E-Opticians are officially a thing. Presenting our top five brands for buying specs from home using AR-tech.

Remember a time when a complete stranger could get within a whisper’s distance of your face and stare into your eyes? No, we’re not talking IRL dating (alas), but the altogether less glamorous environs of the eye test exam room. The mere thought of sitting in a dark space with a heavy breathing optometrist wielding a head torch and getting up close and personal with your retina now seems mildly absurd in these socially distanced times. Yet eye examinations are, in fact, still available during lockdown and, indeed, should not be skipped as they can pick up more than just short-sightedness but glaucoma and retinal health issues, too.

But if you are currently looking for a more remote way to browse, trial and shop for new frames, there has been a rise in e-opticians, offering the last in AR-tech for you to try on glasses online – do note, however, you will still need an up-to-date prescription to be able to place your order online. The options on offer are phenomenal, from planet-conscious frames created from recycled materials to lenses to stop your eyes going square from all the screen time of late (or, more accurately, blue light filters to shield your peepers from screen glare that can disrupt your sleep). Here’s a round-up of five of our favourites and how to choose your perfect specs online.

Main image: Monc


Designed in Notting Hill and then hand-made collaboratively in a small Italian village by skilled eyewear craftsmen, MONC specs are not only beautifully made but consciously so too. Created from bio-acetate, a plant-based material created from wood pulp and cotton, its zero-waste home try-on service allows you to choose up to four frames to trial in the comfort of your own home, for up to five days. This then gives you plenty of time to try them on with different outfits and video call all your friends to get their verdict. Once you’ve chosen ‘the one’, simply post them all back to MONC with your prescription details for your new, hand-crafted specs to be ordered.
WE LOVE: The coloured frames of the over-sized Principe design.


There are two thousand Cubitts stores nationwide. But since we’re all house-bound right now, why not try out (or should that be try on?) the brand’s augmented-reality technology at home? Perfect for the indecisive, you can virtually try on countless frames, which come in gender-neutral designs and small, regular or large sizes to fit every and any face. There is even a bespoke service which allows you to pick the colour combo of your frames (emerald lenses, tangerine arms and a hot pink front sound appealing?) then get them monogrammed. Smart stuff.
WE LOVE: The bookishly alluring, Agar frames.

Jimmy Fairly

We love the ‘buy one, give one’ initiative from Paris-based eyewear brand Jimmy Fairly; it has donated more than 400,000 specs to those in need through their partner charities since launch. Whilst it doesn’t currently offer a try-before-you-buy at-home service, its direct-to-consumer model cuts out the middle-man and skinnies down the price, making an average pair just £99, including prescription lenses. You can add extras, including anti-glare and blue-light filtering, but for beautifully made, fashionable frames we think Jimmy Fairly is hard to beat on price.
WE LOVE: Bold, 70s-inspired tortoiseshell ‘The Hairspray’ frames.

Ace + Tate

Stylish Amsterdam-based Ace + Tate is a great option for the style- and price-conscious. Take your pick when it comes to trying on: go the trad route and get your choice of up to four frames sent to you at home; or make the most of its AR-virtual try-on tech. We loved playing around with the innovative styles and discovered shapes that perhaps we wouldn’t have previously thought to try. There is a nifty list of add-ons too, from cleaning kits (refillable, free of charge, in any of its stores), to ‘The Box’ a four-shelf mini ‘wardrobe’ for your glasses collection. At around £98 a pair including lenses, they could soon stack up.
WE LOVE: The minimalist wire-frames of the ‘Neil’ design.


The slick website experience and fashion-forward design of BlooBloom specs may make it the future of eyewear. Choose from virtual shelf after virtual shelf of bold, minimal or retro styles, then simply edit it down to the five you’d like to try on in real life and BlooBloom will send your selection to your door in forty-eight hours. Can’t decide but feeling the pinch this year? BlooBloom offers a ‘pay what you can afford’ on any second pairs purchased. Smart, kind and oh-so stylish. What’s not to like?
WE LOVE: The geek chic librarian style of the cat-eye ‘Idol’ style.

By Lydia Mansi
January 2021

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.