Picking a Trial Lens Set

Trying to decide which trial lens set to get.

Number of pieces:

  • I want enough pieces to test both eyes at the same time to my full proscribed correction, so I’m looking at a minimum of the 104ish piece set.
  • At my prescription, I will need to stack lenses. (already making arrangements for a trial frame that stacks) The smaller kit with stacked lenses will have two closer in value lenses stacked. If I go for a larger set I can get the majority of my correction in the lens closest to the eye, and the last two diopters of fine tuning in the lens further from the eye. So do I need the kit with the higher powered lenses, or is stacking lenses always going to lead to the same math, just with bigger numbers?

Grade - do these terms have any meaning? (I want best optical clarity and minimum distortion)

  • FDA
  • Grade A

Brand - Are there brands known for good or poor quality?

Plastic vs metal
The plastic rims are way cheaper, and I’m not going to put the kind of wear on mine that professionals put on theirs, but the rims look larger and the optical zone smaller, so I think I want metal anyway?

Most of these kits are less than what I’m used to paying for a new pair of glasses, but I don’t want to waste money either…

Related threads:

With the 104 you’ll only be able to do one eye at a time.

I’m low myopia and it happened to me!

Glass lenses and metal rims, they go together, and the glass is important. Plastic just doesn’t cut it.

I think my review of what I learned is up here somewhere.


To clarify, you don’t have to be as blind as me to have to think about lens stacking. Some of the smaller kits may only have half diopter increments in your prescription range, and you have to stack that last .25.

Trust me. I was sitting there with just such a kit.

I sent it back.

There is a lot of variation in just what is included, this kit has pairs of lenses, but doesn’t go down to .25 intervals until below 2.0D:

Some sets have more range, others more increments, there’s a couple sets that contain only plus or only minus, which might be good if you’re a ways away from needing both plus and minus (and if you’re at that stage, a test kit is more expensive than just buying the glasses to try).

I’m watching instructional videos. The sphere usage is rather straight forward, astigmatism a bit more involved. None discuss math to accommodate the gap between the shower and cylinder lenses, although one noted how to measure vertex distance.

It was noted that the frame is heavy and less stacking makes the frame more comfortable for the user, so that is an argument for the kit with more power.

I find the terminology interesting. They actually favor more plus than minus, the patient ”wants" more minus and must “earn” it. Of course they are doing everything at 4m, which is not the distance someone with near work induced myopia needs best visual acuity.

How’s your cylinder, again? I ended up spending in the low $200s to get a reasonable kit.

Part of the problem is that unless you are doing vision therapy and need plus lenses, half of them are useless to you.

Magic paper to be obtained later. Opticians have commented on my astigmatism. Shrug

A college level lecture on use of trial lenses, with references to more detailed lectures form the same site:

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Ok, so I want lots of lenses. Grade A? FDA? These mean anything?

Optometry students tend to use an $800 kit from Pioneer that looks overboard for us.

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I went with this kit:

It doesn’t have the most pieces, nor is it particularly cheap for having fewer pieces, but it was one of the few kits that has 15D in it, it looses extra lenses in the lower powers, but has an edge right where I’m starting out. I don’t know if certified FDA is worth anything, but it wasn’t much more than the Grade A that also had a 15D in it.


Definitely let us know how it works out!

order processing is slow… “warehouses in Cleveland OH, Nevada CA and NanJing China” They claim 9 day processing time for “expensive items”. If those are getting shipped from NanJing to Cleveland, then there may be virus related delays.

I have my kit now. The “instructions” are pretty useless, just labels. It seems reasonable quality.

That said, even with the larger trial frame that holds 4 lenses, it’s annoying to work up a large prescription and hold a trial lens straight on top of that stack. If I was just trying to decide about minor adjustments to my existing prescription, I could probably do well with just a couple JCC powers and a couple flipper powers, tested over existing lenses.

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Trust me, those flippers won’t be any more happy-making. :crazy_face:

I can just tell.

Yeah, probably want higher quality ones, links just for reference what I meant.

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… just saying you don’t need a whole set to figure out when you are ready to step down lenses.

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That is so true.

Perhaps a minus-only kit could be endmyopia swag, @jakey?

I’m actually using flippers in VT, and half heartedly looking for a set of my own.

Plus only kit actually, if you want an approximation of a step down held over your current lenses. A useful minimal EM kit would consist of +0.25- +1.5 held over existing glasses, with a +0.25 astigmatism lens (not a JCC, only need that to determine axis, and you’re getting axis off last prescription)

Maybe leave cylinder out, most people won’t know how to use correctly.