Slate has an article about how unbelievably amazing it feels to get cheap glasses online. I can vouch for this. I often get compliments on a pair of glasses that cost me about $40. Hooray, Internet. [Slate] (Thanks, James !)

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  1. jscott73 says:

    I’ve been getting compliments on my $8 zennioptioal.com glasses for the last year, and the quality is quite nice. I doubt I will ever buy glasses anywhere else.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @jscott73: Seconded. Although I did buy a pair of $8 specs to test the zenni waters (they are great specs btw) but after that I bought a few of the $30, and $40 ones from them and I get all kinds of compliments. At least 2 a day. I’d easily spend close to $400 for a comparable designer namebrand pair.

      • nerdette314159 says:

        @snoop-blog: That’s EXACTLY what my husband and I did! We were cautious of 8 dollar frames at zenni , so we each ordered 2 cheap frames to test the waters. No problems at all, 2 weeks we got the frames.
        A few weeks ago we placed the ‘real’ order with photochromic lenses and the more expensive 23$ frames. Came 2 weeks later, couldn’t be happier with the results.

        Only wish I would’ve measured his head first so the frames weren’t so tight on his head!

  2. Gopher bond says:

    I hate going to the optometrist, most of them are one screw-up away from the Sunglass Hut. They never do anything I ask for. I know it’s because of laws and regulations but it’s the optometrists that called for them to stimy competition. I get glasses and contacts online and have been for the past 10 years or so. I’ll forge a prescription if I have to.

  3. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Wow, glad this was posted now…I’m seeing the eye doctor this Saturday. Are lenses expensive at retail? I already have frames.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: The cheapest I’ve ever found lenses at the eye doctors was about $40-$50 per lens. If you have bi-focals, or any other special lens need, might as well count on that number doubling. But these glasses other are talking about aren’t just frames, they are complete prescription eyewear. No matter if you order 1, or 100 pairs from zenni it’s only 4.95. So you can get a complete set for about $12 shipped.

  4. ColoradoShark says:

    Go to [glassyeyes.blogspot.com] for all the information you’ll need. Incredible prices from all of them. My daughters were able to buy several spare pairs so they don’t have to worry about their “good” ones. Since we have one “good” pair it is trivial to compare the mail order ones and they have all been good.

    We like our ophthalmologist just fine and they don’t seem to have any problem giving us our prescription even though they have a glasses shop in the same office.

  5. backbroken says:

    Can I get a pair with non-distorting lenses? You know, so I can pick up some of the lovely ladies who like the book-learned type?

    • jscott73 says:

      @backbroken: zennioptical allows you to order their glasses with no prescription strength. A coworker called them about that because he likes their sunglasses but doesn’t need a prescription.

  6. samurailynn says:

    Where’s a good place to buy contacts online? One eye needs a toric lens, so I need a place I can get some good ones. I would love to just order them online though. Most vision insurance plans don’t cover contacts anyway.

    • madrigal says:

      @samurailynn: I use 1800 contacts. A lot of their brands have rebates if you buy a year’s supply. Free shipping over a certain amount too.

    • jscott73 says:

      @samurailynn: Agreed with madrigal, I have heard good things about 1800 contacts but have not used them myself. The last place I bought contacts online was coastalcontacts.com, I was very happy with their prices and service.

  7. theblackdog says:

    I’m trying this out tonight. I lost my glasses a little over a month ago on a rollercoaster and I don’t want to fork over yet another $120 for glasses from Costco within the past year (this would be the third pair).

  8. shocker says:

    Call me crazy, but when shopping for a new face, I kind of like to try them on first.

    • goodywitch says:

      @shocker: I found a pair that I liked, took measurements, and found a similar pair at zenni. Worked out great. I do the same for best buy. I find something I’m considering, play with it at best buy, then purchase online.

      • snoop-blog says:

        @goodywitch: Can’t stress enough how important it is to take measurements of frames that fit your face, ex: your old frames. Then just make sure you stay more or less around the same size. I can tell you I have a small face, 125mm frame width is a perfect fit.

    • @shocker: yeah, same here, and you still need to have them fitted, and you need to know your size for a given frame. seems like buying glasses online would be a huge crapshoot unless you know exactly what frame you want, the size, and can do any needed adjustments to them.

      –says the douche who paid $1,000 for the last pair, but I have a fucked-up expensive prescription, might as well pop for the Danish titanium stuff.

  9. CountryJustice says:

    Great big second for the Glassy Eyes blog. Tons and tons of info, ratings, stories, etc.

  10. VeeKaChu says:

    I’m in the market to replace a year’s old script, so I was pretty stoked to read that article this morning. My current pair are year’s old, from Pearle; lineless bifocals with that shitty UV-reactive “fake-sunglasses” treatment, and they were in the 3-400$ neighborhood. Being that current economic conditions are the equivalent of a huge salary cut, I’ve been dreading it. This revelation about massive savings online- plus the prospect of really affordable prescription sunglasses- is a mite exciting!

    Oh, and those “retail” optometrists really don’t impress, and those places do give you a hard time regarding your own GD prescription. Luckily, I’m diabetic, and my GP wants me to see a genuine opthamologist over by Good Sam’s, and soon- I don’t imagine he’ll give me any such guff.

    • cmdrsass says:

      @VeeKaChu: “those places do give you a hard time regarding your own GD prescription”

      If they do, you can report them to the FTC. The law prohibits them from bullying you into purchasing their own frames and lenses.

    • mamacat49 says:

      @VeeKaChu: I got a pair of prescription sunglasses from Zenni. I have a no-line bifocal, too. They limit your options on which glasses you can choose for a bifocal, unlike a retail optical store that will just “up” your bifocal (or call you doc) if necessary if the glasses you choose are too narrow in height.
      But for $56 total, I love them. Everything is right about them, except the arm length (too long) , but I can live with that.

  11. SilverStar95 says:

    …Dang. For the price my last pair of glasses cost(3 and a half years ago), I could get 7 pairs of glasses with the same prescription, from some of these places. And with my prescription going up as it has, I’m nearing 1000 dollars for a pair now, at any given local glasses place. And that’s at $400/lens. (my last lenses were Nikon. I know this because it had a bloody watermark stuck on both lenses until all the other coatings wore off.)

  12. timmus says:

    I’m still using the same pair (at night) that I’ve used since March 1993, so I think it’s time to upgrade. I’m calling an optometrist today.

  13. Squot says:

    For me, looking at them was almost the cost of buying them from my optometrist (using my insurance) (who was awesome and took free glasses to my mom when she was in the hospital for an extended period.)

    That’s because my eyes are HORRIBLE. Crazy, crazy horrible. Lenses are so expensive.

    So when I have no more vision insurance in a year, then I’ll brave the world of on-line glasses.

  14. Are cheap online glasses like cheap sunglasses? Because I got really tired of sunglasses that progressively disintegrate every time I wear them, until one day I’ve left with a couple of bits of metal and hunks of plastic. I don’t like buying “disposable” eyewear.

    The pair of mid-range prescription glasses I have now has lasted me for 5 years or so and I like that. I have vision coverage, so I think I can get Zenni-spec for a modest 200%-300% premium over Zenni. (Zenni-spec means 1.67 high-index, but I’m trying to find a way to get 1.74 for cheap. My optometrist priced 1.74 out at something like $200 for the designer frames and $500 for the lenses, which is a bit much.)

    For something that I’ll plan on wearing for a few years along with the friendly fitting, I think it’d be worth it. Then again, $150 saved is $150 earned.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @Michael Belisle: No I have had my $8 pair from zenni for over a year and the scratch resistant coating must work because they are still in new condition. Metal is metal, lenses are lenses. It’s like vegatables, would you buy name brand vegetables? If so, you probably don’t care about saving money on eyeglasses anyhow. Every pair also comes with an awesome true microfiber for cleaning. You can also add any color or darkness of tint for about $5.

      @Donavenn: As someone who has wore glasses for years (since about 5th grade) let me tell you about optometrist from my point of view…

      None of them have ever cared to “fit” them on my face, in fact they tell me that my face is crooked not the glasses. Uh wtf? Everybody knows one ear is slightly lower than the other, but still thousands of people manage to find glasses that aren’t crooked on their face. So I said screw the opto. I had him measure my pd (pupilary distance) which is the measurement your refering to people messing up, and yes people don’t do that measurement yourself, have your dr. do it when your getting your prescription, as it is not already wrote in with your prescription. And anyone with a mili-meter ruler can measure their old pair of glasses to get an accurate fit. Surprisingly though, all of the pairs I’ve ordered from zenni fit square accross my face without any adjustments at all,… weird. Some people will even go try glasses on at stores to get an idea of weather they like retangular, oval, or round styles on their face, but for $8-$30, I just went for it and tried some new things and was really pleased. I got about 7 pairs for about the price of one pair at the optom., can your insurance get you 7 pairs for cheap? didn’t think so. Anyhow, I really dig the rectangular ones or ones with floating lenses. I experimented and got some pretty funky specs and people compliment them and ask if they were expensive. I always laugh, because they do look expensive, but I’m pretty poor, and won’t splurge for name brands.

      • @snoop-blog: None of them have ever cared to “fit” them on my face, in fact they tell me that my face is crooked not the glasses.

        I can agree with that. I’ve been pretty happy with the optical technicians I’ve dealt with, but when it came down to it they’d put a pair of glasses on my face and say “looks good” and occasionally disappear to a back room to make some adjustments.

        It turned out OK, but I don’t knew them to have ever made measurements beyond what’s in my prescription. (Maybe they eyeballed, but my current is slightly too small and nobody ever told me.) I didn’t know that the same model came in different measurements until I went online.

        And of course if your face is crooked, then you can offset that by making the glasses crooked.

  15. MissPeacock says:

    I’ll have to check out this site later.

    As an aside, Costco has a pretty nice selection of frames, and the prices aren’t too shabby, either. I got a brand new pair with two lenses for about $150 last year. I’ve never gotten as many compliments on my glasses before as I have with these.

    Oh, look. Someone has them on eBay!

  16. jrobie says:

    Yes Glassyeyes is the best place to start. I’ve had great success with the retailers reviewed there.

  17. chaitea says:

    $1000 later, for lenses alone (I reused two frames), I am very interested in checking out online sources.

    But, my script is apparently tricky, and measuring for my progressives is even trickier still. This time they had to remake them with a wider field of vision when the originals were unwearable. Anyone have good results with mail order or online vendors and progressive lenses?

    The fit’s the thing, and I’m not sold on how that can be done virtually.

  18. EndlessMike says:

    My vision coverage only covers either contacts or glasses, and I wear contacts, so I was planning on buying my next pair from Zenni, anyway. And naturally I managed to break my only pair last weekend, so now I HAVE to get new ones.

  19. Donavenn says:

    As the husband of an actual optometrist, I’m gonna have to burst your bubble. And if you sit down with an actual optometrist (not the sales girl) they can tell you why.

    First and foremost; you are not capable of taking your own measurements. Plain and simple. You can get it close, but you’ll never get it totally right.

    Second; you will never wear your glasses properly. Mostly because you never took the measurements properly, but also because you don’t know how to adjust the frame. And though, a simple tool set in the garage can sub out a lot of the tools they use in the labs, you need to stop being a tightwad and realize that YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOUR DOING.

    If you’ve ever been in the lab where they make your lenses, you can see them pouring over extremely delicate and detailed equipment that requires precision work. I’ve watched the wife suddenly stop and chuck the lenses because they were a micrometer off. When asked if it made a difference; “The customer will never know it, but they’ll never see as clearly as they could.”

    So when I asked her about discount glasses I found online (for myself AND her) she slapped me across the head. (As I was working as a car dealer at this point;) “What’s the difference between a BMW and a Saturn? They’re both cars, they both get you where you need to go, and if you can make the Saturn look as good as the Mercedes then what’s the difference? It’s all under the hood. It’s the details. How the lenses were made, what kind of coating was used, if it was measured correctly, how they frames were adjusted, how they sit on your face, where they sit. Would you let me rebuild any part under the hood of my car?!”

    “Hell no.”

    “Exactly…”

    Just because you CAN have lenses a couple micrometers off and get away with it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

    Listen people, this is not being snooty, this is not me standing up for optometrists everywhere, this is me trying to tell you a lesson in life everyone should learn; Quality matters.

    Just like everything else in life; you cheap out on food, your car, your health, and it ends up costing you more. I’m not saying don’t save money, I’m telling you what Consumerist tells you all the time: Shop Smart.

    Please don’t skimp on your lenses, you’re only cheating yourself. If you must buy your frames elsewhere, work with an optometrist to get your lenses into a frame instead of trying to scam your way around them, and demanding they do something “you know” they can do. For the record, you have no idea what it takes to make lenses and calibrate them. So work WITH them, find out if it’s possible BEFORE you buy the frames.

    Be a smart shopper, not just a cheap one.

    • A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

      @Donavenn: Wow, looks like someone sees a threat to the old annual household income.

      Maybe your wife is unusually super-conscientious, but that precision frame adjustment stuff strikes me as a crock. When my sister got her glasses and complained the fit wasn’t exactly right, the optometrist just bent it with a pair of pliers.

      • Gopher bond says:

        @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: “the optometrist just bent it with a pair of pliers.”

        One optometrist told me to do it myself by holding it over a stove element on low and bending for a custome fit. Thanks “Doctor”

        • Donavenn says:

          @testsicles: Optometrists aren’t doctors. Also, I have no idea what your protesting against in my initial statement. Get your frames online if you want, bring them into the store, ask; “Can I have my prescription in these frames?” If they say no; say Thank You, and leave. Try another place. If more than four places say no, chances are the your prescription is unique enough that it can’t fit in the frame. But more often than not, one of those four technicians will be willing to give it a shot.

          @SilverStar95: I sincerely doubt your prescription changes in the time it takes to make your glasses. Unless you wait months between the doctor’s office and picking up your glasses.

          @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: And yes, yes I do. But that’s not the point I was trying to make. Did you catch the part where I said “And though, a simple tool set in the garage can sub out a lot of the tools they use in the labs,”? True enough. It doesn’t mean you can adjust them correctly. And by the way, that’s how the fit your glasses to you in the lab, they set them in a heated tank to make the plastic more malleable. Though the technician who told you to do it yourself was retarded.

          I’m not saying that they’re not bad optometrists out there. But they’re are bad doctors, lawyers, taxi cab drivers, car dealers, computer repair techs, and if you use any kind of service where somebody does something for you, you should try to find someone who isn’t an ass. Searching for a good mechanic, a good lawyer, and a good optometrist should be common sense. That’s kind of a “duh” thing.

          As for the precision adjustment thing? It matters. If your glasses are crooked (or maybe one of your ears is slightly higher than the other) it pays to have it sit correctly on your face. It does matter how it sits. I have the headaches to prove that the slightest movement of those nose pads up front makes all the difference in the world.

          • Gopher bond says:

            @Donavenn: Look, I’ve never had anything but trouble from the classic eyewear industry. Be it getting hassled about getting prescriptions, berated for suggesting I may buy online or nasty looks by asking for the absolutely cheapest pair of glasses possible, I think the surge of people buying online clearly indicates a huge customer-service problem within the industry.

            My problem with your initial post is the same thing I hear from every optometrist, that they somehow know better than I what I want and the very fact that I am suggesting that price is the most important factor makes me some kind of dunce.

            I want a pair of cheap glasses for limited purpose, I don’t care about quality and the only places that fill that need on a consistent and pain-free basis for me over the past 10 years are online shops.

          • SilverStar95 says:

            @Donavenn: months? no. Month? yes. That’s how long it has always taken for my glasses to come in, everywhere I’ve gone to get them at. it’s become somewhat of a joke for me, that I say my lenses have to be specially hand ground by blind Tibetan monks. The simple idea that if I’m not happy with my glasses, I can just go ahead and get another pair actually makes the possible “lower quality” a mute point. Heck, I can get a pair of prescription sunglasses, and a pair of reading glasses, then a pair of night glasses, all for less than the price of a single lens, at the same index as my current ones.

            In fact, if I can actually afford to get new glasses on a whim, I might be more interested in seeing the eye doctor more than just when I’m going in to replace my years-old glasses. It’d also reduce eyestrain and allow for a more accurate prescription, because my eyes haven’t been strained for 2 years of degrading quality, by time I go in to get a new prescription.

    • Gopher bond says:

      @Donavenn: Yeah, and that’s what every optometrist says and I hate it. I always ask for a low-cost cheap pair of glasses because I don’t use them that often and no optometrist ever, out of maybe 20 I’ve ever been two, has ever been helpful in that endeavor. They give me the same spiel about how shopping online is stupid and I’ll never get a great fit that way and they’re always upselling every chance they get.

      Bottom line, if I want a cheap pair of usable glasses, and you’re trying to sell me the Holy Grail of eyeweat at $1000 a pop, you’re doing it wrong.

    • SilverStar95 says:

      @Donavenn: That may be all fine and good for a lot of people, but when someone is in my position and looking at $500/lens, with deteriorating myopia, which causes each prescription to be stronger than the last and by time the glasses are done they’re already offspec from what I would need anyway, being able to get a sub-$100 pair of glasses every year is a lot better than having to invest a full 2 weeks of pay into something that would be just as bad after another year as the cheap ones, anyway.

      I’ll never be able to get a pair of glasses that gives me lasting “perfect” vision, so all I can do is play catch-up until cyber-optic replacements are viable. Even laser surgery won’t do anything for me, because my eyes will forever continue to degrade, and within a few years I’d need to start buying glasses again, on top of the other damage that the laser surgery would have caused to my eyes.

      Being able to get a pair of cheap but utilitarian glasses that don’t sit like bumpers on my face, with a price point that I could actually afford to replace them when I need to, is a dream to me. Being able to actually AFFORD a pair of backup glasses is something I’ve longed to experience.

      So, while we may not notice a few micrometers off in the grinding, it doesn’t really matter to us. It doesn’t matter how fine you grind that lens, by time we get it our eyes will have already changed and your ultra-precision work would have been wasted. Some people want perfect vision, while others want to be able to read a TV from 12 feet away, or a computer monitor from more than 13 inches.

    • Dervish says:

      @Donavenn: I don’t drive BMWs, becuse Saturns are perfectly adequate for my needs and they fit my budget. Much like ordering glasses online. For the first time I’ll be able to afford a pair of prescription sunglesses, which I wouldn’t normally invest in because I know they’ll eventually get lost or sat on. A slightly-imperfect but cheap pair of prescription sunglasses is better than either of my other two options:

      1. Regular sunglasses with contacts, since I don’t see nearly as well in contacts.
      2. A scratched-to-hell pair of clip-ons that don’t adequately cover my field of vision, but I can’t afford to replace.

    • castlecraver says:

      @Donavenn: Some folks are willing to make those compromises, or must due to financial necessity. Glasses are expensive, and what the Consumerist is suggesting is an option. I understand optometrists are very highly-trained professionals who care deeply about providing good care, but they also have a significant financial interest in limiting the public’s awareness of these options.

      The points you make are certainly valid, but let the free market work, wouldya? If someone is satisfied with glasses they bought online, good for them! If not, they’ll learn their lesson and tell their (myopic) friends. It does irk me a little when biased people try to FUD others away from cheaper alternatives. Its like they’re not so confident that the market will determine that the better quality is actually worth the higher price.

      Practicing standalone optometrists bemoaned discount retail eyeglass shops before they became so ubiquitous. But life went on.

      • Donavenn says:

        @castlecraver: But see, that’s kind of my point. If somebody gets glasses that were not made correctly and is able to see better, but not as good as they could have, then it just costs them more in the long run. And I assure you, if you get incorrectly calibrated glasses, then that WILL happen.

        I’m not trying to screw people out of getting a better deal for my personal interests. I’m trying to help you not get screwed.

        And absolutely nobody is going to see enough difference between “Yeah, I’m good.” and “Wow, I can really see better!” until they put their car into somebody else’s rear end.

        But whatever. Obviously I’m speaking to the wind at this crowd. I said my peace. Do what you will.

  20. juri squared says:

    Thanks to Glassy Eyes and Zenni, I have my first pair of prescription sunglasses. I couldn’t be happier. I can actually take a long drive now, without having to settle for questionable clip-ons.

    I just wish my husband could order through them, but like another poster said, his prescription is too high and too wonky to be available and/or affordable from the online places.

    • snoop-blog says:

      @jurijuri: Prescription sunglasses truely are a luxury for those who wear glasses huh. I have 3 pairs of Rx sunglasses from zenni, one pair I keep in my glove box, one at home (or on me), and the other in my desk at work, so I always have a pair handy.

  21. Invective says:

    First thing I check for websites like zennioptical.com is check the ownership online. That gives me a clue as to that company’s transparency. Unfortunately for me, zennioptical came back as:
    Administrative Contact:
    Private, Registration ZENNIOPTICAL.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
    Domains by Proxy, Inc.
    DomainsByProxy.com
    15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    United States
    (480) 624-2599
    So that’s the first warning bell for me. Second thing I check is for company website complaints:
    [clarkhoward.com]
    When I get more than one website that says the same things about an online retailer, such as in this instance, then that confirms the second and final warning flag. I don’t ever wait for a third, especially when it comes to a health issue, which glasses are.
    I’m all for online eyeglass companies, just not this one. As for Optometrists & Ophthalmologists, I think as a service provider, just as in any industry, it is an eyeglass professional’s duty to provide all options to their customers. This is what makes that service provider reputable in my eyes. It also shows a concern for what’s best for the client and not just what is best for their own profits. Better service, is better profits and makes for a loyal customer. It’s a simple concept that most accountants just don’t understand. Optometrist & ophthalmologists have long had a monopoly on eyeglass sales and I’m glad that’s changing.

  22. maniacswailsome says:

    I used to work in the eye care industry as an optician in NJ, and contrary to what people are saying here, WE CARED if the glasses were right. In fact, we did adjustments gratis for people whether they bought the glasses there or not. I specify NJ because you actually had to have a license and have a specialized AAS to legally call yourself an optician there.

    If you have a light, easy prescription, you’re probably fine with the online places.

    If your prescription is strong or you wear a bifocal or progressive lens, it really is important to have a professional take measurements and adjust the frames.

    If these things are wrong, not only will you not see as well as you could end up with chronic headaches.

    I’ve been out of that biz for over 10 years, btw, so I have no household income to defend.

  23. maniacswailsome says:

    “If these things are wrong, not only will you not see as well as you could end up with chronic headaches.’

    That should be:

    “If these things are wrong, not only will you not see as well as you could, you could also end up with chronic eadaches.”

  24. djanes1 says:

    Kind of an older story, no?
    [lifehacker.com]

  25. Robobot says:

    I buy shoes, makeup, and clothes online. Taking a chance on appearance-changing articles usually isn’t a big deal for me. But glasses? I have to try on a few hundred frames before even considering which pair to choose. The right or wrong frames can make one look like a completely different person.

    Not to mention the comfort factor! I’ll walk miles in four inch heels, but uncomfortable glasses are unspeakably horrible.

  26. battra92 says:

    With mine (I have a prism) it almost ALWAYS costs a fortune to get eyeglasses. I do, however, have great insurance through work which basically gave me my $300 script for $80 ($20 of that was for the exam so $60 for glasses.) Plus they tinted my old pair into sunglasses for FREE! The cheapest place I could find online for glasses was 39dollarglasses. Even then with a Prism it’d be $60 for a Made in China frame with no warranty. They did make nice sunglasses when I had my local place tint them. :)

    This is a rough subject since local opticians are usually a zillion times better but usually twice or three times the cost. Sometimes it’s worth the service though. I had a frame break and they gave me an old store discount display for like $20 as they knew I couldn’t afford anything else at the time.

    One last note, when you buy new glasses PLEASE donate the old ones to the Lions Club. They are a good organization so please do your part. :)