How to Measure Pupillary Distance

Whether you’re looking to purchase a nice pair of sunglasses, get a new set of frames for your everyday prescription, or you’re looking for a better fit for your safety glasses—the number one thing you’ll need to know how to do when shopping around is how to measure pupillary distance.

We know what you're thinking -- "Ugh, gross, MORE vocabulary?!" But we promise, it's not as tough as it sounds. Let's start small! Like -- pupil small. 


Let’s cover the basics though: what is a pupil?

The pupil of the eye is the black circle in the center of the iris. The iris is the colored portion of the eye with a structure and color unique to each person. The pupil of the eye is a portal which admits and regulates the flow of light to the retina and plays the most important part when it comes to your vision. In other words, the iris is the pretty part and the pupil is the member of the group project who actually does all the work. 


So, what is pupillary distance?

Pupillary distance is the space (measured in millimeters or "mm") from the center of one pupil to another. When you need glasses, an optometrist or an optician will measure this distance to make sure your eyeglasses have the best function and fit for you. When shopping online, though, you don't have an optometrist at your beck and call to give you that measurement. (Or, if you do... Good for you, I guess?)


And... why does that matter? 

Pupillary distance is important because this measurement helps to line up your frames properly, so the center of your frames is covering your pupil. This measurement is used to determine where you look through the lens. You'll most commonly run into pupillary distance measurements when it comes to prescription lenses, since pupillary distance helps to determine the structure and strength of your lens prescription. Wearing glasses with the right shape or structure for your unique pupillary distance helps with things like focusing on close-up objects versus those far away. 

For non-prescription glasses, pupillary distance still matters: have you ever noticed a difference in your vision when you wear curved lenses versus flat lenses from the same brand? You can blame the frames themselves (especially if they're a brand other than Bomber, jussayin'), but there's a good chance that the subtle differences are tied to your unique pupillary distance measurement. It also comes into play with features like polarized lenses, where a lens coating subtly shifts what you see when you look through a lens. That's why we always recommend trying out a few different frame shapes and lens coatings until you find your favorite. (Our favorites are always gonna be the BUZZ, the BOOGIE, and the TIGER, but that's just us.) 


How to measure pupillary distance?

Now that you know what pupillary distance is and why it matters, let's talk about how to take that measurement. Everyone will have a different pupillary distance because it’s based on your unique—and very cute 😉—face! Measuring your pupillary distance at home isn’t as hard as it sounds though. In fact, saying the word “pupillary” is harder than actually measuring it! To start measuring or calculating pupillary distance, you’ll need a mirror and a ruler (ideally one with millimeter measurements). 

  1. Look straight ahead into the mirror and position the ruler over the bridge of your nose.
  2. Staring with the right eye, line up the “zero mm” end of the ruler at your pupil.
  3. Measure the distance from your right to your left pupil. The number that lines up with your left pupil is the number you’ll want to remember.

Quick note: We recommend against using your phone camera to take this measurement, as the light dilation from lens to screen can wonk up your measurement a bit. Normally it wouldn't matter, but when you're working in itty-bitty millimeters, you want to be as accurate as possible. If your only option is your phone, though, check out an app that will measure your pupillary distance for you, like EyeMeasure.  


What do I do with my pupillary distance measurement?

Buy some new glasses! Now that you know your measurement it’s time to find a pair of frames that work for you and your pupils. You'll find length, width, and height measurements for every pair of Bomber glasses on our product detail pages. The measurement you want here is width -- the ideal pair of glasses for you will have a width about twice your pupillary distance, or more. A bigger difference means a wider fit, while a smaller difference means a more narrow look. For example, someone with a PD of 65 mm (approximately the nationwide average), will be happy with the TIGER Bomb's width of 142 mm. 

All Bomber gear is made with every face in mind, so the best way to find the right glasses for you is to try on pairs until you find your favorite. But if you're stuck between two pairs and you're not sure about the fit, taking your PD measurement and comparing to the width is a good measure for knowing how those glasses will sit on your face. 

The Bomber BOOGIE SAFETY frames are one of our most popular day to night pairs. And since you know your pupillary distance, you know that your eyes will be covered 😎.

Be sure to tag us on Instagram @bombereyewear so we can see your BOMBER gear this spring season! 😎


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