The Best Places to Buy Prescription Glasses Online
Why you should definitely consider foregoing the brick-and-mortar stores altogether
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As someone who has worn prescription glasses since middle school, I understand the burden of not only having to acquire new glasses every couple of years but wanting those glasses to compliment my face. The latter is often harder. No offense to my eye doctor and brick-and-mortar optical shops, but sometimes the selection just isn’t up to par, and in an age where glasses are so stylish that even those with 20/20 vision want to wear them (gag!), the visually impaired among gotta keep up. May I introduce to you, then, the world of online prescription eyeglass stores.
Before I tested these services, I had no prior knowledge, or real interest, in shopping for glasses online. For whatever reason, they just seemed like a hassle — what if they don’t fit my semi-large face, or what if the frames aren’t what I expected? Then I’ll have to ship them back and start the entire process over. As with all online shopping, you always run this risk when buying prescription eyeglasses on the internet. However! There are a ton of pros I wasn’t aware of.
For starters, buying your prescription eyeglasses online is often more cost-effective because you’re cutting out the middleman. According to Consumer Reporters, people paying out of pocket for their glasses paid a median of $91 online, while those buying in-store paid $234.
There’s also the obvious convenience of getting to choose and try on frames in the comfort of your own home, and there are endless options. No more settling for the best worst pair at the eye doctor. And if you’re like me and were curious/confused as to how your insurance could play a part in acquiring a spanking new pair of frames, luckily most online prescription eyewear companies take vision insurance from a variety of providers or allow you to utilize your FSA/HSA benefits.
So if I’ve convinced you to take a chance and choose online services for your next pair of spectacles, below are five of the best places to shop prescription glasses online right now.
One of the largest online prescription glasses retailers, GlassesUSA.com offers an array of high-quality designer and house brand glasses from Ray-Ban to Gucci. I was able to try a pair of the Ray-Ban RX7066, and the process couldn’t have been easier. Simply find the frames you like, select lenses and either fill out your prescription online or upload a copy of it. Each order includes single-vision lenses that are made to order in-house, but you can also choose upgrades like progressive or transition lenses. After your frames are crafted, they undergo a series of inspections to ensure alignment precision and optical accuracy. As for the fit? Perfect. No returns required. (But if you do need a return, GlassesUSA.com has a 14-day return policy, no questions asked.)
Probably the best-known online prescription glasses brand, Warby Parker specializes in the trendiest specs. All frames start at $95 — not too shabby for basic prescription lenses. Similar to GlassesUSA.com, my Warby Parker experience was simple. Once you choose your frames, you’ll be asked to select a frame width, prescription type (here’s where you can upgrade to progressives), lens type (add blue-light filtering and light-responsive features to your lenses) and lens material. The company also offers a service called Home Try-On where you can pick five shades to try on at home for free before you buy. Or you can download Warby Parker’s app which features a virtual try-on feature allowing you to swipe through a bunch of frames on your face.
EyeBuyDirect specializes in affordable but high-quality eyewear. Seriously, you can get frames for like $6 at this place (though, that doesn’t include prescription lenses.) Like the retailers above, you can add blue-light blocking to your lenses or even turn them into sunglasses if you so choose. And they offer a nice assortment of styles. So if you’re looking for a pair of specs on the cheap, hit up EyeBuyDirect.
Founded in 2003 by two scientists who answered the question: “Doesn’t everyone deserve to look good while wearing an affordable pair of glasses?” You can shop for well-made pairs that start at $6.95 and stop at $45.95 (and that number includes standard prescription lenses.) While you won’t find any high-rollers in Zenni’s selection, the company offers reliable, complimentary basics, which as those of us who require glasses know, is really all you need. And if you need assistance choosing a pair, Zenni’s optical stylists will guide you through your frame selection.
Liingo has Warby Parker vibes in terms of style, but less of a selection. But that isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world — lots of these online eyewear brands have vast collections, which can be overwhelming, specifically for first-time buyers. Like the brands above, Liingo makes shopping for handsome spectacles a breeze, offering free in-home try-ons along with virtual ones.
The self-proclaimed “anti anti-aging brand,” Caddis is leaning into the fact that we’re all growing older and our eyesight is worsening. Instead of trying to mask our age with trendy specs, they’re embracing tradition by offering readers, prescription glasses and blue light glasses your grandpa would love. The vintage, ’70s influence is evident in Caddis’ catalog (ironically, an aesthetic quite hip and trendy at the moment). All in all, if you want to make a statement with your eyewear — whatever your age — Caddis is your guy.
Luxe, sleek eyewear is Diff’s bread and butter. The celebrity favorite brand has surprisingly affordable prescription glasses, sunglasses and blue light glasses suitable for any face and any style — all handmade from premium materials in Southern California. Plus, every Diff purchase helps fund eye exams, surgeries, glasses and medicine for someone in need.
Want premium-grade shades for under $100? Look no further than Tomahawk Shades. Launched in 2012 by Andrew and Ryan Shapiro who set out to provide handsome glasses without the handsome price tag, the company keeps prices low and quality high through small-batch manufacturing, which is why, compared to other eyeglass retailers, the selection may seem minimal. Again — not a bad thing! There are still enough styles to fit any preference, from smart square frames to more modern, oval frames, all made from durable, scratch-resistant materials and equipped with 100 UV protection. (The brand also offers sunglasses, blue light glasses and even snow goggles.)
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