Save Money by Buying Eyeglasses Online
Image courtesy of x-ray delta one via Flickr.
Eyeglasses are a necessity for some, but not necessarily an affordable one. Recently, various organizations have been trying to come up with creative ways to get eyeglasses to people can't afford them. Adaptive Eyecare has even devised self-adjustable glasses
, which the wearer can adjust to their own prescription without having to see an optometrist.
Buying glasses can get very expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Online glasses retailers are becoming more and more common, and are an incredibly cheap alternative to purchasing glasses at brick-and-mortar stores.
Here's a breakdown of the steps to buying a pair of glasses online.
- Get an eye exam.
Sorry, but you still have to do this part in person. If you don't have vision insurance, you can get an eye exam at Costco for
$40-49. This is a way better deal than the out-of-pocket cost of eye exams at other optometrists, which can run up to $200 or more. Tip: since the optometrists at Costco are independent of the store itself, you don't need to be a member to get an eye exam. Just tell the door person that you're going to the optometry center. (You do need a membership if you want to buy your frames at Costco.)
- Get a copy of your prescription.
After your eye exam, be sure to get a copy of your prescription that includes your pupillary distance. This is crucial--you won't be able to purchase glasses online without it! Most optometrists don't give it out without the patient asking first because they'd rather sell you the frames in their own stores--so make sure you ask for it.
If you forget this step, you can measure your own pupillary distance at home. It's a bit of a pain and somewhat less accurate, but it'll definitely work in a pinch.
- Find the online retailer of your choice.
There are a ton of options these days, so feel free to look around until you find one with frames and a price range that you like. Be aware that you can get completely decent frames for as low as $6.95, so there's no need to settle! Check out GlassyEyes for the latest deals in the online glasses world.
Some retailers will send you the frames of your choice to try on for free, so if you're hesitant about buying glasses without trying them on first, try searching out retailers that have this policy.
Some of my favorite sites are:
- Zenni Optical: frames starting at $6.95, and $4.95 shipping on all U.S. orders.
- Optical4Less: frames starting at $15, and free shipping if you order two pairs or more.
- 39dollarglasses: exactly what it sounds like- most glasses are $39, including frames, lenses, and anti-scratch coating. (The price may be higher depending on individual prescriptions.)
- Warby Parker: $95 for every pair, including frames, lenses and anti-scratch coating. This is pricier than the other options I listed, but Warby Parker's vintage-inspired frames are my favorite of the lot. Plus, for every pair you buy, they donate eyeglasses to someone in need.
- Pick out your frames.
- Fill in your prescription.
The site will prompt you to fill in your prescription details and the process should be fairly self-explanatory. If you're having trouble reading your prescription, most sites have a help option that says something along the lines of "trouble reading your prescription?" If that doesn't solve your problem, you can usually contact their customer service department for help. Or, you can call your optometrist and yell at them for writing illegibly.
- (Optional) Buy a spare pair.
If you're a full-time wearer, it's a good idea to have a spare pair around at all times. This will ensure that if your first pair breaks, you won't be at the mercy of the "glasses while you wait" industry. Stores like Lenscrafters will have
your glasses ready in a few hours, but it's easy to drop several hundred
dollars on them when you could have bought an equally stylish pair online for well under $100.
Have you ever bought glasses online, or would you consider it?