Lookin’ Good! How to Get a Killer Deal on Eyeglasses

The eyewear market has exploded with new options -- on vision testing, styles, even ways to "try on" glasses virtually. Here are tips to find the right pair at the right price.

Ready, set, hunt for bargains

The shopping options are many:

  • Online eyewear sellers.
  • Local independent eyewear shops.
  • Optical departments at discount stores like Target Optical, Sears Optical and Walmart Vision Centers.
  • Optical chains, including LensCrafters, Pearle Vision and America’s Best. Look for coupons for lower prices or half price on a second pair.
  • Warby Parker, which began online, now has stores or showrooms inside boutiques in 13 U.S. cities. Its frames are designed in-house.

This report by Vision Monday, an ophthalmic industry magazine, lists the top American 50 eyewear retailers.

Low prices online

If you can wrap your head around buying eyeglasses online, you’ll find some astonishing prices. For example:

  • Coastal.com has $49 glasses, including prescription lenses and free shipping.
  • Most of Costco’s frames are less than $100.
  • Warby Parker glasses start at $95, including single-vision prescription lenses and free shipping and returns. Progressive lenses cost more. Warby Parker’s “buy a pair, give a pair” program contributes to nonprofits that distribute eyeglasses to people in developing countries who need them.
  • Eyebuydirect.com has many frames for less than $20 and many more for less than $10, including the cost of single-vision lenses.
  • Zenni Optical, SimplyEyeglasses.com, LensesRx.com and Glasses.com are other online retailers with rock-bottom prices.

Is it safe to buy glasses online?

Are these low-cost glasses for real? And is buying glasses online a good idea?

Dr. Glenda Secor, communications chair for the American Academy of Optometry, offers reassurance at Today Money: “[W]ith proper, unexpired prescriptions in hand, ordering online is a safe option.”

Look for:

  • Vendors licensed in the United States, where safety standards and optical quality are high.
  • A return policy, warranty or guarantee.
  • Online reviews and articles discussing consumers’ experiences with an online company you’re considering.
  • Discounts: Search online for “promo code” and a store name.
  • Coupons, sales and weekly deals on eyewear websites.

When online is not the answer

Online eyewear is not for those with complex prescriptions, says Consumer Reports, adding:

[O]nline retailers can’t adjust frames or provide other in-person services. One option is to buy frames online and lenses locally. Walmart fills prescriptions for frames purchased elsewhere for $10 plus the cost of the lenses; Costco charges $18.

Try on eyeglasses … online?

How can you know if you’ll look good in glasses found online? Merchants now offer some intriguing solutions:

  • Do a photo “try-on.” Sites may let you upload a photo of yourself so you can “try on” frames. You’ll typically find shopping instructions and videos on eyewear sites and phone numbers for reaching salespeople.
  • Order sample glasses. This is Warby Parker’s approach. You can have five sample pairs sent free to your home. Coastal.com also sends you samples. Target Optical Online sends four frames to your home to try for free.
  • Shop for — roughly — your size. “[I]f you already wear glasses, take a second to look at the arm, and you can see the size noted in small numbers,” says Eyebuydirect.

Have you purchased eyeglasses online? How did it go? Tell us in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Marilyn Lewis
Marilyn Lewis
After a career in daily newspapers I moved to the world of online news in 2001. I specialize in writing about personal finance, real estate and retirement. I love how the Internet ... More

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