The Inexpensive Eyeglasses Saga

About a month ago, my friend Tom came over sporting new glasses. When I complimented him on them, he told me that he’d gotten them online for about $10. *shock* At first I thought he meant that they were like those reading glasses you can pick up in a drug store, but no, they were his prescription. When I asked how this was possible, having had glasses since I was a teenager and knowing how expensive they were, he pointed me to Glassy Eyes. (I won’t summarize anything here – just go to the site and start clicking and reading.)

Needless to say, I was intrigued! Glasses with my prescription for under the usual hundreds of dollars? (I was probably even MORE intrigued since I don’t have insurance to cover the expense of eyeglasses and don’t have tons of money laying around at the moment.)

Since it had long been past time to get a new eyeglass prescription, I went to a local optometrist and for a $100 office visit I got a new prescription. Then I came back home and got online. Glassy Eyes links to a number of inexpensive eyeglass manufacturers, and after a bit of surfing, I decided to go with Zenni Optical for a few reasons. 1. They seemed to have a wide selection of frames. 2. I liked how they gave all the measurements for the frames (most of them do, really, but I liked their setup) including frame width and lens width and height and bridge width. 3. They seemed to have a good selection of the cheaper frames as well and 4. Zenni Optical was what my friend Tom had used with success for his own glasses.

Now, Tom’s got a very weak prescription, so he didn’t need any of the higher index lenses or anything fancy, which was why they only cost him about $10 plus shipping. I knew I’d need at least one higher level of index, which on their site is $19.99 extra. But I didn’t need the X-tra strength prescription or bifocals either, so I didn’t have to pay the extra charges for those either.

On their site, there are little question mark links next to technical parts that nicely explained the details in laymen’s terms, and a page about frame sizing as well. The one thing I couldn’t do, of course, was TRY ON any of the frames to see how they fit or how I looked in them. (True of anything you order off the internet, but I’d never done it with glasses before!) I measured the frame width of my current frames and compared it to the dimensions given and was able to figure out what was similar. I chose two frames, one full-rim in silver and a half-rim in gold, thinking that the gold would be my primary and the silver my backup. (I’d never had the option of having a second/backup pair before either, due to the expense!).

So I selected my frames, typed in my prescription (including my slight astigmatism) and pupillary distance, upgraded to a higher-index lens for $19.99 more, and the order came to $56.90 plus $4.95 shipping (for any number of glasses) for a grand total of $61.85.

They gave a delivery time of at least two weeks, and in two weeks plus one day (yesterday) they had arrived at our mailbox! They were in a padded envelope, and each pair of glasses was contained in a hard plastic case:

Each pair of glasses was wrapped in a soft lens cleaner cloth, tucked in a plastic eyeglass-size ziploc bag, and enclosed in the plastic case. After I tried on both glasses numerous times, let my eyes adjust to the new prescription, and checked myself out in the mirror a few times, I can say that I’m VERY happy with my purchasing decision! And here are the glasses – the silver full-rim ones first:

And the gold half-rim ones:

Now, the major CON to all of this is the not being able to try them on part. Both glasses I got fit nicely even though the frames were different sizes by a few millimeters, which I did on purpose to play the odds. They both look decent on me too, although the silver ones, being smaller and slightly narrower, don’t tend to compliment my round, full face as nicely as the gold ones do (which are wider), but I was mostly planning them as a backup anyway. But you know what? For $30, I was willing to take that risk in the first place, which I never would have done if they’d cost hundreds of dollars. They also make sunglasses, which I’ve never really been able to have before either!

So, to sum up, this was a great experience for me and I’d definitely order again online. If you need new glasses, I highly recommend giving this a go. If it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you’ve lost very little money, and if it DOES work out, you get new glasses, maybe multiple pairs, and get to keep a lot more of your money in the process! John’s planning on trying it now too!

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2 Responses to The Inexpensive Eyeglasses Saga

  1. Rob says:

    We hadn’t discovered Ira’s site before doing so, but last month, we took a gamble & bought glasses online for our 2 year old son. Most of the local stores carry frames small enough for an infant/toddler and the one store that even came close wanted nearly $300 – which I just couldn’t see spending on something that was very likely to get horribly mangled.

    We found frames at Zenni Optical that were not only sized right, but were made of titanium memory metal, have 180 degree hinges, and feature soft, wrap-around tips on the earpieces – which make them a bit more difficult to remove. Being 2 years old, you can only imagine how he’s put those frames to the test — and so far, they’re still in one piece!

    We’ve had the lenses validated by a local optician and they’re exactly as prescribed. And for $35 shipped, we couldn’t be happier. I’ll definitely be going this route on my next pair of glasses!

  2. Kristen says:

    Hi Rob – thanks for sharing your experience! I’m glad it’s worked out for Liam. 🙂 Those sound like a good frame setup for a small child.

    I’m so glad there’s this option for us all now!

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