Costco Is A Good Place To Buy Eyeglasses?

ABCNews asked a optometrist to write a bifocal prescription and have it filled at Costco, Target, LensCrafters and Walmart, then they asked him to rate the quality of the glasses.

All of the stores failed except Costco.

“Every part of the prescription was nailed 100 percent,” Frazee said of the Costco glasses.

ABC News also had a few other types of glasses made and quite a few of those failed the test as well. Walmart used the wrong materials. Target’s lenses weren’t strong enough. LensCrafters’ glasses just outright sucked: “This was an absolute failure,” Frazee said.

30 states do not have any sort of licensing requirement for opticians, and the state where the test was conducted, Texas, is one of them.

Eyeglass Chain Stores Put to the Test [ABCNews]
(Photo:Orin Optiglot)


Edit Your Comment

  1. DrGirlfriend says:

    I’ve actually heard good things about the optical services, and their prices.

    Is that a pirate with rainbow socks?

  2. novelgirl says:

    I have bought glasses from Costco in the past and always been happy. I will NEVER go to LensCrafter again. One of the gems they’ve told me was that my glasses were too strong to make in an hour.

  3. Alexander says:

    I have also bought my glasses from Costco for many many years now and they have been awesome. Last time I even had my eye exam done with them.

  4. HeyThereKiller says:

    I think First Mate Rainbow Bright ought to have her eyes checked out

  5. Geekybiker says:

    Costco is definitely one of the good guys out there.

  6. Landru says:

    I went and looked at frames at Costco just last week.

    The prices were great, but the selection wasn’t so hot. There wasn’t much and I didn’t find anything I liked.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    Yes, that is a pirate with rainbow socks…and Johnny Chan is checking her out.

    Perhaps Mr. Chan is there to get eyeglasses too.

    I have a thing for spunky redheads (Kathy Griffin NOT included), but this chick might put me off of them for a while.

    “Red on black, friend of jack. Red on yellow, dangerous fellow.”

  8. Skeptic says:

    My Costco glasses have held up well and the prices were great, though you don’t get that instant satisfaction (dissatisfaction) you do at Lenscrafters. (Costco glasses are made at a separate lab and you have to come back in a week or two to pick them up.)

    Costco was also highly rated by Consumer Reports.

  9. v12spd says:

    Not only have I bought glasses at Costco, but I tend to buy my contacts there also. Because…

    Once I had gone to my doctor to get a new prescription for a different brand of contacts. The trial pair was irking me but he insisted I would get used to it. (Bausch and Lomb PureVision 30 day lenses instead of my Acuvue2’s) Well my doc doesn’t like giving my my scrip when he knows I damn well plan on going elsewhere to get my contacts, so he hurriedly wrote and signed one to get me out of there. I took it to Costco, the guy noticed the numbers were off compared to the last prescription they had on file for me, called my doc, got conflicting numbers, didn’t trust either, and he gave me a free eye exam just to confirm and ensure I wouldn’t get the wrong kind of lenses. Then he compared that to what I had before and said that it was a more logical progression of my previous prescription. And guess what, they fit and feel great, and they guaranteed a long time customer will come back for even more from them. (This was at the Costco in Glenview, IL on Willow Rd near the Glen)

  10. lowlight69 says:

    i so want to add something pertinent to this thread but the lady in the picture makes that impossible. my wife can never complain because i wear an old t-shirt out any more. :)

    i did use LensCrafters onces, years ago, i’ve never even looked at their store again.

  11. honu-girl says:

    I also love my Costco glasses. The biggest complaint I have has already been mentioned – not a huge selection. But there’s enough of one that I’ve always been able to find ones I like. They seem to actually train the people working in the optical department, too, to help you get the proper fit and make the right choices for your lenses. Last time I was in there, the woman talked me out of a more expensive lens because she said it wasn’t worth it for my Rx (can’t remember exactly what it was, though).

    Another plus for Costco!

  12. Hoss says:

    I would think a more valid testing should have included a sample from a respected optometrist. Of course these guys don’t want to lose business to Walmart

  13. yahonza says:

    I love Costco. But the article is no reason to prefer Costco for glasses. Maybe they are the best, maybe not. Sampling a few individual CostCos and Targets doesn’t give you any meaningful information about CostCo and Target in general

  14. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    @Landru: The prices were great, but the selection wasn’t so hot.

    That’s pretty much the long and short of it right there. I got my glasses at Costco – quick, professional exam, great prices, mediocre selection.

    I did find a pair I liked, though, and have been very happy with them.

  15. hn333 says:

    Do you have to be a Costco member to buy glasses?
    Plus the pirate chick is hot.

  16. marsneedsrabbits says:

    When Costco opens next month in our area, I’ll check them out.
    I had good luck with Wal*Mart last time, though.
    On the other hand, the time before last, I went to the glasses shop attached to my eye doctor. My husband did, too. The glasses were very expensive.
    Both of our glasses had to go back several times for repairs before they were acceptable.
    I think it has to do a lot with the individual people doing the work.

  17. iamlost26 says:

    I’ve bought my glasses from Costco and gotten eye exams there for years now. Recently I picked up my glasses off the floor in the middle of the night and the frames just snapped clear apart (where the screw is on the side). I took it to them and they gave me a new pair on the spot (it took about 10 minutes to switch out the lenses). Granted, I was under warranty, but there was a slew of reasons they could have made up in order to void the warranty. It was a good experience.

  18. swalve says:

    It has very little to do with the place and a lot to do with the person actually doing the fitting and building of the glasses. It’s very much an art.

  19. liquisoft says:

    My wife had some new glasses made at Costco. The price was far cheaper than anywhere else, and the quality is just the same.

  20. smartwatermelon says:

    @hn333: No, you do not have to be a member to use the optometrist or pharmacy. Non-members can also order anything off Costco’s Web site, though there will be a service charge added.

  21. Scooter says:

    I buy my glasses through the website of a company that operates in Hong Kong. You can get a full prescription with classy frames for $30. Granted, it can take a while for them to get over here, but I love them. When I went in for my yearly eye exam, my optometrist was stunned by the high quality.

  22. Phipps6505 says:

    Both my wife and I have bought from LensCrafters. There was a pretty hard attempt to upsell both of us. However we haven’t had any problems or complaints with our glasses, and with a AAA card we got what we considered a pretty decent discount. Wally and other shops couldn’t do my glasses without a week’s wait. LensCrafters was able to, and we appreciated that.

  23. medic78 says:

    Yeah, I had a great time at a Sam’s. I was trying to get my first pair of contacts a few years ago and decided to try Sam’s.

    The people there were super friendly, despite the fact that contact lenses and I just couldn’t get along. They tried and tried to help me to be able to insert and remove them on my own, but it just wasn’t going to happen. My long eyelashes just kept flipping the lenses away from my eye.

    They went out of their way, using 6 sample packs of my lenses, and with about 6 hours of their time over 3 days. They also promised me the biggest cake they made at the bakery if I could get them in myself.

    Needless to say, I realized it just wasn’t going to work, and ordered some glasses. The glasses have lasted a long time, and are very comfortable.

  24. jodles says:

    we always get our glasses and contacts from costco. the people at the counter are so friendly and always remember us and our prescriptions. never had a problem with them! glasses usually come in within a week, too.

  25. I may have some bias towards Costco; my mom works there. However, as a shopper (even at Costco’s my mom doesn’t work at) my experiences have always been phenomenal. In all of their corporate literature, they mention that making the customer satisfied goes above everything else.

    Where else do you know of that takes returns of 97% of the merchandise they have no matter how long it’s been since you bought it?

  26. JustaInput says:

    My Mom needs a simple bifocal for distance and reading. After watching opticians at LensCrafters, Sams, Walmart, and Target in Texas, Alabama, and Colorado – I notice that they really have NO clue or training in optics or the results of distortion on vision. The main thing that’s lacking is the concept of aperture, the distance that your iris needs to gather an image. Particularly in progressive lenses, they create lens contours that have no stable viewing area. They also ignore the need to have a base viewing area near the center of the lens that has a focussed contour. Test – look at printed, parallel lines and concentric circles with the glasses at a distance (like a lens). You can see stable and changing contours – usually in annoying places. And that doesn’t include mis-prescribled lenses with too much CYL correction !

  27. jydesign says:

    I also had the experience of being sold poor quality lenses in up-sold, overpriced frames at Lenscrafters a number of years ago and will not shop there again.

  28. dorianh49 says:

    I purchased my last couple pairs of glasses from Costco. The eye exam is annoying because optical staff keep coming in and out of the room, making it hard for my eyes to get accustomed to the dark. Not surprisingly, my prescription was screwed up a little bit each time it happened. The last time, the exam went all right, but it took an extra week for them to ship my glasses. A few weeks later, I received an unexpected $20 Costco gift card as an apology. I think I’m going to Costco next time, too.

  29. TSS says:

    I agree with everything that has been said – they do a good job but the frame selection is not so hot.

    My main complaint, however, is that though they sell “plain glass” sunglasses, they don’t make prescription sunglasses. Which kinda doesn’t make sense, imho.

  30. dorianh49 says:

    @TSS: They certainly do make prescription sunglasses. That’s where I get mine.

  31. BigNutty says:

    A study by one optometrist. I sometimes feel that if there were more doctors involved in the testing the outcome might have been different.

  32. caffeinequeen says:

    Avoid PearleVision at all costs. I went in for the free adjustments they offer, and when the guy cleaned my glasses afterwards, he scratched the hell out of them and refused to compensate me for the damages. Higher ups did diddly, so that “free” adjustment cost me about $300 for new glasses.

  33. duffbeer703 says:

    @Scooter:Where? I’m not looking forward to paying $300 from an optical place, or $250 for NASCAR-WalMart galsses.

  34. ganjagadget says:

    We use Costco for Contacts. My wife used to pay $100 per box, now she pays $100 for a years supply!

  35. SybilDisobedience says:

    As a TX resident (not really by choice, but that’s another story), and the fiance of an optician, I can tell you that while TX doesn’t require licenses, most private optometrists do. My fiance is ABO-certified, and it wasn’t easy (or cheap). Look out for the chains, who hire opticians for less per hour and therefore don’t care whether they’re licensed. The private guys have a reputation to build, and have to fight hard against big chains like Eyemasters, so they encourage licensing.

  36. theirishscion says:

    @ganjagadget: Ditto, last time I was there w/ Beloved, she checked their prices for her contact prescription, and informed me that we’d be buying there exclusively form then on. She also had her specs made there (and her eye exam done by the affiliated optician) and has been very happy with them as well, modulo some annoyance at waiting the week for them to come in.

  37. mcjake says:

    Yeah, Costco is the way to go for glasses and most everything else. We buy almost everything from Costco these days and there are only two of us. We just freeze our perishables.

  38. rjflyn says:

    May just be a coincidence, but one of Costco’s board members son’s cough. cough Bill Gates happens to wear glasses.


  39. JustaInput says:

    Just to add a bit more… Frame and Lens size is often chosen too small. It’s nice to minimize glasses, but getting a good, focused view area is hard. As for the companies, every one was very good at returns and updates, except LensCrafters. I also wouldn’t have guessed that they’d get the lens material wrong.

  40. mandarin says:

    Mrs Mcdonald?

  41. Kbomb says:

    Coscto is a great place to buy a lot of stuff. Some of the food deals are not as good as if you wait for a sale at your grocery, but most everything else is a great deal. Plus, unlike big-box corperate monsters like WalMart, Costco pays their employees a living wage!

  42. MarvinMar says:

    Nothing to add about the glasses, BUT
    I believe the pirate chick in the picture is dressed up as Pipi Longstocking

  43. Womblebug says:

    I just got two pair of glasses from Zenni Optical after my WalMart pair snapped in half less than six months after I got them. My insurance will pay for one new pair every two years, but even if I could have gotten another pair, this was my last time ever buying glasses from WalMart.

    My two pair from Zenni cost $24 and $8, complete, plus $5 shipping. I had to provide the prescription info including pupillary distance (hubby measured for me), but in less than two weeks I have two very nice pair, one with a titanium memory frame, for under $40. The prescription seems perfect. Even if these break in a year, which I doubt, they’re cheap enough that I can replace them no worries. Clark Howard talks about them all the time, which is where I heard about them. I understand they are made in China (not sure if this is the same company Scooter was talking about), but if they are as high quality as they seem, I’m not worried. I won’t try eating them, though.

  44. gruffydd says:

    Wow. I just purchased from Zenni Optical on 10/25 and received them on 11/03. And, like you my husband had to measure my PD distance. I love the three pairs I bought for less than $90 shipped! I wish they had more frames to choose from, though.

  45. Major-General says:

    I love my Wal-Mart glasses mostly because they were cheaper than expected (<$160) and I finally got frames big enough to fit my head. Unfortunately, no one around here seems to be able to adjust the stems to fit my ears.

    These are better, but still not perfect.

  46. stonzfan70 says:

    I’ve been an optician in Texas for over 15 years and have worked for a chain as well as an independent. My experience working for a chain (which I will refrain from naming) was not good at all. In many cases, the chain was mainly concerned with getting the glasses out quickly. I can’t count the number of times that glasses were sent out of the lab with incorrect prescriptions, segment heights (bifocals), and pupillary distances.

    After working there for a short time, I was fortunate enough to get a job as lab manager for a well respected, independent optical shop. In some cases, you may pay more at an independent optician, but if you compare apples to apples, more often than not, you get the same product for the same price. Plus, in most cases, the independents tend to hire certified opticians who provide customers with great service. After all, it’s in the independent’s best interest to keep their customers happy.

  47. theblackdog says:

    This article makes me happier that I ditched Sams and got a Costco membership.

  48. asherchang2 says:

    @v12spd: Dang, that’s the one that I go to cuz its within 2 miles of my house!

    Back on topic, I’d consider buying my next pair of glasses (I’m
    completely without any non-contact lens lenses) at Costco if I like any
    of their frames.

  49. Her Grace says:

    I bought my last pair at LensCrafters because they had frames I fell in love with–and at 20 (at the time), I can wear awesome purple and green frames. Also, my prescription is very light; I can and sometimes do get by without wearing them (my sunglasses aren’t scrip and I manage just fine), though I generally end up with an eyestrain headache. I don’t need new glasses for at least another year, but I might look at Costco when the time comes.

  50. loueloui says:


    ‘Perhaps Mr. Chan is there to get eyeglasses too.’


    and hey I don’t think she’s a pirate, just a patriot. That’s a tri-corner hat, there’s no skull and crossbones.

  51. RDP31 says:

    I have a quality problem with my first pair of Costco glasses. The anti-reflective coatiing on my lenses has “holidays” (places on both lenses) where the coating has disappeared. I didn’t discover this until my warranty period had elapsed. The Costco opticals clerks said they’d never seen that and my warranty had expired. That’s a conversation killer. I’ll purchase my next pair at Costco, but no more anti-reflective coatings.