Although I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that provides for me a quality vision insurance plan, many other people aren’t so lucky. The prohibitive out-of-pocket cost of both eye exams and frames/lenses means that there are a good number of people who aren’t afforded the clarity of vision that can significantly improve their quality of life.
Potential hazards resulting from poor vision aside (and believe me, there are many), studies have shown that having the proper corrective lenses can directly increase one’s productivity, and therefore income, by as much as 35%.
In years past, people lacking both insurance and the money to spare for a pair of glasses found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Paying for frames and lenses at a local optometrist or a chain store almost always costs at least $150, and very often even more than that. Thanks to modern technology, as well as a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s possible to find a quality pair of prescription frames that are not only affordable, but stylish as well.
Where to Buy Glasses Online
One of the first to offer inexpensive frames and lenses, and considered by many to be the best as well, Warby Parker has a wide selection of retro-inspired styled sun and eyeglasses, all for the low price of $95. While that in and of itself would be a fantastic deal, the company also takes things one step further by allowing you to choose up to 5 pairs for an at-home try on, completely free of charge.
As someone who has previously utilized Warby Parker, I can say from experience that their customer service and care is second to none.
The best part? Much like what TOMS has done with shoes, Warby Parker donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased from their site. The company has sent over 50,000 glasses to locales as distant and varied as Sierra Leone and Cambodia, as well as closer to home here in America. For the charitable, Warby Parker’s the easy choice.
Unlike Warby Parker, whose selection consists of a relatively limited number of around 30 or so frames, Zenni Optical offers literally hundreds of frames for you to choose from, in an equally large number of styles. Although this means that you’ll have to dig through a lot more of what you don’t want in order to find the frames that are right for you, it also means that you’ll have far more options and will be more likely to find something that’s more your taste.
Although they don’t allow you to try out any of their frames from the comfort of your own home, they have available an accurate and effective virtual try-on tool to give you an idea of how their different styles will appear on your face. Also, if you thought Warby Parker was cheap, you’ll be blown away by Zenni Optical’s prices. Frames with prescription lenses can be had for prices as low as $6.95 (!) with options of adding tint for a pair of prescription sunglasses as well.
While Eyefly caters in large part to the same market as Warby Parker, their selection of styles is a bit more varied, making it worth a look for anyone whose face doesn’t quite fit Warby Parker’s mold. Although they don’t offer anywhere near as many options as Zenni Optical, there are far more hits than misses among the frames they do have thanks to a culled down range.
Again, Eyefly offers a virtual try on tool for you to use to determine whether or not your frame of choice is the right look for your face. If upon arrival you find that they’re not quite what you were expecting, Eyefly gives you the option of exchanging your frames completely free of charge, or returning them for a refund within 30 days of purchase.
Of the sites mentioned so far, EyeBuyDirect is most like Zenni Optical in terms of everything from the variety of styles available, to the pricing, and even the site’s layout. Where it differs from Zenni Optical, however, is in the kind of selection it offers. EyeBuyDirect arguably offers more classic or conservative frames, generally sticking to darker and tortoise colors that most of us are used to seeing. In other words, if you work in an office or are over the age of 25, you may be better of looking through EyeBuyDirect’s selection.
EyeBuyDirect, like most of its competitors, offers a virtual try on tool in lieu of sending you a few pairs to try on at home. However, they do offer coupons for their frames directly on their site, potentially making them the best deal of the bunch, even among all the other great deals.
How to buy glasses online
Though each of these stores offer virtual try-ons, it’s probably a good idea to visit your local optometrist to try on a few pairs and find a style that you like. If possible, bring a small tape measure so you can get the approximate measurements of its dimensions. Once you’re home, take those measurements and find a pair at any one of the above sites that’s comparable in both style and size, and you’re set to go!
This is a guest post from Kenny Kraisornkowit who offers shopping advice, product reviews and ways to save money on tech gear and gadgets at Savoo.co.uk, the U.K.-based version of the popular deal site, Savings.com.