With a variety of lens materials, types, and coatings available to choose from – sitting in your optometrist’s office listening to the tech rattle off your options can understandably feel overwhelming. For the most part, consumers want something to get the job done at the lowest possible price unless they have other very specific concerns.
However, depending on your location, prescription strength and needs, as well as your eye doctor, you could be spending anywhere from approximately $95 to over $1,000 for a pair of prescription eyeglasses. According to health.costhelper.com, consumers spend on average approximately $196 for a pair of eyeglasses, and until fairly recently they didn’t have much of a choice.
However, over the course of the past 10 to 15 years, a new kind of eyeglass business has hit the market, cutting out the middleman, and cutting the ultimate cost for consumers. Zenni Optical, for example, will sell the complete set of fashionable eyeglasses (frame and lenses) for as low as $12, and their competitors aren’t too far behind.
Just in the past five years, a number of these online eyeglass retailers have been the talk of the fiscally conscious eyeglass consumer community since their inception.
But with all of these new online retailers on the market, which ones are the best to purchase eyeglasses from?
Founded in 2003, Zenni Optical has quickly become one of the most buzzed about online eyeglass retailers on the web today. One of the few sites where customers are able to upload their own photos or select from one of Zenni’s models to try on available frames using the Zenni Frame Fit feature. Search by frame shape or material, and in the event you are unhappy with your finished products, Zenni will issue a 50% refund. Complete eyeglasses can be purchased for under $20.
2. EyeBuy Direct
Boasting rates almost as low as Zenni, with EyeBuy Direct, shoppers can look to purchase eyeglasses for under $50. While there is no virtual mirror, the site does offer a 14-day fit and style guarantee policy. In the event a customer is unhappy with their purchase for any reason, they are able to exchange or return their eyeglasses. One service EyeBuy Direct offers that few others seem to is that customers become eligible for a one-time replacement pair of eyeglasses within 12 months of purchase. This benefit comes with certain stipulations but if you are someone with bad luck when it comes to the lifespan of your eyewear, EyeBuy Direct may be worth checking out.
3. Warby Parker
One of the latest retailers to emerge in the market is Warby Parker. From their marketing to their selection of frames, Warby Parker seems to appeal to a trendier eclectic crowd, even going so far as to be selling the whimsical “Colonel Monocle.” Though slightly more expensive than competitors, Warby Parker offers a host of other perks that may prove worth it to some consumers.
To start, as a customer you have the option of selecting up to five frames and having them sent to you to try on for free for five days. No models, no uploading photos, and no cost. If you’re having trouble deciding on frames to try, Warby Parker offers an online style quiz with results tailored to your face shape, frame shape preferences, colors, and frame materials.
The majority of frames found on their website can be purchased for $95. If that seems a little high, it could be because for every pair of glasses Warby Parker sells they donate another pair to those in need.
Because Ottica features a wide selection of designer frames, consumers can expect to spend a bit more than other online eyeglass retailers on the web depending on frames but still be able to pocket some deep savings. Like a select few other competitors, buyers are able to upload their own photos, or select photos of models and try frames on virtually.
Ottica boasts a selection of over 2,000 designer frames on their website and offers customers a full refund if a purchased pair of frames is returned within 30 days.
To students, GlassesUSA may be your best bet. Unlike any of the other online eyeglass retailers on this list, GlassesUSA allows students (and first-time buyers) to purchase eyeglasses at a steep 55 percent discount off their already discounted designer options.
Customers are able to upload photos of themselves in order to try the frames on virtually and receive free shipping and returns on their order. In the event you are unsatisfied with your purchase, GlassesUSA will issue you a full refund within 14 days of purchase.
6. Frames Direct
For those a little leery of placing an order for prescription eyeglasses online, Frames Direct may be the online retailer for you. Founded in 1996, Frames Direct claims to be the first online eyeglass retailer on the market for consumers. For every order that comes through their system, a licensed optician is on hand to review the prescription levels and work to ensure that there are no errors. Like certain other online retailers, Frames Direct sells designer frames at a discounted rate.
An added bonus of purchasing eyeglasses online is that a number of these online retailers accept vision insurance. If you wish to learn more about the vision insurance option available to AMSA members, please visit www.amsa.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/.