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I recently stumbled upon an eyeglasses website based in Wales, which I am mightily impressed by. is the website of FocusFix, Ltd. which was founded in 1994. The website came online in 2003.

The selection at is good, I counted a few hundred model options and many hundreds more when colors are tossed into the mix. You'll find a limited selection of designer brands as well as the generics aimed at the more budget conscious audience.

UPDATED: There is an error on the tinting price when you choose USD as the currency -- I really doubt that they'd charge £8 if you're in the UK and $170 in the US. I assume this to be $17 for USD, but I'll get confirmation on it. Coatings are a bit pricey for this market segment, but certainly not outrageous.

"So when are you going to tell us about the FREE eyeglasses?"

Patience, my bespectacled friends.

I reviewed their "Virtual Modelling System" (VMS) in a previous entry. If you give it a try, you too can get the "freebies" in the neighbourhood (it is an English company after all) of $8 (you didn't expect free shipping did you?). It really is quite nice and fun! -- Click here for details.

You're not going to find any frames that will turn heads (in any "good" way), but you'll find some very servicable, sturdy frames to be sure. Limit one pair per household, and they limit it to something like 20 free pairs per day so it might take a bit of waiting to get in on the deal. Also, thanks to anonymous, we've found out that there are prescription strength limits to the stock lenses (which makes practical and economical sense) and that there may even be a discrepancy as to what constitutes a "stock lens".

I decided to go retro and get a pair reminiscent of a pair I owned maybe 10 years ago -- bigger lenses than usual and hopefully perfect for those late nights coding at the laptop.

The VMS view.

I received mine about two weeks after ordering them. They were "dispatched" (I love the English) within 48 hours of my order. The included case and SpecsOnTheNet logo microfiber cleaning cloth was an unexpected bonus -- especially for a FREE pair of eyeglasses.

The release of their VMS also ushered in their ability to offer bi/varifocals for those of you needing them.

The tortoise-shell isn't nearly as "comic book" in person, although the glasses may be. My four year-old said, "You look like Clark Kent!"

The actual pair (look Ma, no AR!).

That said, the prescription is perfect and they are excellent glasses for the purpose.

Would I buy from Absolutely. I intend on getting something flashy in the next few weeks. As always, I'll check in with the results.

My apologies for the dangling pseudo-preposition, but sometimes we do what we must for the sake of a headline.

One of the most common questions I get is something akin to, "But how do you know that the glasses will look good on your face?" My short answer is, "you don't," but that is slowly changing.

I've written a bit on my process for finding frames that would look good on my face in past posts, but generally, the numbers stamped on the inside of the temples (or on the bridge) of your current eyeglasses are numbers that can certainly help you make a decision that won't make you look like a complete doofus. You chose your current frames for a reason, and sometimes it's better to stick with something that works than to take a chance.

This isn't as big of an issue when one considers the cost of the eyeglasses at the online retailers. I like to take a risk every now and then and have done so with my eyeglasses orders. I'll order one pair that I know will look good and something else -- cheap -- that is a bit iffy but appealing for one reason or another.

There is another option, that I tried for the first time a few weeks ago. Try on your frames -- virtually. These all work in roughly the same way:

  1. upload a photo
  2. tell the system where the centers of your eyes are
  3. pick a frame
  4. see what it looks like superimposed over your photo
It's not fool-proof and the concept is much easier than the execution.

This isn't brand new technology, but it's getting better as can be seen at

SpecsOnTheNet is an English eyeglasses firm with an excellent website (I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars if I was in to that sort of thing) -- including their "Virtual Modelling System" (VMS), which is really, quite nice. You can find it by clicking HERE.

This is the best of the batch, and if you try only one, this should be that one.

Their prices are quite good, if not a bit confusing (only certain areas of the site update the prices to USD when you click on Old Glory in the top right corner) -- something I hope they'll upgrade soon as we've got a pretty big market over on this side of the pond.

There is a link near the top of their home page to a quick 35 second video demo -- Take a look.

 also has a fitting feature. Theirs is service-marked "FrameFinder Virtual Try-On" and it's decent, if not entirely confidence-building.

Resizing the frames on my face leads me to think I might not actually get what I think I am getting as I'm quite certain there aren't an infinite number of frame sizes for each style (see the third FramesDirect image for a particularly head-shaking example).

They are on version 8 of the software, if you look at the footer on the page, but it certainly doesn't have the feel of v8. I'd take these looks with more than a grain of salt. It certainly doesn't feel like looking in a mirror.

The "Jerry Falwell"

The "WTF" has its clumsily-named "E Try It On" feature which works pretty well to get you moving in the right direction towards frames that fit your face and personality. This website is packed with great info, and their try-on system is pretty good too. Their prices aren't necessarily for the real "deal-minded", but if you are looking for a replacement frame, you will save here over a B&M shop.

Overall, I'd rate them in the following order:
  1. SpecsOnTheNet (and bonus points for the excellent value they offer)

Thanks for making the past couple of months so interesting and rewarding! I appreciate all of the kind words.

- Ira

P.S. Look for a new post on new technology in the next day or two!

(An excellently composed review from 'horsethiefbandit' -- Thanks!)

Saw a link on Lifehacker and decided to give it a go. Went with the
same hingeless rimless frames Ira purchased. Order was delivered in 10 days. Got an email confirmation of shipping from Zenni. Came with a hard case.

Overall, I'm quite happy with my purchase. In hindsight, I wouldn't have bought the clip on shades -- they are really cheap quality and do not fit the shape of my lenses. I had ordered them because they were only $4, but I'd advise others to save the money and buy a latte.

I also regret not paying for the higher index lenses. My prescription is 3.00 in only one eye and I wanted to keep the price low for my first try online, but next time I'd definitely spring the extra $19 for thinner lenses - especially with rimless frames.

The Zenni web site could be a lot better. It would be nice if the site offered multiple viewing angles of the frames, as well as the ability to view the frames with different lens shapes when applicable. It'd also be nice to see the glasses modeled on a human face. And if I'd seen a visual comparison of lens thickness from mid-index to hi-index, that probably would have sold me on the hi-index.

My overall rating is a 4. The glasses I got were of excellent quality. But they lose a point for the shortcomings of the web site.

I also second his opinions on the high-index lenses (glad I got it on this model) and on the clip on shades, although I still use mine, when necessary, and they're cheaper than even Target or Walmart -- Ira.

According to a comment on my "Connected Optometrist" post, Mellowknees (who is married to an optician), tells us they do the following:

Opticians are specially trained (and required to be certified in many states, but not all) to measure distance between eyes, adjust fit of glasses, etc., so that when your glasses are ordered from the lab (or the optician actually makes the glasses for you) the prescription lines up properly between the lens and the eye.

If you have any of the normal anomoles that most human faces have (i.e. one ear sits lower than the other, pupillary distance is shorter or longer than average), glasses you get online that are created by a lab that has never seen you, that does not have your specific facial measurements, are very likely not going to be as satisfying for you as glasses that you've actually been fitted for would be.

I had my wife measure my PD (pupilary distance) with a ruler -- the method described on most of the sites. She nailed it and has never spent a day in the optical field, married to an optician, or even wearing glasses (granted, she does have a few months of specialized training in the fundamentals of the metric system in the late 70's at Lincoln Elementary in Alexandria, MN). I had this number validated a couple of weeks ago on a two-year old prescription that was in my top drawer.

As for anomalies, I'm 37-year old guy. My ears and eyes have likely stopped moving all over my head. I'd gladly pay the very fair amount of ten U.S. dollars for someone to adjust my glasses for me (I think $60 an hour is a VERY fair rate). My PD (pupilary distance) isn't changing from pair to pair so that's locked in. The fact that I have one ear lower than the other is something I can adjust my frames to -- and if I wasn't comfortable doing it, I know someone at a store will take a few bucks to do it.

I'm not a "rocket surgeon", and I don't have the most complicated prescription in the world, but even I could read and enter numbers correctly into a web form, get my credit card out and order a great fitting and functioning pair of eyeglasses online.

And I didn't get hosed.

I just added a information sheet on Global Eye Glasses.

Located in New York, the oddly-named "Global Eye Glasses" was not founded by an English Major. They do however offer a decent selection including a small number of designer frames from Gucci, the Armanis, and Dior...

Click here for all of the information, including pricing and lens options

I've added an interesting piece of information to the retailer information links (which will ALWAYS appear near the top right of every page here) -- their Better Business Bureau ratings. I'll continue to monitor them periodically, so you don't have to.

Additionally, if you come across a retailer I've missed, let me know and I'll add them. Don't forget to share any experiences you've had so that others can benefit from your experience.

With eyeglasses and any purchases, it's a good idea to do a simple check at the BBB ( It's fast, easy and can save you the trouble of a huge headache.

You'll notice the "Online Eyeglasses Emporium" widget to the right (up at the top). I've created in-depth looks at each of these popular outlets. I plan on updating them with review scores and the like.

For now, each of them has:

  • contact information (address, phone, URL...)
  • Better Business Bureau ratings (added since I purchased -- very interesting!)
  • payment options
  • package prices
  • lens options and prices
  • coatings options and prices
  • shipping prices
  • synopsis with a "Should you buy there?" response
I'll add to them and update them as things change.

Bottom line, I did this research when I was looking to buy. You can save yourself the hassle and share the info.

Please let me know if you notice any errors or have suggestions for additional retailers to profile.

A friend suggested I get in touch with Consumer Reports about this "crusade" I've set out on. I didn't need to. The November 2006 issue has an article on Eyeglasses that talks about many of the same issues we're dealing with here.

You can access much of it online, but you'll need to subscribe, to see the full ratings.

Also a great (apart from the pricing) look at the differences in lens materials can be found here.

Do I want to see the end of traditional optical stores? If by "traditional", we're talking about $50-$80 anti-reflection coatings and 1000% frame markup, then yes. Do I want to wait two weeks for my glasses to come from Pakistan? No. Who does? There is a happy medium. I'm sure someone has found it too. There is a small store somewhere with a two-day turnaround on well-made, inexpensive, and stylish eyeglasses. I have a hope that this may be the wave of the future.

Is there room for the high-priced boutique? Absolutely. There will always be people with more money than sense or charitable inclination.

I've gotten a lot of email and posts from people under the impression that I'm somehow anti-optometrist, or that I'm against the practice of getting your eyes examined. This certainly isn't the case.

What I am advocating is, separate the optometry from the retail side of things. There is no reason that the person checking my eyes should see any financial benefit from my prescription (and no I don't buy that "independent optometrist" housed inside the LensCrafters is truly independent). I go to an ophthalmologist who isn't (in any visible way at least) affiliated with an optical store -- and I have to wait weeks to get an appointment. That's the way it should be (except maybe the "weeks" part).

Do you want your police officers to own jails? Do you want your presidents (and vice presidents) to own stock in oil companies and defense contractors?

If you need quick eyeglasses, you're screwed. My suggestion? Keep your eyes in check, keep a valid prescription handy, and buy a cheap "reserve pair" from one of the decent on-line places. You'll be glad to have them when you feel your current pair snap under the weight of your ample rear end.

Gimme a break on that, there aren't too many films with "glasses" or "lens" in the title (that anyone has heard of). But I digress (even further).

I think you'll agree the cast of this video certainly makes an advanced degree look a bit unnecessary. They're all very good at what they do -- with the machines and the screw drivers, but even these late 80's glasses would have likely topped the scales at over $200.

To the video!

I always had in my mind, before I went to my first LensCrafters, that there was a guy slaving over my lenses, polishing them just so... this "art" I saw in my mind's eye hasn't existed for a very long time -- and frankly we're better off for it. We have a level of consistency never before seen. But unlike all of the other industries that have taken these efficiencies to the masses, the eyeglasses cartel has been insulated.

P.S. I miss you Mr. Rogers and thanks to 'assemblylineporn' for archiving the footage.

This is another of the scams that they perpetrate on us. For a large number of us, our prescriptions really don't change outside of the tolerances of human error and daily differences -- "One or two? Click. Click. One or two? Click. Click. One or two? Click. Click. Click."

I know for a fact that my last two prescriptions haven't changed enough to warrant a new pair of glasses. How do I know this? My ophthalmologist told me so. Something to the effect of, "this is a very minor change, if you don't need new glasses, you certainly don't need to get new ones." I'm no doctor, but I think I understand what he's trying to relate. He's a good guy and why I keep going back every two years to get my eyes checked out. It's not for the the prescription, I can tell if I need a new one. It's for the eye-pressure tests and all of the other things they look to catch early before they become a problem.

I have a "valid" prescription. It's less than a year old. I always have a valid prescription, but if I didn't for the year and needed new glasses, the eyeglasses store at the mall would have me over a barrel on a technicality.

No longer. I didn't need to fax anyone my prescription when I ordered from Zenni and Goggles4U. I entered the numbers on a form on a web page, checked them for accuracy (about 6 times), and hit submit. My PD was easy enough to measure. Like all of this stuff, it ain't "rocket surgery".

This two-year prescription law is protectionist, it's also pretty much unenforceable. I can't imagine any "hard time" for using a three-year old prescription.

If your lenses are still working for you and they get scratched or broken and you're in "prescription limbo-land" there is no reason you shouldn't consider ordering online and taping up your glasses for the interim.

Better yet, order the $25 pair right now and don't fret.

I've gotten many emails asking about for the link for the Titanium Frames I bought.

Here it is:

They have twenty-seven lens styles to choose from. I chose style 351 as it most closely matched the size of my previous frames. Click here for a display of all of the lens options.

Tell 'em you got the link from They have no idea who I am, and I have no relationship with them (affiliate or otherwise).

On second thought, maybe they do know me as the guy that blew up their servers on Friday. ;-)

I got this question early this morning. A good one and one to print out to take to your over-zealous optical professional.

You say the optometrists are required, by law, to give you your prescription.

Well, it helps if you actually KNOW what the relevant Federal commercial code is, and have a copy of it on hand to show to them if they want to be punks about it.

So, what is the relevant (Federal) law citation?

Here is the statute:


Sec. 456.2 Separation of examination and dispensing.

It is an unfair act or practice for an ophthalmologist or optometrist to:

(a) Fail to provide to the patient one copy of the patient's prescription immediately after the eye examination is completed.

Provided: An ophthalmologist or optometrist may refuse to give the patient a copy of the patient's prescription until the patient has paid for the eye examination, but only if that ophthalmologist or optometrist would have required immediate payment from that patient had the examination revealed that no ophthalmic goods were required;

(b) Condition the availability of an eye examination to any person on a requirement that the patient agree to purchase any ophthalmic goods from the ophthalmologist or optometrist;

(c) Charge the patient any fee in addition to the ophthalmologist's or optometrist's examination fee as a condition to releasing the prescription to the patient. Provided: An ophthalmologist or optometrist may charge an additional fee for verifying ophthalmic goods dispensed by another seller when the additional fee is imposed at the time the verification is performed; or

(d) Place on the prescription, or require the patient to sign, or deliver to the patient a form or notice waiving or disclaiming the liability or responsibility of the ophthalmologist or optometrist for the accuracy of the eye examination or the accuracy of the ophthalmic goods and services dispensed by another seller.

Revised as of January 1, 1999]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 16CFR456.2]
[Page 453]

Are you with the Media? I've created a "Media Kit" with all sorts of clips and contact information. I'd love to talk with you. It's available by clicking the image to the right or [here].

If you have a glasses-related question or comment, you should post it to the forums (see the button above). The forums get the most traffic and have the most knowledgeable people to answer questions. You'll be amazed how quickly you get an answer if you go that route.

For stuff that falls outside of that, I prefer the email. My job keeps my in front of my laptop for many hours a day, so email is often replied to very quickly.

If you need anything, try me at:

email: ira [at]
twitter: @glassyeyes

I've still gotten no word from Zenni, but after checking on and off all day today, they're officially back online as of 6PM Central Time.

They had some pretty major system issues. Here's hoping they can keep it together for a while. I'm still getting crazy traffic off of these posts.

Notice I'm not listing a URL. You shouldn't have to hunt too hard! B-)

Opticians are going to argue about this as if their livelihoods depend on it, and in fact they just might. They’ll argue that you need to be looking through the focal center of the lens. They'll argue that eyeglasses alignment is a critical issue with vision. Let's face it, eyeglasses are not exactly a precision system.

The frames are nothing more than a chassis for a crude lens. It is crude too, it has to be by definition. If it wasn't we'd need to lock our eyes into place to see properly.

The fact of the matter is that we've all had glasses that slide down our faces, in some cases for years at a time. Is it fun? Nope. Can we still see? Indeed we can and have -- even with the $300 to $400 eyeglasses you're probably wearing now.

All you need to do is look at the walls in your local mall store to see that eyeglasses are a matter of fashion for most. If it was about the preciseness in which they fit and performed, no optician with a conscience could be in the same room with half of frames they'll gladly sell you. If it was only about utility there would be three frames (metal, brown plastic, and black plastic) in a multitude of sizes.

So, these chunks of polished plastic over your eyes are designed to be able to move on your face. Your face contorts, your hands bump the frames, your sweat and oils cause slippage… all of these things coupled with wear and tear, actually require the lack of precision.

The perfectly fitting pair of glasses is a fallacy. It's just another ploy to make you spend way too much for your specs.

Select a retailer below to read the review.

Updated: 11/9/2009
Discount: 5% off using this link (and code "glassyeyes")


Not entirely clear, but not a US company.

Many eyeglasses have come shipped in oddly-cool sewn cloth bags from Pakistan -- at least they used to.
Phone: (888) 368-1239 - 9AM to 5PM Eastern Time (Mon - Sat)

Pricing: USD (and 4 others)

Payment Options: All major credit cards [NOTE: They use a US Payment Processor -- CCNow, which simplifies things, unless you live in Minnesota (which I do), where I get to pay tax for glasses -- a non-taxable item. A minor inconvenience, but still...]

Summary of Services:

Goggles4U was one of the original places I ordered eyeglasses online. Their perfect delivery was instrumental in this "crusade". I've ordered a number of times from them and have been happy in each instance. Another of the sites that I trust. They've spent quite a bit of time and effort making their site very usable and offer perhaps the most robust search capabilities in the group.

Their selection is vast (and eclectic), easily the largest of the sites I cover, but it's not deep -- meaning if you see a frame you like, it's a good idea to buy it now, because they may have as few as one pair available. They have many designer frame closeouts buried in the mix. I've gotten two pair of Max Mara frames that I love -- in fact my trademark pair is one of these.

Located outside of the United States, they rarely suffer from the shipping delays of some of their other global counterparts (*cough* Zenni *cough*). They may be manufacturing in multiple countries.
I have a decent relationship with this company, so I can often help out in the rare case that you have unresolved issues with them. They stand behind their products and really favor GlassyEyes customers. If you need help, email them at ''.

A solid choice.

Online Try-on?:

Yes, though virtually useless. There are no measurement scales. You *might* be able to get an idea of the size, if you layer over a pair of glasses of exactly the same total width. Should be better.

360 degree views of the frames are really nice though. No more surprises in the temple areas.


Not the finest of the group, but they almost always come through in instances that they absolutely should.

As of 5/11/2009:
(from the site) firmly exercise highly customer friendly policy.

Not satisfied with the quality of your eyewear
In case you are not satisfied with the product quality you may return the product to us for a refund. In such cases you are entitled to receive the full frame price and 50% of the price of prescription lenses. You must return the product at your own cost.

The lenses are not as per my original Prescription:
Its very rare that the lenses produced by us are not as per your prescription but if this is the case then is 100% responsible for refund or reshipment. In case where you have entered the wrong prescription during ordering process, we may not be held responsible but you can contact our sales department to claim extra discount on further orders in order to minimize loses.

I never received my eyeglasses or it arrived damaged:
If the product is lost in transit or damage you may claim your 100% refund or ask for immediate replacement. We may ask you to send a digital picture of the merchandize received for record.

The frame or lenses broke after few days. is unable to provide any warrantees in such cases however you can always contact our sales department to solve such problems.

I am not happy with the size of the frame.
Goggles4u may not be held responsible if you select a frame which is not of your size. In such cases the customer can return the product for full price of frame and half price of lenses. The shipping must be paid by the customer.

I am not happy with the thickness of the lenses or lens edges on my eyeglasses
Goggles4u may not be responsible in this case as the lenses thickness also depends upon the size of the frame. In such cases you can return the glasses for full frame price and half price of lenses.

Whom to contact in such cases:
You can reach us at for your refund/replacement or to discuss any other issue related to your eyeglasses order.

Measurements Provided:

All (Size, Temple Length, Total Width, Lens Height)



  • Least Expensive Package: $29.99
  • Basic Lens: $17.00 (1.56 index - CR39?)
  • Mid-Index: $30.00 (1.59 Polycarbonate)
  • High-Index: $35.00 - 45.00 (1.61 and 1.67 index Plastic or GLASS 1.71 index)
  • Lined Bi: $35.00 - $45.00 (CR39? For some reason you can get these without coatings at $35 or pay$10 extra for coatings. A bit confusing)
  • Progressive Bi: $49.00 - $77.00 (CR39? For some reason you can get these without coatings at $49 or pay$28 extra for coatings. A bit confusing)
  • Photochromic: $26.00 - $54.00 (Glass @ $26, CR39? @ $54 -- both 1.56 index)
  • Polarized Sun: n/a
  • DriveWear: n/a
  • Anti-Reflective (AR): $0.00 (Included) *not available on glass lenses
  • Ultraviolet (UV): $0.00 (Included)
  • Scratch-Resistant: $0.00 (Included)
  • Tint: $17.00 - $35.00 (basic colors glass or CR39?)

  • Lowest Ship: $0.00 (All orders)
  • International shipping is available to MANY countries.
Production Time:
  • From personal experience, expect 2 weeks or a little longer to the middle of the United States.
  • From the site: "With regular shipping the glasses will take 10-12 days in transit. With DHL shipping the transit time is 5-7 days. In both cases certain conditions may apply. We are not offering express shipping from USA."

In the forums...

Updated: 11/9/2009
URL: Optical4Less

Discount: 10% off using this link.


Hong Kong

They have a physical optical store, supposedly since 1980.

Phone: (852)-31563896 (FAX)

Pricing: USD

Payment Options: Major credit cards, PayPal

Summary of Services:

Communication used to be really good with them. I used to have regular conversations with "Albert", but they've ceased for whatever reason.

Located in Hong Kong, they've been around for quite a while and were a mainstay on my list for those with complicated prescriptions for the first two years of GlassyEyes. They have a decent selection, but the website makes it a bit of a drag to get through. In dire need of a face-lift.

Prices are good in single-vision and you'll get free shipping if you order more than one pair -- so always toss in a second pair. Bi-focals may be a bit overpriced comparatively.

Only retailer of the low-price variety offering mineral-glass lenses.

Only retailer that does "mirror coating" as well -- if you're casting for a roll as 1980's highway patrol officer.

Bifocal prices are high. I'd look elsewhere.

I've liked the pairs I've gotten in the past, but it's been about a year since my last order.


As of 11/9/2009:
"Yes ! We are proud to provide you with a 30 days quality guarantee !
If you find that we customize your glasses with the wrong prescription in 30 days, We will replace them with the correct ones.
All you need to pay is the shipping fee of your glasses .
However, please make sure that the prescription error is not from data input when filling out the order form. In that case, no lens replacements will be provided . To verify if there is a prescription mistake made by us. Take your glasses to your nearest optical store . They will be glad to help you verify your glasses' prescription ."

(ed. I'm not sure that "they will be glad to help you verify your glasses' prescription")

Measurements Provided:

All (Size, Temple Width, Total Width, Lens Height)



  • Least Expensive Package: $8.00 (very limited selection)
  • Basic Lens: $0.00 (1.56 index)
  • Mid-Index: $35.00 (1.60 index Polycarb & 1.67 index)
  • High-Index: $198.00! (1.74 index)
  • Mineral Glass 1.8: $88.00
  • Mineral Glass 1.9: $178.00
  • Lined Bi: $63.00
  • Progressive Bi: $98.00 - $328.oo
  • Photochromic: $59.00 - $99.00
  • Polarized Sun: $46.00 (1.5 index)
  • DriveWear: n/a


  • Anti-Reflective (AR): Free
  • Ultraviolet (UV)*: Free
  • Scratch-Resistant: Free (listed as "stretch")
  • Tint: $8 ($12 for gradient)
  • Mirror: $39.00


  • Lowest Ship: Free (multiple pairs)
  • Standard Ship: $8.00
  • International shipping is available to MANY countries.
Production Time:
  • Seems to be 14 to 20 days from order to delivery.

In the forums...

URL: GlassesShop

Discount: 10% off using this link and code: 'L7HH-X50V-VMYC'.


"Business Address"
401 W 118th St. # 26
New York, NY 10027

Chinese-based multi-product retailing company.

Phone: (866) 257-4887

Pricing: USD, GBP, EUR

Payment Options: All major credit cards, PayPal

Summary of Services:

This is a relatively confusing one. The prices are all over the place, for no apparent reason. The frames they show are very similar to other retailers and range from cheaper, to significantly more expensive.

They do have some unique frames that will undoubtedly attract some buyers tired of seeing the same designs at various online retailers, but the shipping costs of $14 will scare away the majority of interest.

Polarized lenses are available for $46 which isn't a bad price. They're not available at all at most of the low-cost online retailers.

I bought a pair from them to test them out and they weren't cheap. Overall, I like the product I got, but would probably look elsewhere in the future if there wasn't a shipping deal available.


As of 11/9/2009:
"We work really hard to ensure the eyeglasses you get from us are 100% accurate based on your prescription and requirements. However, if for any reason you are not happy or satisfied with your purchases, you can simply return the item in its original condition for a refund, a replacement or an exchange in accordance with our return and refund policies.

5 Day Cooling-off Period

If within 5 days of receiving your item, you are not completely satisfied with or simply don’t like the product, you can cancel your order for a full refund. To process the cancellation, we need to have you return all the cancelled items in their original conditions. Once we receive the item in good condition, we will refund the purchase price directly to the account you used in ordering at our site.

Purchases Received in 6 - 30 Days

If and only if quality problems, for example broken temple, occur in your eyeglasses between 6 and 30 days of receiving your products, you can simply return them to us for a full refund. Please note that Glasses Shop does not permit the return or offer refunds if returns are not quality related during this period.

Purchases Received in 31 - 90 Days

If and only if quality problems, for example broken temple, occur in your eyeglasses between 31 and 90 days of receiving your products, you can simply return them to us for a full refund on the frame and half refund on the lenses. Please note that Glasses Shop does not permit the return or offer refunds if returns are not quality related during this period.

NOTE: All returns are not processed until our Customer Service grants you the authorization to do so ahead of time.

To obtain refunds, please have the glasses shipped back to us in good condition with case and cleaning cloth. Shipping and handling charges are not refundable except for the case that it is resulted from our fault.

Provided that your wrong purchases results from our errors, please contact us immediately and provide us with your order number, your name and shipping address, details of the product, a picture of the problem item and your request on a refund or replacement. You are allowed to return the problem products to us in 7 days.

For your protection, we suggest you return the product in a traceable manner. If the value of the item is over $100, we suggest you insure it for the price you paid. Be sure to pack the item in the same manner you received it.

For lenses that you are unsure of their accuracy based on the prescription you provided, you can choose to either get a full refund or have us redo it for you for free. However, we are not responsible for the wrong prescription you entered in our website and no refunds or returns are given in such situations.

If you would like to have a replacement or an exchange rather than a refund on the problem products, please contact our Customer Service at 866-257-4887 to discuss options or send a email to"

Measurements Provided:

All (Size, Temple Width, Total Width, Lens Height)



  • Least Expensive Package: $8.00 (very limited selection)
  • Basic Lens: $0.00 (Standard CR39 1.50 index)
  • Mid-Index: $10.95 - $40.95 (1.55 and 1.60 index)
  • High-Index: $75.95 - $175.95 (1.67 and 1.74 index)
  • Lined Bi: $16.95
  • Progressive Bi: $21.95
  • Photochromic: $199.95! (Transitions VI)
  • Polarized Sun: $46.00 (1.5 index)
  • DriveWear: n/a


  • Anti-Reflective (AR): $4.95
  • Ultraviolet (UV)*: ???
  • Scratch-Resistant: ???
  • Tint: $4.95


  • Lowest Ship: $13.95
  • International shipping is available to MANY countries.
Production Time:
  • From the site: "Generally speaking, as long as your prescription is complete and legible, it takes about 14 business days to deliver the custom eyeglasses directly to your door. Of course, this is just estimation and it usually takes much less than that."

In the forums...

Updated: 11/10/2009

Zenni Optical


Zenni Optical
27 Sunny Oaks Dr.
San Rafael, Ca.94903

Factory in China

Phone: 1-800-211-2105

Pricing: USD

Payment Options: All major credit cards, PayPal

Summary of Services:

This is the 900-pound gorilla of online eyewear. They know it and don't make any apologies for the lack of any sort of niceties on the site, to their customers and otherwise. They deal on price -- flat out, and while some of the sites are getting close to them in that regard they are still the cheapest in most cases.

You'll wait longer with them than most of the others. There have been a number of cases of customs delays in the past few years.

The site design, apart from being a time machine back to 1996, has been known to drive people mad (at least it has come close for me).

On the other hand, they supply all of the frame measurements -- something a number of the other retailers inexplicably miss.

I've yet to find anyone to reliably contact to deal with issues as they arise, so I can be of little help with them if things go wrong.

People either love them or hate them. There really isn't much middle ground.

Extra strength (prescription is greater than sph -8.00 , or +6.00, and /or cyl greater than -2.00, or +2.00. ) will run you an extra $9.


As of 11/10/2009:

We take great pride in delivering a quality product at an incredibly low price. Each order is carefully checked by our certified technicians for prescription accuracy and optical clarity before shipment. Since all orders are custom produced and unique, all sales are final. Please be very careful in filling out the order form.

If you are dissatisfied with your eyeglasses for any reason, they may be returned for a -50% refund within a period of four weeks. We do not reimburse for shipping and handling of orders returned for a refund. If the glasses are being returned for a warranty issue, this must be completed within the 30 day period, as well. We do not address warranty issues beyond a thirty day period.

The industry standard on custom produced merchandise is that the order is charged at the placement of the order, and that there is no refund due if the order was filled in accordance with the specifications of its placement. Zenni Optical's policy of a fifty percent refund on this custom made product, is, therefore, very generous.

If the glasses are being returned, it is necessary to call the office and receive a Return Merchandise Authorization number. Returns and refunds will not be processed without this number. Our phone number is 1.800.211.2105, and our hours are 0900-1700 Pacific time, M-F, holidays excepted.

Measurements Provided:

All (Size, Temple Width, Total Width, Lens Height)



  • Least Expensive Package: $8.00
  • Basic Lens: $0.00 (1.57 index)
  • Mid-Index: $17.00 (1.61 index)
  • High-Index: $35.00 (1.67 index)
  • Lined Bi: $17.00
  • Progressive Bi: $29.00
  • Photochromic: $39.00 -$59.00
  • Polarized Sun: n/a
  • DriveWear: n/a


  • Anti-Reflective (AR): $4.95
  • Ultraviolet (UV)*: ???
  • Scratch-Resistant: ???
  • Tint: $4.95


  • Lowest Ship: $4.95
  • $4.95 Standard
Production Time:
  • From the site: "SINGLE VISION: In most instances, a single vision pair of glasses will be delivered in approximately 2 weeks after the placement of the order. If you’re ordering single vision, and you’re on the West Coast of the U.S., the period may be shorter. Most non-domestic single vision orders arrive in approximately two weeks of placement of the order, and are shipped directly from our overseas lab via Hong Kong Post.

    MULTI-FOCAL: A multi focal pair of glasses (lined bi-focals or progressives) requires approximately two and a half to three weeks (extra options) for delivery from the date of the order, in most cases.

    ADDITIONAL OPTIONS: If you’ve ordered extra options such as tint, anti-reflective coating or a photochromic lens, this time may be extended by several days. From time to time, procurement of the high index and photochromic lens blanks may be delayed and the orders may take up to approximately three weeks for single vision and 4 weeks for a progressive, at the outside. This happens rarely, but can occur unexpectedly. "

In the forums...

URL: EyeBuyDirect

Discount: 15% off using this link.


7315 Wisconsin Ave.
Suite 420E
Bethesda MD 20814

22100 East 26TH Avenue
Aurora, Colorado 80019 U.S.A

Phone: (866) 439-6628 - 9AM to 5PM Eastern Time

Pricing: USD, GBP, JPY, EUR

Payment Options: All major credit cards, PayPal

Summary of Services:

Of the sites I cover, none has invested more into improving the user experience. EyeBuyDirect's site is flashy -- perhaps a bit too much so -- but you have to admire the effort. It feels very professionally done, something that contributes to the feel of confidence I have ordering from them.

They don't have the biggest selection in the field, but it is growing every month. In addition to the economical frames (starting at $7.95), they carry a wide variety of designer and fashion frames and sunglasses. I can't imagine spending $200 for non-prescription sunglasses, but they're here if you're in the market for them! The designer eyeglasses frames selection is limited (and shrinking?), but the prices are very reasonable, starting at $50 and going to $100. I bought a pair of Timberland frames here that my wife doesn't like, but I love. Very solid.

Another operation located in the United States, you shouldn't have to deal with any sort of unanticipated customs delays here. They send all domestic orders by USPS Priority Mail or via FedEx for an additional charge.

I have an excellent relationship with a couple of people at EyeBuyDirect, so I can usually help out in the rare case that you have any issues with them. In reaction to a lengthy piece I wrote in 2008, they modified their guarantee to be the best in the business (and contain the most colorful language, question and exclamation marks). They stand behind their products.

Always willing to try new things. Another one of my favorites.


As of 5/7/2009:
"At, we do our best to ensure that all frames and lenses are produced perfectly and according to the prescription and specific needs of our customers.

Our team of optical experts inspects the accuracy of the prescription lenses and the frames alignment several times during the production process.
We also make sure that during delivery the frames are protected with a durable and resistant hard case and a microfiber cloth.

In the event you are not completely satisfied with your eyeglasses you may return them to us and get FULL refund (shipping costs NOT included) or a NEW pair- NO QUESTIONS ASKED!!!

But why stop there??
  • Frames are too big or small - 100% Refund
  • Colors don’t suit you- 100% Refund
  • Wife doesn’t like the frame- 100% Refund
  • Neighbor just bought same design- 100% Refund
  • New collection just came out – 100% Refund
  • Your dog chewed on your new frames – 100% Refund

Terms and Conditions:

  • The above policy is only valid if and when:
  • Returns are made within 7 days of receiving the frames.
  • Customer contacts Customer Service WITHIN 7 Days of receiving their eyeglasses.
  • The returned item must be complete with case and cleaning cloth.
  • A tracking number of the returned glasses must be provided to our Customer Service team together with the reference code issued.
  • Should the customer decide to choose a frame of higher value, the difference will be charged.
  • After the 7 days limit, customers may still:
  • Receive a 70% refund for the glasses ordered subjected to the parameters given above.
  • Benefit from a replacement with a reprocessing fee of 50% of the total amount for the original order.
  • We do NOT refund for shipping and packaging costs.

Designer Frames (branded) and sport frames are not included in the return and refund policy."

Measurements Provided:

All (Size, Temple Width, Total Width, Lens Height)



  • Least Expensive Package: $7.95 (very limited selection)
  • Basic Lens: $0.00 (Standard CR39 1.50 index)
  • Mid-Index: $25.00 - $42.00 (1.57 and 1.62 index)
  • High-Index: $67.00 - $112.00 (1.67 and 1.74 index)
  • Lined Bi: $19.00
  • Progressive Bi: $39.00
  • Photochromic: $35.95
  • Polarized Sun: n/a
  • DriveWear: n/a


  • Anti-Reflective (AR): $6.95
  • Ultraviolet (UV)*: $4.95
  • Scratch-Resistant: $0.00 (Included)
  • Tint: $4.95


  • Lowest Ship: $0.00 (Orders over $99)
  • $4.95 Standard
  • International shipping is available to MANY countries.
Production Time:
  • From the site: "If your prescription information was provided completely. You can expect to receive your new glasses within 14 business days - directly to your door ( usually takes much less...)."

In the forums...


Discount: 10% off using this link.


Value Eyecare Network, Inc.
3125-3 Veterans Memorial Hwy
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

Phone: (800) 672-6304 - 9AM to 5PM Eastern Time

Pricing: USD (and 36 others!)

Payment Options: All major credit cards

Summary of Services:

One of the originals and still one of the best. The website is getting a little long in the tooth, but they provide all the information you need to make an informed and successful decision. I've been told to keep my eye out for a site makeover in the near future.

They have all of the standard styles, a bit on the conservative side -- I'd love to see a few more "chunkier" retro styles if possible.

Located in New York, you're not going to have to deal with any sort of unanticipated customs delays here. If you need your glasses fast, they can be one of the quicker options, though some have reported shipping delays in the past few months (I've not experienced any delays).

One of the few reputable sites to offer reglazing (or re-lensing) on your existing frames. This service starts at $39 and is a good deal when considering Transitions lenses or other more premium options. NOTE: There have been a number of issues reported with delays in the past month (April/May 2009). I've talked with the CEO and there will be a new system and service manager in place for this service in the very near future. You may want to hold off on this until that is announced. Keep an eye on GlassyEyes for details.

I have an excellent relationship with this company, so I can usually help out in the rare case that you have unresolved issues with them. They stand behind their products.

Open to suggestions. One of my favorites.


As of 5/7/2009:

"At, we offer a 100% quality guarantee. Our objective is simple: make sure every customer has a wonderful experience purchasing from us. If there is any defect in your new glasses, please contact one of our knowledgeable customer service specialists within 30 days of the date your original order shipped and we will arrange a quick exchange for a new pair of glasses. That’s it!

All of our frames come with an unconditional 6 month guarantee. If they become damaged within the first 6 months we will replace the frame FREE! If damage occurs after 6 months, we will be happy to replace the frame at a reduced cost. All of our lenses come with an unconditional warranty to be free of any defects. Please contact us within 30 days of receiving your new glasses if there is any defect in the lenses and we will immediately exchange them FREE of charge. If you damage your lenses for any reason within the first year we will gladly remake new lenses for you at a reduced cost."

Measurements Provided:

All (Size, Total Width, Lens Height)



  • Least Expensive Package: $39.00
  • Basic Lens: $0.00 (Clear Polycarbonate 1.59 index)
  • Mid-Index: -- (none offered)
  • High-Index: $29.95 (Seiko 1.67) - down from $49 in 2007
  • Lined Bi: $40.00
  • Progressive Bi: $50.00
  • Photochromic: $49.90 (CR39 Genuine Transitions) - down from $63.95 in 2007
  • Polarized Sun: $49.90 (CR39)
  • DriveWear: $89.90 (Genuine Transitions DriveWear)


  • Anti-Reflective (AR): $24.95 (easily the highest of the group as this is often FREE)
  • Ultraviolet (UV): $0.00 (Included)
  • Scratch-Resistant: $0.00 (Included)
  • Tint: $9.95 - $19.95 (basic colors CR39 or Polycarbonate)


  • Lowest Ship: $0.00 (Two pairs or orders over $100)
  • Highest Ship: $16.90 (NEXT DAY*)
  • International shipping is available to MANY countries.
Production Time:
  • From the site: "All of our eyeglasses are custom made for your exact prescription. Please allow us 2-3 business days to make your eyeglasses. Rimless orders, Bifocals and Progressives orders, orders with Transitions™ Lenses, polarized lenses, or custom anti-reflective coatings may take an additional 1-2 business days."
  • Bottom line: A standard shipping order on a basic single-vision pair should take 5-10 BUSINESS days to arrive at your door.

In the forums...

Whether you used one of the mall stores (Lens Crafters, Pearl Vision), a boutique, big-box warehouse store, or one of the array of online choices. Share your stories of woe.

I created a new Flickr group today, so post your pictures of your new glasses!

Find it by clicking the flickr badge to the right or click here.

It appears that they've been blown out of the water. I know what that's like -- my company had the Barack Obama campaign site the night he spoke at the Democrat National Convention in 2004 and we've suffered the SlashDot effect a number of times.

I feel for them. Anyway, lay off for a day or so and see what is what. So long as they don't have the webservers actually responsible for making the glasses, I think you'll be happy.

Order a pair from another retailer while you wait. There are so many to choose from and more are adding the titanium frames daily.

What a day. ;-)

There are a number of truths out there that many in the optometry field would like to keep hidden from you.

A big one is that they are required to give you your written prescription. You can take that prescription anywhere to have glasses made. Obviously it isn't in their best in interest to offer this up.

Demand it!

I appreciate all of the comments and now it's time to get everyone's experiences put together so that we can find the best places of the lot. I don't need 30 pairs of glasses, so let's spread the wealth. Post your experiences.

Include the following (maybe copy this block of text as a comment format):

Outlet: [insert outlet name here]
Ordered: [date ordered]
Received: [date received]
Price: [price incl. shipping]
Communication: [did they email you? call?]
Quality: [how are they built?]
Impressions: [any other comments on the experience?]
Rating: [1 (bad) to 5 (good)]I'll do some sort of compiling -- I love statistics -- and keep a leader board for the best options.


My glasses broke.

My bank account was... "challenged".

No way was I going to spent $350+ on a pair of stinking glasses. There had to be a better way!

There is.

So I wrote about my experience on my personal blog and BLAMMO! Turns out that ALOT of people don't like getting scammed by the opticians on glasses.

The opticians had a lot to say.

I think there is risk inherent in any online purchase, just as there is risk present in purchasing your eyeglasses from a store at the mall. I present my findings for you to consider.

Right away, I got a comment from an optometrist, and figured I'd get tons more. Nope.


Regarding the post: Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers, I got a nice message from "Stephanie", an optician with some concerns.

You stated that you are an informed shopper; however, perhaps not informed enough. You were originally interested in Silhouette frames. As an optician, I can assure you that you get what you pay for. In our store, we will only carry Silhouette rimless frames because they are FAR superior to any other rimless system that is currently produced.

That may be true. I would have loved a pair of Silhouettes, but they're not realistic for most people.

They are made of hyperflex titanium (5X stronger than beta titanium). In addition, they have no screws, require very little adjustment and weigh less than 1 ounce.

Not sure what you're saying here, but these weigh in at .4 oz (with the lenses) -- half the weight of all of the other eyeglasses of the people in my office. So weight is certainly not a big check mark on the Silhouette ledger over these.

They are also the leader in rimless frames and are the first to come out with new technology. Our mark up on frames is no where near 1000% as you stated.

That's all fine and good, but my face is not going to be pressed into service for NASA. I'm going to wear my glasses during the day, and take them off at night. The additional flexibility and strength of these likely "beta titanium" (a new term for me -- thanks!) frames should be just fine, and I'll be able to afford Christmas presents for the kids this year, and maybe buy the firewood for the winter.

You may be able to find a silhouette frame a little cheaper online but you are also forfeiting correct measurements and the service provided (future repairs and adjustments, complimentary ultrasonic cleanings, etc).

I wonder how many people you sell on ultrasonic cleanings. In theory it sounds like a good idea, but I think $320 is a bit much for an extended service plan.

Stores also have more overhead (salaries for qualified and experienced opticians, ulitity bills, etc) so you are paying for more than just the frame…you are paying for the overall service.

I can appreciate that. That's the reason I've gone to the same opthalmologist for the past 25 years. I want a qualified person checking my eyes -- after that it's numbers on a card and money-grubbing.

Also, let’s not forget that by patronizing local stores, you are helping the local economy. I would gladly pay just a little extra to support my community.

Don't start with the shop locally argument. I shop locally as often as I can. I'm a huge fan of the disappearing mom and pop shops of all kinds and will patronize them over a big-box store whenever possible. I support my community with volunteering AND my dollars. I'm not going to be screwed for it however.

Most stores will also price match online offers when possible to keep their customers happy and coming back.

Realistically, if this is truly the case, I'd have maybe been able to get out with a pair of Silhouettes for $350 -- if I could have found such a generous optician.

Now for the issue of your ‘cheap’ lenses, I can assure you that the lenses that you received are ‘cheap’ as well. There are lenses that can be purchased from manufacturers for as little as $2-$3 per lens but are distorted and very poor quality.

I'm sure you could put this lens under to OptoTron3000 and tell me all sorts of ways this is inferior, but from a practical standpoint, it's tack sharp, they seem to have the proper optical center (my measurements seem to be correct), and again the price means I could get five pairs for the price of one.

Opticians are trained to know the differences between these substandard lenses and the good stuff.

Too bad my eyes can't tell the difference. Trust me, if a year down the road, I find a problem with these, I'll post it. If I'm getting headaches in a week, I'll post it.

Let me use this example: there are wide ranges of prices for diamonds. You can pay as little as $50–and in return you get poor cut, clarity and color so is that really a bargain??

Depends if you need it to cut something or sit in a ring for people to ooh and ahh over. Diamonds are a sham also. I'd consider dropping this from your arguments moving forward.

Again, you get what you pay for. I would recommend that you take your glasses (which probably cost the seller a total of $10-$11) to a qualified optician. They can put your lenses in a strain-o-scope to show you the extent of the distortion in your lenses and may be able to point out all of the defects and incorrect measurements as well.

And you get what you overpay for. Eyeglasses aren't diamonds. They don't last forever (unless you're 70 years old and your idea of activity is turning the pages of the Wall Street Journal -- I think my grandfather had the same glasses for the last 30 years of his life). I. like most people need (or even want) a new pair every few years. At $400 - $500, that's not going to happen, and the lenses are going to get scratched with 3 young kids. Eyeglasses aren't forever and I shouldn't have to pay like they are.

I also want to state that not all opticians are created equal…..find a reputable optician (not likely to find this in a chain) and they will truly be able to get you the most value for your money.

You said a mouthful there. The people in LensCrafters have no idea what they are doing. They're generally (I'm sure there are exceptions) not qualified to be within 6 feet of my eyes.

I appreciate your response, and I'm sure much of what you say is true. You do have much to gain from this, while I don't. These glasses don't compare in a number of ways to frames and lenses from your store, but they compare very favorably in one very important way. A way that I think you'll see from the comments, is not being addressed and is in fact being manipulated by the brick and mortar stores. Someone is getting rich, to be sure.

UPDATE: Thanks for all of the kind words and thoughtful responses (on both sides of the issue)! I can't believe the nerve this has touched. Want to share your experiences? I've started an aggregator site (, that will hopefully evolve into both a place to rate the shoppes and discuss this topic further. I really feel like the can of worms may be open now. Let me know what you think!

This is the post that got the ball rolling. I've copied it over here, as this is a better home moving forward.


I've stepped into my last eyeglasses store. I've been wearing glasses since junior high, and the prices have gotten outrageous. The last pair I bought at LensCrafters, in 2004, set me back about $300 and never fit properly -- even after multiple trips back. They broke the last week of October. .

I've had my eye on, and nearly purchased a pair of Silhouettes a few months back. They were the titanium hingeless variety. I priced them out at a couple of stores and with AR (anti-reflective) lenses with scratch-resistant coating, I was looking at about $500. I don't claim to be the smartest guy in the room very often, but no way in hell was I going to buy into that.

The best deal I could find in a store for a pair (in a non-welfare frame) approached $270 -- without AR lenses. That would not do either. There had to be a better alternative. I decided I was going to find the Silhouettes online. I already knew what I wanted and they'd have to be much less online. I googled -- and found them -- for $410ish. Not good enough. I went back to my search results. You know how google has the ads on the right side (of course you do)? I ignore them almost all the time. For some reason (my empty wallet?) I decided to click a link to Zenni Optical (a.k.a., and I kid you not --

Zenni had a couple of titanium, hingeless frames. I priced them out. I decked them out with AR coating ($4.95 compared to $50+ in the stores), a clip-on sunshade ($3.95 versus $70 in the store) and went to the optional higher-index (thinner) lenses. Total?


The downside? A couple of things... they might take a month to arrive and I really had no idea on the quality.

I need a shave.I tend to be an overly cautious buyer. I'll buy, but not before I research the hell out the options and alternatives. Put another way, I'm an informed shopper. The markup on eyeglasses frames can routinely be 1000%! Yes that was one-thousand percent. Screw that noise.

For $81, I could risk it, but not before an hour perusing the most-excellent (if not sparse), Zenni got decent reviews, so I ordered on October 26th.

They arrived on Thursday, November 9th and they appear to be perfect. The lens quality and fit is excellent.

Was I done?

Nope. A whole new world had been opened up to me. I decided I needed to hedge my bets. I ordered an even cheaper pair from also. This was a cheaper, very different, style frame. With lenses (they don't offer an especially high-index lens), they came to $25 (and that includes AR, UV, and anti-scratch coatings!). I decided to up the ante a bit and add the photochromic treatment (Transistions -- darken in the sun, clear indoors), after all I'm testing this out and $61 is hardly excessive for a pair of glasses.

These arrived on Wednesday, November 8 (12 days). For the price, I couldn't be happier. They look great and the lenses are perfect. The fit and finish is not of the same quality, but they're really nice just the same.

Without question, I'll order from each of these places in the future. The prescriptions are tack sharp, the selections are better than the stores and the prices are incredible. Eyeglasses for less than a pair of shoes? Yes, please.

UPDATE: I got a comment from an optician -- and responded to it here.