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Home » Best of, Lifehack & GTD

How to Buy Quality Eye Glasses Online & Save Hundreds

Last updated by on May 17, 2016

How to Buy Glasses Online

My employer has a rather generous vision plan that covers $155 towards new eyeglass frames and 100% of the lenses through insurance provider VSP. With the new insurance, I was thinking I might actually be able to get away with simply paying the co-pay of $25. I was so excited! I may actually get to try on some glasses, in person, and see what they’d look like on my face. Wow, what a privilege!

My excitement quickly faded before my appointment as I started trying on glasses and looking at the little price tags on each of them. $300, $350, $400… things were not looking good. Sure, there were a few cheap, outdated frames that I could get for around $200, but the quality of these frames were not even close to being as good as the quality of the frameless memory titanium, anti-reflective coated glasses that I had purchased online about 3 years earlier for under $40. Equivalent glasses were actually 10 times more at the local optometrist!

What You’ll Need to Buy Glasses Online

If you’re running into the same issues (and you will when you visit your local optometrist), here’s how you can go about buying your glasses online:

1. You’ll Need your Eyeglass Prescription

How to Buy Glasses OnlineIf your old eyeglass prescription is still bring clear vision in your present lenses, then call up your optometrist to get your prescription.

The last time I was at my optometrist, for an eye exam, they printed out all of the prescription details for me. If they give you a hard time, kindly remind them that under FTC rules, eye care providers must provide contact or eyeglass prescription copies at your request.

Note that you will not be able to use a contact lens prescription (the two are different). If your prescription is outdated, then you will have to go to an optometrist to get a new one. General eye exams are usually covered by your vision insurance, if you have one. Check with your vision insurance provider to be certain.

Here are some prescription terms you’ll need to know when ordering:

  • OD (Oculus Dexter): your right eye
  • OS (Oculus Sinister): your left eye
  • The Sph or Spherical correction: how near (-) or far (+) sighted you are. If you have ‘PL’, that means you are at zero.
  • Add: for bifocals
  • Cylinder and Axis: is for astigmatism, meaning that your eyeball is not perfectly spherical.

2. You’ll Need your Pupillary Distance

Pupillary Distance (PD) is the distance between your pupils, usually measured in millimeters. Pupillary distance generally falls between 54 and 68 mm. Optometrists will usually take this measurement during your exam, but if they don’t, then you can measure the distance yourself with a mirror and a ruler.

Most optometrists will not write this number on your prescription, because they know that it gives you the ability to shop online. Ask them to write this number in, if they haven’t.

The image below represents an example of a pupillary distance of 62mm.

3. Be Careful of Add-Ons

Eyeglass retailers online will often suck you in with extremely low advertised prices (i.e. ‘Complete set of glasses for only $9!’, however they have add-ons that really crank up the price – anti-reflective coating, anti-scratch, poly-carbonate lens, etc.

The best thing to do is to figure out exactly what you want, and then find out what 3 or 4 different online retailers would sell for that exact same model, so that you are comparing apples to apples. For instance, if you know you want a memory titanium frame with a slight tint and anti-reflective coating then shop around for that exact same pair elsewhere. Some include the add-ons and others don’t, so go with the final price, not the advertised price that gets you in.

4. Shopping for Glasses Online? You Need to Really Look Around for the Best Deal!

When shopping for glasses, don’t worry about the brand. A pair that I purchased under a generic brand was much better than any of the designer comparables that I saw at the optometrist. There are a few retailers that seem to have extremely competitive prices, that I’d recommend comparing to the others:

Buying Glasses Discussion:

  • Have you bought glasses online? Share your story and tips.
  • If you’re afraid to buy glasses online, why?
  • Where did you find the best pair of cheap glasses?

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • allen says:

    I’m actually going to the eye doctor for the first time in 3 years on Thursday, so perfect timing!

    I’m planning on buying at least a pair or two online: I need a specific kind of sunglass for evenings, due to my sleeping disorder, and they’d cost above $400, if i bought them from a local store: from zenni they’re 40. I’ll probably pick up one or 4 in addition: at ten bucks a pop, i’m STILL way below the money i stashed in my HSA for this year (for glasses, specifically).


  • You’re right- watch out for those add-ons. They make everything cost more! 🙂

    I found you via Wisebread’s Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs. Congrats on making the list!

  • Yanni says:

    I’ve gotten eyeglasses at zenni optical. I liked them and recommend them if you can wait a couple of weeks. Just be sure to inspect them closely when you receive them. If you’re really doubtful of the lenses, you can take them to our optometrist to test the prescription of them. They should be able to do it for free.

    • Frank says:

      Why should your local optometrist do this for free?
      They need to earn a profit to be able to pay for their building, staff, etc. THEY AREN’T VOLUNTEER!!

      • John Ridley says:

        Nobody’s asking the optometrist to work for free. We’re asking them to provide optometric exams, and that’s it.

        Does your doctor sell you the drugs that he prescribes? No. In fact, it’s illegal for a doctor to profit from selling drugs. So why should you expect to buy your glasses from your eye doctor?

        I just got an exam. I went to the doctor, paid $60 for the exam, got my prescription and left. That’s what I want from the doctor. If they can’t make a living charging $60, then charge $100 or whatever they need to, rather than hiding the true cost of their service by making a profit on glasses.

        The plain truth is that I’m on my 7th pair of glasses from Zenni, and I’m happier with all of them than I was with $600 glasses from my optician. Lots of stuff at the optician’s shop is a scam. $100 for anti-glare coatings for instance. Zenni charges $5, they are as good at anti glare and I’ve never seen them scratch or come off either. I once paid a TON of money ($150 I think) to my optometrist for some fancy name brand scratch resistant coating that was supposedly tough as nails. After 3 years it just spontaneously disintegrated, making it look like I’d sandpapered my glasses. Horrible.

        The glasses I’ve gotten from Zenni have all been good. I’ve worn glasses for 40 years now and they’re AT LEAST as durable as any I’ve gotten from an optometrist, and more so than some.

        • Jen says:

          I have been an optician for over 25 years. First and foremost, what everyone seems to forget – eyeglasses are a medical device to correct your vision. Fashion is secondary to proper positioning of the prescription in front of your eyes!

          There is more to the price of glasses than “pure profit”. Whoever owns the practice, whether it is a doctor or an optician, has a lot of bills to pay. Inventory, rent, electricity, employees, liability insurance, certification fees, licensing fees, phone service, internet service, equipment, etc. … are not free.

          In addition, an experienced optician has the knowledge to tell you if the frame you love will hold your prescription properly, or if it fits your nose correctly, or if there is enough room to fit a progressive lens adequately.

          What the on-line retailers don’t tell you about the measurements is that they are never quite as accurate if you take your own. It is essential that a trained professional take all measurements.

          Unfortunately, the on-line merchants aren’t as accurate in producing the prescriptions as they should be. I have seen many pairs of glasses that were not made correctly with an accurately written prescription.

          We also provide free adjustments as a service to our patients to thank them for trusting us with their eye care needs. I know a growing number of optical shops that will charge for adjusting glasses bought on-line.

          There is nothing wrong with making a living at what we do. In actuality, a lot of us are just getting by. We do what we do because we love it, not because we are getting rich!

          • Steve says:

            Well, I’ve been to three local optometrists and aside from the exam, the optometrist doesn’t involve himself/herself beyond that. It’s out to the minimum wage counter help to treat you like you’re buying a used car and get you to agree to pay 100.00 for rust resistant undercoating.

            a quarter says your practice is the same way…

          • NoName says:

            Ok, I have spent the last 15 years of my life in the optical business with a large optical retailer working with doctors, retailers and labs and yes, in quality control. For all you bloggers that are so upset with people purchasing online you really need to calm down and get a grip. First of all, you have a right to be proud of you business, your knowkedge, products and licensing, that’s undisputed, however, there are facts that many of you choose to ignore and many of you won’t realize until you retire or leave the company you are so devoted to. First to the doctors. If they are a good doctor, many are and many are not, no matter who they work for, are associated with or in private practice, if they are good, all they care about is providing excellent care, getting prescription right and making certain they uncover any potential life threatening disorders. Most that work withard the large retailers do not enjoy the “sales” pressure they are put under, they are there for many reasons, mostly equipment costs and overhead related that are often provided by or supplemented by those retailers that are there to turn a profit margin. To the Lab Managers and lab staff,Yes there is major overhead, especially if they are manufacturing or edging product for quick delivery on site. Many of those labs are awesome and most take extreme pride in their craft. They should be proud if they are on a winning team. Other labs are sloppy at times enclosing the off site corporate labs that are turning out automated, thousands of pairs a day. Slip ups happen when your final inspectors have sat for 10 hours a day looking at lenses through a microscope. Data gets entered wrong, inspectors get tired and production never stops. It does not matter if it’s a Vision Works, Eyemastrrs, Steins, Lens rafters or an independent lab, you will not escape mistakes. To the front end retailer, you too should be proud of your knowledge, troubleshooting ability, licensing and service. In every store, every company every offices there is sakes staff and there are Opticians, unfortunately you are all pushed to the brink of exhaustion, given more work in a day than can be completed, are faced with sakes targets that sometime make it hard to enjoy your work and are so short staffed most of the time that the sales associates ando the Optician staff overlap and people that may be great in sales or maybe not often do not have the knowledge of the optician and make mistakes that are often times not caught until after the sale has been made and after glasses have been delivered to the customer. Fitting, adjystments, frame fit, bridge fit, lens material, needed or unneeded tints and lens coating all mistakes that are made because there is not near the training, near the needed staff or near the understanding of r to frame, lens materials and pure pressure to make the sale, make the comics ion and make the bonus for the store managers and field managers. The other thing is that we have all seen so much junk from our competition and all work so hard and know what goes into the whole process that we have a great deal of pride. Rightfully so. What you find after being out from under thesection company’s after a few years is that while everything I said is true, you have also been systematically brainwashed into believing every word they teach you and train you to believe about the products they sell is the God’s truth and it’s not. There are differences in lenses for sure, one lens will work better than others for certain prescriptions but a lot of the sakes techniques and catch phrases and training is just to make the sale, there are many thousands of people walking around with a single pair of $400, $500, $900 glasses that just are not necessary. The mark up on frames and lenses both rival jewelry, the mark up is outrageous to say the least. The truth is, the same mistakes that can happen using an online vendor are the same mistakes that happen in Dr. Offices and retailers all over the US every day of the week. The online stores limit the rx range they will process, in fact a -6.00 cylinder power is the max any US online store will process and I can’t quote the sphere power,but know it’s very limited too. If you have one of those high, complicated prescriptions that need a specialty Optician to be there, you simply cannot use an online store. If you plan on shopping online simply ask your doctor to take your PD before you leave and write it on the presctiption. Do some shopping, price comparisons at any retailer , write down the temple length and shapes and bridge size that works best for you. Most people know what lens material they gave been wearing and with the ranges they will process unless you are very sensitive to lens material you can make a good decision on your own. People are a lot smarter than we give them credit. There is so much information that if you are one that generally asks questions, you can find the answer. If you want the designer frames you can find them online at a few vendors others are no name or some names you may not be familiar with and some you will. The materials are the same ranging from plastic to metal to titanium to wood, it just depends on where you go and what you are willing or Can spend. For many people glasses, although, when you break the cost down may very well be pennies a day, they just do not have the money to spend yet retailers always find a way to tell them what the need and it adds up to between $200 and $1000 a pair or more. A medical devise, yes, a fashion statement, yes, a necessity that many find it hard to pay for, yes and to are looking at singles and family’s of 3,4,6 that all have these needs. It gets expensive no matter how you look at it. Many of us that work or worked in the industry don’t always think if the cost because of the steep discounts and ever free glasses we are afforded yearly.

            I only say all of this because I was deep in the industry at many levels and I can tell you first hand that there are no more mistakes as a percentage from using a store with all the bells and whistles to using a online optical. I gabe bought from both, I gave checked the quality if both, frame and lens qunlit and have been very happy with both. I have ordred 12 pairs at this point from online stores and have not had one pair that were not quality. I gave had many more through retail stores and gave had many problems and many sucesses. The point is, you do what you can do, what works for you and there are no more problems from one place to the next depending on the day time, staff in place etc.

            I am getting ready to order a new pair for my mom and daughter through Zenith Optical. For price, selection and value as well as quality I would rate them up there with any of the big optical retailers on the scene today.

            Be proud of what you do, share knowkedge with all your customers, buyers and those that do not buy from you. Don’t ju due people and know that this is just as important to those customers ax is all three free Eyewear you so proudly donate to children and adults in the US and in firing countrys. You love the charity work you do, you love the mission trips that are done yearly to provide for those that need your gelp. Stop looking at all these services you ask “why should we provide these services or information for free” you should look at it as part of your charity contributions and your responsibility as a provider of medical necessity. You cannot really support all the good will you do and not help people just because they need information so they can make decisions. You gave no right to judge and have no idea why this person feels they need to purchase online. God gelp this world that has become so money and profit driven that we can’t rake the time to understand others needs.

            Merry Christmas

        • Hutch says:

          I love all the self righteous eye docs. One here locally wouldn’t give my wife her PD because that’s “his number… They don’t care that the economy is tough. We are going to try the online.

          • Stephanie says:

            There are methods online to measure pupillary distance. I’ve been ordering from Zenni for years and have had great experiences. Paid $110 for two pairs of glasses with high index lenses. Would have been even cheaper with the regular lenses.

  • dawg says:

    I discovered after breaking my glasses in Hong Kong that the prices there are quite reasonable. I was able to have an eye exam and purchase frames and lenses for around $140 and the whole affair was done in less than 24 hours. My only complaint is that they aren’t Transitions lenses. I think I’ll try this online method soon, if I can get Transitions!

  • Megan says:

    Last time I needed new glasses, I actually went to the doctor’s office to try them on. I made a note of the pair I liked (~$400 if I remember correctly)- brand name, any little numbers on the inside of the temples, etc. Then I Googled. Came up with you can order them from start to finish right there if you have your prescription, but since my eyesight is really bad, I wanted to make sure the lenses were exactly right.

    Once I received the frames, I took them back to the doctor’s office and had them do the lenses for me. They charged about $40 to use frames I already had, but the $260 saved was well worth it!

  • optical24/7 says:

    Advice from an optician;

    First, let me start by saying to the folks here that have made a sccsessful purchase of eyewear online, congratulations, you were lucky, and probably have a simple single vision Rx. But if you have a more complex Rx (astigmatism, high power, bi-focal or no-line lens, ect) you WILL have a difficult time getting eyewear produced by an on-line vendor accuratly. There are measurements they can’t take over the net. Just a few….

    *PD; (pupilary distance) This is the distance between your eyes. Most people are not symmetrical, one eye in slightly in more than the other. An optician will use a Corneal Reflex Pupilometer to take this critical measurement. It measures monocularly (center of the bridge of your nose out) exactly where light enters each of your eyes.
    ( did you know light doesn’t enter exactly in the center of your eye?) You cannot measure accurately this monocular distance with a ruler in a mirror.

    MRP; (Major Reference Point)This is the point, verically, Where your eye centers in the chosen frame. A “virtual frame” try-on will not exactly “sit” on your nose like the real thing.Unless the frame is in “as worn position” you cannot take this measurement accurately.

    Optical Center; This is the point on a lens where light travels through perfectly strait. EVERY other point on a lens, light is bent and deviates creating a prismatic effect. The Optical Center should be placed directly at the PD (see above) AND at the MRP (see above). This is most important on higher Rx’s (the stronger a lens is, the more light gets bent (prism) away from the optical center) AND also important if you have different powers in each eye, ( different power lenses create different amounts of prism, so one eye may get a prism effect while the other doesn’t)

    Pantoscopic Tilting; Most eyewear works better with “PT”. Most frames sit on the face with this “tilt” (bottom of the frame closer to the cheeks than to the brow line.) This tilt is usually 2-10 degrees. For every 2 degrees of tilt, you effectively lower the Optical Center a full millimeter. How many degrees do yours tilt? And you know this precisely by…..?

    Vertex Distance; This is how far away the back of your lens sits from your eye. Frames can sit at varying distances from your eye (i.e. metal frames sit further away than plastic frames) Just as you can move a magnifying glass closer, then further from a viewed object and get differeing size images, it’s the same with your RX. Vertex measurement are many times needed to adjust the Rx for patient comfort and vision.

    The above is just a small fraction in the equation of delivery of quality eyewear. A well trained and educated optician not only takes the measurements above, but also can advise you on lens materials ( there are over 10 availible today) and on lens designs. (actually hundreds from spherical, aspherical, atoric, PAL’s, ect)

    There are also hundreds of treatments that may improve performance. (you don’t have to buy them if you feel you won’t benifit from them!…But, you probably will enjoy their benifits)A well trained optician can explain these to you…How do you know the performance or benifit unless someone tells you, plus you can ask for more explaination.

    A few last things; Glasses are not a commodity (like contact lenses)They are custom made one at a time. They are not “one size fits all”.

    Glasses actual costs ARE lower than what your optician sells them for.You are not just paying for glasses from your optician, his time, skill, and knowledge are worth something, just as your time at work is valuable. When you buy glasses, you are not just getting “glasses”. You get expert advise, measurements, adjustments and hands on selection.

    I had a patient ask me once, “What’s the most expensive glasses?” My answer, “Ones that don’t work, hold up or aren’t made properly.” If they don’t work or are a pain to use, how valuable is that?

    And finally, please, if you get your glasses and they need adjustments or verification, you should offer some payment for the service. Do you work for free?

    • Gail G. says:

      These are all intelligent points, and I appreciate that you detailed them with care. I don’t discount your experience and skill. However, the problem is the amount of money people have in pocket.

      About six years ago I had to start wearing progressive lenses, and my prescription, always expensive because of my low vision problem with my two very different eye requirements, and the need for high-index lenses, became even more expensive.

      My eyecare insurance paid for the exam, happy thing. Eyes were healthy, new progressive lenses prescription was given. However, the glasses, at a local, fairly large optician’s, put me out over $500, and I did not choose some fancy designer frames. I bought blue-gray Coleman frames, acrylic. Nice looking, but nothing cutting-edge here. The resulting lenses were great, I adjusted quickly to them, but…

      I was never able to purchase a spare pair at that price. And I wasn’t able to find a cheaper, satisfactory alternative; to my shock, these prices were totally market-competitive for store-front eyeglasses for my particular vision requirements. (And dig it, the frames were not even the big expense; the prescription was.) It was so incredibly expensive just getting the one pair, I walked around in no small fear that my one pair of glasses would break, and I’d be bereft.

      Fast-forward to three years ago. I obtained another exam at an eye doctor’s office (not an optometrist this time, he wasn’t pushing glasses), and a new prescription.

      After two months of actually having a new prescription to fill but no money for yet another pair of $500+ glasses, I found out about Zenni Optical and decided to give it a try. Then the next FOUR pairs I purchased were from Zenni Optical. I could afford all of them, purchased over a couple of years’ time, and I could have extras in my handbag and in my car, should my glasses break.

      I have been quite pleased with their product. Apparently, by proceeding with careful measurements and much thought, I was able to make the right decisions about PD and choice of frame. I have also helped my boyfriend buy three pairs online, measuring his PD myself. Progressives also. He’s been very happy with them, and loves the price.

      Excellent hand-rendered care by a Guild Optician is a fine thing, but if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it.

      For about $80 (includes shipping for a pair of frames with progressive lenses), I can afford myself if I purchase online. And I can see! And see as well as with any other pair of glasses I have ever owned!

      I am truly sorry I can’t afford your level of care. Fewer and fewer people can these days, and competition is going to force overpriced options out of the market. It’s just the way of commerce.

      • Linda says:

        wow Im glad you had success with your online eyeglass experience, I would like to get progressive lenses, i need help with understanding how to measure these. I you would give me advice I would greatly appreciate it. I will in no way hold you responsible it i don’t receive exactly what i hope. thanks Gail

        • John Ridley says:

          Progressives simply put a prescription that allows you to focus closer at the bottom of the glasses. You just need to determine how strong.

          What I did to find out was to go to a drug store where they had reading glasses, and while wearing my normal glasses, put reading glasses of varying strengths over my normal glasses and try to read something (I just picked up a nearby product and read the box). I picked the strength that let me read comfortably in a reasonable distance from my eyes. If you haven’t had bifocals before then, like me, you probably only need +1.0 or +1.25.

          Just use that as the “add” (maybe labeled NV-ADD) for the progressive lenses when you order. Done. It’s that simple.

          I also eventually wanted computer glasses. All these are is a normal single-vision glasses with HALF the add that you use for reading, because computer monitors are not quite that close. So for me, I have +1.0 on my reading, so I add +0.5 for my computer glasses. Since these are single-vision, you just add that to the spherical correction on both eyes. Note that if you are nearsighted, your spherical is NEGATIVE, so adding to it makes it less negative. One of my eyes, for instance, is -2.25 spherical, so my computer glasses have -1.75 on that side.

          The computer glasses give you comfortable reading at a distance of 3 to 4 feet from your eyes, over the whole area (single vision). They’ll be a little blurry in the distance if you forget and walk around with them on.

          I work on computers all day at work, and never had computer glasses. They were $18 including shipping at Zenni, and it was ridiculous of me not to get them before, they make it much nicer to work all day.

          • Ellie says:

            This is the worst advice possible when it comes to progressives lenses. They are not simply lenses with an add power at the bottom. And never even mind, you should at least use a proper prescription from a doctor, instead of goofing around, trying to figure out your add power.

            Progressive lenses progressively change from one power all the way down to your reading power, giving your the mid-length range as well. There are very specific measurements that depend on the frame and how it sits on you that are required for progressives.

            Anyone who orders progressives online (or any difficult prescription) is just fooling themselves and asking for trouble. Your eyes allow you to see, why would you want to cheap out on that?

          • John Ridley says:

            Whatever. I have been wearing progressives from Zenni for 4 years now. All of the glasses that I’ve gotten from them have been as good or better than anything I’ve gotten from the optician (the CHEAPEST of which was $550, the most expensive from Zenni was $60). I’m super happy with my progressives. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, I just went in to a drug store, tried some reading glasses over my regular glasses, decided that +1.5 was about what I wanted, ordered them up, and they’ve been great. I also ordered some +0.75 single visions for computer use, also great. Been using both for over 2 years now, couldn’t be happier. I seem to be able to see just fine.

            Additionally, my optician was leading me down a path of more and more dependency on my glasses, continually cranking the power up more and more, until I couldn’t function at all without a very precise prescription, because my eyes lost most of their ability to focus on their own. I used the computer glasses when walking around, forcing my eyes to become better at focusing at a distance. Over the course of a year or so and another pair of single vision glasses at +1.0, I now have eyes that can see much better without glasses at all, and I can see well in a much wider range with any given pair of glasses. I can work for a few minutes at the computer with just my regular glasses. When I was in an optician’s “care” exclusively, I couldn’t really work at the computer at all without switching to my computer glasses.

          • Paul says:

            And how long have you been working for Zenni? Good advertising plug.

    • LMAO says:

      WoW! What lame scare-rant, techno-babble baloney bag of wind Dr. Optomotrist super smarty pants puked up. Why baloney? Because in all my life, 30 years of glasses, not one optometrist has ever had the decency to CARE about all these factors you so flippantly espoused. Only one time, my optometrist measured my PD correctly. The glasses I wear now FROM A STORE-FRONT OPTOMETRIST $$$ has the proper viewing axis incorrect- meaning I move my glasses around until i can see best, and that “best” section for viewing is waaaaay off from where my eyes naturally see through the lens.

      Poo-Poo-snotty-hoit-toity I-deserve-to-take-your-$500-when-my-work-is-only-worth-$100-because-well-just-because.

      My friends, save money if you want and order online eyeglasses and your mileage may vary no matter if you buy them from a store or online. Online is of course a risk- so do what I do, but a $20 pair online with no frills and see if it fits, see if it is quality enough for you, if so, but another, if not fork out $20 somewhere else online until you feel good to lay down more cash for extras.

      I get sick of the scams “professionals” pull on the public and if there was ever a scam (like printer ink, don’t get me started) eyeglasses for $600 IS A SCAM!

      • Jen says:

        You don’t see what the labs that make the lenses charge us, now do you? They aren’t FREE!!! If we are charging hundreds of dollars, we are getting charged at least 75% of that by the labs. I live in a rather poor part of the country, and the mark-up on eyeglass lenses isn’t very high in my area.

    • Nick says:

      These are all great points, but to an outsider, all it sounds like is that you’re trying to justify the ridiculous price gouging that occurs in your practice.

    • Pat from Winnemucca says:

      I go in once a year, spend a few extra dollars to get pictures taken and update my rx.
      I buy eyeglasses from* *** online, $25 or $30.
      They’re great.
      I show my frames to the technician and ask for something similar.
      I’d pay an extra $50 + my $125 VSP benefit for something like the nearly indestructible memory titanium frames I buy online, but the dispensing Optician doesn’t offer them.

      I’m well past 60 and finally gave in and am going to try no line bifocals lenses.
      They’re tricky.
      As you say, optometrists don’t want to tell you what you need, they’d rather sell you inferior glasses at outrageously inflated prices, so the online glasses may not work out.
      If they are uncomfortable I’ll go back and give the Optician about 1/3 of my social security check and eat dog food for a week.

    • Rhonda says:

      As a long time progressive wearer, I have recently become aware of the differences in quality, ie. basic polycarbonite versus say varilux physio.I have monocular vision, that is my left eye is 20/240 in my right eye is nearly 20/20.I have astigmatism. Have difficulty seeing at night when driving. I also like to work on my computer. I ordered an anti-reflective coating on my last pair of glasses. I also thought this was make my photos better by reducing the glare but I still have to remove my glasses so you can see my eyes. Isn’t there an anti-reflective coating that works better in terms of photograph-ability? As for lens height my prior pair was only 24mm, my current pair is 33.6mm, and I’m thinking about going somewhere between 30 and 32mm on my next pair.
      Given all that my lenses require, it is difficult for me to consider paying $400 for a pair of frames. I appreciate all that you have stated and agree that an optician or opthamologist needs to do the exam and produce the lenses, but I can certainly see a case for buying frames online as places like Lenscrafter in particular really jack up the prices on the frames.Any comments you have would be appreciated

      • Jim says:

        You can get high end lenses from online retailers. I’m fine (progressives) with Zenni. No issues whatsoever. My wife is more sensitive due to some of the same eye issues you noted. She gets Varilux Physio Super Thin lenses from LensesRx. With a surcharge for overpower & the super thin lenses they still come in at just over $200 which is half what Lenscrafters was charging us. Frames are similar and you can even have them put the lenses in your own frames. They are a domestic company (NY I think?) so turnaround is a bit faster than Zenni but the prices are a bit higher too. Bottom line though you don’t have to give up web-based options for even complex eye situations. I believe all the “different” chains are actually owned now by Lenscrafters. They also own almost every frame “maker” – including D&G, Ray Ban, Oakley, etc. They’re all designed and made in the parent company in Italy. Somewhere on YouTube you can find the 60 Minutes segment on Lenscrafters and its ownership of the eyewear industry.

  • Doc B says:

    Glasses and contacts are medical devices. Optometrists spend 8 years in school and $200,000 to prescribe eyeglasses. Opticians spend 2 years in school to learn how to adjust and fabricate glasses. The tools needed to make a pair of glasses cost $25,000-$35,000.

    There is a very large difference in the quality of frames. I spent much time adjusting state provided medicaid frames versus quality frames. The quality of plastic, composition of metal,types of hinges, ect. Many cheap plastic lenses are made in Japan and actually flake. I have seen paint completely peel off the temples of plastic frames in less than 6 months due to improper clear coat.

    There is also a large difference in lens coatings. For example, inexpensive nonglare coating can peel and get foggy within months of purchasing new glasses. The more expensive nonglare will last years longer. Ask anyone that has purchased Walmart glasses.

    • LMAO says:

      Wow, so my $20 glasses pealed paint. time to spend $20 more… IF they flake at all, and now i got a back-up, swell. And, MAYBE I, yes me, can see if my $20 medical device is operating well enough; HOW? gee, I read books, so maybe when i get my new $20 medical device, I can read s’more books. Oh, but I don’t got 8 years of medical training, so how could i possibly ascertain whether the functionality is acceptable??? OH YeaH! I read books!! Oh joy! I can look at WORDS, in a BOOK and see if I can see them WORDS! Wow, look at that I only have seven years of school, and I ascertained, I did, all by my self!!

      Hey, you got the dough? You like to plop it down, feel like you are taking no risks?? Go for it fellers! I mean really. But, some of us wanna save a buck, some of us like taking risks, some of us are more self-reliant in life, medically, commercially- you name it. Some of us buck the system because the system is often for suckers. So go suck your candy and quit scaring people out of a higher quality of life.

      My friends, if you have tricky prescriptions or special problems with your eyes, i hope you find a real caring and capable optometrist to help you without braking the bank. Some things some times are best bought face-to-face. Eyeglasses online are a great idea for many- not for everyone.

      Oh no, its a medical device!!! — all or nothing thinking is a sickness.

      • Melissa says:

        I would have to say that when the doctor with eight years experience does his exam, he should add all of those factors onto the RX.

        A medical doctor doesn’t give you a perscription for drugs and forget to put the dosage or how to use it on the RX. Docs should be giving us complete RXs.

        • Jen says:

          From an optician’s desk: The LEGAL definition of an eyeglasses prescription in this country includes: Needed sphere, and cylinder powers and axis location for both eyes, add powers, if needed, patient’s name, date of Rx, doctor’s signature. Nothing else. They do not have to provide PD or bifocal height measurements. They have nothing to do with the prescription. Check your facts.

          • Jame Dallas says:

            Then why in God’s good name is it illegal for you to withhold this information when a patient asks for it? I can pretty much bet an eyeball that with enough complaints, that alone would be enough for at least a temporary suspension of your license to practice. You treat your patients like shit and then wonder why they go elsewhere. Dam, I would have thought a person would learn that at some point during the 8 years of college!!

      • Bekind says:

        I find all the comments on eyeglasses helpful, but I have to come to the defense of the doctors for their expertise and training to assist with the proper final product.

        As a photographer I’m always hearing some ignorant comments about how anyone can take pictures of their wedding, etc. My training, 30 years of experience, professional equipment costs, insurance, other overhead, Photoshop experience, redundant disc storage, multiple backups, people directing abilities, artistic composition, and the list goes on regarding why it’s not so easy to produce the professional results expected. Everything we purchase is marked up to cover the costs of business. Yes, some more than others, but spend your time educating yourselves about a doctor you can trust and pay him/her for the services rendered and don’t add the markups if you feel you don’t need them. My last pair of glasses are in perfect condition 7 years later that I purchased from my doctor that I trust! And I didn’t spend a fortune for them either.

    • Pat from Winnemucca says:

      I have consistently gotten more durable, better looking, longer lasting frames online at a fraction of the cost.
      The $25 frames I get online are more comfortable, wear better and last longer than the $250 frames I buy in store.

  • allen says:

    If you’re worried about them going bad “in a few months” then buy a new one for EVERY month online! At $10 each and $5 flat shipping for zenni optical, that’s still only $125. Hundreds less then at the Optometrists.

  • NancyG says:

    While the optician brings up a lot of valid reasons to be cautious I think the online option is a really good alternative for many reasons. My in store shopping experiences have been much more negative than most of my online purchases. Usually a store has some salesperson, not the actual optician, helping you pick out frames from behind a counter, often steering you towards particular styles that may or may not be flattering. The selection online is fantastic, especially with Rx sunglasses, and if you know what shape of frame you want you will have thousands of options.

    One big thing to look for when buying online, however, is the size of the frame. Pay close attention to the measurements. I have a beautiful pair of Rx sunglasses that I can never wear because they always fall off my face since they are too big.

  • Sterling says:

    My Zenni Optical glasses were $92 (progressives, transitions, anti-glare, etc) and I’ve had them since July and the anti-reflection coating has started peeling off – both lenses – and stuck at halfway. I could deal with ALL the way but now I can’t use them. I’ve emailed as to how to get it off or fixed – not much chance there – but no response… I have worn glasses all my life and know how to take good care of them… 🙁

  • Marc says:

    Great article. As other commenters have pointed out, you are giving up something when you order online, and opticians provide additional service and expertise that is not available from the online retailers. But, you’re saving a heck of a lot of money too.

    I think it’s a lot like going to Best Buy and having them help you pick out all of the stuff you need to set up your home theater and then having their professional install service come set it up, making sure the T.V. is the right distance from the couch, the surround sound speakers are in the right place, etc. You’ll pay a lot, but you’re getting extra help and service. Alternately, you could save lots of money on your home theater if you shop around for the components individually, educate yourself using online home theater guides on how to set it up correctly, and do the installation yourself. It may not be quite as good as when the professionals do it (but on the other hand, maybe it will be). Either way, you’ll have saved tons of money.

  • Ryan @ IQ test says:

    Yeah you definitely want to watch out forr anything you ahve to use to add on. I agree with the last commentor. Try some of those things and save some of that money.

  • Tay says:

    I had a simular experience when I had to buy a new pair of glasses to replace the ones I lost. When I went to the optician they tried to charge me almost £300 for a pair of rimless spectecals. I was told the price for my frames would be a little more expensive because of my strong prescription.(an index of 1.6) So instead of getting taken to the blody cleaners by a high street optician I decided to search for glasses online. I mean they couldn’t be any more than I was just about to pay.

    Thank God I found Brill24.
    I was able to buy a pair of rimless “Mackay“frames with anti refective, scratch resistant coating, and EMI coating for about 50 Euro. My regular optician tried to charge me for each one of these extra features.The coolest thing about the website in my opinion was the fitting room. You can upload a photo of yourself and try on all the frames you’d like before buying. After loging in and selecting my glasses I procced to to fill in my prescription information. The next morning I woke up with an email from Brille24 stating that I had entered my prescription information incorrect. After correcting my prescription information my glasses arrived after only 12 days!!!!

  • Paul says:

    I had a bad experience with BigEye Optical. Avoid.

  • Aaron says:

    Hey guys, I’ve used a couple of online retailers in my life and I found that holds the top spot in all around value, customer service, website efficiency, selection, and pretty much everything you need. Loved their “try it online” feature and the prices are incredible!

  • caro says:

    I live in the Netherlands. We have one company for online glasses and they are still expensive. I’v been paying $ 400 for my glasses every other year. Last month I decided to go modern and try online buying. My best option was a USA firm. The price was worth the gamble. For $ 90,00 I had a super Kam Dhillon 3022 frame with progressive lenses, incl. shipping! In 7 days I received the parcel. Stupidly enough, It turned out I ordered the wrong frames. Coastal Contacts told me: “no problem, Just send them back, and re order the right frame, they would pay for all the costs. Today my new order arrived and they are really great. They send them express, special rush delivery. I would highly recomend them. Great frames and lenses, total guarantee and very personal service.
    When buying frames first try out frames at other highroad shops, so you know what you want (I always know what I want and I stick with that.)

    My tip: Coastal Contacts. I checked out all USA firms, it took me a full week to compare them all. They have wonderfull frames, also brand names.
    1. Pay attention buying online at the size of the frame, read their information carefully. Bridgewidth and frame width is important, it makes al the difference how your glasses look awesome or just plain ok.
    2. Search for a coupon on the internet, copy and paste the number when asked for, I got 25% off!!!.
    Sorry for bad English.
    That’s all, good luck.

  • Phoebe says:

    Thank you for recommending a couple of places where to buy glasses. Might I also recommending this site where you can get nice glasses? I usually get mine from and I’m really happy with their designs and quality.

  • KittyKatPat says:

    Having successfully purchased (for astigmatism) single vision, then progressive no line bifocals in both standard and sunglasses from Zenni, I have had no problems at all. I had the lenses verified the first two purchases just to make sure. While it is a buyer beware situation, to say that purchasers have been “lucky” and “have a simple single vision Rx” is not the truth. I enjoy higher quality frames than I could afford (that I also LIKED) and great vision too. At OVER $780 for the last brick and mortar glasses I bought, the $61 is worth it.

  • JeffTheOptician says:

    Folks, I’m an Optician. And I’d like to shed a different light on this discussion.
    First, In response to Optical24/7 and Doc B; YES, there are particular measurements (PD, OC, MRP, Panto, Vertex, Seg) that cannot be measured through an online system. These can only be measured directly on the patient’s face in combination with the particular frame they have chosen. There are also other measurements having to do with each patient’s prescription that are very important: Cyl, Prism/Decentration, Bifocal fitting point, short/long corridor, spherical/aspherical.
    All those things are true. HOWEVER, what they are not telling YOU, the patient/consumer, is that there are “tolerance” ranges for EVERYTHING in our industry. A PD can be +/- 2 millimeters monocularly; your RX can be +/- 0.125 in low ranges, +/-0.25 in medium ranges, and up to +/-0.50 in super high ranges. In the online business we have served thousands of patients, and we are able to create each pair of glasses to the exact specifications and WITHIN TOLERANCE; and we can do it at up 70% of the retail price that the doctor/optician are charging.
    Don’t let the technical jargon impress you. YES it’s real; NO it does not justify their price markup! Besides, many online retailers have a return policy that is AS GOOD OR BETTER than your “bricks & mortar” optician retailer.
    At our online retail store, we offer a 7 DAY satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied for ANY reason, simply return them to us and we will refund your money, or make you a second pair at no charge; YOUR CHOICE. And we guarantee the accuracy of the prescription, as well as all the other technical lingo mentioned above: because we’re professional, and we know the tolerances. PLUS, you’re getting the SAME high-quality, brand name lenses. And an even better Anti-Reflective coating. This is one of the most important elements to good eyewear. We all drive at night, and we all sit in front of computers. YOU NEED IT! And like all other add-ons, all A/R coatings are NOT created equal.
    Try us. If you’re not satisfied buying prescription eyeglasses online at then we’ll refund your money! Maybe you’ll find out we can create the same high quality product for half the cost; b/c we didn’t mark it up!

  • Bob says:

    Unfortunately the way opticians and doctors of optometry make a large portion of their their income is through the high on selling eyewear, and any of them telling you that the adjustments and measurements cannot be properly managed with a little care and routine measurements taken at home (after an accurate refraction) are just trying to scare you. I was in the business for too long and while all the technical information provided above is true, it is irrelevant in providing adequate vision correction, and irrelevant to the fact that those $500 designer frames cost $20-30. All the skill is in the correct alignment of the lenses and that information has already been measured in your vision prescription. The rest can be adjusted on your face afterward to within tolerances that the end user would not notice even if slightly off. Who cares how accurately and carefully all these dimensions are measured if it makes little or no difference to one’s vision? Is that worth $300 – $500 markup? Eyewear is one of the biggest secret scams perpetrated on the unsuspecting public and I am sick of observing the spectacle. I am surprised more opticians have not chimed in and attempted the “party line” of scare tactics to scare you all away from this. Truth is the word still is not out, people are afraid of getting the adjustment correct on their face (or of damaging the frames trying to adjust them) and this fear of the unknown keeps them overpaying time and time again for a “service” that they dont realize is so overpriced it is obscene.

  • sam says:

    I am loving this conversation. It has given me so much hope. I am a struggling artist, and have been wearing the same pair of “ugly-makes-me-look-seriously-deviant-scratched” glasses for five or more years. I HATE them! They make me feel so terrible that I find myself dragging my self-esteem behind me in the dirt. (LOL)-

    Thanks to all of you. I feel like I can actually afford to get new glasses! Bye… Im off to search those sites you have listed, and try on some virtual glasses (Yes, I have a new script from an opTOMETRIST!!). :)))

  • marie says:

    Yes, optometrists spend time in school and deserve to earn a living. Medical doctors are not alowed legaly to own a pharmacy so they can make money off their diagnosis. How many doctors try to sell you Gucci crutches? The same should be true for optometrists. The trust is lost if I am told I “need” progressive lenses or overpriced coatings by the doctor. The markup on frames is obscene. If you have VSP, the up the price even more.
    Get your frames online and have the doctor’s office do the exam and put in the lenses for you. Even if VSP doesn’t cover the frame, it will be less than the out-of-pocket cost at an eye doctor’s office for that frame, guaranteed.

  • Connie says:

    I am an optician. If I had a nickel for every person who comes in to have me “fix” their online glasses that:

    1. weren’t made correctly
    2. don’t fit properly
    3. give them headaches
    4. make their eyes strain

    I would be a wealthy person. Shoes, yes. Glasses, no! They’re your eyes, people!!

  • John Ridley says:

    I’ve now bought 3 pair of glasses online from Zenni Optical. I have a compound prescription with both nearsightedness and astigmatism. All 3 pair of glasses that I got from them have been perfect. I have several friends that together have bought probably 2 dozen pair from them, and none of them have had any trouble either.

    Are we all “getting lucky” or are local opticians just charging 10X as much?

    If nothing else, the frames… The frames from Zenni appear to be every bit as durable as the ones they sell in the optician’s shop. I’ve now worn my current pair of Zenni glasses every day for 2 years and they’re rock solid, don’t have a scratch on them, etc, and my optician hassles me all the time about not treating my glasses well – when I had $600 glasses from her, they were always getting scratched, yet the $35 glasses from Zenni last 2 years with no scratches at all, with the same wearer? Yeah.

    I assume that the optician is paying $10 or maybe $20 for the frames they’re selling for $400.

    Also, Zenni has much more selection than my local optician.

    I’m going for an eye exam tomorrow, because I’m about due to start into progressive bifocals. I know I need about +1 on the bottom (I just went to a drug store and tried +1, +1.25, and +1.5 reading glasses over the top of my prescription, determined that +1 is plenty. I’m just getting an exam for health reasons and to make sure the prescription doesn’t need a tweak before ordering from Zenni.

    I actually have insurance that would pay for $600 glasses, but I’m actually happier with $35 ones from Zenni than any I’ve ever paid hundreds for at the optician, so I’m PAYING for Zenni glasses instead of getting $600 glasses paid for by insurance.

    I’d totally buy from the local optician if they were being reasonable. I mean, sure, I’d pay $100 for a pair of glasses that were identical to ones I could buy online for $40, but I’m not paying $600 for $40 glasses.

    If they need to charge $200 for an eye exam to break even without selling glasses, then they should do so, not try to bundle glasses into the price.

  • Jeff says:

    Gotta love all the trolls on here — I had a classmate who worked for a large optical chain. They paid on commission, gave performance bonuses, and sent employees on expense paid vacations for hitting sales goals.

    He stated the glasses were marked up several hundred percent! Their actual cost on a $400 pair was about $45.

    Businesses should make money, but what’s wrong with even a 300% markup? That would make a good pair of professional glasses about $150. Add $50 or so for super awesome frames. Where did these $400 normal glasses come from?

    What other retail chains or service providers can get away with this level of profitability? My dentist only gets $125 for a cleaning and exam, and he and the hygeinist have to spend an hour in my mouth…

    My GP only gets $70 for an office visit, and he went to 10 years of med school.

    • TCA says:


      • JRR says:

        DUDE. Capslock. There’s no need to YELL here.

        I agree. If you’re bothering the optician about lens type and all that, you should buy from them.

        I don’t. I just need my prescription checked and my annual eye health checks, and I’ll be out of there.

        Personally my experience has been that opticians usually try to steer me into ridiculously expensive options that I do not need. I’m perfectly happy with simple $50 progressive lenses. The last time I was to the optician she tried to sell me some fancy computer-generated curve multistep bifocals with some crazy coatings and designer frames, the bill would have been close to $1000. I didn’t even ask for her opinion, she just started pushing this stuff. I went home and bought $50 glasses that I’ve been happy with for over a year now.

      • LMAO says:

        Whoa! yer upset! I see all the CAPS, man. I’m, sorry. Hope you learn to adapt to technology and the inevitable commercial shifts that go with it. Markets change.

        I suggest you charge for the services you earned.

  • paul says:

    Wrong. True cost of a regular glasses that sell for $150 in store is not $15, it’s less than $10. Many of them are made in Asia. My father in law is in import/export business and he knows the manufacturers. The glasses they bought from manufacturers are around $7-8, and it cost less than $2 to make.

  • John Ridley says:

    I’m now about 6 weeks on my 4th pair of glasses from Zenni. This is my first pair of bifocals. So, a medium-strong compound prescription with nearsightedness and astigmatism, plus no-line bifocals in a half-rim frame, with high index polycarb lenses and anti-glare coating. No problems at all, perfect prescription, easy to get used to the bifocals. $55 shipped, took about 8 days to receive. About the same as if I ordered them locally, which makes me suspicious that the locals are buying them from China, too, and just marking them up 600%.

    My previous pair was nearly 3 years old when I replaced them, also from Zenni, worn daily and never gave me any trouble, broke or had a single scratch in them, despite the fact that I do martial arts and ride a bike > 3000 miles a year.

    The local optician charges $99 just for the damned anti-glare coating. Zenni charges $5. I’m betting that it actually COSTS about 50 cents.

    Their on-line try-on system is, IMO, BETTER than trying them on at the store. I find it easier to judge what they’ll look like on me looking at a picture of me wearing them than looking at me actually wearing them in a mirror.

    I’m about to order a separate pair for working at the computer, which I do for many hours a day.

  • Jim says:

    its funny how all these posts that have been ordering online use the correct prescription terms to describe their experience. These posts are the same website workers that want you to buy online. Their prices are so low because they use the cheapest, least durable, worst vision materials in the market that have been out for nearly 50 years. Its like picking out the cheapest lasik surgeon in town. I would not let them near my eyes. I ordered 4 pair of glasses one for me and 3 of my children and they were all made incorrectly. They have all my three small children to strong of a prescription. Just a big ordeal trying to send the glasses back and remake them, not once, but TWICE. The whole process took 2 months. I will pay a little more and have comfortable clear vision and so will my children.

    • LMAO says:

      Wow, LOW BLOW, SAILOR! Zenni-trolls? perhaps, but that ainte anything as ugly as using the bogusy inferred and incorrectly correlated fear of eyeball destruction ala-laser AND, AND OH MY GOD- THE CHILDREN!! GOT TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN.


      One problem with PEOPLE working within capitalism, is people think if its “legal” then it is not IMMORAL.

      These rip-off-artists are afraid to death of losing their immoral profits and some are willing to say anything to scare people.


      YOU SCUM.

      Man, this tread is amazing to watch the hucksters GO AT IT!

  • John Ridley says:

    Jim, I’m just a guy who bought my own glasses. The reason I’m “using correct prescription terms” is that, well, I’m not an idiot, and the terms are right there on the prescription form that you get from your doctor, and also right on the web form. I don’t know how you can wear glasses for a few decades and have gone to the optometrist without picking up the terms, they’re not difficult. I suppose some people go to the doctor and never discuss anything or ask any questions, but that’s certainly not me. I’ve had several discussions of optics with my optician, since I’m interested in telescopes and microscopes.

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience, which retailer was it with? We’ll try to avoid them in the future.

    My friends and I have ordered a number of times from Zenni and I have not had a problem, though I will say that my prescription is not super strong, it’s only about 2.75 diopter at most.

    The glasses I’ve gotten from Zenni have, honestly, been indistinguishable from those at my optician. And I’m not talking “a little more” – the same glasses were $50 from Zenni, $675 from my optician. I agree, if the optician were $100, or even $200, I’d at least think about it, but 13x the cost is just obscene.

    • Gail G. says:

      I agree with you, John. I learned the technical jargon by reading about eyeglasses and how to fit them. It was worth my while to understand what I was buying, especially if I had to measure the bridge, frame width, PD, etc., by myself. I have a better than fair grasp of technology and figured out the rest by my own researches. I don’t work for Zenni or any other optical firm. I just have eyes that need glasses, and I am glad to have an alternative that furnishes me with glasses that are just as good as any other glasses I have ever had, and for a fraction of the price.

      People, think for yourselves. Don’t be scared off just by people who think you SHOULD spend very large amounts of money on glasses, regardless of their reason for thinking so. Make your own experience, and then post here. If it was a bad experience, name names if you can. If it was positive, again, name names. We need the info to make an informed decision. And who has money to waste these days?

  • Abby says:

    My mother got a new pair of glasses for the first time in 8 years. The frames themselves were about $200 and the lenses were well over $500 because of her “complicated prescription.” She gladly paid, just happy to have a new pair. A year later they were destroyed by her dog and she was afraid to buy another expensive pair when the same thing could happen again.

    I got her a new pair on Zenni for less than $50. They are not quite as stylish as her other frames, but for the price she could care less. She has been wearing them for about six months now and has not noticed any problems.

    Personally, I feel like it is a great option for those who need to see and simply can’t afford to pay the outrageous prices at the optometrist’s. I’m sure that when mail-order contacts first came out the eye doctors were going nuts then, too. I’m positive that ordering glasses online will become very mainstream. Better figure out a different way to make those extra bucks, docs.

    On another note, I once went to a well respected opthamologist for a minor eye surgery and had a routine eye exam while I was there. They asked me if I wanted to buy glasses from them since my insurance covered x amount of dollars (I forget how much now) when I said I was not interested, but wanted a copy of my prescription (I didn’t like their selection) they were almost livid! This is simply unacceptable behavior, in my opinion.

    Finally, I would just like to say that I have a pair of Pucci frames that were around $500-$600 if I remember correctly. I have a simple prescription and so my lenses were another $100 or so. For the price I paid you would expect perfect glasses, but let me tell you I have had to take them in at least half a dozen times because the lenses were not cut properly and continue to pop out. I have even had another optometrist confirm this, while the former optometrist maintains that it’s just how my frames are. You know whose lenses aren’t popping out? My mother’s! So in terms of craftmanship, you can get crap quality anywhere. On top of that, Zenni sells a pair of glasses almost identical to my Pucci’s for about $10…

  • JustKat says:

    Four months ago I paid $800 for a pair of glasses that I hate and feel like an idiot for doing so. Part of that cost was Transitions which do absolutely nothing unless standing in full direct sun. Complete waste of money.

    I seriously wish I’d gone online to buy to begin with. I intend to purchase through Zinni and I’m glad I found this forum.

  • jridley says:

    I agree about Transitions. They always show people hiking, at the beach, etc, but the reality is that the majority of the time that people want sunglasses it’s in the car. Transitions doesn’t work in the car because it triggers off of UV, and auto glass blocks UV. So you need sunglasses anyway. Luckily a pair of sunglasses in single vision (for driving) from Zenni costs about $25 at most, cheaper than non-prescription glasses.

    • Eva says:

      Love you guys!

      Some of these truth-and-justice warrior posts have made me laugh more than the old tv and movies I have to go back to for comic relief these days.

      Oh yes — great, empowering information, as well.

      As Erle Stanley Gardner would name it, hooray for two-fisted justice!

  • 1opp says:

    Can someone please tell me what my prescription means…

    Sphere CYL AXIS

    OD -25 -075 019

    OS PL -075 019

    I am trying to order glasses online and all they as is what is the Left eye and what is the Right eye ( example.. 15.5 or 20.1)

    Lost…please help!!

    • JRR says:

      That prescription looks custom-designed to be as illegible as
      Anyway, some de-mystification:

      dexter = right, sinister = left
      OD = right eye, OS = left eye.

      sphere = simple correction, near/farsightedness
      cyl+axis = astigmatic correction

      PL = flat(plano), no correction (0.00)

      See also

      So yours is:
      right eye:
      sphere -2.50
      cylinder -0.75
      axis 19

      left eye:
      sphere 0.00
      cylinder -0.75
      axis 19

      You will also need your PD – pupillary distance. This is simply the distance from the center of one pupil to the center of the other when you’re looking at something far away.

      If you have gotten glasses before, call up the optometrist and ask for your PD. It does not change. They are required to provide you this information.

      I have had good luck measuring this myself by standing at a window, holding a mm ruler with a thumbnail on “zero”, holding the ruler even with my eyes and sliding my other thumbnail along the ruler from the other side while looking at a far away tree until the two nails seem to touch in my vision, then look at the measurement. I came to within 1mm of my optometrist’s measurement. Anything within 2 or 3mm should be fine.

      • Jaci says:

        I’m very sorry to say that for anyone following this, that Rx above is more likely to be a -0.25 for the OD Sphere and not as SmartyPants says -2.50. It’s unlikely that this person has that much difference between eyes in that low of a correction.
        I would not presume to “interpret” an Rx without seeing it in person, as the margin for error in transcription is quite wide.

        Dispensing Optician for over five years.

  • Kath says:

    I received my new glasses (that I ordered through about 6 wks ago. Single vision prescription, anti-glare, semi-cool frames for only $19, including shipping! Showed all my co-workers, wore them all the time, and just this morning – broken.Plastic is cracked. I took them to my old optician, just to see if there was anything he could do, but he could not. Apparently he used to carry this line of frames years ago, but after dealing with a junky line of frames, he dropped them. He also mentioned that the frames I got such a great deal on have been discontinued for at least 2 years now, so a regular store wouldn’t carry them because there would be no warranty. And, he specifically told me that when this happens, wholesalers sell the junk frames to anyone willing to buy them for pennies on the dollar. I asked him to put my lenses in a new frame, but when he put my lenses in his microscope, he told me he would not because the lenses had prism in them-due to improper manufacturing. I’m done with buying online. What a waste of $19.

  • JRR says:

    It’s possible that the plastic frames are not as good. I have not ever had plastic frames, always metal, and I don’t know anyone who has bought plastic frames from Zenni. I have numerous metal frames from them, the oldest is now about 4 years old and they’re still fine.

    I think some people are much harder on glasses than other people too. The last time I broke a pair of glasses was 35 years ago when I was a teenager.

  • Dee says:

    I was scared to order online. My fear kept me needing glasses for almost 3 years. I did some research and was still scared after reading some negative reviews for a few companies. Then I decided after getting my new prescription, and found out my glasses would cost me around $450, to bite the bullet and order online. I paid $65 for the exam and didn’t have the $450.

    I wanted an up to date frame and just be able to see again. Then I found with the first pair free. Well. nothing is free but I got my RX filled with designer frames, progressive durable air lens, scratch resistant, UV protection and anti-reflective coating for $104 which included shipping and insurance.

    I am very happy! These glasses arrived in about 9 days and they are perfect. They will need adjusting but if the optical want to charge I could care less. After all. I have enough to pay for that.

    I will never buy my glasses from an optical store again. I will buy online no matter what the scare mongers say. They can try but I know they are just feeling the pain of being ripped off. After all, they have been ripping eyeglass wearers off for years.

    My glasses are so well made and light. I can see excellent with these progressive lens and I don’t care what country they came from. But says they have their own labs and do not outsource their work. I don’t really care if they are made this perfect.

    I am so glad I put my fear aside. I can’t wait to order my next pair online. Only next time I will not be afraid. So, take the plunge and save a bundle and buy something nice with the money you save by buying your glasses online.

  • H says:

    I’m sorry doctor, glasses are a commodity. When I go to your office we play a game were I say “better” or “worse” till we arrive at a number that you write down and proceed to usher me into your ridiculously overpriced shop. All of the super special eye measurements noted above should be on your prescription, making it easy to find glasses online. If they aren’t, ask your optometrist for them or go elsewhere. FYI – I had a serious tennis accident in high school and the eye doctor was amazing – went through several months of frequent visits. I don’t discount this expertise. On the other hand, the routine practice of buying glasses can and should be treated like any other purchase decisions you make. If you want a hand massage with your suit fitting, go to Armani, if you want a good fit and decent materials at a low price, go online. I have had good experience with Warby Parker and the NY Times had a great review of a bunch of new online glasses retailers. 

    The internet will kill the brick and mortar glasses shop IMO.

    • Jen says:

      From an optician’s desk: The LEGAL definition of an eyeglasses prescription in this country includes: Needed sphere, and cylinder powers and axis location for both eyes, add powers, if needed, patient’s name, date of Rx, doctor’s signature. Nothing else. They do not have to provide PD or bifocal height measurements. They have nothing to do with the prescription. Check your facts.

  • Michelle says:

    I have bought a number of single-vision glasses from Zenni and have been completely satisfied. Now I need progressives and I have a couple of questions: do I still need just a single PD? And what is the difference between 1.5 and 1.57 progressive lenses?

    Thanks for any help!

  • JRR says:

    I use a single PD. There’s only a millimeter difference from one side to the other, so I doubt it matters much. If you have a very strong cylinder and/or very different PDs from one side to the other it might. If you get separate PD measurements it can’t hurt to use them.

    As for the 1.5 versus 1.57, that’s the refractive index of the lens material. The higher the refractive index, the thinner the lens can be for the same prescription. If you have a very high prescription, sprining for the higher refractive index material will make the lenses less coke-bottle-ish. Though of course if they’re really high they will have the same effect on your eye appearance from the front, that’s just a factor of how strong your prescription is. It will make them less thick is all.

  • Krish says:

    Interesting discussion. I am waiting for the day when these Optometrists will start closing their glass business and focus on patient diagnosis and care — what they were taught in school.

    To the opticians —- sure you are entitled to a living and use your expertise — isn’t it the same like a Pharmacist using his skills ? But a pharmacist does not — 1) Drive you to a non-generic brand because that gives him more money; 2) charge 500% more than what you will pay through online mail order option; 3) Sits in a doctor’s office and make sure doctor gives the prescription to him and not the patient so that the patient cannot go to a competition.

    If Optometrist and Opticians want an honest living, they should hand over the prescription without asking for it and the patient is free to go wherever he/she want to go. BTW, I have seen that Optometrists measure the PD during the eye exam but they will not give it to you … something “soooper secret”

    • Ellie says:

      Any optician or optical shop doing that type of business shouldn’t have your business. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great brick-and-mortar shops trying to help you look and see your best.

      As someone in the industry, I always drive my customers to their needs. Any place that doesn’t listen to you, walk away. Find somewhere better. I don’t care if my patients need to spend $100 on a frame or wants to get some expensive designer frames. (But then again, I don’t make commission at my work, it allows me to focus on the customer, not the price.)

      If someone truly cannot afford glasses after we work with them (payments, discounts for non-insured, all of that), then I don’t feel bad if they go online. In fact, we tell them to bring their glasses back in so we can check the rx out, no charge.

      But we do offer a two-year warranty on lenses and frames. If there are any doctor redos, we do that, no charge. If your progressive lenses just don’t sit right with you, we fix that, no charge. That is what you should be paying extra for at a regular store – the customer service and continued service on your behalf. If any place doesn’t give that to you, I can see why you have gone to online shopping.

      (And FYI, I know it is illegal in my state not to give someone their prescription once they have paid for their exam. If you ask for it and they don’t give it to you, that’s shady business.)

      • LMAO says:

        The world if full of good people who deserve their monetary compensation and if I needed a brick & mortar, i would love to work with you, Ellie, thanks.

        This topic is important to me and its sad with all the lies coercion and misconceptions seemingly to protect profits.

        Fair pay for fair work, and I am then willing to pay extra, lol.

    • Carl says:

      Legally they can not give you that measurement. So before you going conplaining do some research.

  • Amil says:

    Thank you for this article! This will save me $100+ on glasses and a trip to the eye center!

  • Jack says:

    No optician here, but…I worked at a lenscrafters in the 1-hour lab, became a certified lab tecnician, and worked on the retail floor as needed. I learned plenty from Opticians, who are very good at what they do, especially if they are pattionate about helping others.

    I will tell you this, 9 times out of 10 all those measurements that the optician above stated, are off by some margin. Lenscrafters, or any lab for that matter would not make money if there was no wiggle room.

    I hated working there, we were pressured to sell A/R coated lenses over everything, as if there was no other lense available. We were told to not even mention CR-39 plastic lenses, and if the customer clearly stated they want the cheapest lenses possible, they wanted us to try just about anything to get them into a polycabonate lense. The sales tactics were cheezy, just plain pathetic. If we didnt sell the A/R? We had to have a talk with the store manager as to why they didnt purchase these lenses. Then they would ask why we didnt sell prescription sunglasses. It was never about the customer, it was all about the bottom line, A/R numbers, multiple pair numbers, etc…

    I had the opportunity to work for a very pattionate optician, who was allways eager to help me learn, and get the customer what she needed. But because she would not sell the customer all the fancy add-on’s, mainly when the customer would specifically say they wanted to spend a certain amount.

    Yes, at the end of the day, it is trully the profits that keep the door open. But providing a customer with great service, giving them their options, and letting them choose what they want, needs to be on the list of priorities. Then, they might have some repeat business, which is how businesses grow.

    As for buying online, I have never done it, but I plan on picking out my frame at a LensCrafters or another retailer and buying them online. I know how to take all the measurements. I hope my review can help someone out there. I am not trying to bash LensCrafters, but nothing I have experienced there as an employee, and a customer prior to that will lead me to recomend them to anyone.

  • Jaz says:

    I just bought my first pair of glasses online through, everything went very smoothly and I saved a LOT of $$ doing that. the problem I had is that my prescription didn’t have my PD, I measured it and it was between 56-57 but I forgot to put that on the email I sent with the prescription. I read in other sites that the PD doesn’t affect much when your eyesight is not that bad… but I don’t know, I’m wearing my glasses and I feel kinda dizzy using them but apparently that’s normal when you use them for the first time.
    my prescription is R: CYL -1.00 AXIS 15 L: CYL -1.25 AXIS 180 SPH 0 on both and ADD none
    Does anyone think I might have trouble because of the PD? should I do another eye exam to figure out my PD? or I’ll be fine with the current glasses? thanks!!

  • Jaz says:

    Oh by the way, I think it’s worth trying to buy glasses online, the same glasses I ordered would have cost me $480, and online with all the works I paid $150. I may have a problem with the prescription but that was my fault, I think if you take your time, have all the information you need, it’s going to be much better, sometimes even if you buy and do the exams in the clinic or store you may encounter problems and you’ll have to pay more. I don’t know it’s just my opinion. If you need your glasses immediately it may not be a super decision.

  • Randomscapes says:

    I just ordered progressive transitionals with anti-glare from Zenni. Good discussion above. I wish I would have seen this board before I did. But it wouldn’t have changed my mind. While my Optometrist is super and the Store personnel are also nice, good people, when I got my glasses from them, the frames were awful. And I can’t say the glasses were superb either. So we’ll see how this experience with Zenni goes. I will post an update once I get them…

    • Randomscapes says:

      Update on my Zenni order, as of 2/28/2013: 1. Got voice mail for their Customer Service (Poor), 2. Live chat worked with wait time of around 5 minutes (Average), 3. No “About Us” on website(Scary), 4. I used my HCRA Card and not sure that will work yet, 5. Delivery time is estimated to be around 3 weeks or around 3/15/2013. Update on that and quality later… Stay tuned…

    • Randomscapes says:

      Update on my Zenni order, as of 3/6/2013: Got a notice today that they shipped. So far tracking to ETA of around 3/15/2013 still.

    • Randomscapes says:

      Update as of 3/9/2013: Received my glasses. Not bad. The shipment included the glasses, case, extra nose pads, screws, nuts, special tiny screwdriver and wrench, cleaning cloth and a PD ruler. Overall the glasses look and feel great. They seem sturdy and well made. Interesting that almost every single item had a “Made in China” sticker on it. That explains the price. What did not have a sticker I am sure was made there too. But one thing I have to mention is that I gave them a wrong PD value. So my reading areas on the progressive lens are off. I can’t use these glasses because of that. It is not Zenni’s fault. I initially measured my PD with a paper ruler that you can print out. When I tried these new glasses on I noticed that my reading focus was off. This was because the exact areas that had the prescription were positioned wrong on the lens. I measured my PD again with the plastic ruler that Zenni provided with the order. That is when I noticed my value was off. So now, this becomes a test of Zenni’s return and replacement policy, customer service and speed of replacement. Stay tuned….

  • Chris says:

    Don’t forget to make sure your glasses are shatter proof! They’re your only eyes.

  • Via says:

    My experience…..two years ago, I bought my glasses at my eye doctors office…$59 frames, the cheapest I could find…I have a VERY complicated prescription! Total at the docs office was $500!! This year, a few adjustments to my RX, so I decided to go to Costco!! $59 frames, and the total was right at $200!!! The difference? at the doctors office, I had to go with a very HEAVY lens, to keep the price “reasonable”….my Costco glasses, at half the price, are half the weight, I was able to afford the “high index”..I COULD have saved more money, but I wanted to see what I could get for $200!!

    Costco puts the PD and all the other information on your receipt!! So,when I ordered an additional pair from Zenni and a third pair from eyebuydirect, I had all the numbers I needed!! Eyebuydirect was unable to produce my prism readers, the strength is just beyond their ability, but both Zenni and glasses USA were able to produce my readers! So, I bought 4 pair of glasses for the price I would have had to pay at the Brick and Mortar….PLUS, I got some excellent service at Costco! It was WELL worth the membership fee to get the savings on my glasses! Definately try COSTCO if a store is near you!!

  • BU says:

    what i have read on this blog has been some what entertaining.
    I am an Optician, and I have my own 1hour store. I have practiced on and off since 1990 and have worked at Sears, For Eyes, Costco and a Whole sale Optical Laboratory. I surface and finish my own lenses in house and work with an Optometrist and Ophthalmologist. I watched the evolution of the industry over the last 20-30years. I am going to give you a little insight into the some of the rants I have seen on here.

    1. I will agree it is ridiculous to Pay $500 for a pair of glasses.
    I value my time and work, but this has gotten out of control.
    I provide about 300 frames w/lenses fro $80 and 90% of all my frames are under $150 I have found that I am actually selling lenses cheaper than Frames direct.

    who’s to blame? The Doctors? some what..Where do they purchase there materials from? give you a hint-Google 20/20 Luxotica.
    since 1990 a large corp. has been buying all the optical labs up, in my area along we had 9 optical labs, fast forward to 2013. ZERO left, all bought and closed. only to Global companies labs left and who do you thing owns those? No competition, yes this is called a monopoly for you anti establishment people out there.

    buy the way if your not one of the super smart internet people on here, and you haven’t looked yet Luxotica is Lenscrafters.

    2.I saw some bashing of the Optometrist and Ophthalmologist above. lets not be rude. lets just say there overpriced, I will say for those that like playing Dr. You should be sued. your view of eyeglasses as commodities and just fashion is just plain flawed.. but the Chinese do love you for it. while your looking at this take your glasses off your face and see if it says made in china. Now maybe some one is trying to use scare tatics, who it is I don’t know

    3. some one pointed out that there could be someone bloging for the online companies. I hadn’t thought of that before, misinformation it can come from both sides here. Never forget that.

    4. Facts that i can verify myself; Jack gave a very accurate account of how things are at the big corp. stores its all about sales commission, pushing AR coating, up sell up sell ..I hated working for corp too. why i wanted to do my own thing. I saw a lot of people talk about how up set they where about the add on’s.
    as an optician it would be a disservice if i didn’t advise you of the options. especially if they can benefit you. But i give the prose and cons.. how many people get Transition lenses for Sunglass? bad idea.. they don’t change in the care. I am not trying to build the price up on you. But you must be informed. Good and bad. Transitions are just not all that great.. How long do they last? Does anyone know how many different forms of Photocromic lenses there are. and which ones are better? That is the detail that a good optician should know. But do you care?

    The attitude that i have seen on here is disheartening, I care for everyone of my patients and the possible damage that you are doing by playing doctor is frightening and the fact that some people are telling others how to do it and its ok..its not. get an eye exam at least. Cheap can only go but so far.

    5. Lenses after visiting sever online sites, I can tell you some difference and its just like some corp. stores. Can you get what you want or what you need. there are over 600 progressive lenses are you getting the cheapest one they offer or the only one they offer? Warranty on the coatings? aww their so cheap who cares. do they offer everything out there? NOPE now way by a long shot.
    and also once you start doing add ons the price goes up pretty good i was at about $400 on a pair of $100 designer frames and 1.74 Index lenses. wow.. i did a pair for $200 with frame. Not seeing anything great here. I did get on and checked out zenni, but i also check ripoff report and where zenni was located–China.
    check it out, bcuz you could be on the losing end here.. I can tell you in trying to get satisfaction form anything in china or africa. forget about it .. they dont answer to the us laws..

    6. in touching us laws we have FDA standards that we(optical Industry have to abide by) Zenni operates with out any standards and you have no recourse if you purchase leaves you with blind or visually disabled. and before you jump of your chair and pout. yes it can happen. if you lenses are too thin. they could get broken and a piece of the lens could get into you eye and damage it.. that is why the FDA set standards. How possible is may be on the low end. Using and Army term (do a risk assessment).

    You have zero chance of a case against them. I do not deal with any Chinese companies directly on the main land for any reason for anything that i do, personally or business. I like accountability for you products and your actions. who remembers no Chinese standards when it came to pet food several years ago? a lot of dead pets.. but to some it doesn’t matter.. what about lead in toys that young children put in there mouths. don’t remember when that was. I can probably build a care that has wheels a motor and tires and some rudimentary steering system, maybe breaks.. would you buy it if i could make it for 2k??

    Of course things a cheaper when i have no liability!!! and how much does it cost in Chinese labor. keep in mind these are not US companies employing Chinese workers .. these are Chinese companies.. oh and who has forgotten that china is a communist country.. again that probably doesn’t matter to some. They can abuse there workers, silence the population with out any one crying foul. oh yeah and manipulating the money system so that you glasses are cheaper. but then who really care’s. At least you got your $40 glasses ok.. enough on china.. If you can’t tell china is a big no go in my book. For the sake of the American worker, Open your eyes people. With global economy be aware.

    7. some of the other comments i have noticed.. if some one is marking up glasses from $45 to $500 they don’t deserve your business. typically a $45 frame goes for 135 to 180, I do know lenscraters goes a lot more because there are incorporating there one hour service. They seems to be lot of my fiend say’s or my dad knows. put some first hand knowledge out there..plz.

    8. I have checked out several sights zenni-horrible!China glassusa- but not in usa.(Israel) frames direct-pricy.. originates in us.

    9. The one thing in all this on-line world. that is not talked about adjustment of glasses, makes the world of difference and i cant believe that its barley mentioned. I get people come in and haven’t been able to see well with there glasses. once i adjust them they see so much better. Repairs. i don’t believe that online glasses don’t lose screws. I fix on average 8 a day.

    I hope I have said some useful things for some people and addressed some of the myths. by the way glasses are classified as a medical device, that’s why you can write them off on your taxes.

    • Jim says:

      Interesting post. However, I typically place more credence in those with correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. Especially from someone who is a highly trained specialist.

      I have been wearing eyeglasses for 40 years now. I have gotten them from the optometrist and from the chain stores (LensCrafters). My current pair cost me $600 and are not as good as my last pair and that’s after having them do a free re-do on the lenses. They are not as crisp at medium distance (e.g. computer screen) as my old ones. But these are supposed to be better with a wider center for that mid-range focus in my progressive lenses.

      I no longer get AR coatings from LensCrafters when I get the glasses. I also don’t get the scratch resistant coating. I used to almost never get scratches, now they’ll last a year or so before they are noticeably scratched and that’s with religious use of only the special cloths and the cleaning spray – never paper towels, shirts or other cloth. I wondered what I was doing wrong because LensCrafters used to have those commercials where they took the steel wool to the lens and they were not scratched. So I asked my brother-in-law who ran the lab at the local LensCrafter and he told me it was special steel wool used on very specific special demo lenses. They were not using the steel wool you could find at the hardware store. The lenses were also not the ones you get when you buy a pair.

      When I got my current pair I told them I didn’t want the scratch resistant coating because it seemed they scratched more. So I was offered a special super-hard coating…but they’d have to send my lenses out and it would take a week. So much for the “glasses in about an hour”.

      In 40 years I don’t recall anyone ever taking any measurements except the standard prescription & the PD. None of the vertical measurements, no angle where the top of the frame is further away from the face than the bottom, nothing but vanilla.

      So it’s Zenni for me.


      • BU says:

        Jim, sorry your so petty about my spelling I did spend some time on my reply and wasn’t so concerned about my Grammar, punctuation, etc.. as my keyboard does have some issues. I was generally trying to be more informative
        so I don’t care for you jabs.. Maybe you allegiance to the Chinese will get you some points with them.
        be an adult

        As I said previously $600 is too much for a pair of glasses .. unless you get some gold plated frames.

        – Issue 1 There are well over 600 Progressive lenses(No Lines)
        Each lens has a different design that gives and takes in the Distance, Intermediate and Near. Generally I tell most my patients to try and stick with the same brand if possible.. another problem to this is each design may change as the Rx changes. I have noticed that stronger Rx’s have Sharper power changes, thus more distortions, especially with higher Add powers.

        – Issue 2 With AR coatings I am kinda in the middle of the road. AR works very well when you need help with night driving. Propaganda from the manufactures would have you believe that its the best stuff since Kool aid. Again there are many manufactures, they like to brand name these coatings so that it can be marked and sold at higher prices. I have not yet seen an AR coating go past 2years before it became scratched up. I generally pay particular attention how well the manufacturer warranties its product. I can’t say which is the best, but i can tell you ones I won’t use.

        Issue 3 Always get scratch coat, its your warranty.. The only scratch coating that is really worth anything is made by Seiko, its called Diacoat II I have used a steel wool on it and it took some effort to scratch. Lenscrafters only uses it’s own lenses don’t expect you would be able to get that from them. Scratch coat shouldn’t be that much, its like protecting your investment, But I guess if your being charged $50 dollars I wouldn’t get it either. I would say you fell victim to the propaganda.

        Issue 4 Measurements and adjustments, If your wearing a No Line Bifocal, then some one should have taken your bifocal height at one point or another, I just can’t believe that in the time that you have been wearing a No Line( I am assuming it been a while) that no one has taken a bifocal height on you. When I manufactured on the wholesale lab level we use to reject jobs constantly due to info missing. You can NOT make a pair of bifocals with out a height, and double that on a no line bifocal. Not saying that it didn’t happen because anything is possible, but its also possible that you didn’t notice that they where taking the height.

  • Kevin says:

    I used Rite Aid Pharmacy website to puchase my last pair of glasses. The selection is not near as extensive as what is found at the websites listed in the article. However, you can select up to 4 pairs that you may be interested in and they will ship them to you, without prescription lenses, for you to try for 5 days. If you don’t like them, ship them back and choose 4 more, and so on. I chose 4 pairs to try and received them in 3 days. From those I decided to purchase 1 pair. I placed the order for that pair and received them in 5 days. They were packaged with a case, cleaning cloth, and a small adjustment tool. I was very pleased with my new glasses. I ordered 4 more “try at home” pairs and plan to order at least one more pair.
    In addition to “try at home” they have a virtual mirror online that you can get a general idea of how the glasses will look with your face.
    As far as pricing, all frames are $39 and all lenses begin at $20. Each add on is explained clearly. I decided that the base $59+tax pair of glasses was all I would need. As stated earlier, the selection is limited, but the process for me was very easy for a first time on-line eyewear purchaser.

  • Doug says:

    If Cheap is the primary goal CHEAP ophthalmic products can be purchased anywhere

    Deep discounts on-line mean less wholesale cost…what did the vendor compromise…lenses inspection by American national Standards Institute

    Experimental back room designs or attempts to copy the technology of legitimate research lens designs

    are you getting plastic, polycarbonate or trivex

    are the polymerscsquirted into molds or laser fabricated

    old technology stock being used up…or continued for the imcreasing margin

    Frames you can pay for the name of a designer or obtain a similar design for less than half the cost

    many discounted frames with designer names are knock off copies Louis Vitton bags anyone??

    Do you really want to trust your eyewear comfort and safety to WHORTON MBA bottom line bean counter opportunists or to the professionals and industry who truly set standards of safety and visual comfort

  • 18mc says:

    Not every consumer is a bottom feeder, looking for the lowest price as their #1 priority. A lot of people get jobs, earn money, and start buying things they want or find value in. There is a quality difference between 20¢ Chinese glasses sold for $80 vs $50-$100 glasses sold for $100 to $200. Some people really care about style or standing out from the crowd, others don’t care as much. To each their own. A Mercedes may get you from point a to b as well as a kia, but does everyone want a kia because its cheap?

  • Gayle Erwin says:

    I can’t wear jewelry. I HAVE to wear glasses, so that is my jewelry. I get complements on my glasses at least once a week. Last Saturday, I got 4 on my glasses. Yes, they were from Zenni. I LOVE them. I have gotten at least 8 pairs from them. I started with single vision and had to go to progressives as I got my vision has changed. No it is not the right thing for everyone, it is fine for me. As for the Chinese VS American thing. Even they need jobs. This is one way I can actually help Americans. I spend less on my glasses and spend more on other things at local shop. I HAVE to make choices and this is one I do not regret. I have several friends who can not afford glasses any other way, it is on-line or blind so at least we have a choice.

  • Tammy says:

    Over the years, I have bought several pairs of glasses at Goggles4u at about $20 a pop (includes coatings, thin lenses, frame and shipping). The glasses have been great! The key is to get your PD measured as this is essential to getting your prescription right. Don’t bother using a ruler – be sure and get it measured at your doctor’s office since being off by just one mm is enough to ruin your prescription. And double check the PD as well – my eye doctor measured it at 62, and the eyeglasses store measured it at 59. 59 was the correct number.

  • Karl says:

    I ordered a pair of glasses from Zenni. The frames were fine, but my eye doctor had mistyped my Rx so one lens was useless. Fortunately Zenni offered me a one time 100% store credit refund, not the usual 30 days return – no questions asked, but now I have wait yet another 2 1/2 to 3 weeks to receive corrected glasses.

    So I tried instead. Yes, I chose a pricier Oakley frame, but the lens with high index plastic, scratch resistant anti-glare coating was free. Additionally, they made the lenses with their brand new equipment in their Utah office in just a few hours and shipped my new glasses the same day!

    I had to contact their customer service chat to ask if this really was correct and they had not shipped me lenses with no Rx. They responded immediately and told me the above information about processing times.

    Additionally, I had to make one call after placing the order, since I was worried my Rx did not include PD so I wanted to make sure this was added. This was quick and painless as well.

    I’ll use my Zenni store credit for a spare pair some other time.

  • Matt B. says:

    I’ve also bought through Zennioptical and have been very satisfied but when I got insurance I was able to do this using VSP I was able to find a retailer who sold Ray-Ban sunglasses. The frames are usually much cheaper since they’re generally sold for around $115-$150. They don’t have the same markup that prescription frames do but most places are able to prescription lenses in these glasses just the same. I got the larger of the RB2132 frames and they were great and to top it off, I added photochromic lenses so they would automatically be sunglasses outside anyway. Ray-Ban also included the non-prescription lenses so I could enjoy them as the regular sunglasses when I had my contacts in. Overall with the price of the lenses and co-pay the glasses ended up costing the same price as the frames themselves. So, if you’re into designer sunglasses anyway, go ahead and buy your glasses like that and get two in one if you can afford it.

  • Jason says:

    I recommend steering clear of EyeBuyDirect. I bought two pairs of glasses from them and both are low quality (lens don’t fit their frame, and the “anti-scratch” lens developed scratches very quickly). Customer Service never responded to my e-mail. When I called, they advised that I will owe a $6 shipping charge (probably not going to bother and just donate these to a charity since there are plenty of people with no glasses at all who need them). They also change out their inventory very quickly, so you’re unlikely to find the same frames again even a few weeks later.

    I bought glasses online a few years ago (don’t remember which retailer) and they turned out great. Will try again with one of the others after reading through more reviews.

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  • Amy K says:

    I’ve bought glasses from Coastal and Zenni. Coastal had great customer service and better search functionality. Zenni is super cheap, but takes a long time to arrive. I think I’ve bought 3 from Zenni, 2 from Coastal at this point. The advice I give people:

    Buy a pair from Zenni first, see how well you like online glasses, and make sure the pupil distance seems good. I did that first and bought prescription sunglasses, something I’d never had before. If you like it, stick with Zenni or go with a “nicer” retailer.

  • ALVIN THOMAS says:

    I am a Vietnam Veteran who used to get eye glasses from the VA.
    They have stopped the No line bi-focals. Now I go to Walmart who
    has a excellent lens company. The good old government keeps fu——
    the Veterans. I told the optomatrist I couldnt ware regular bi focals. He said ” he has told the government about this”. They told him tough, no more no line bifocals for Veterans!

  • Carl says:

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. You only ever get one set of eyes people!!! Buying online is a complete way of saying you don’t give a crap about the health of your eyes. You have no idea where your eyeglasses are coming from, many are sent to you with wrong prescriptions and when your frame is too loose or too tight you can’t send them back and get them fit properly. Don’t mess with your eyes people! If you can afford to buy coffee everyday you sure as hell can afford to buy a pair of proper glasses.

    • Nacybeth says:

      This is not ridiculous at all, Carl. I have a friend who recommended Zenni to me. She sees her optometrist, gets her prescription, then orders online. She has never had a problem. I never followed up with her recommendation, then went to my ophthalmologist whom I see twice a year to check for retinal damage due to a medication I take for lupus. I casually asked the PA in the office about ordering glasses online. She said she and her daughter do it all the time, and she’s in a medical clinic where they have an optical department and gets a discount. She said the markup on frames is ridiculous, and she can still get their glasses much cheaper online than there within the clinic.

  • ojoglasses says:

    I recommend steering clear of OJOglasses. I bought two pairs of glasses from them and both are low quality (lens don’t fit their frame, and the “anti-scratch” lens developed scratches very quickly). Customer Service never responded to my e-mail. When I called, they advised that I will owe a $6 shipping charge (probably not going to bother and just donate these to a charity since there are plenty of people with no glasses at all who need them). They also change out their inventory very quickly, so you’re unlikely to find the same frames again even a few weeks later.

    I bought glasses online a few years ago (don’t remember which retailer) and they turned out great. Will try again with one of the others after reading through more reviews.

  • didigames says:

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little homework
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    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this issue here
    on your internet site.

  • Deb says:

    You folks are all nuts for even considering any online option! There are so many grades of lenses out there and you have no idea how critical it is to have a really good optician fit you for glasses from a good lab until you have worn a crappy lense and experienced nausea and poor peripheral vision as a result. This is NOT the thing to scrimp on.

    • Malynn says:

      I am on both sides of the fence here. I pretty much live hand to mouth, and I have the unfortunate luck of having astigmatism AND severe nearsightedness. If I do not wear glasses or contacts, I am damn near close to being legally blind. Everything without glasses is a horrific, terrifying blur. Naturally, my prescription is extremely high, with different numbers for my right and left eye. With that being said, I have both a pair of glasses purchased from ($123.00-see, I told you my prescription was high) and a pair of glasses received from my optometrist about four years ago. Those glasses were over $500. I know because my mother showed me the receipt and I paid for half. Neither of them are perfect. I expect my prescription has changed over four years, though the last optometrist I saw (2014) assured me it hadn’t that it was just really, really high.

      Since I’m also horrifically poor, I cannot afford to go into LensCrafters and have them quote me say….$400+ for a pair of glasses. Can’t do it. That would mean not paying my insurance, cell phone bill, gas and food for the month. Right now I have health insurance (thank heaven) and while I have it, I am pretty much raping it for all it’s worth. I thank Obama for this at least, that dirt poor young people such as myself now have affordable options for healthcare. If this was the pre-Obama world, I shudder to think of what dire straights I might have been in. I digress.

      Even going to my optometrist and picking out a pair of frames is enough to put me into a world of severe hurt. I can receive routine exams, but little else. What I have decided to do is purchase a pair of frames off of for very cheap (they are really stylish frames from a name brand so I’m not worried about quality) and go to the optometrist to make sure my poor eyesight has not deteriorated even further. I would do this even if I did not have health insurance-with my vision being what it is, the possibility of retinal detachment is very real, and very terrifying. Once I have my correct prescription in hand, I will then go off to a big box store and ask that they put in prescription lenses to my purchased frames. This will save me a great deal of money and I have the assurance that my prescription in the glasses I wear for 16 hours every day will be close to perfect. I do this only because with the frames, my vision is still blurred at distance. This may be an error of mine or a consequence of my shit vision, but I’m not willing to risk ruining my eyesight. With my professional, prescription frames (the $400+ ones), things are still blurred at distance, but they seem clearer. I also get far fewer headaches with my professional glasses.

      So I can see both sides of this argument. I cannot afford to pay the asinine prices that optometrists charge for lenses and frames, but at the same time, I still need to see properly. This is the only solution I have come to that I can live with. Buy frames cheap online, go to a big box chain store and have lenses put in. Go to your optometrist (or to a decent optometrist) and have your eyes checked, get your prescription. Pay the $184 it might cost to have high prescriptions put in for your own peace of mind, at least.

      • Malynn says:

        I say these things because I really do not trust myself when it comes to my vision. My optometrist knows best, and I trust him. Even though I wear my glasses almost every day, I have a gut feeling that the professional glasses from my optometrists are the ones I should be wearing. Even though the difference may be less than a hairline, I can tell. When your vision is terrible, you can always tell. I may not be able to afford professional glasses, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to risk my eyesight by incorrectly inputting my prescription online either. I will likely never purchase a pair of prescription glasses online ever again.

        What I WILL do is purchase the frames with non-prescription lenses online and have my own prescription put in at a store that will allow this. My cousin also has horrific vision (it runs in the family, unfortunately) and she purchased an adorable pair of vintage cat-eye glasses and had her strong prescription placed in them for a very reasonable price at a large chain store. If this option no longer became available for those of us with bad vision, we would be doomed.

        There are ways to get around not having any money and needing glasses. It may take me a couple of months to get a decent pair of glasses I can see out of, but I’m willing to wait.

  • eileen says:

    I use, they make lenses for your existing framesFor me, I’m hard on my glasses, the lenses do get scratched up within a year, but the price is so good, I don’t mind getting a new set of lenses from them each year. I buy single vision thin lenses with the highest end coatings they sell. They have extremely good customer service.

  • michelle says:

    The problem with optometrists in the west (US, australia, NZ) is that they have been getting a free ride by private health insurers who are willing to pay exhorbitant costs for eye vision as part of extras cover. When an optometrist sees a bottomless bucket in these health funds why would he consider reducing his prices to a more reasonable price? He won’t, until he sees a threat from online providers. In a free market capitalist economy this is the only way to keep prices down.

    Specsavers and others are becoming popular for this very reason, the public is sick and tired of being ripped off by so-called doctors of optometry who profit from selling frame rather than providing a proper eyecare service. Let the market take it’s course and eventuallly optometrist will have to rationalise or become extinct, it’s their decision.

  • esgeee says:

    For any of you who have recently discovered this thread, buying online is great! I bought a pair of cheap sunglasses from Zenni and they’re fine – much better than spending $500 at the eye doctor’s. And, I was able to get my PD on my prescription when I asked the optician very nicely. I even told them that I went to Costco to get my glasses and they were completely fine with it. People, especially the lower-paid opticians and techs, understand that you can’t afford $600-$1,000 glasses and are willing to work with you, especially if you are polite and have explained your situation properly. Lots of times, your eye doctor will also have deals that you can ask for (don’t be embarrased to say you can’t afford something!)

    However, for my main pair of glasses, I always go to a brick-and-mortar place and look for deals, like Costco. I love Costco and they always have a “clearence” on frames and I was able to get $300 glasses for $90. I also had the assurance that all the dimensions were measured correctly (it was tested by a OPTICIAN!!), plus a warranty and free tightenings/cleanings. In fact when I broke my glasses, they gave me new frames that were origninally $150-$200 for $15. So, if you are afraid of buying online, check out places like these for deals!

  • Thomas says:

    Found your blog and article after I lost a $1,200 pair of Verilux transition glasses from the optical shop. I was sick. I tried a couple places – all of them over $800 – and just felt a “cheesy” sales pitch going on. I’m fairly new to this racket, so I looked online for alternatives and you showed up. Thank goodness. Looking at some of the sites that had the most comments here, and figuring I would have extra money to play with, I order from Zenni, 39DollarGlasses and EyeBuyDirect. The Zenni’s came first, 39Dollar second and EyeBuyDirect last. I found there to be NO comparison. If you go to the sporting goods store and look through binoculars with excellent lens quality, then look through the cheap stuff, you can appreciate the difference of good glass. I have acutely sensitive eyes and the Zenni and 39Dollar lenses are crap compared to EyeBuyDirect. It’s like looking through a cheap pair of Chinese binoculars versus Swarovski or Leica. Their glass is that much better. 39Dollar offered Verilux but I sent that pair back because they were the most expensive of everything I ordered, and the worst. I kept the Zenni’s for a couple reasons, but the more I wear the EyeBuyDirect’s, the harder it is to put them on. I ordered 4 more pair during a BOGO offer on EBD and am very happy with my “Elton John” assortment. I now have prescription sunglasses, sports glasses, reading glasses and Gamma Ray computer glasses – all for about HALF the price from the optical shop. Thank you for posting this – it really made a huge difference. If you have a discerning eye, go to EyeBuyDirect and bypass the others. You won’t regret it.

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