I was in middle school when I made the leap to be forever four-eyed. This was in the early 80s so you can imagine the really large un-sexy glasses that were in style. I felt like such a dork and hated them and the teasing that came with it. So, I got contacts. Aqua colored ones. Ha! Like anybody’s eyes are really aqua. What was I thinking? I’ll spare you the horrors and not include a photo of those aqua eyes, horrid glasses, and my crooked teeth!
Fast forward 30 years and I seem to have a hard time wearing contacts now. I can’t wear them for long at work all week without having to peel them off my eyeball. They get so dry and uncomfortable. However, away from the office I can wear them and have no problem. So, I’ve worn my glasses primarily for the last 8 years or so. Hipster I am not but I now love wearing and having multiple glasses to coordinate with my outfits. Glasses are expensive at most retail stores; especially if you are severely nearsighted like me and the lenses have to be so thick. I could not afford my passion for stylish glasses at the cost from retail stores and I heard that consumer reporter, Clark Howard, reported about online retailers of glasses and so I thought I would try using them. I’ve been buying online now for a few years with FABULOUS results.
Many people ask me how I do it and how I afford so many pairs so I’ve put together my tips below. None of the sites listed below paid me for my review. I’m just preachin’ it the way I see it from my vast experience. Several people I have told about my experiences have come back to me and said they were ecstatic about the money saved and selection! It is especially a good option if you have children that lose or break their glasses a lot.
The 3 websites I use are www.ZenniOptical.com, www.EyeBuyDirect.com, and www.Coastal.com (the more expensive of the 3 but still very reasonable compared to opticians). I haven’t tried Warby Parker yet but I hope to soon because I’m dying for these beauties (a little out of my price range)! UPDATE: I tried Warby Parker and here are my thoughts.
I highly recommend signing up for their emails and/or following on social media so that you can see the specials they constantly run. The BOGO offers are especially nice.
The glasses I wear primarily (Evergreen 6008 Tortoise; eco-friendly and made from 95% recycled materials) are my favorite and I got them for free from a Coastal Facebook promotion last year and just paid $10 in shipping. They have since been discontinued but this brand still has other lovely recycled frames. All three sites are very good at making my lenses thin enough to go in the frames. They also do progressive bifocals, regular bifocals, reading glasses, prescription sunglasses, etc for small up-charges. They have a very good selection of frames; acetate, titanium, rimless, kids, etc. It sometimes takes about 3-4 weeks for making and then shipping but at the prices they offer I don’t mind. A recent order started with $7 frames, $7 lenses, $7 anti-glare, $6 shipping. One friend recently purchased 3 pairs for $40 and another friend saved $700 from the previous time they purchased specs! You can’t beat that!
You do sort of need to know what colors, styles, sizes look good on you. I went to an eye clinic before my first online purchase and tried on different pairs to look at color, style, and size. I did have an idea of what I wanted and what looks good on me though since I’ve been wearing glasses so long. But, I figured at the low price if I ordered some and didn’t like them then I would just use them as a backup pair. Also, pay attention to return policies. They are very different with each site. I returned my first pair of progressives ($38) from Zenni and only got a 100% store credit. That is fine for me as I know I’ll be buying more glasses from Zenni in the future. EyeBuyDirect has a 14-day policy. They actually let you return them and they donate them to charity.
My first order ever was 3 pairs of glasses and only 1 was a dud but not too bad. Just too small for my face. I keep them at my desk at work should I break or lose a pair. At the prices offered I have about 9 pairs of different styles and colors and can change them to go with different outfits! Kinda silly but they almost become an accessory at these low prices! My prescription doesn’t change that much from year to year. You get a very nice hard case and lens cleaner with your order. Most have a flat fee for shipping so whether you get 1 or 5 pairs the shipping is the same.
The most important thing you need to order glasses online is your Pupillary Distance (PD). It’s an easy measurement to get from your Optometrist but it isn’t a typical measurement they write on your prescription form because they want you to order glasses there and when you do they will measure your PD. They don’t want you to take your business somewhere else. But, once you get it one time your pupils never change how far apart they are so that will stay the same even though your prescription might change. Don’t ever pay for your PD! It helps when they make your glasses to know which glasses might be too small or large for your eyes as some people have very wide set eyes or eyes close together and that could change glasses that might be appropriate for them. Most of the sites now have it so you can filter your search by PD as well and only look at glasses for your PD. Zenni also has a PD measuring guide and a frame size guide.
But since those first couple of orders I now also know that when I order my glasses I take ones that I like and look good on me and measure (metric only) the distance from top of lens to bottom of lens, one side of frame to the other side of frame, frame leg length, etc. Each pair of glasses you look at online will have these measurements. If you have measurements of ones that look good on you then it helps when looking at new ones to know if they are similar in size. Some of them I have looked at I liked a lot but the lenses were going to be too big or too small or the frames themselves would have been too wide for my face. For example, if the ones I like are 135mm wide and the ones I am looking to purchase are 110mm wide then those are probably going to be too small for me. Or if my lenses are 25mm in height then ones that are 40mm in height will be too big! So, those are things to think about as well. I hate the new style of glasses that I see the younger people wear that go halfway down their cheek. I call them Kardashian glasses because they are like those big sunglasses celebrities wear. I just think they look stupid on everyone especially me.
I’ve also purchased 2 pairs of prescription sunglasses from Zenni. One pair was just regular black frames with my single vision prescription that I then had tinted at 80% polarized dark grey. I keep them in the car to use when driving during the day. The second pair is pink sunglasses with blue polarized mirrored lenses. They are funky and I love them. Most of the retailers offer any frame as prescription sunglasses as well in multiple colors of tint, percentages of tint, polarized, and even mirrored.
An interesting link about the difference in lifetime cost spent online versus traditional methods of purchasing can be seen here.
I hope this info helps you in your search for eyeglasses or sunglasses.
Please let me know if you decide to order from these sites and let me know about your experience!
PS – No one paid me in any capacity to post this. All opinions are my own.2