show you your prescription. (Make sure to verify its accuracy before ordering any new glasses.)

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

It's a pretty simple process that takes all of about 10 minutes. When you're done, you'll be asked to create a GlassesUSA.com account, at which point you should immediately see your prescription.

And that's it! Armed with that data, you can order lenses and frames from anywhere. Just take note that the app doesn't store any of this information; if you want to retrieve it later, you'll have to sign back into your GlassesUSA.com account in a browser.

Update: To clarify the legality of this tool, we reached out to GlassesUSA.com. According to a company rep, "This service is FDA-listed and registered as a Class 1 Exempt Medical Device on the FDA Medical Device Listings. It does not provide medical advice, nor does it replace a comprehensive eye health exam by an eye care professional."

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