Steps To Cut Costs For Glasses And Contacts

It can be expensive to keep your sight straight. Thankfully there are ways to keep down the costs for glasses or contact lenses.

Thirty Six Months suggests keeping your eyes on these steps to make sure you spend as little as possible maintaining your vision:

* Don’t buy contacts blind. Not all varieties of contact lenses are as comfortable as others, the writer says, so when you’re thinking of switching brands, see an optician for a fitting. You won’t save money by buying cheaper contacts that you won’t be able to wear.

* Scope out costs online. A number of outlets compete to supply your eyeware, so only stick with the place you’ve always bought your glasses and contacts if you’re sure it’s offering you the best deal. The writer suggests checking out such sites as Coastal Contacts for good prices.

* See about buying in bulk. Cut down on shipping costs and guard against inflation by buying glasses and contacts in greater amounts. You can partner up with others to split the costs and products, saving by buying at a high volume.

The Ultimate guide to cheap contacts and Glasses [Thirty Six Months]

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  1. Dallas_shopper says:

    I am very nearsighted (-9.25 in both eyes) and even the thinnest lenses available in the USA are still pretty thick once you get to my prescription. I could hide the thickness of the lenses with thick frames but those don’t look good on me, and there’s extreme distortion in my peripheral vision anyway. For these craptacular glasses, I would be expected to pay upwards of $200 on any vision insurance plan I’ve ever had.

    For that same $200 or a bit more depending on the prevailing exchange rate, I can buy a pair of cheapo frames and send them to Europe to have extremely thin, high-index lenses fitted that aren’t available in the US but look MUCH better and cause less distortion than anything I could buy here.

    Gee, wonder what I did last time I needed new glasses? :-)

    • KillerBee says:

      I feel your pain. -13.5L, -14R

      Those European lenses are available here if you find the right optician. They aren’t cheap by any stretch. And they are still thick for people like me, but I’ll take what I can get.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        I called about 20 places in DFW, nobody here stocks the highest index glass lenses because apparently they’re not approved by the FDA.

        • KillerBee says:

          Hmmm. Someone may have lied to me then. Stupid FDA. I wonder what their excuse is?

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            At the time, I was told by a couple of opticians that the FDA was afraid that if a high-index glass lens shattered, people might be injured. Sigh. :-(

    • hicks says:

      Former optician here. It’s been a few years, but the highest-index lens you could get was the new 1.74 from Essilor, which, to be honest, is only about 8-10% thinner than 1.67, the highest-index you’ll find most places. If you really want thin lenses, you have to select a frame that places your pupil in the center of the lens both horizontally and vertically.

      A good optician will be able to point you in the direction of something that a) looks good and b) is practical. I had a number of frames I’d keep around for really high RX people. They’re not necessarily the most beautiful and fashionable, and sometimes people wouldn’t go for them. But it was nice to offer the practical alternative.

      And for comparison, I think the highest-index glass is 1.71. Until 1.74 came out, that definitely was the thinnest you could get in the US. However, glass weighs about double what plastic does. The FDA’s issue with 1.71 is they won’t allow 1.0 center thickness with glass because of the risk of shattering. 1.0 CT is no big deal with most plastic lenses.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        The last time I went glasses shopping at a B&M was in late 2009 and I think the highest index they had was a 1.67. They were ridiculously thick and caused so much distortion around the edges, even with the frames that their “trained specialists” helped me choose, that I refused to pay for them and ordered mine online instead (1.9 glass lenses).

        I’m much happier with the 1.9 glass lenses. I appreciate that the FDA is “concerned” with the health and safety of my eyes, but I wish they would let me make that decision for myself. Even a “nanny state” like the UK allows for very high-index glass lenses, and this is a country where they paint “Look Right” and “Mind The Gap” on the ground to prevent you from hurting yourself. ;-)

    • AJC says:

      Ha! -9.25 is NOT very nearsighted

      My contacts are -25 (well the left is -26, but I get 2 -25 since it makes little difference and it avoids confusion with wrong lens in the wrong eye).

      My glasses are, to be honest, a work of art. Despite the fact the prescription is stronger, than my older pair, they are actually thinner. The trick,however, is smaller lenses. The smaller lenses and frames reduce weight on the nose and reduce the fishbowl effect of stronger lenses.

      Sadly, there are no online options are bulk rates for me and each new purchase is a hassle. So I remember my rule: No matter how good you are, someone else is better; and no matter how bad off you are, someone else is worse.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        LOL…-25 is an outrageous prescription! Are you legally blind? Even with my nearsightedness I can’t see without my glasses and if I want to read magazine print clearly, I have to hold it less than an inch from my face. :-D

        • AJC says:

          Dallas_ ,
          Legally, well I’m not allowed to drive .. legally :)
          So you too know the joys of “newsprint nose?”

          Now I’m waiting for the response from someone who says “-25? I _wish_, I had a -25!”

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            Hmmm remind me to stay off the road wherever you live. ;-)

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            P.S. At least you CAN wear contacts….after a bout with ulcerative keratitis, I can’t wear them anymore. :-( I also can’t get laser eye surgery. :-(

      • sweaterhogans says:

        My prescription is around that too (-9.5), plus I have a slight astigmatism in one eye! I’ve been wearing contacts for about 20 yrs and I’ve found that as my rx got higher, and I got older they got more uncomfortable. I switched to extar moist dailies, but since they are outrageously expensive, I use 1 pair 2x. Even that made my eyes dry, so I primarily wear glasses now.

        I too have the lens sticking out problem, but I found a site (http://www.zennioptical.com/) that has relatively cheap glasses. It sucks that you can’t try them on in person (and it took me 3x to get ones that I felt looked good), but if you know the general shape and color you should make out well.

  2. mauispiderweb says:

    I just spent over $500 on my new glasses, because most vision plans cover frames up to $100 (when all the brand name ones start at $200) and basic single vision lenses. I need trifocals and and the frames I was covered for were in a small, dusty bin that you KNOW has been there for years and never touched. Since I care about what’s on my face, of course I paid out of pocket for progressive lenses with the best anti-scratch, poly-carbon coating, UV protection and transition lenses, because that’s cheaper than getting another pair of progressive, etc. lenses for sunglasses. Damn f***ers soak you, every time.

    • sponica says:

      I bought glasses and paid 204 for them….I bought the cheapest frames I could find because I only need them at night when I drive, and I really don’t care what I look like at night when I drive.

      Unfortunately, because my eye doctor’s prescription was VERY specific about the anti-glare coating, the lenses ended up being more expensive than they would have been had he not suggested the brand.

      thing that aggravates me is that I get an FSA funded with 250 by my employer at my new job that starts next week….had I held off another month, I wouldn’t be out of pocket 204 dollars. oh well, I guess I’ll buy better looking glasses later this year.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        You can usually submit for reimbursement for medical expenses that occur in the same calendar year. In other words, I bet you can send that eyeglass receipt to your FSA administrator and get the money paid out through your FSA.

    • Anna Kossua says:

      My eye doctors talked me into that scratch-resistant coating. Of course… the lenses got scratched anyway. I took care of them, but they scratched every bit as easily as the glasses I had that didn’t have the coating.

  3. KitanaOR says:

    Some back history on contact purchasing. It used to be that you could go in to an optometrist, get your contact lens prescription, but most likely you’d buy them from the optometrist. With the arrival of the internet, people could take their prescriptions and go online and buy cheaper lenses, so optometrists started forcing people to buy lenses from them by not giving out the prescription. The Federal Trade Commission made the Contact Lens Rule in 2004 that required prescribers to provide the prescription and not force people to buy lenses from them. The optometrists came back with “contact fittings”, wherein forcing you to buy their contacts, they see if they fit, and then the prescription is accurate and complete. Oh, and they get to charge a $100 (sometimes more) for this new fitting “requirement” that is not covered by eye insurance.

    I’ve moved multiple times in my life and recently have had to pay a fitting fee every time I move because it’s something you pay as a new patient. I am lucky to find a doc that doesn’t charge it, but it’s very rare today.

    There’s a debate on topix.com (http://www.topix.com/forum/med/optometry/TNI89ECNI56LIHFR7) about the legitimacy of these fees and all the optometrists post that they need it since insurances don’t pay enough. Some claim that their high level of expertise demands the fee. Funny; they didn’t need it 10 years ago.

    • legolex says:

      I get charged a fitting fee every time I update my contact lens prescription. If I go in for my yearly appointment and say I just need glasses then I won’t get charged. I’ve found that to get around the fee is that I go in and just get glasses, then a few months later order contacts over the phone with my updated prescription. Good thing I don’t wear contacts that much!

      • KitanaOR says:

        You can’t get contacts with a glasses prescription. Do you get the contacts prescription at the same time as the glasses and then call later?

        • legolex says:

          Really? You can’t get contacts prescription with a glasses prescription? My prescription for both my contacts and glasses are the same, -4 in both eyes. I haven’t ordered in a while so perhaps I’m mistaken. But I do know I get charged that fitting fee each every time I go in to my Optometrist for contacts.

          • katieintheburg says:

            A glasses RX is not the same as a contact lens RX. Contacts have to be measured for the strength (like glasses) but also the base curve and diameter. This is why every doctor wants to “fit” you for contacts because they have to make sure the curve and diameter fit. If they don’t fit the contact won’t cover the entire pupil (if the diameter is too small) or it’ll be very uncomfortable or fall out easily (if the curve is wrong).

            That being said, I don’t understand WHY they have to fit you every year if you are wearing the same lenses, same RX, and you haven’t had an issues with them. My insurance only covers $15 toward the fitting but it usually runs $30-45.

          • vliam says:

            Contact prescriptions include curvature and diameter, neither of which matter for eyeglasses.

            Thing is, these numbers don’t vary much by the population. The most popular brand, Acuvue, only comes in three base curve, 8.4, 8.8, and 9.1 with a single diameter for each (14mm for the first two, 14.4 for the 9.1). Generally, it’s either 8.4 or 8.8. I don’t think 9.1 is widely used.

            Basically, it’s a scam.

    • elangomatt says:

      I get charged the “contact lens fitting” charge every year when my prescription runs out. I could understand having to pay that when moving to a new optometrist or every few years, but I wouldn’t think that your eyes would change that much in a year where you need to be “fit” again for contacts every year. Maybe I need to find a new place to go.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        I always have as well at a number of places. I feel it is comparable to a car dealer’s “processing fee”, just an excuse to pad the bottom line, except in this case I can’t negotiate it away. I believe some states specify that your ‘script is good for 2 years though. That would be great for someone like me who has had the same ‘script for about 10 years now. Instead, I go back and pay my “contact lens fitting” tribute to the guy just to get the opportunity to order more of the same contacts I’ve worn for 5 years.

  4. shifuimam says:

    http://www.zennioptical.com – glasses for as little as $10 a pair (lenses included). All my glasses are from Zenni now, because quite frankly eyewear in the United States is a colossal ripoff.

    There are only two or three companies that actually manufacture glasses frames. Those fancy Chanel frames that are $600 are identical to the cheaper non-designer frames found at places like Wal-Mart Vision Center; the only difference is that the Chanel ones have a logo on them so that you can feel better about yourself.

    Zenni takes a little while to ship since they come direct from China, but it’s worth it with how much money you save. I have like ten different pairs of glasses now! The only thing they can’t do is polarization, but they do have a variety of frames that come with magnetic polarized sunshades.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Last time I ordered glasses I did so via thinlenses.co.uk; the results were spectacular but they were not much cheaper than glasses here would have been. I may have to check this other place out…I do need another pair of prescription sunglasses.

    • LoadStar says:

      I noticed that… I was able to buy glasses over the internet that were identical to the ones I previously bought from the Walmart Vision Center. The ones at Walmart were $100; the ones over the internet were $10 (not including the lenses.) And these weren’t even “brand name” ones either.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      For what I ordered from the UK, this place wouldn’t be much cheaper. I think I’ll stick with what I know. But that site is pretty cool; if I didn’t have such a high prescription I’d probably get my next pair from there!

    • BerlinSwing says:

      Seconding Zenni. They seem to be just as sturdy as the ones you get at the optometrist’s office. Only downside is that I can’t try the glasses on before I buy….but for $10, it’s still cheaper to just buy a few pairs to find one I want.

    • caradrake says:

      I love Zenni. When I told my optician that I planned to buy glasses through them, he tried to dissuade me by saying the glasses would be extremely thick. Honestly, they may be slightly thicker, but I don’t notice it.

      I just spent $30 after shipping. That’s for one new pair of glasses with anti-fingerprint/anti-glare, plus two empty frames since my kids are brutal on my frames.

    • Draw2much says:

      I buy my glasses there too! Takes hecka long to get shipped (so only buy them when you have a functioning pair of glasses) but the quality is better than what I’ve gotten from b&m stores. The average price I pay for glasses is about $25, with shipping. :D

    • trencherman says:

      Zennioptical–I completely agree. I wish that you could send in designer frames into them, and get the lenses put in. Aside from not providing that service, they are great.

  5. DonnieZ says:

    Worst place to buy glasses – Lenscrafters. I used to buy there but then I discovered that glasses need not cost $375.

    Sams Club has pretty decent service, $120 for High Index lenses out the door for your existing frames, and since we are plus members I had them in 3 days.

    Zenni – Just received my first pair from there on Saturday. $24.90 shipped to my door for Polycarb lenses with AR coating and frames. Glasses really aren’t my style once I put them on, but the quality is decent and I could see very well out of them. I may order a pair or two from here just to have as backups to my high fashion glasses.

    • ceriphim says:

      Costco, I believe, charged my only $90 for both an eyeglass and contact prescription.

      Also ContactLensKing (CLK) seems to have some of the better prices on my contacts, at least (Acuvue 1-day Moist). I’ve been ordering from them for a few years now.

      The website listed in TFA was between $4-6 higher per box than my order at CLK. YMMV

    • neilb says:

      Zenni strategy…they are so cheap that you should order a minimum of 2 or 3.
      That way, you won’t be disappointed in the fact that they sometimes look better online than in person. It WILL happen.
      Heck, the main investment in ordering from Zenni isn’t money…it is the time to order and waiting time for shipping!

  6. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I need new glasses, and I’ve been putting it off because of the cost. I even have vision insurance, but like the previous poster said – it only covers frames up to $100.00. The glasses I got a little over two years ago were $425.00 – and that was after the discounts! For this I got frames, thinner lenses so I didn’t look like I was wearing soda bottle bottoms, no line bifocals, scratch coating, and Transitions lenses so I wasn’t blinded outside all the time.

    There’s one way to get cheaper glasses – buy ugly black frames (like the guys in the old NASA footage from the 60’s) with lined bifocals. Even then I bet it would set you back over $100.00.

  7. vorpalette says:

    I haven’t had insurance in, oh…8 years or so? so I’ve had to find creative ways to keep my glasses and contacts up to date. I go to RxOptical and get my exams for $78 out of pocket. They print me out both my glasses and contacts scripts, no questions asked, and I go to CoastalContacts for my contacts (and sometimes glasses if they’re having a good sale) and Zenni Optical for my glasses (typically around $50/pair since I have a high script). Last year, the lady at the doctor’s office told me they had my contacts for $34/box, and I told her that I couldn’t afford that because I didn’t have insurance, and that I could just get them online. She wanted to price match until I told her that I could get them for $17/box. :)

  8. truthandjustice says:

    Ditto-ing a prior poster — Eyeglasses are a MAJOR RIPOFF in the US. I just bought stylish, titanium rimless trifocals from eyebuydirect.com for $128. I couldn’t believe it, but took a chance and the experience was EXCELLENT.

    1) Went to my local opthamologist in a big box store and paid $85 for eye exam and Rx.
    2) Online, found a frame to my liking and complete the Rx portion of the order at eyebuydirect.com
    3) Received status updates from them regularly, and 10 days later, had my great glasses.
    4) Took them back to the prescribing opthamologist to confirm the Rx and he said perfect.

    So — do the math — Rx $85 + glasses for $128. Tah Dah !!!!!!

    A brick and mortar eyewear place, wanted $600 for the same.

    Quoting Forest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does!”

    • truthandjustice says:

      OOPS — slight goof — I get optometrist and opthamologist mixed up.
      Optometrist — trained in eye exams and licensed to prescribe corrective eyewear.
      Opthamologist — Medical Doctor, trained and licensed to perform eye surgery.

      OOPS!

    • jeb says:

      Eye Buy Direct is my favorite place to buy glasses. Never spent more than $50 with them, and have always turned out well.

  9. Cat says:

    Some states charge sales tax on glasses and contact lenses. As someone that couldn’t live without contacts or glasses, I just don’t understand the reasoning behind this. Okay, eyeglass FRAMES, perhaps, since many people spend hundreds of dollars on designer frames, but lenses and contacts are a necessity and require a prescription. Why are they taxed?

    Yes, it’s not a lot of money, but on principle, I refuse to pay this tax. I go to my optometrist, get my prescription, and leave – and buy on the internet. Maybe if enough people do this, optometrists will lose enough money to have the tax eliminated in their state.

  10. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I don’t have insurance of any kind, but I got new glasses a few months ago and they cost me a whole lot less than the ones I had when I did have an HMO.

    For my eye exam I went to Costco, and the doctor there was better than the ones my HMO covered. He gave me my Rx by defult since he doesn’t sell glasses at all. The cost of the exam was $50.

    Then I went to http://www.warbyparker.com and played dress-up for free 3 times, and ordered the glasses I liked best. I got two pair, but one only costs 95 dollars. You get the best lenses availible (thin polycarbinate.) with high-end anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings. The glasses I have from them are better than the ones I got a few years ago for $600 (WITH insurance!).

    They cost more than other online places, but their service is well worth the slight extra cost. They send you frames for free to try on, they’ll help you decide if you need it, they’ll talk to you and read/respond to your rambley emails, and they’ll ship them free 2nd day, and even take them back and re-make them for free too. And if you decide that you don’t like them, they’ll take them back and refund you, no problem. I had originally ordered one pair that didn’t work out when I tried to get them adjusted, and they refunded me. Then they came out with a new frame style, I ordered that one, and they are the most comfortable and best looking frames I’ve ever had.

    Even when I get insurance I’ll still use Warby Parker for my glasses. I have never had so much fun picking out frames in my life.

    • sadie kate says:

      I actually first discovered Warby parker through a positive post about them here on Consumerist. My husband was in the market for new glasses at the time, and wound up ordering from them. it was an amazing experience, and he’s never been so happy with his glasses. One of his coworkers was so impressed by his frames, she ordered a pair too, and I’ll likely be ordering through them when I get new glasses in the next few weeks.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        That’s great! I’m glad he had fun too. The post you read back then was probably from me, too. lol. Every time the glasses topic pops up here on Consumerist I can’t help but talk great about them. What frames did he end up getting? They have some really neat colors now. I wish they had Lunar Fade in a narrow frame style for me.

  11. slightlyjaded says:

    The key is to think of LensCrafters like Best Buy: as a brick and mortar showroom for something you plan to order online.

    Last time I needed glasses, I got the eye exam at a local place, and paid out of pocket. (I don’t hae optical insurance.) went to LensCrafters, tried on a ton of frames, found the ones I liked, went home and ordered them online–for $99 instead of $399. When the frames came, took them to Costco, gave them my prescription, and got polarized, anti-glare lenses put in for $90.

    Ended up with awesome DKNY frames and lenses for less than $200, when LensCrafters would have charged my $600 for the same thing. This is why I don’t feel bad about exploiting LensCrafters as a showroom and giving someone else my business: their business model is based entirely on ripping off insurers and health plans.

    • Not Given says:

      LensCrafters sucks. I called them to make sure I could get my glasses in one day instead of the 2 weeks it always takes at the doctor’s office. I drove 130 miles to get there and they told me I’d have to come back to get my glasses in 2 weeks.
      I’ve had doctor’s offices lie to me the same way. I say on the phone that I know it will take 2 weeks and they say, oh, no, you can get your glasses the same day. Don’t lie to me. I’m not lying. Are too. Am not. Are too. Am not. So I go in and ask for my glasses the same day, the same person says. oh, no it’s gonna take 2 weeks.
      They told me the same thing about my son’s glasses. Stop lying to me. I’m not lying. Are too. Am not, etc.
      -14, -16

  12. Cat says:

    If your company requires you to wear safety glasses and pays for them, buy a style you like, and wear them until your next allowed replacement – 1 or 2 years – then use the old pair as your regular glasses.

    Also, if you choose metal frames, make sure they are titanium or stainless steel – the nickel in a standard pair of metal frames will react with your skin chemistry and turn the metal green.

  13. olderbudwizer says:

    @Dallas_shopper, do you have a link or reference for that European supplier you could send/share? Much appreciated!

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      http://www.thinlenses.co.uk

      Service was great; I didn’t order frames from them, I used the existing frames from the pair of glasses I had that broke, so I used their ‘reglazing’ service.

      Turnaround wasn’t all that fast, but to be fair it was over the Christmas holidays and the place was closed half the time.

  14. backinpgh says:

    My current pair are from Goggles4U and I’m very happy with them. They were $21 including shipping. I am about to send in an old pair to get re-lensed, which will be only around $60. I walked into Target to get my exam and while I was there I looked at frames. A pair of glasses was gonna cost me $200 ON TOP OF my insurance allowance! No thanks.

  15. Calgal says:

    For all of you who bought your glasses online, how/where did you get them adjusted?

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Anywhere.

      • mauispiderweb says:

        What about the part where they make an X on the lenses while you’re wearing them and the part where you place that ViewMaster looking contraption so they can measure whatever they’re measuring (distance between pupils, maybe)?

        • Cenzo says:

          You goto your optometrist and get your yearly eye exam. They give you the numbers that you enter in online……including the Pupillary Distance.

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            +1

          • LoadStar says:

            (I unintentionally posted this later, instead of as a reply, so this is a repost.) Many optometrist/ophthalmologists will *not* be able to give PD, unless they also sell eyeglasses. That’s a measurement that’s only relevant to fitting eyeglasses, so if they don’t sell them, they won’t even bother checking it for you. That’s the case for me.

            However, I just wandered into a Target Optical when they had no customers at all. I told them point blank that I already had glasses, I wouldn’t be buying anything from them, and asked if they could measure my PD for buying a spare pair of glasses off the internet. They had no problem at all with the request. You might try the same.

            • BurtReynolds says:

              This year I ditched the exam/glasses shop (not Lens Crafters, but trying to be..and sold me the worst $300 glasses I’ve ever had) for a independent guy. At the end of the exam I asked if he could provide me the PD on the ‘script and I held back saying explicitly that I wanted it for an online glasses site.

              His response was “Oh yeah, you can try one of those online sites. Heck, they sell glasses for $10, go ahead and try them out”. So now I have my PD from a trained professional. Still haven’t ordered the cheap glasses yet though.

              Unfortunately this honest optometrist apparently traded in his private practice to join the very chain I left for his practice. Back to the drawing board for later this year I guess.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          The viewfinder thingy is the pupil distance measurement. The X’s … etc. is the recording of the Rx on the lens. The 1st you can get anytime, say at Costco or another place that sells eyeglasses. If you can get somebody to reliably record your script off your existing lenses, great, but many online retailers won’t do business with you unless you cough up an Rx that is

    • rdclark says:

      I have a large, oddly-shaped head. I always thought this was the reason opticians couldn’t make my glasses fit.

      I now realize it’s because they can’t be bothered special-ordering the right-sized frames. Ordering online, after actually measuring my head, I’m getting glasses that actually fit. I still have to do a little bending and shaping (not hard with memory titanium, now that I can actually afford it) but the glasses basically fit, and require no “period of adjustment,” right out of the package.

      I haven’t been to an optician in three years. I have progressives, single-vision glasses for concerts and sports events, prescription sunglasses, computer reading glasses optimized for 18-36″ viewing distance… and enough pairs of all of these to keep at home, at work, in the car. I even got my prescription cycling glasses from Zenni.

      The most expensive pair of online glasses I have — Titanium frame, thin progressive lenses, fully coated, were $70.

      I’ve used Zenni (mostly), and also EyeBuyDirect and 39Dollar Glasses. No problems with any of them. Just make sure you have an absolutely accurate pupillary distance measurement.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Go to Costco or to Sam’s Club. They will adjust your glasses for free, and at least my Costco will also do a PD for free – it only takes about 30 seconds.

  16. Cenzo says:

    Been buying from Zennioptical.com for years. I hear many people say that they wont buy online because they can’t see what they look like on them. 2 solutions. 1. You can upload a pic of yourself and it will show you what the frames will look like on your face. 2. The glasses are, at least for me, over 10x cheaper than in town so I can order 3 or 4 pairs and if I only like 1 then i’m still saving tons of money.

    • neilb says:

      Amen on Zennioptical.com. I have gotten 15 pairs for the wife and myself over the past 5 or so years.
      My strategy is to get 3 pairs of cheapies minimum…this is about $50 shipped to our mailbox. I assume that I will love 1, like 1, and hate 1.
      It is still 33% of the price of the cheapest thing I can get locally AND I don’t have to deal with anyone to do it.
      Kids broke a pair? Left them on the car and they got run over? Scraped them on a rusty muffler? Accidentally painted them? I don’t lose sleep over it. We just order some more.
      I don’t get why anyone (excepting those with funky conditions) buys vision insurance.
      You don’t generally NEED to insure against anything that is available for under $100…especially when it is $50…or (for my easy Rx) under $20.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “You don’t generally NEED to insure against anything that is available for under $100…especially when it is $50…or (for my easy Rx) under $20.”

        I agree. Insurance against small claims really only makes sense when a 3rd party is subsidizing premiums.

  17. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    COSTCO, ladies and gentlemen.

  18. denros says:

    * Be a hipster. The thrift store is a great place to save on glasses, just dig through the bargain bin to find a pair that matches your level of visual impairment and / or ironically dated fashion sense

  19. Jules Noctambule says:

    Modern-style frames don’t flatter my face so I stick to buying vintage frames. Less money spent for a fashionable, more durable frame!

  20. Thorzdad says:

    That linked article was pretty thin on actual advice, yet long on what seemed to be commercial links. Oh well…

    That said…I’d love to go the online route for my glasses (severely nearsighted, high-index, lineless trifocal) but I’ve sometimes had issues with proper results at my local optometrist, and I’m not convinced I’d want to go through a back-and-forth hassle with an online retailer. Then again, I don’t have vision insurance, so any way to save some bucks is a big draw for me.

  21. Ragman says:

    My contact script hasn’t changed in almost 10 years, and that was a minor adjustment over the 5 years before that. I just hit up Coastal Contacts when they do a discount code and get a couple years’ worth of disposables.

  22. ARP says:

    Try Warby Parker. They’re $100 with lenses. I don’t work there or promote them, but I have two pairs of their glasses.

  23. LoadStar says:

    Many optometrist/ophthalmologists will *not* be able to give PD, unless they also sell eyeglasses. That’s a measurement that’s only relevant to fitting eyeglasses, so if they don’t sell them, they won’t even bother checking it for you. That’s the case for me.

    However, I just wandered into a Target Optical when they had no customers at all. I told them point blank that I already had glasses, I wouldn’t be buying anything from them, and asked if they could measure my PD for buying a spare pair of glasses off the internet. They had no problem at all with the request. You might try the same.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      The large black contraption they put in front of you and switch the lenses (“Which is better? A or B?”) has the PD measurement on it since they adjust it to your eyes.

  24. mikshan says:

    Got my eye exam at Costco for 45.00 and used the prescription to buy a pair of glasses from Zenni. Total cost on was 125.00 or so. Took a couple of weeks to get the glasses but I am highly satisfied. Best part was my insurance reimbursed me for 98.00 so my out of pocket was let than 30.00

  25. Kuri says:

    Main reason I don’t do contacts is I never trust having my own fingers that close to my eyes

  26. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Thanks for this. I have a very old pair of glasses that are okay for reading in bed but not driving, etc. And I’m down to one more pair of contacts then that’s it. No job, no insurance. I need all the help I can get.

  27. DonnieZ says:

    One more thing…

    Ask your doctor for your pupil distance measurement, sometimes just referred to as a PD. All glasses manufacturers will ask you for this when making your glasses. I am told it doesn’t matter as much for lighter perscriptions, but it’s best to have it. This determines where the “sweet spot” of the perscription is placed in your lenses relative to the specific frame / lens configuration. Most perscriptions do not have this measurement on it, but you are entitled to it.

    I ordered a pair of glasses without this once and the glasses worked, but they always felt just a bit off. The pair I got from Zenni the other day are perfect as I provided them with the PD.

    Lenscrafters was kind of bitchy about giving this out, as they state that “it changes depending on what frame you get…” etc.. BS. Your pupils are a fixed distance and will remain that way if you are in adulthood. The OC height might change depending on the frame you choose and where it sits on your nose, but as I understand this isn’t as important as the horizontal measurement.

  28. Cacao says:

    You can pay your medical copay (often cheaper than $50) for an eye exam if you go to an Ophthalmologist. Leave with your Rx and go buy glasses wherever you want.

  29. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    Mr. Worstday goes to Costco and pays about $100 oop for glasses and about $200 for a yr’s supply of contacts. I have some high maintenance vision needs and am trying the iZon lenses for the first time, After insurance that will set me back about $500 FSA funds – for just one lens (only need one). I really hope this was money well spent, and I can get a full refund if it is not. I pick them up in a week or so….

  30. DrPizza says:

    My family has purchased dozens of pairs of glasses from zennioptical.com. Upload a photo and you can see what the glasses will look like on your face before you buy. My last purchase was for 2 pairs of memory titanium frames (with my prescription lenses), and a pair of safety glasses for when I’m running the chainsaw or other power tools. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the safety glasses; they seem lopsided from being put into a case a little too small for them. Otherwise I’ve been incredibly happy with all of my other purchases. They are no different from any other glasses I’ve ever purchased for 10x or more the price. That reminds me; spring is here and I need some new visors for cycling. I’ll order a pair or two, along with another couple pairs of glasses to wear daily, and maybe a new pair of prescription sunglasses. All for less than half the price of a single pair of glasses from any place local to me.

  31. Ablinkin says:

    What irritates me the most is the US has contact lens prescriptions locked down. When I asked my doctor if he could prescribe Acuvue lenses, he didn’t say a thing and then wrote down the same old trashy stuff that he is contracted to sell.

    Well enough of that. I found two different companies outside of the US that did sell me the lenses I wanted. One was the “Optical Institute” in Portugal and the other was Vision Direct in the UK. Both shipped reasonably quickly and now I have Acuvue toric daily wear that are fantastic. No thanks to THAT optometrist.

    Zenni optical is fantastic. I’ve ordered glasses from them several times with excellent results.

  32. Rick Sphinx says:

    I spent $300 on frames. Within 2 years, the metal frame just snapped (white metal)…TWICE!. I had a two year warranty, the store replaced the first time. The second time it happened, they store claimed you can only make one broken claim in that time frame. I happily pulled out all the paperwork I got from the orignial purchase and said “show me where it says ONE TIME on this warranty card. They then ordered a new frame, reluctantly, but they did. Now I’m afraid, it’s just over two years now, and if they break now, I’ll have to pay. I can’t afford new ones right now, but will have to scrape it together, and get them before the innevitable happens. I’m going to go back to the frames I had before, metal, but unbreakable, bendy type. I’ve got to have them, I can’t see without them.

  33. HomerSimpson says:

    Isn’t SOMEBODY here going to lecture us on how we just-don’t-understand the costs of being an optometrist and how buying glasses cheap/online we’re not only endangering our health but also destroying our communities in the name of saving money (FOR SHAME!) ????

  34. BurtReynolds says:

    Costco for glasses if you want a B&M. I got a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses there that come close to the performance of my polarized Maui Jim sunglasses for half the price.

    I do plan to try one of the $10 (or cheaper) glasses sites though. Contacts, I just shop around for the best price on a website. I’ve used Lens.com a bunch of times even though I hate how they squeeze some “handling” fee in there. It is still cheaper I guess.

  35. aleck says:

    “so when you’re thinking of switching brands, see an optician for a fitting.”

    I stopped reading after this. You see an optometrist to get contacts fitted.

  36. wittyalias says:

    My tip for PD- put on an old pair of glasses, stand about a foot, foot and a half from a mirror and look straight ahead. Take an eye pencil and mark the position of your pupils (draw it right on the lenses, it’ll wipe off). Measure this and it should be a decent estimate of PD.
    I have two pairs of glasses ordered online. One was from EyeBuy Direct, which was cheap and prompt. The glasses were a little large (not unlike the picture attached to this story) but they provide measurements, I was just not paying enough attention. Definitely still wearable and did I mention cheap?
    The other was Warby Parker, which I’m ambivalent about. I like the way the site is designed and I loved the free try-ons shipped to me. However, I placed an order right after my try-on experience, and it took nearly a month to complete. I have somewhat poor vision, around -5. This puts me just over the line where they suggest high index lenses. But I always wear thick plastic pairs, so I opt out because no one can see the coke bottle sides. I got a pop-up when building the glasses online re: the high index and I declined them. The next day, I got an email saying, hey you’re over the suggestion for high index, please reply IF YOU WANT THEM. They wanted me to call if I wanted the high index in order to re-submit my CC info. I didn’t want the lenses so I did nothing. Apparently this was the wrong move. They wanted a response either way (despite not saying that). My order sat open for something like 13 business days and after taking shipping into account, my glasses took four weeks start to finish. I assume it would have been longer if I hadn’t messaged them to see what the hold up was.
    One last note about Warby Parker glasses- all of the ones that I tried on (5 pairs) didn’t have spring hinges. This is a feature desired by anyone who’s a full time glasses-wearer and I was surprised that they skimp on the hinges. I would have bought multiple pairs if not for that one nagging feature.

  37. Jchamberlain says:

    I can tell you I have used zennioptical a few times and the glasses just end up breaking or falling apart. Never again.

    • Willow16 says:

      I have a pair that I bought from Zenni three years ago and they’re fine even though I wear them every day. I have others that I only wear occasionally and they’re all fine.

  38. mikells43 says:

    just got some new ray bans. they were 254 for the glasses.. my insurance covered the exam that was 200$.. they would have covered frames too but they only cover cheap ones. and i don’t go cheap on glasses. screw that.