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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 -- 19dollareyeglasses.com).

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?

$81.

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), EyeglassRetailersReview.com. 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 Goggles4u.com 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.



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177 comments:

At December 4, 2006 at 1:37 PM bruce said...

Bought a pair of rimless from zenni and am very satisfied. Took nine days to recieve, paid 36 bucks with a/r coating and shipping. What a deal.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 5:28 PM Anonymous said...

I started ordering glasses online about 7 years ago. I've never looked back! I have also bought lenses &/or frames through Costco. If you bring in a frame from elsewhere they charge you a $25 mounting fee to do the lenses.

It has long irritated me to see outrageous price tags on something that has only a few dollars worth of plastic and metal in it!

 
At December 8, 2006 at 5:48 PM Walt said...

This is great! I work for an optometrist that also sells glasses. Because their primary source of income is from eye exams, they can afford to (and do) sell glasses relatively cheap. It used to be that materials for lenses (including specialized coatings like AR) were very expensive because they were manufactured by huge companies. There are now systems that make and coat lenses in a much smaller quantity, and can do it much cheaper. This means that there is less overhead for the retailers.

They should be lowering costs to adjust for this, but many are greedy and want to keep raising prices and throwing out technical terms to confuse people in hopes of doing so. Most Rx's are simple, single vision lenses. The people that should be cautious are progressive bifocal wearers and people that require prism. These lenses are a bit more difficult to be made consistently (think high end optics), and must be aligned properly. Nevertheless, these can -and should- be made available for less than $200 at local retail.

You are right that the ripoff is in the frames. The majority of inexpensive (not cheaply made) frames are made in China and are purchased in bulk for very little money. The expensive frames are still made in Switzerland/Italy/France but they are not worth the price. I have access to significant discounts on these designer frames and I still choose to wear the cheap ones. This way I can get several pairs instead of one.

In short, great find! More competition like this will only serve to bring prices down where the should be. Also, do not let your doctor try to make you feel bad about asking for your Rx (some optometrists who sell glasses do), it is your right in the US to have a copy after your exam. You have already paid them for their service.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 5:51 PM Shane said...

I used 19dollareyeglasses.com a while back. Man what a deal! I actually went with the cheapest ones($19, $24ish with the AR coating). At the nineteen dollar price range the selection was slightly limited, but the frames I got were really decent. Even if you already have a pair of nice quality glasses, I say pick up a sturdy looking cheapo pair for those times you think you might smash your nice ones. I got some expressly for reading in bed. I tend to nod off and don't want to bend the expensive ones.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 5:53 PM oschene said...

My rimless pair from Zenni had a big issue -- the left ear piece wasn't attached, nor could it be attached with the screw I found floating in the hardshell case. The edge of the lense was simply too thick. But, you know, it was like 38 bucks, so I wasn't exactly livid.

I called in, spoke to someone with a heavy, heavy accent. He sent me longer screws and a little screwdriver (a very nice one, I still use it). These screws were too long, but a couple minutes with a Dremel and we were good to go.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 6:02 PM Anonymous said...

OK, this is way cool. I'm gonna order me some new glasses too.

Now only if someone could come up with a way of getting cheap razor blades instead of the $8 blades Gillette shafts us on.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 6:17 PM Anonymous said...

Great work! As eye-opening for me as the many others who have responded in various places.

I couldn't quite determine where to leave this suggestion, so I'll drop it here:

If you are starting what amounts to a consumer advocacy site for eyeglass wearers (thank you!), have you considered getting some samples to have tested by an independent optical lab?

I would love to see the results of such tests (before I start ordering new glasses by the handful as I am already quite tempted to do) and if you were to start a paypal account for donations to fund that task I would contribute immediately.

lyd

 
At December 8, 2006 at 6:22 PM Anonymous said...

THANK YOU

my glasses were just lost in an airport and i dread having to get some more (which i'll have to soon since i'm very nearsighted and shouldn't be wearing these contacts constantly like i am)

i bought mine at WALMART and even there paid 200+ dollars. i'll definately be investigating the online retailers you mentioned.

on a side note, the same is somewhat true of contact lenses. i actually had an optometrist try to REFUSE to give me my contact lense prescription when he found i was going to go online to purchase the lenses. i finally got it from him but only by playing hardball.

Valis
http://valiskeogh.livejournal.com

 
At December 8, 2006 at 6:42 PM Anonymous said...

Yup, Zenni is cool. Happy with my three pairs (for me and my girls). But I want polarized lenses for sunglasses, and can't find any cheap stores that offer this. Any ideas?

 
At December 8, 2006 at 7:01 PM Vic said...

Dammit. I ordered a pair of $614 glasses just last week from Lenscrafters. The frames were Rayban, $149.95 and the high index plastic lenses were about $450 including the anti-glare coating and all that crap. When I called my dad to tell how how much the damn things cost, he took the liberty of informing me that my glasses could feed a 100 kids in Sudan for a couple months.

Thankfully:
1. I paid using Lenscrafter financing, not cash.
2. I have a 30 day return/exchange.

I'm going to follow your suggestion(s). I'll let you know how that goes.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 7:09 PM Anonymous said...

I've always been frustrated with eyeglasses shops- None of them would ever attempt to repair or tune-up any frames I had purchased from another shop. After moving around the country and never being able to get my glasses fixed, I began to suspect a nationwide antitrust issue. This is proof.
For instance, I can go anywhere to get my car fixed, anywhere to get my teeth worked on, etc... but ONLY the shop where I purchased the frames would be capable of adjusting my frames??? Unacceptable.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 7:39 PM Anonymous said...

i got glasses from zenni a year or so back.. they were ok, broke quick [a meaningless point since i am very hard on glasses], and didn't fit well because measuring mysterious points on my own face with a tape measure apparently is not my strong point.

but they were CHEAP! [total ~$30 if memory serves] if this measurement problem can be solved i would get more immediately.

eric

 
At December 8, 2006 at 7:39 PM Janice in GA said...

Re the optician's comments: the last pair of glasses that I bought from a local, independent optometrist had to be sent back to the lab twice because they'd hosed up the lenses. I wear lineless bifocals. The second time the lab had apparently ground both lenses to be like the right lens. IOW, I could see fine if I only looked down and to the left all the time for close-up. {rolls eyes} I don't know what they did the first time, but I couldn't see through the lenses at ALL. They wanted me to go home and wear them for a week. As if. I've worn glasses for 40+ years, and I know the difference between the new lens distortion thing and something that's totally screwed up.

They did fix it, finally, but it took a month and lots of aggravation. Online stores couldn't do any worse, and wouldn't have cost as much, I bet.

Thanks for the info.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 8:48 PM John said...

Thanks for this article. Consumers really have to know when they're getting gouged like this. 1000% markup is outrageous. I'd always wondered why a couple of lenses and a piece of wire cost so much! Cheers.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 9:18 PM John said...

I also try to shop locally, but as you say, there's a difference between paying a little extra and getting screwed. I recently needed some sport goggles; my optician wanted $200, I bought them online for $40. Same exact thing. The prescription insert was $50 instead of $200.

For $90 instead of $400, I can buy my own ultrasonic cleaner and a pair of pliers and some replacement parts and still go out to a nice dinner.

And these were kind of a specialty item. With normal glasses the difference is even greater.

I saw the same thing when shopping for a TV. I'd be willing to pay even 20 or 30% more to buy from a small shop, but the small shop price was DOUBLE ($460 instead of $229) for the same model. I'd have paid $300, but not double.

 
At December 8, 2006 at 9:33 PM Anonymous said...

I have a scar in my right eye as a result of playing with a cheap blacklight bulb when I was nine years old, in 1973.

My right eye is very far-sighted, and I can't use a contact lens in it because the lens is deformed by the scar.

In 1999, after years and years of monovision I worked with my local eye doctor to figure out that, eureka, I could wear a contact in my other eye to make my eyes equally far-sighted, then correct them equally with glasses. For the first time in the many years after my right eye grew farsighted after the accident, I was able to have depth perception, to see in stereo. It made me weep with joy. I wear one contact and glasses, gladly.

I consult my eye doctor annually to tweak my prescriptions so that my vision remains optimal.

Please explain to me why I should work toward putting helpful professionals out of business and thus out of reach for solving peoples' problems, by pimping myself by just going after the cheapest price.

-Rod
Fort Wayne, IN

 
At December 9, 2006 at 12:53 AM Anonymous said...

How do you really know what material your glasses are made of? Did you get a certificate with them? How did you go about deciding on your glasses b/c to me they are way too big for your face? Guess you should have gone to a real optical to get fitted for them b/c frankly you just wasted your money on something that does not fit. It is like buying 5 sizes too big in a shirt or pants. Is that really what you want? I guess for a backup pair it is great but for everyday, a waste of time and money!

 
At December 9, 2006 at 12:57 AM Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be putting them "out of business." They're doctors and everyone will still need their services for all issues of eye health. That's what they went to med school for.

In my opinion, doctors shouldn't be involved in the business of selling their patients high-end consumer goods such as glasses frames in the first place. Conflict of interest.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 1:00 AM Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between your situation and what is being discussed. I doubt these online retailers are going to take your doctor's money. Next thing you are going to tell us how your local phys. is losing business because woot is offering an MRI for $150, ok $155 including shipping. Yours is an interesting story, but don't get your knickers in a twist.

I actually need glasses but have a certain amount that insurance will pay for, so I may get some overpriced fancy pants glasses from them. But then I will find myself some good sunglasses I can wear riding my motorbike. These carbon fibre and titanium jobbies I wear are super flexible and hard to get on in a full face helmet and heavy gusts of wind whip them off waaaay too easy. I haven't gotten sunglasses with a script because I can't afford 2 pairs of glasses and my glasses rarely last me more then a year. I am eager to try this out!

 
At December 9, 2006 at 1:28 AM Anonymous said...

Just think, if you'd spent all that time time working instead of "researching", you could have afforded a decent pair.

Just kidding, well not really...

 
At December 9, 2006 at 4:07 AM Peter Antal said...

Incredible - this markup scheme seems about on a par with electronics extended warranties- the cost-risk tradeoff of the expensive "safe" option isn't even in the ballpark of being rational. Fortunately for the stores, most of us are still ignorant of the alternatives.

Buying glasses is one of those irregular, infrequent things I probably could apply more due diligence with, but haven't due to health coverage. I'll definitely be checking this alternative out next time I'm buying glasses.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 6:35 AM Sid Simpson said...

I am a teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired and I cannot thank you enough for providing this information. Kids are really rough on glasses. It is not unheard of for my students to go through 8 pairs of glasses per school year. Lucky students have access to health care and community agencies that will replace damaged or lost glasses perhaps 2 times per year. Then, families are on their own. And for some families, that means their children go without corrective lenses for months at a time. Having a more affordable replacement option is going to make such a difference for my students!

An internet transaction like purchasing lenses can never replace an examination from a trained medical professional. But, once that professional has given out a corrective perscription, there is no reason why an online vender cannot be used to provide emergency replacement or back-up lenses.

Again, thanks for sharing this. I had no idea this was out there.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 9:02 AM AKJ said...

A few questions for those purchasing Rx glasses online: 1. How do you determine the proper frame size for your face? How do you determine the proper length of the earpieces? 2. What measurement do you use for the P.D. (the pupillary distance) that will decide where the optical center of the lenses will be placed? 3. If you're never going back to buying glasses in person, who will measure you for the heights necessary for the grinding of your bifocal or multifocal lenses, as we all develop presbyopia (far-sightedness) in our 40's. Just wondering...

 
At December 9, 2006 at 9:34 AM John said...

I imagine optometrists have been onto this for a while, or at least I suspect that's the reason the last couple I've used were really reluctant to let me have the prescription for my eyes, one even citing some bogus reason I should not have it, which I can't recall now. Thanks for posting (and reposting) this. I'm a broke-ass grad student, and I'll be needing glasses soon, as I'm always breaking mine because I'm a physically active person.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 10:37 AM Anonymous said...

Anyone from the UK with experience?

The last time I visited Specsavers, they were reluctant to let me even see the perscription details. I expect that if I visit for a check-up (long overdue:-) I''ll be hard sold to ordering glasses from them, or leave with nothing.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 11:12 AM jesse said...

It's about time you started a blog, and it's about time I commented!

 
At December 9, 2006 at 11:14 AM jesse said...

Sorry about he last comment; I used my automatic form filler and didn't realize it filled in a the actual comment i had for a previous blog...

I have the exact same question ajk has; how do you determine the measurements? could I send an old pair of glasses? or are the measurements on the prescriptions?

 
At December 9, 2006 at 11:36 AM Leon said...

I live in Singapore, and opthalmologists are pretty rare. Most people here simply go to an optician who'll determine your degree and sell you frames and lenses. These people are not trained eye professionals and I've had many problems with them. The prices they charge are revoltingly high.

Those sites you mentioned -- do they do international orders?

 
At December 9, 2006 at 11:53 AM Anonymous said...

This is SOOOO excellent! I'm on a fairly limited income, and getting new glasses can really hurt financially. My last pair cost me just over $300 at LensCrafters, and that DIDN'T include frames! (I had brought my own.) Yeah, you walk out with them in less than an hour, and that's the service I needed at that particular moment, but SERIOUSLY, people! Absurd!
Can't wait to try these guys out online. Yaay!

 
At December 9, 2006 at 12:12 PM Jim said...

Not sure if anyone still reads this but here goes:

There are many factors going into the price of a frame, lens, and the coatings. Some of it is due to the fact that an eyeglass purchase has been traditionally tied to an exam. So, free exam (or $20, or $40) and they expect to get the glasses sale (where the profit is). If this actually develops into a trend do you all think optometrists/ophthalmologists will still charge $40 or under for an exam, or will it be closer to the $130 or so that medicare recognizes/reimburses as a discount exam fee?

Also built into the price of the frame is a warranty in many cases, so you are actually paying for part of another frame if it decides to break. Now, some places still charge high prices and have an add on warranty to make more money.

AR does not equal AR. There is a world of difference between a high quality AR and a garbage AR. If you don't pay much for it, or its thrown in, its probably garbage. What good is AR if it scratches the lenses up and makes them unusable within 90 days. Oops, warranty is only 30 days... High Quality AR has a one or even two year warranty, can be easily cleaned, etc..

Now, how do we figure out what is good and what is bad? This is where training comes in. Find someone you can trust. Realize it is ok to make a profit on something, thats how business works. Most people would be amazed that walmart/lenscrafters opticals have much higher markups than independent private doctors' offices. Most people would be amazed at markup in retail in general. I think the smart doctors are changing their ways, but the reatily is that walmart is associated with low price and people will always think of them first. Harder to compete with multimillion dollar advertising campaigns.

Also, there are so many different PAL (progressive addition lenses) that even eye care professionals can get confused at times. If you see a $30 set of PALs, they arent' the newest designs but rather something that didnt' sell well in the 90s, or 80s, because it was crap and no one bought it. So they sell it now at an online store and people think its great because its so cheap.

Most problems I see in my clinic are from patients that have poorly fitting lenses. Its not that the prescription is wrong, but rather the fit of them on the patients face. Probably the worst thing a patient/consumer can do is buy something online and then go into and optical and expect the optician/optometrist/ophthalmologist to fix the problem (usually its expected for free, no less!). I know of a lot of opticians that will not do any service of any kind on outside prescriptions because of this. Too much hassle, and people will not pay for professional advice or service (its always been wrapped up into the sale of frames... perhaps this will change someday but I doubt it)

Try and think how much you pay for coffee each year, or how much you pay for haircuts, or whatever that isn't really as important as being able to see the world.

I am myself a very frugal shopper, but I think the quality and reliability has to be there as well. I do agree that some places over charge for what you get, but thats why I repeat, go to someone you can trust or that a friend recommends. There are many great professionals out there.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 12:30 PM Anonymous said...

It is illegal to sell eyeglasses in the US that do not block UV light, however if your order from out of the country, who knows if this is done properly?

I would be really interested to know if the lenses truly have UV protection in the coating. Can you take your discount lenses from out of the US to your optomitrist to test the UV blocking?

Aside from that, if the prescription is correct, go for it!

 
At December 9, 2006 at 1:19 PM Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if these guys ship to Canada? I'm sick of paying crazy amounts for eyeglasses.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 2:03 PM Supercookie said...

A few months ago, I got new glasses from a store called Hans Anders. They have quite a number of shops in Belgium and the Netherlands and are cheap as hell. My new glasses cost me 100 euro and I don't see any quality difference with my last pair, wich cost about 400 euro.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 2:05 PM Chris said...

I needed some cheap around the house glasses so I could take off my contacts and still read or watch a movie. Unfortunately the Cheap part had to be real Cheap!!

I asked my sister who works at a walmart vision center (she triple majored in physics, chemistry, and general sciences but is a woman so walmart vision is all she could find) about getting cheap glasses. She said to order safety glasses. Normal glasses are frames plus 160 for basic lenses. Safety glasses are frames which start at $9 plus $7 a lense. The frames come with groovy side shields which you can snap off and snap on for safety. The lenses are not cheap plastic that can scratch but are poly carb and ansi rated. My glasses took about a week to show up and I have barely used my contacts since.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 2:06 PM Anonymous said...

I'm going to try one of the low-cost online sources because of my experiences with the retail establishments.

One place, a Lenscrafters branch, examined me, gave me presecription, then took a month and a half to give me glasses that put me in the hospital. Yes, that is correct, the hospital. I have a VERY odd prescription, part of which corrects some natural double vision, and if it is botched, will cause me no end of discomfort.

Add to it the fact that I was trying no-line bifocals for the first time, and a screwed-up script was a nightmare. They messed up the first set of lenses completely and had to redo them, which is why it took six weeks to make them in the first place. Then, after a week of wearing them, I got such a blinding headache, I had to be taken to the hospital by paramedics, where two IM shots of different painkillers barely touched the pain.

No, I'm not regularly plagued by migraines. The only new factor was the glasses.

I didn't go back to that store. All I envisioned (no pun intended) was more hassle, more time, and more pain. So I went someplace else, recommended by my partner.

A new refraction showed a much different prescription. The glasses took only a week to make. I am using them now, after 2 months, and still no killer headaches.

But the first set cost me $500. And the second set cost me $650...and that reused the frames from the first set!

That's a mortgage payment, both taken together.

I didn't mind paying the good doctor for his good prescription. I object to paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for my lenses!

If I can find a place that will make reasonable lenses from my script for a low cost, I don't care if I have to have them remade more often...I'll order three pairs at once, and still come out ahead.

And I'll STILL go to the same eye doctor for the script. HE wins, I win, the only person who doesn't win is the guy gouging me for two pieces of ground plastic and some fancy knotted wire.

 
At December 9, 2006 at 2:16 PM Anonymous said...

It's never been a surprise to me that eye doctors give you a healthy ream out the...nose...to get at your wallet. And since I live in the poverty class, new glasses and contacts are a luxury for me, even though I'm extremely nearsighted and can barely see anything further than an inch in front of my face without glasses. I've gone months at a time barely able to see. Right now, I've had one disposable contact in the same eye for over six months because I can't afford new ones. I'm virtually blind in the other eye, because that contact fell out and got lost. I can't afford new ones because, while I could plunk down the money for a box of contacts, I can't afford the exam, because in their greed, optometrists have made it illegal to sell contacts without a renewed prescription.

If any optometrists are put out of business by these sites, it's their own fault, for jacking up prices and milking their cash cow to the point where they're essentially blackmailing peoples' sight from them. This is not a case of innocent people being put out of business by evil undercutters, this is a case of people who have long been squeezing every bit of money out of their customers they can get being challenged by people who are willing to do it less.

But in the end, we still need the optometrists. We aren't putting them out of business. By using these sites, we'll just be forcing them to lower their prices, so maybe they'll have to buy a $20,000 car next year instead of a $60,000 car. I have a hard time feeling guilty about that.

Thanks for bringing these sites to my attention!

 
At December 9, 2006 at 6:17 PM Ron said...

Great resource. Thank you!

All I need are readers but it's hard to find a good assortment of styles at a good price.

To you have any pointers for this or can you tell us how to translate +1 as seen on readers to the number we need for the prescription form?

 
At December 10, 2006 at 7:38 AM Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be putting them "out of business." They're doctors and everyone will still need their services for all issues of eye health. That's what they went to med school for.

In my opinion, doctors shouldn't be involved in the business of selling their patients high-end consumer goods such as glasses frames in the first place. Conflict of interest.

-----------

How confused. Doctors do not make all their money through services, seeing patients, when they run a practice they preview and decide to sell medically-related products as well. My dentist, for instance, used to sell a particular mouthwash but when a new commercial product was released with the right chemicals, he quit selling that product. This "Conflict of interest" you state is nothing more than a grocery store also selling knives and pots.

 
At December 10, 2006 at 7:40 AM Anonymous said...

I asked my sister who works at a walmart vision center (she triple majored in physics, chemistry, and general sciences but is a woman so walmart vision is all she could find)

---------

This doesn't make any sense! My wife teaches chemistry for med school and runs a testing lab on the side. If your sister has a triple PhD she can write her own ticket to do anything. Something's fishy here.

 
At December 10, 2006 at 8:13 PM Anonymous said...

I would think that it would be nearly impossible to make a spectacle frame that would be worth more than 30-40 dollars. I had a pair of cheap sunglasses I bought for $10 at a service station and they served me well until they had an accident (metal frames, bent to hell) Anyhoo, I was working for a company that had some prizes to give away to clients and among these were some "Ralph Lauren" sunglasses. The nice promotions lady gave me a pair after I fixed her computer. I wore them home and when i got back i thought 'you know, these look a LOT like my other ones" I compared them and apart from the colour and the "Ralph Lauren" stamped on the side, they were identical! I have NEVER bought name brand sunglasses since.

 
At December 10, 2006 at 10:20 PM Anonymous said...

Wow, I am an optician and can't tell you how alarming ths is. In the US we are held o standrds that dictate we are not allowed to be off by so much. The induced prism whichis how off the rays of light that enter your eye are allowed to be and still dispense them to a patient is 0.66 D this might not mean much to any of you, but in a pair of -4.00D prescription this error can be no more than 0.66D which means that I ca't make your glasses with the measure of the distance of your eyes being further than 1.6 mm. These tolerances are their for the safety of the public. Some states require licensed professioals to dispense eyewear. Those companies are selling snake oil. They ask for the distance between the eyes and give you hokey ways of obtaining these measures. If yu really want cheap go to your neighborhood optician and explain to them that you will purchase your eyewear and don't expect any service from them or repairs or measurements or warrantys or anything. Just a wham bam thank you mam pair of glasses and you will be suprised how cheap a nice pair of glasses are. Will you pay markup yes, its called a business for a reason. I work in a store with an on site lab and guess what the expensive equipment that is used to fabricate your glasses costs money and the store isn't going to chalk it up as a loss. You pay for the equipment. People come in all the time wondering why they have to pay so much then ask can I have them ready before they finish lunch across the street. For the person who said they wound up in the hospitol frm the glasses, yeah take that one to court and the judge will laugh at you as the expert testimonials tear your theory to shreads. As an optician I encourage any one who wants to purchase their glasses to go online and purchase them, but certain measurements are not part of an eye exam and don't expect or try to get a local optician to get these measurements for you for free and don't shop in their shops and write down the numbers on the frames to take to your online dealers, because these are the same reasons why you are paying for the high prices in these stores. The frames are not free and if you notice they stock a wide assortment for you to choose from. This investment gives you etter service and better selcetion. Come see me when you are done getting welfare glasses. I hate to rain on your parade but going to starbucks is for suckers as well.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 1:07 AM Anonymous said...

In Thailand many opticians have "FREE EYE-TEST" signs and offer small sit-down machines that do computerized eye-tests at the entrance to their shops. The test takes a few seconds for each eye as you bring an images into focus and then you get a computer readout of your prescription! I later had my eyes tested again at another bigger optician. I was lead to a back room and they did the same computerized test - no flicking back and forth of lenses "Is this better or this". "Can you read the next line." After I picked a frame, they did the various head measurements. Spent around 500 dollars for frame and lens.

I'm sure these free computerized tests will become more widespread. Eventually you could have little booths that test your eyes, scan your head and take all the head measurements. You then browse an interactive store for frames and lenses with the frames appearing on a computer image of your head.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 4:43 AM Thebes said...

I worked for 2 years as a one-hour lab optician. The very same lenses that company sold for $119 (what a deal!) cost them $4 a pair. Anyone here complaining that the "materials" might not be up to spec has no clue. The frames that shop got $209 for (this is over a decade ago), those cost about 30 or 40 bucks. There is no point in trying to make fake lenses etc...

Oh, and the amount of skill in making single vision glasses is something that could be taught in a weekend. It took me 7 minutes a pair, assuming no tint, roll-job, etc. That was on the crappiest equiptment the chain had in the metro area. With good equiptment it would have been about three minutes. I could probably have trained a monkey to make single visions... so long as its a non-licensed state.

One Hour optical places are a bloody rip-off.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 10:00 AM Anonymous said...

For those of you commenting on one hour service being a ripoff.... Do you realize that having an onsite lab is an incredibly inefficient way of manufacturing glasses? Properly staffed and supplied, the same equipment could crank out easily 10x the volume that the retail store could sell. You are paying for the equipment, people trained to use and maintain it, and for their downtime, when no one is in the store. If you don't need it the same or next day, go someplace else. You will save some money.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 10:56 AM Anonymous said...

In response to Rod from IN,

Optometrists and Opthamologists are eye doctors and good ones aren't usually in the business of selling glasses in a retail location. I love my optometrist, and he freely gives me my prescription to shop at at store/online location I wish, even though I can order it through his office, because his primary business is my vision health, not retail.

Opticians and gouging retail optometrists can go out of business, and the sooner they do, the better. They're primary source of income is retail because they do not possess the medical ability to retain a patient base that comes back for their professional services as eye specialists.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 10:59 AM Barb said...

Over 25 years ago my opthamologist (they doctor that checkes your eyes) said glasses frames were a rip-off as most places bought them wholesale for 25 cents a piece. Ever since then I have been suspicious of the $100-$400 frames. With a $250-every-two-years extended health policy for prescription eyewear I quickly found that would barely cover one pair at retail prices. So for the past several years I have been using online sellers and have turned myself into the Imelda Marcos of eyeglasses. I bought over 10 pairs in the past 18 months and still have room for more in my health policy. Never had bad service or wrong prescrption -- not even a bad fit! I've used several stores through eBay located in Tokyo, Hong Kong, England, USA, etc. Plus it's fun to see what arrives in the mail!

 
At December 11, 2006 at 1:27 PM John said...

People are correct, for whatever reason, optometrists have moved towards the "cheap exam, expensive glasses" model. I think it's because professional services are badly undervalued (at least in the US) and people don't want to pay $100 for a 30 minute session.

If I planned on doing this, I'd tell the doctor up front "I'm just here for an exam; I will want my prescription when we're done. I'll look at your offerings, but I'll also be shopping around elsewhere.

It's not fair to the doctor to go in and take the $20 exam with no intention of letting them make up the difference by selling you the glasses. But it's not fair to me to charge me $20 for a $100 exam, then $600 for a $200 pair of glasses. The ones on my face right now cost me about $600. They're not cheap glasses; flexon frames, high index lenses, AR and Crizal antiscratch (that crud really works; these are 4 years old and hardly a scratch yet, and I'm usually hard on lenses). But they sure shouldn't cost $600.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 3:15 PM Anonymous said...

Just a suggestion to add to your list of shops, myopticalshop.com

My husband got a fantastic pair of rimless hingeless glasses for $50.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 3:36 PM Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I'm probably going to pick up a pair. I was just at an EYEMASTERS and got a new prescription. I normally wear contacts, but do like to have a pair or two as spare. When I asked for the glasses prescription, they kind of gave me a hassle, and actually had me sign a release of sorts to get it in my hands. (And this was after I paid $450 for the visit and a yr supply of contact lenses.

 
At December 11, 2006 at 7:57 PM Anonymous said...

If you have a problem with your doctor being reluctant to give you a copy of your perscription, tell him/her you are going traveling and you need to bring a copy of your perscription in case of an emergency. No one wants to find themselves overseas (or even in a different city) with a pair of broken glasses. Keeping a copy of your vision perscription with you is just plain sensible and I can't see why a doctor wouldn't understand that.

 
At December 12, 2006 at 1:59 PM Nitin said...

Thanks for this great post. I didn't knew you could order prescription glasses online. I thought it was only for frames. Anyways, lotta money to be saved here..

 
At December 13, 2006 at 12:40 PM Dan said...

Fantastic information!
What did you do to get them fitted?

Even when the glasses are first made, I have to get them fitted so they dont chafe the back of my ears, or sit strange on my nose.

 
At December 16, 2006 at 6:10 PM Anonymous said...

I worked in a vision store. The markup that the original poster mentioned is real. 500 to 1000 % is common, and they dont get stuck with glasses that dont sell in most cases when they dont move they go back to the Mfg.

Eyeglass frames have been a rip off for years because you didnt have a choice on where to get them. I know the influx of on-line retailers has some of these places very concerned. Te place I used to work for had a 20 percent drop in purchases and did follow up surveys with people and found......yep they were buying on-line.

I am lucky enoough that my former employer will let me get glasses and lenses for cost + 10 %. As a gift I recently bought my grandmas her first pair of designer frames.

The eye exam , frames, lenses had a retail cost of over 500.00 I paid 80.00 for them and they still made 10 %. The glasses broke (screws falling out) about 4 times before I took them to a different place who fixed them with a little lock tite.

 
At December 17, 2006 at 1:36 PM orange said...

instead of paying over $1000 to have two pieces of equipment shipped to my new office, I drove several hours to pick it up. There was a guy in the storage facility that was rude, made me wait 25 minutes while he sat at his desk and did nothing, etc. Finally, he took me to where the equipment was, spent about 2 minutes helping me load it onto the van and charged me $55 to do it.

POINT: there are many, many reasons why eye wear costs so much. Eye doctors and opticians have to deal with a lot of things that perhaps "should" cost little but end up costing a lot.

Those $3 lenses take a huge amount of equipment to work correctly. If there is a problem, do the stores charge you more to fix it?? Its part of the cost.

I'm sure its part of the online business plan that even if they do offer returns, it would be so low because customers would be likely to not deal with it. Or worse yet, customers would be walking around with incorrectly made lenses.

 
At December 19, 2006 at 5:43 PM Anonymous said...

I thought I had the best deal ever when I found 39dollarglasses.com. I would tell my family members and my co-workers. And now I find out about other on-line sites that are even cheaper. Ahhh! I money I could have saved! Some of the cheaper priced glasses looks pretty darn good, too. I'm happy with what I have, but I would have loved to save more money and buy more glasses with them. I just bought 3 pairs. (frown)

Now if only I can find a place that sells super cheap contacts!!

Any one who has trouble with obtaining their eyeglass/contact prescription...ask your eye doctor if this is something they will do for you. If they tell you that they can't or won't, just find yourself another eye doctor. Most are pretty cool and should have no problem dispensing your prescription.

 
At December 20, 2006 at 1:33 PM Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried VALUEGLASSES.COM They have the nicest 2 and 3 color plastic frames out there and cheeeeeap! But of course, a couple BBB complaints. Should I try em anyways?

 
At December 21, 2006 at 1:40 PM Dread Pirate Robert said...

Last year I did the same thing -- I was looking for Silhouettes (funnily enough) and I found a place in the UK called Spex4Less.co.uk that's run by a real optician with a store and office, so he sounded credible.

I bought a pair of rimless glasses for about $120 (one of their most expensive pairs) and when I made a mistake in filling out the prescription, they actually PHONED me to confirm it and we fixed it!

Anyway, I liked my glasses, and would use them again, but since you've found better places here in North America, I'm excited to try them out too.

Thanks for the great post and congratulations on your new glasses!

 
At December 23, 2006 at 2:39 PM Numpty McHoon said...

Today (12/23, ordered on 12/13 after 8pm) received my order of rimless SV eyeglasses from Zenni and they actually look pretty good.

I was going to leave a post earlier and then follow it up after receiving the shipment notification email, only to be surprised when they arrived today in the mail.

One initial criticism, and not so much toward Zenni as it is USPS. The tracking number given, when pasted into the USPS tracker, still states "We've been notified of a pickup" and here they are sitting on my face. Ah well, the US post office, 'nuff said.

The glasses were shipped in a white bubble pack plastic envelope. The case holding the glasses was a cheap translucent (but stylish!) plastic with a faux-neoprene lining on one side. The glasses wer wrapped in a soft cleaning cloth.

Inspecting the eyeglasses, the first thing that stood out was how light and stylin' they appear. Looking closer, the screws that hold the frames together are fastened by two nuts, one a really HUGE castle nut, protruding inward approx. 5mm from the lens. It doesn't stick far enough to touch my skin or cause any malfnuction, it's just noticeable against the mostly opaque glasses. When someone looks at me, because the glasses and frames are clear and have the appearance of being invisible, the nuts must stand out to the person you are conversing with as piercings.

I'm not complaining, mined ewe.

So far, a good experince. If anything happens in the next six months that appear to be a quality issue, I'll report back. But I'm quite pleased with the price ($35 shipped), and have no problem with the low service levels other posts have mentioned. If there were a problem, rather than figt it, I was quite willing to eat the sum and regard it as an education expense.

Am I pleased? Yes. I'm going to order another pair, for the wife.

Also a big thanks to all the folks who comment in this blog, and especially to the founders/creators. The writing is on the cyberwall, and while the web has made many things redundant, it looks like places like Lenscrafters, Linden, et al have outlived their usefullness (at least as far as simple orders like mine go- it's unknown atm how well an order for tri-focals might go); yet they still carry on, overcharging and misleading customers (IMHO, of course) who haven't caught on/up.

Merry f'in xmas everbody!

 
At December 27, 2006 at 11:07 AM Anonymous said...

Forgive me if this has already been covered, but is there any online frame retailer that has a great return policy, so that I could order and try on a bunch of frames and return the ones I don't want? (Like the online shoe store, Zeppo's.) I'm not really looking for an online service to fill the prescription, just searching desperately for a nice pair of frames.

 
At December 31, 2006 at 12:51 PM Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this blog - I have been researhing low cost eyeglasses this past week and wanted to order from Zenni but was still a little unsure but after just paying $200.00 for a new pair of glasses at my eye doctor's office this week just to get single vision lens with AR and a slight tint and I even used the frames I had purchased from him last year - I knew I had to find a cheaper way to get a second pair - I have now found my way. Thank you very much.

 
At January 12, 2007 at 8:40 PM plong said...

I just received my glasses today, and I like 'em. I describe my experience here.

 
At February 1, 2007 at 1:19 AM Dmitry said...

I have to give Zenni Optical a positive rating. I placed an order after seeing this site and after about two weeks I got my glasses. They are quite nice, the lenses are a bit too big but that is my fault because I did not look at the measurements. I still like how they look and honestly for the amount of money I saved I have no reason to complain. Saved myself about $180. The glasses came in a clear case with cloth like other people's. I got it with a titanium memory frame and it is awesome. I have nothing but good things to say about them.

 
At February 9, 2007 at 3:35 PM scall0way said...

This is so incredible. Because of other issues I see a regular opthamologist these days for eye exams. Pretty good as she just writes out my prescription on a prescription pad and hands it to me. No hassle. She's a medical professional, not an eyeglass pusher.

But the last few years I've gotten progressive lenses, and a tint, and other things like that, and even buying the cheapest lenses my former optometrist offered (which was about $99 for the no-name lenses) it was still costing me $500+! So I would only have a single pair of glasses in the right prescription at any one time. For that price who can afford more? I would constantly live in fear of losing them or breaking them.

But at these prices I can easily buy several pairs. Even after paying the extra for progressive lenses. I just ordered a pair from Zenni several days ago. The only measurement they needed which I did not have was the 'P.D' or pupilary distance. Rather than take a chance on measuring my own eyes or even having a friend do it I got the information from my former optometrist's office.

So we'll see how it goes. The lenses I picked out came with magnetic attachable sunglasses included. I paid extra for:
- progressive lenses ($39)
- extra magnetic sunglass attach ($5.95)
- a light tint ($4.95)
- A/R ($.95)

So everything including shipping came to $89. I'll have to wait a few weeks and don't have them yet, but I'm excited to see what I get at these prices. That $500 can easily be used elsewhere .:-)

 
At February 27, 2007 at 4:59 PM Anonymous said...

Hello there :-)

I love your blog, very useful and funny, especially what the optician said...LOL
I just received a pair of eyeglasses today from Goggles4u, I'm amazed ! Very nice frame (rimless), the lens and the prescription are perfect, with a ugly fluo pink case in bonus...hey hey ! It took 18 days from Pakistan to Canada. I would recommend to anybody and I'll probably buy again. Now, I just ordered a pair from Zennioptical...just to test ;-)

 
At March 15, 2007 at 1:10 PM Anonymous said...

My wife and I just received our 4th pair of eyeglasses from Zenni Optical. Two progressives, One bi-focal and One single vision. Two were rimless and the last two are half-rims. These latest half-rims are perfect. The progressive lenses are better than the SOLA XL's I got from a national chain thru my vision plan which cost $275. Zenni's were $56 total with AR coating, the retailer wanted $50 just for the coating. Try them and save a bundle. Highly recommended.

 
At March 19, 2007 at 9:14 AM MagnoliaSouth said...

Thank you SO much for your post here. It was just what I was looking for. I was looking at Lenscrafters and was mortified at their prices. I'm willing to wait a couple of weeks to save several hundred dollars.

In fact, every pair of glasses I've ever gotten have never fit me. I mean NEVER. They're always too tight on the sides. I don't have a big head or anything, but they just don't fit right. Any ideas on how to measure myself?

I don't trust opticians or in-store frame sellers because of their past track record.

 
At March 22, 2007 at 12:57 AM Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any advice on how
to deal with an optical store that
has taken my deposit but doesn't
have nice frames in stock? They
did at the time I left the deposit,
but when I returned to pick out
frames, they sold the attractive ones. The staff seem annoyed that I don't like any of the remaining frames currently in stock and are pushing me to make a selection from ones I don't like. I asked for a refund but was told "no" because the lenses are specially ordered.

 
At March 27, 2007 at 11:57 AM Anonymous said...

all right! that's it! i've had enough!

i called my son's optometrist's office to get the old Rx for his soon-to-be-donated pair of eyeglasses, mainly because of his astigmatism. reply: NO, due to HIPAA. i'm speechless.

fine and finis.

choqokat

 
At March 29, 2007 at 9:27 PM zach said...

choqokat: ...i called my son's optometrist's office to get the old Rx for his soon-to-be-donated pair of eyeglasses, mainly because of his astigmatism. reply: NO, due to HIPAA.

There is no such HIPAA requirement. They are LEGALLY required to give you your prescription. Google "Prescription Release Rule".

 
At April 8, 2007 at 11:55 AM Anonymous said...

I just received my first Internet glasses, a pair of rimless bifocals from Zenni. The cost, $43.85 out the door. Optically, I can't detect any difference from my free (Medicare covers the first pair after cataract surgery)glasses bought from a chain operation in our local mall. They are very light weight and comfortable. Fit is also very good and easily adjusted. This worked so well, I have ordered from them again, bifocal sunglasses this time. Reason for bifocals after surgery with implants: Distance vision was OK without correction, but a minimal correction was still advised and near vision required a modest correction for reading.

 
At April 9, 2007 at 5:16 PM Anonymous said...

Ordered a pair from zennoptical - A narrow retro half-rim frame with spring hinges and matching polarized magnetic snap-on sunlens for $34.50 (including shipping). Very light and comfortable. No other adjustments needed. It's good to go! Best deal ever!

 
At April 16, 2007 at 12:22 PM Anonymous said...

Thanks to this blog I'm about to order my first pair of online glasses! Probably from Zenni.

I noticed a few people asked about contact lenses. For non-toric contact lens prescription,
http://www.daylens.com
looks pretty good for daily disposable contacts ($9 for 32 contact lenses).

The UK portion of the website provides the technical specs on the contacts (US versions are the 58% water, etc. according to email response I got from them).

If there are other ultra low cost contact lens websites, please post!

 
At April 17, 2007 at 8:03 AM Anonymous said...

I was shocked at the cost of new eyeglasses, having just moved into the need for multi-vision eyeglasses. Previously, I had paid ~$100 per pair. Diligent shopping at chains, and independant optometrists had prepared me to spend ~$400 - $500.

I was disappointed about the selection of frames both from a style (too trendy, smallish rectangular variations or grandpa styles) and flimsiness (fragility). - I actually did bite the bullit and bought $495 eyeglasses that were acceptable: these broke while the optometrist was making minor fit adjustments. After getting a full refund, I figured there must be a better source.

Although, sceptical about the quality of frames and lenses offered online; I figured I had nothing to lose except about $75.

I just received my order from ZenniOptical and I COULDN'T BE MORE PLEASED: total cost for sturdy rimless progressive eyeglasses with polished edges, AR coating, & antiscratch coating was $78.00.

EYEGLASS STORES TRULY ARE FOR SUCKERS!!

 
At April 17, 2007 at 8:21 AM Frugal-not-cheap said...

Are you related to Clark Howard?
THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! I've saved HUNDREDS OF $$s - No exaggeration.

Don't be misled by thinking you need to by from a bricks and mortar source. Vision insurance is a scam - despite what your HR plan states - your coverage is dictated by (minimal) allowances. I pay (soon to be past tense) a premium for what I thought was the best coverage having worn corrective lenses (both contact and eyeglasses) for 30 years. I found that through my "in-plan provider" I was still out of pocket $300.

Vision insurance is for suckers.

 
At April 30, 2007 at 3:11 PM Anonymous said...

A couple weeks ago I received my first pair of glasses ordered online. This is a BIG thing for me because I have a VERY high prescription (-11.25 Left and -9.50 Right). I have not worn glasses for three years since my doctor strongly encouraged me to wear contacts and helped me find contacts/cleaner that would suit someone like me who has year round allergies. I had tried contacts before but my allergies kept them from working for me. I figured out really quick that I could not afford both glasses and contacts so have been only wearing contacts for the last three years.
On with the story: I read and research all over the Internet about buying glasses online and found this blog along with great advice. I knew I would have to have high index lens (which cost at least $175 just for the lenses at B&M stores) and this was my biggest concern. Next biggest was measuring both PID and making sure I got the right size so as not to cause headaches.
I decided on Zenni Optical and bought a pair of glasses per my docs advice (high index lenses, narrow frames). The frames I choose were flashier than I would normally wear but since they are just for evening and emergency use only, it was okay. I paid $70.58 including shipping and waited.
I received the glasses within 2 weeks and was very impressed. The glasses were just as I expected. Never having worn very narrow frames before, I had some adjusting to do and not having worn glasses for 3 years added to that. But as far as the glasses themselves, they were spot on. I am tremendously pleased with them and have already begun spreading the word.
Two things that helped with my purchase: first, I went by WalMart to find out the price of their high index lenses. They were too expensive, but when I explained that I would be ordering online instead, the lady offered to measure my PID and helped me figure out the sizes I would need for a great fit! No guessing or worrying. The other thing was that my insurance now reimbursed up to $100 so I'll get all my money back plus part of my online contact order!

 
At May 17, 2007 at 9:56 PM Just another anonymous kook said...

Ira, read quite a bit of your site and have really found it helpful... Can you PLEASE tell me the product ID of the glasses you ordered from goggles4u in this post? I really like them and have found something similar on the site, but not sure if they are the same ones... Thanks!

Feel free to Email me at anonymous[dot]kook[at]gmail[dot]com.

Keep up the great work!!! You've certainly "sold" me!!

 
At May 22, 2007 at 2:37 PM Alexander Beckett, Henley-on-Thames, UK said...

I've been reading your comments with interest and a similar burst of cheap prescription glasses are now available in the UK. I just bought a pair of presccription glasses that came with a FREE pair of sunglasses for under £20 - or $40. www.fashionspecsdirect.co.uk seem to give the best customer service of the UK market leaders. They delivered my glasses direct to my door in under three days! Awesome!

 
At June 6, 2007 at 10:12 PM Anonymous said...

I am shocked as I have read your posts. I am a licensed optician in a licensed state. There is a markup on eyeglasses just as there is on jewelry, clothes, and virtually all retail goods. I personally LOVE designer clothes and I will pay more for them and I will always pay more for the best vision correction on the market since my eyes are something that I depend on every waking moment.
For the person that has had the disposable contact in their eye for 6 months - all I can say is WAY TO GO!! You are officially stupid. I am sure that you will make your eye doctor gasp at the neovascularization you possess at your next visit. That is if you make it that long without getting a nasty ulcer which you might want to hope doesn't turn into a scar that eliminates your vision all together. You deserve only the best!
You people amaze me. I am sure that many of you are paying for internet service, cutting edge technology on your computer, have cell phones, etc. BUT none of these things are as important as your vision - after all - without being able to see, someone will have to read my post to you!! I cannot believe that people are willing to gamble with something as important as their sight.
I laugh as I do read these post because one man brought his glasses to me that he purchased online. He needed them repaired - HA - guess the airplane ticket to HONG KONG to have them fixed where he ordered them from was too expensive! Needless to say I told him that he got them cheap because he didn't pay for customer service. If he would like to be one of my customers I would provide him with the SAME QUALITY service that my other customers received, otherwise he got just what he paid for.
I guess that I value my eyesight far too much than to order online and I am a trained professional. I know how to measure PD, OCHT, seg ht and I know what all of the items in an RX mean and there is no way I would order glasses online even though these sights are WAY cheaper than what I have to pay for glasses. I have seen far too many people wearing someone else's glasses, over the counter readers, etc when they did not need to and now there eyes are permanently messed up.
Just my two cents,
LDO

 
At June 19, 2007 at 4:42 PM Anonymous said...

Optician #1 says "Come see me when you are done getting welfare glasses. I hate to rain on your parade but going to starbucks is for suckers as well."

Well, first, thanks for the demeaning comment but hey us poor folks are just blessed that you would take time to dispense your, eh hem, professional advice. And the Starbucks comment, well, sounds like you are admitting anyone buying from you is a sucker, that pretty much sent me to the other side.

Then comes optician #2 with "I personally LOVE designer clothes and I will pay more for them" Personally I can't afford designer clothes and so, I am happy with affordable clothing. Same goes for glasses.

I had an exam today and then went to other side of the room to purchas the frames and lenses. It came down to a choice between thier cheapest pair and grocerys. I had to go with eating. So if all this forces you to buy a cheaper set of golf clubs... well... let's give it a try... nope sorry no tear.

 
At July 5, 2007 at 7:58 AM Anonymous said...

thank you for this site, i've been looking for a new pair of glasses (mine are 5 years old) and i've had no luck with finding decent pricing. I will look through the sites you recomended and give it a shot!

Also, the "back and forth" with you and the optition was great.... he/she was pretty mad!!!

 
At July 12, 2007 at 8:47 AM Anonymous said...

"""It is illegal to sell eyeglasses in the US that do not block UV light""""

Just wanted to inform you your posting is NOT CORRECT -
IN the USA - you must sell SUNGLASSES with UV Protection - and let me tell u 1 issue with these cheapo sun - is that they use SPRAY on UV treatment - they actually can wash off with in 30 days -

* USA should take standard of australia - in regards to UV protection - VERY Strict since it is so important -

Anyways - the statement is not true with CLEAR RX glasses - they do NOT HAVE TO HAVE UV400 protection - NOT AT ALL _
IF you decide to go with that cheaper plastic - CR39 - or =--- unless u order it that way - you WILL NOT HAVE the protection -
NOW polycarbonate and high index leses are somethign differant - it is inherant in the material - so no treatment is required -

 
At July 12, 2007 at 8:48 AM Anonymous said...

QUOTE FROM ANONYMOUS -"""I've always been frustrated with eyeglasses shops- None of them would ever attempt to repair or tune-up any frames I had purchased from another shop. After moving around the country and never being able to get my glasses fixed, I began to suspect a nationwide antitrust issue. This is proof.
For instance, I can go anywhere to get my car fixed, anywhere to get my teeth worked on, etc... but ONLY the shop where I purchased the frames would be capable of adjusting my frames??? Unacceptable. """"

***** I have some issue with this remark - since i to run a buiness - Lets look at your examples - above - ALL those places would charge you - ( and some pretty heavy ) - for their services - however when i worked in an optical - I would see pts come in TIME AFTER TIME - and say -
1- OH i didn't buy these here - i bought them from your competition down the rd - BUT THEY DON"T ADJUST FRAMES TO WELL "" --- SO THEREFORE WE SHOULD SAY _ oh - come here - and we will do it for you for free- ??

Some may say - oh just charge for the adjustment - well - that is really to much trouble

issue 2 - BELEIVE IT OR NOT EVEN NEW FRAMES BREAK - !! BRAND NEW ONES - SO a PT comes in and we do free adjustments - and they break - well let me tell you not all of them are very nice - and demand we replace them -and an FYI - U can nto always take out old lenses - and re-shae them into another pr - so now we are stuck giving them a frame ( since we can nto just find one of those cheap china frames ) - and also CUT NEW LENS- which even our cost for high end - ar - ( NOT THE JUNK ) run well over 10 bucks -
all this to service some that does not do buiness with us - FORGET IT _

and lastly - YOU get what you pay for - and hey if you are happy saving the $ - and not getting service from these on line folks- go ahead - i have no issues with that - but don't bitch and moan - when others can not take care of your issues -

** I LOVE TO SAVE $ ALSO _ don't get me wrong - and i have no issues with on line purchasing - but for me - I GO WHERE I LIKE THE FOLKS - and there professionalism - and THEY stand behind the products -
FOR ME SEVICE IS ALMOST EVERYTHING -

LASTLY - you must lok at the cost of retailers - vs online -- I pc of equipment runs easily 50,000 K - and these ar coaters over 75K to - 100K - and the staff alone - You are not comparing 1 store - with servie to on line - NO OPEN HOURS NEEDED - just a basment - and a computer - to a shop that you want to walk into and get a 5 dollar adjustment -
and lets say - u have a broken pr - and your rx is -10.00--- can u really wait 12 days for a new pr -NO - you need then next day or even in 1 hr -

just my thoughts on this

 
At July 12, 2007 at 10:24 AM Anonymous said...

`NEED TO FIX -

lost a zero -- it should be
run well over

100 bucks -

all this to service some that does not do buiness with us - FORGET IT

 
At July 15, 2007 at 11:20 AM thomas tew said...

This is great, I am tiered of paying 300 plus for glasses I don't like. Thank you for this forum

 
At July 25, 2007 at 1:19 PM Jeff said...

Hello,
This is my first post - to any site-ever, so be gentle!

Question. Regarding Progressive lenses, there are many types out there. Seiko, Varilux, etc. I had my glasses made at CostCo, and were a variation of Varilux. Should I be concerned by type of brand?

 
At July 27, 2007 at 11:49 AM Anonymous said...

For what it is worth to whomever is interested, I just received a pair of glasses with progressive lenses from SelectSpecs.com. Quality was very good. With the lenses, scatch resistant coating, anti-reflective, UV, frame and postage from England, price was only $74.00. It was my first experience with progressives and, sadly, after a month I still can't adapt to them. Love the frames, though, so I am sending them to eyeglass lens direct to have lined trifocals mounted. Cost will be about $65.00. After reading a number of reviews, investigating the websites myself and, now, having taken the plunge with ordering over the web I am conviced that this is the way to go. I will have my eyes checked every year or two by a professional but will no longer allow unreasonable profits to be made from my eyeglass purchases.
Steve

 
At July 27, 2007 at 5:15 PM Shoptech said...

Beware of the bargain frames on SelectSpecs.com. I bought a pair of advertised 'flexable titanium' -$83 (they show a picture of a hand giving an extreme bend to the bridge of the specs) and although I never even gave even a minor bend to mine, the bridge snapped within two weeks. They also took 3 weeks to arrive. After retuning the pair and talking to SelectSpecs they agreed to give me a fair amount of credit toward a different brand, but they also were flawed - very short temples which barely reach my ears. I bought another pair of truely flexable titanium from 39dollarglasses for $129 and am very pleased with them.

 
At August 13, 2007 at 3:43 PM WilliamK said...

Someone mentioned wanting cheap polarized sunglasses to go with their inexpensive regular glasses. Foster Grant makes polarized sunglasses that are around $20 per pair. I've seen polarized clip-ons on the sunglass rack at Walgreens, and there's also a type of sunglass that will fit over your regular glasses that are also polarized.

I like polarized sunglasses too, but they are more fragile than ordinary polycarbonate lenses.

 
At August 30, 2007 at 12:30 PM Sheldon P said...

I bought a pair of glasses from Goggles4U. Frame was great, lenses were great, BUT, the order was for single vision reading glasses. I sent my prescription with a line through the distance prescription. The order was acknowledged a being for reading glasses. The glass that were sent by Goggles4U was for distance reading glasses.
The glasses would be great if they were no-line progressives or reading glasses.
The worst part is that I could not get a response to my emails and fax notice about the error.
The site says, "All Emails and messages are replied within 24-48 hours."
The order was place Aug. 6, 2007. My first email to Goggles4U was sent 8-21-2007, immediately after I received the incorrect prescription.
The Goggles4U sites indicates that there will be a 15% discount but they are silent about their failure to send a 15% discount coupon.

My subsequent fax and email have also been ignored.

I can highly recommend Goggles4U, except for their refusal to address an error.
If your order comes through as requested, you should be pleased. If there is a problem, do not expect to hear from Goggles4U.

 
At September 7, 2007 at 5:20 AM Anonymous said...

From my understanding of the optical industry where I'm from (Australia) the reason glasses cost so much is because its not possible to make a profit from eye examinations.

My reciept from the optometrist the other week was for something like $25 (all covered by the government). My last dentist appt cost me well over $100 and I didn't even have anything done!!

Put simply...if everyone got their glasses online... there would be no optometrists to test your eyes so you could get the online glasses!!

 
At September 8, 2007 at 3:17 PM amber said...

I tried zenni and ninedollarglasses.com and had great results both times! I have a crazy life with two crazy kids and I didn't have to schlep them anywhere or use grocery money. My friends don't beleive me.
A from Cali

 
At September 21, 2007 at 5:51 PM Anonymous said...

I'm curious - does anyone know if it's possible to get glasses online using frames you already have, and if so, how much extra costs there might be for "mounting charge" and/or shipping the frames to the manufacturer? (I'm concerned about the latter since it seems many online manufacturers are overseas.) I got some awesome frames from a local vintage store for $24 - no one should ever, ever pay the ludicrous markup for frames from an optician's office - way cheaper, way cooler looking/more unique, and actually better quality (nowadays frames are made to last only a few years - older ones are often more durable). If I have to take them in somewhere, though, I'm wondering if a $25 mounting charge is pretty standard, not just at costco but also lenscrafters and whatnot?

 
At September 25, 2007 at 10:42 AM Fashion Specs Direct said...

Many online opticians will provide a lens replacement service. We certainly do here at Fashion Specs Direct.

However, glazing existing frames is not without its pitfalls. There is the danger of a client's eyeglasses disintegrating (if they are old and fatigued) or being damage during transit. So long as a customer is aware of these dangers, then it's quite feasible to have your current frame reglazed.

 
At September 26, 2007 at 10:14 PM Anonymous said...

i have question. will an optometrist/optician always write a perscription even if you don't need glasses, just to sell glasses.

 
At September 27, 2007 at 9:28 PM Anonymous said...

I just had new RX safety lenses put in some RX safety frames I already had at Wal-Mart. The cost was $10 per lens, +$20 fee for the frames I had brought in. I'm happy. I now have proper RX safety glasses. I notice new RX safety frames going for $25 +shipping on ebay. So for $85 +shipping, one can get RX safety glasses. The lady at Wal-Mart says that they discount safety glasses, which really means they don't mark them up outrageously. I'm a happy customer and I usually don't shop at Wal-Mart.

 
At October 11, 2007 at 10:20 AM Fashion Specs Direct said...

" Anonymous said...

i have question. will an optometrist/optician always write a perscription even if you don't need glasses, just to sell glasses."

Not sure how it works in the USA, but , here in the UK, optometrists are obliged by law to give you details of your prescription. Even those that are determined as part of a free eye exam. Many optometrists in the UK provide free eye exams as a marketing exercise to get customers ('patients'!) into their stores. This benefits the likes of www.fashionspecsdirect.co.uk as it enables customers to obtain glasses direct to their home at a fraction of the cost of buying them in-store (and paying for an eye exam!!).

 
At October 17, 2007 at 3:43 PM Pai said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to the world of online optometry. I accidentally found this page via Lifehacker.

I have to say some opticians are plenty pissed that I decided to go online. My store optician purposefully told me a bad Pupilar Distance (PD) measurement (she told me 66 when the CORRECT PD was 68) in the hopes of sending me a bad prescription with the online provider.

I asked for a second opinion from my eye doctor and the store optician was way off.

It made me realize how much of a racket and markups these people charged me in the past. I am used to paying $300 a pair because of my prescription. After paying $112 from Optical4Less for glasses, high index, roll polish, AND custom fitted shades, I am true believer.

 
At October 27, 2007 at 10:16 AM Loddi said...

STAY AWAY FROM VALUEGLASSES.COM They won't deliver won't answer phone or email and won't refund.

 
At October 27, 2007 at 4:29 PM Anonymous said...

I have purchased from 39dollarglasses.com several times now in the past few years, and recently found zenni optical and just received my glasses from them yesterday. LOVE LOVE LOVE them, and I only paid $21.85 total, that includes the 4.95 flat rate shipping and the 3.95 I spent for polarized sunglass clip on and 4.95 for anti-reflective coating. I have an incredibly strong rx and I got the most awesom pink frames, my husband actually likes them on me, and that is saying alot. Opticians are a total rip off. Kaiser gives me grief every time I renew my rx because they try over and over to tell me that the glasses I am purchasing online are all wrong, sorry, beg to differ. I have been wearing glasses since before I went into Kindergarten so I know when an rx is not right folks. Sears would not even adjust my frames for me because I purchased them online, and I was in there buying their contacts, needless to say I have never gone back to Sears Optical, horrible people. Keep up the posts, I love this service.

 
At November 5, 2007 at 6:43 AM Anonymous said...

Just bought from zenni.com and was stunned by how good their customer service was. I fouled up my perscription and then called me to correct. Guy on the phone was terrific, calm and unhurried. Glasses arrived quickly (still waiting for a replacement lens from WalMart) and are really fine. Good show!

 
At November 21, 2007 at 8:20 AM Anonymous said...

After looking at this website, I ordered from Zenni. My glasses arrived in 10 days and for a total of $33 for a rimless pair, I cannot be happier. The quality is great. I will probably buy from this site again.The only downside is that they do not offer Scratch resistant coating, but for the price and the quality, that will not stop me from using this seller.

 
At November 30, 2007 at 9:24 AM Tim said...

Now only if someone could come up with a way of getting cheap razor blades instead of the $8 blades Gillette shafts us on.

Not to butt in on the eyeglasses thing, but the answer is to use an old-fashioned safety razor and a shaving brush. Both are non-cheap, but will last forever, and blades for a safety razor can run as low as $.10 each.

Classic Shaving
Em's Place

are two places I've ordered from and gotten great service.

Worth reading:
Shaveblog

Not updated any more, but still some great articles in there.

 
At November 30, 2007 at 12:17 PM Troy said...

I wish I would have found this site last week!
I too am an overly conscience shopper but when my glasses broke I had to do something quick. Instead of looking for a good deal online I bit the bullet and hit up a local chain eyeglass store. With my excellent insurance I was able to get a low end brand frame (about $100) and HD lenses with anti reflective and scratch resistant lenses for about $150 not bad and I liked the fact that I could try the glasses on ahead of time. now armed with your blog I will be looking for another pair or two online... at the price you cant go wrong. Many thanks!

 
At December 6, 2007 at 12:26 PM courtneywoah said...

I went to JC Penny last week to get my PD to order some glasses online. Boy were they angry with me for even asking and were not going to do it until I pointed out that I had bought 4 pairs of $450 glasses in the past few years and that if I wanted my PD than I should get it. After much stuttering and confusion the guy took 3 seconds out of his day to measure it for me. Shouldn't be so difficult if you ask me!

 
At December 13, 2007 at 11:47 PM eyeglassfreak said...

good finds for the super budget person. i own several high end optical boutiques, design, manufacture and distribute in the usa and worldwide. yes, i can tell you that you can find some super cheap deals out there. the polycarbonate lenses cost about $1.00 a pair or less, use an automated edger and beveler and maybe you have 5 minutes human time on making glasses if you're good. the less part would be that these are all second qualilty lenses. the non-glare can be added as a stocked, pre-made coating, for about $2.00 cost. you will be getting a 1st or 2nd generation coating and state of the art is 5th generation. good luck keeping them clean. those self tinting lenses, photochromics, could add $3.00 cost and you can see from the pictures that they never get clear based on the 2nd gen vs gen 5 from Transitions brand. don't even get me started on overall optical quality. the internet $19 frame guys can buy junk, close out, or no name brand metal frames for 50 cents. even get you crappy titanium welds from China for $1.50, and, unless you are a really "good" optician, you'll most likely be unable to accurately measure and mark the lenses for the correct P.D., pupil distance, to get the best quality sweet spot of the lens center in front of your pupils. let alone, correctly select the best size to put the eye center over the lens center. i'll tell you this - 8 years ago, before getting into optical, i had this great idea about buying a bunch of junk frames, getting my own lab equiptment, and selling frames and lenses over the internet. this was way before anyone else had even thought of it. the more i looked into it, the worse the idea got. go buy your shoes online after you waste the time of the guys at Finish Line, but good luck getting a decent pair of glasses.

i do agree with the bulk of your commentors, in that the state of the frame market is pitiful. anyone stupid enough to buy a buck fifty Chinese made Prada frame distributed by Lenscrafter (translate that Luxottica - the 5 billion dollar monopoly of eyewear), just to get a etched metal logo and pay $225 deserves to lose their money. let alone, a $420 Dolce and Gabanna plastic injected TR-90 frame with a cheap stamped metal grill. this is part and parcel of the new American manufacturing - replace all quality for the cheapest made product that you can still slap the license name on and put all the big bucks into mega million dollar print add saturation campaigns - eg. Vogue, Jane, W, etc....

i made frames here in the usa (the only one other that Oakley) for a cost around $50 for a totally hand crafted device using state of the art technology, materials, paints, etc... add up all the costs of travel, trade shows @$30k a pop, web, print, office, personnell, ads, sales commissions, distributor fees, import/export, demo lenses, etc... and i have to sell wholesale at $200-$225 per frame. retailers double and plus some to MRSP at $500+ (without lenses). and i'm not even close to a really high end cost frame selling retail for $600-$1,500 plus. people in my stores already average $550 out the door for a single vision set of lenses with A/R and a frame up to $900 with no line multi-focals. wake up and smell the coffee. $300-$400 for a decent set is not outrages. the outrage is that people go into "cheapie" eyeglass stores or Lenscrafter and walk out spending more than you would spend at a small independent eyewear boutique - and you'd get junk quality frames and lenses at Lenscrafter. i know every product made in the world in eyewear and most lenses. i can assure you that this info is correct.

i do agree with this, better to buy junk product for $19 than to spend $430 at Lenscrafter or Eyeglass World.

good luck out there.

 
At December 16, 2007 at 2:18 AM courtneywoah said...

I just got my pair in the mail today from Zenni. It took about 11 days to get them, but I am very very happy. These glasses look great, feel great, and only cost me $28 shipped. I am so glad I found this site! Thank you!

 
At December 28, 2007 at 7:20 PM courtneywoah said...

I think I am addicted to buying glasses now! I just received my second pair of glasses from Goggles4u and they are great! I love the color and I love the style (I tried a semi rimless frame for the first time!) Thanks Ira! I still have some spending account money left (its use it or lose it) so I will definitely be buying some more soon.

 
At January 3, 2008 at 12:28 PM Wren said...

I need help. I get the whole buying on line part but I need to understand something... don't you need to see a professional for the actual prescription first and, don't they usually roll the exam and purchase of glasses into the price?? I know some of you must think I'm pretty naive - yes I am. (that's why I prefaced this w/ "I need your help".) Thanks for any advice.

 
At January 3, 2008 at 12:37 PM Ira said...

@Wren,

Please read this:
http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/2007/10/online-eyeglasses-how-it-works.html

It answers the questions you have. As far as the prescription goes, you (or your insurance) paid for it. It IS NOT legally tied to the place that did it (as much as they may lie to you to the contrary).

Demand it if you need to.

 
At January 3, 2008 at 12:43 PM Tim said...

@wren,

Second what Ira said. If you need confirmation, Google "FTC eyeglass prescription release rule".

I just Googled that, and found that a contact lens rule was promulgated a few years ago. I didn't think there was one. Cool!

 
At January 18, 2008 at 9:07 PM AnnaK said...

I am confused about whether these online stores can work for people with progressive bifocals. Becasue of an illness I have very limited funds and do not have spare money for glasses and do not have insurance for them.I have had the same frames for seven years. I recently bought a pair at a store that had them on sale half off for a very brief time they said. They cost 225.00 for frame and lenses no special coatings or anything. I did not have the prescription so they took the prescription from my current glasses. But these new ones do not work as well as my current glasses. I went back a few times and the guy just adjusted them different times. HE told me to try them for a few weeks and my eyes would adjust. He told me he gave me a great deal that just covered the frames anyway. He told me my eyes would adjust but they never did and I can't use them at all, they give me a headache and a lot of eyestrain and frustration. The guy said he checked the prescription and it is the correct. Are there different quality progressive lenses? How can you be sure online ones won't create similar problems? Also, do you think I can take these to my regular optometrist and ask him what's wrong with them? I bought my last pair of lenses from him. Anyway thank you so much for affirming what I thought was nuts--how much glasses cost. That the raise in price is indeed disproportionate to the rise in prices of other necessary things. Any input would be very welcome on this. Thank you so much.

 
At February 15, 2008 at 10:58 AM Anonymous said...

I called one of the local chains that I have used for the past 10 years and asked about a lense replacement for the glasses that I purchased from them 2 years ago. They are lined bifocal with very little correction but with transition. They told me $300.00. They said there was no discount on lenses. That is when I found this site. I ordered two new pair of transition bifocal senses in nice frames for a total of less than $200.Great Find. Thanks

 
At March 11, 2008 at 8:50 PM Anonymous said...

I've been wearing glasses since I was a second-grader, and have always been amazed at how much they cost, amazed at the price of a new pair each year, as my growing little kid self outgrew them all the time! I found out about Zenni the other day, and I will never spend 250 again on glasses!! A hint though--they let you go in and try on glasses for free in the stores where they sell them. Go in, and have them help you find the right fit, or browse them yourself until you find what seems to be the right proportion. This is much easier than measuring your face!

 
At March 27, 2008 at 12:18 PM Anonymous said...

Oh thank you SO much for all the information!! I ordered at goggles4you.com after many many recent problems with local optometrists and they came today!! I wish I could post my picture, cuz they are AWESOME! The most lightweight glasses I have EVER seen! Very well made and very pretty. Scratch coating and UV protection and spring hinges...all for only $25.00!! I am just head over heals happy!! Thanks again!

 
At April 18, 2008 at 10:32 AM Anonymous said...

i agree that if the lenses are of quality assurance, then go for it. but understand that optometrists generally dont do the "selling" and often times they arent getting any profit if you buy glasses from them. at least this is what my last eye doctor told me. he happily gave me my Rx. for goodness sakes, go to your eye doctor regularly, and its win win. and for the poster who was complaining because they were in "poverty class" and was complaining about the fact that they were mad because they couldnt get contacts, re read your own post. if you truly are poverty class, why would you buy a luxury item like contact lenses? even more concerning is, why would you waste your time on a forum like this when you could be out working and getting yourself out of poverty class? or is it laziness?

 
At April 22, 2008 at 8:25 AM Anonymous said...

You get what you pay for when using these optical shops.

I am always amazed at the price people will pay for items such as jeans, dinners, and iTunes. Optical correction is something that should not be skimped on. There is a great difference in the quality of optical materials whether a customer is blinded by the almighty dollar or not.

I laugh when someone talks about the performance of these solutions offered at such low prices. Wait until you are 50 years old and need some progressives. Compare your $100 glasses to a nice pair with Physio 360 lenses. Tell me there is no difference and then tell me the price difference is not worth it.

 
At April 22, 2008 at 8:59 AM Ira said...

@anonymous (they're always anonymous aren't they?),

Then don't charge me up the you know what for a simple single vision prescription. You know as well as I do, that's the problem (and big money in your pocket). You'd overcharge me for 40 years and then expect me to be thankful?

I'll save my money now, thanks.

 
At May 29, 2008 at 7:21 PM lmeyers626 said...

I worked in the optical world for about 8 years. I have 2 sisters in the field for about 18 years. As far as purchasing glasses from a "qualified" optician, I can't say I see the point. Most states don't require any specialized education and knowledge in gained through on-the-job training. This is the case in Pennsylvania where I live. Some opticians have more knowledge and skill than others, and you never know what you're going to get.

As far as the quality of the lenses, you will be quite aware if you can't see clearly with them. As far as the frames, it may be true that some are better quality than others, many of the the so-called "cheapies" are quite sturdy. Most of the differences in frame quality are in the materials and hinges. And as long as you don't treat them like you live in a jungle, you should have no problem. By the same token, I have seen very expensive designer glasses that don't hold up. "You get what you pay for" doesn't necessarily hold up here. Style and fashion may be sacrificed a bit, but I think your glasses look quite fashionable in your pictures.

As a former optician, I've been looking to purchase glasses online myself. I, too, fell in love with a Silhouette frame and found them to be quite a bit less expensive online. I may also consider buying the frame online and getting the lenses done locally since I haven't found much difference in the lens pricing online vs. retail.

And you are quite right-- mark-up in optical is outrageous. One bottle of UV coating can probably do about 50 or more pairs of lenses. 10 years ago, the place I worked for paid about $10 for the the bottle of UV coating and used to charge $15 to coat one pair of lenses, so you do the math.

Happy shopping!

 
At June 2, 2008 at 3:11 PM Anonymous said...

After being told I'd need to spend $180.00 for replacement lenses (NO coatings) at my local Optical Shop, I decided to look online. I found Zenni Optical.

I was skeptical, so I ordered 2 pairs of glasses, one for myself, one for my wife. We got the cheapest ones we could ($8.00), but found funky/fun frames at that price.

I live in Canada. From ordering, to my face took 22 days. That's awesome! Both pairs fit perfectly, perfect prescription, and we're totally happy. In fact, last night I ordered 4 more pair (at higher prices) to see how they are. I am keeping a personal "blog" for family and friends on my experiences. At some point, I may post it here, too, along with pictures.

If you are thinking about doing this, try ordering some cheap ones and see how it goes. Also, measure your old comfortable glasses to get an idea of what size works best for you, then look for frames with similar sizes.

 
At June 10, 2008 at 3:34 PM Anonymous said...

Cost of goods on eyeglasses is generally 35 - 50% depending upon a couple variables. 35% is generally the least. The supposed 1000x markup may be true from mfg to retail purchaser, but not from distributor to retail purchaser. Again, retail stores (optometrist owned or otherwise) will markup frames x2.5 or x3 depending on cost of frame and what the market will bear. Generally, for example, a high end frame (coach or versace) will be marked up only 2.5 times, putting the cost of goods in that instance at 40%.

Lenses: multifocal Lenses usually have a x2 markup, leaving cost of goods at 50%.

It all averages, depending upon the demographic of the patient, at 43% cost of goods, or a markup of 2.43 times.

Enter building lease, employee expense, etc. A 3 employee optometry retail needs to gross, generally, 35k/month to break even.

So much for the greedy old bastard theory.

 
At June 23, 2008 at 10:30 PM Anonymous said...

I just recently ordered a pair of glasses from Zenni Optical. They msitakenly sent me a different order, but were wonderful to deal with to correct the error. (I've been truly cursed this year in trying to get glasses!) Walmart was a horrific mistake! And I'm truly surprised - I've always had good luck with them. Regardless, I've bought the ones from Zenni and am waiting to get them. I like some of the frames on Goggles4U. Any idea how long it takes to get them??

 
At July 2, 2008 at 10:48 AM Ada said...

My co-worker sent me the link to your site - and I am so glad he did! I made my eye appointment - but told my doc I didn't want to buy glasses there. They wern't so rude to me (as I expected from reading your site), and gave me all the info to order them wherever I pleased. $18.85 for metal alloy half rim, with only $4.95 shipping, and 2 weeks to get them! Can't beat that even with a stick. (Included is the price are the polorized clip on's - which save so much more money than going for the transitions I paid WAY too much for! I think I will continue to do this, as I don't buy pricey frames to begin with, I just got suckered into getting transitions - which I ended up hating but being stuck with.
The best pair of galsses (so far) that I have bought were when I was stationed in Korea - cheap, and they did all the work right there while I waited. Sadley, they broke, and I had to get another pair. The people that sell you the glasses throw so much at you, anti-glare, scratch-reisitant, progressive, tints, transitions, and in the end, screw you on the price.
Thank you for having this site!

 
At August 4, 2008 at 12:53 PM Anonymous said...

I just ordered from goggles4u and I can't be happier. I am very excited to receive my prescription glasses. I went for an eye exam this morning at Walmart and only paid $10 copay with my insurance. They gave me my prescription, then as soon as I got home, I ordered my glasses through goggles4u.com and got the photochromic lenses. I just spent $33.99 with antiglare, UV protection and anti-scratch and photochromic, and it's free shipping too! I used to spend $300+ on my eyeglasses alone, then I have to order prescription sunglasses too which is more expensive. With the photochromic lenses, I will get the eyeglasses and the photochromic at the same time...AT $33.99!! It's unbelievable! Thanks for the information in this site.

 
At August 7, 2008 at 7:34 PM Joe said...

First off, is that really 50% off (frame and lenses) on Eyebuydirect and Goggles4U?! Also, has anyone tried Coolframes.com and GlassesCrafter.com? Anyone even tried buying varifocal lenses? How about experiences in returns?

I'm also looking at replacement lenses (for varicofals). Is it cheaper to have your new (or old) frames lens replaced in CostCo?

 
At August 18, 2008 at 8:12 PM Anonymous said...

I work in an optometrist's office, and I am amazed at what we get away with charging our patients. I am a very frugal person and try to cut corners wherever I can. I'd say in the office I work, we markup our frames to double the price they cost us. IE- we pay $20, patient pays $40. This seems high, but when you take in to consideration the overhead, as well as all the lenses that we remake (for various reasons, Rx change, Dr's order, manufacturer defect, etc)sometimes it comes out that we lose money on some orders.

I can't honestly say that you should get your Rx glasses at an Optometrist's office, and I can't honestly tell you that ordering online is your best bet either. I have seen some people "get what they paid for", in another words, bought the cheaper frames and had them break a month later. But I've also seen some people get much more than what they paid for. I think its a case-by-case thing. Those with more challenging prescriptions would probably be better off getting glasses in an Optometrist's office, while those with smaller, simpler prescriptions will do just fine with glasses ordered online.

So my point is, do what works for you, but just know that cheaper glasses aren't for everyone, as there are many factors involved in making a proper prescription eyeglass. I've never ordered online, so I won't tell you the quality is less because I simply don't know.

PS- Someone said that their Optometrist's office wouldn't fix their glasses because they didn't buy them there. This is not true of all offices, as my office will help a patient as much as we can. If there's someway to fix it, we will do our best.

PPS- Please take care of your eyes! Too many people neglect proper care!

 
At August 28, 2008 at 7:43 AM mary said...

Hey..your last statement ...Please take care of your eyes. I havebeen wearing glasses since kindergarten and that was in the mid 50s. Back then plaid frames were the rage and as history repeats itself I found a great pair on zennioptical.com #3871.
Another fun thing I did with my nephews was a Sponge Bob contest sponsorred by Walmart Optical departments...go to your local store and pick one up for your kids, nieces, nephews your firends kids...I even did one myself. Turn them in by 9/12 and 9/13 they pick the winners. We sent them to all the cousins all over the coutry to have them join in too. Here is the Spongerific Eye Care Tip! "Look away from your computer screen or TV every 15-20 minutes to give your eyes a break."

 
At September 26, 2008 at 5:31 PM Jenny said...

I'm excited to order a pair of frames; checked out these websites and they have quite a bit to pick from! I've never worn glasses before, but evidently I need them for work occasionally. It's understanding that while people wearing eyeglasses/contacts constantly may want more quality, someone like me wants them affordable. Can't wait, I might order a few pair at those prices!

 
At November 4, 2008 at 12:39 AM Anonymous said...

Ordered from goggles4u and got completely scammed. They sent me an empty box. They claim the glasses were "taken in transit", but the box was sealed and absolutely no sign of tampering. They sent me a coupon, but the pair I ordered is now "out of stock". My guess is they ran out and offer a replacement credit to keep the sale. Rip off artists- steer clear.

 
At November 9, 2008 at 12:32 PM Dave J. said...

Just tried ordering from goggles4u. The prescription strength is limited to Sphere +3.00 . My prescription is +4.00 so goggles4u will not work for me. BUT Zenni Optical (zennioptical.com) will work for me, and am currently ordering a pair for distance viewing, for $25 plus $5 shipping - total $30 !. I also found another online wholesaler at LBWeyewear.com, found a comparable model with clip-on sunglasses for $55, plus $6.50 shipping (total $62). My last pair came from lens-crappers, cost well over $400, are flex frame readers, got them with scratch resistance & anti-reflection coatings. WHAT A FREAKIN JOKE. The so called "scratch resistance" lasted about a month, now they're all scratched up and desperately need to be used as a target at the local shooting range. My distance glasses I bought over 10 years ago from D.O.C. (aka demented occular cockamamey bullsh*t) freakin "butt raped me while I'm running" terrorists. The frame is titanium, made by Giorgio Armani, with high-index polycarbonate lenses. These babies set me back about $600 10 years ago! NOBODY HAS ANYTHING LIKE THESE ANYWHERE, not even DOC anymore. Well, one of the temples broke off right at the hinge screw hole, so I salvaged an old temple from an old pair I had kept & reattached it myself. BEFORE I expedited my own repair, I went back to DOC for them to repair it. Not only did they REFUSE to repair it, or clean it, but they insisted I ... yep, you guessed it, "BUT A NEW PAIR." Are they nuts? I explained to them that this is where I bought these. I even showed them the old receipt. "Sorry, we can't help you" they said. "Well then F*CK YOU" I responded, and promptly walked out, right in front of mall security, who were snickering at the scene I made. That's the LAST TIME I SHOP AT D.O.C. ! Well, guessy whaty I found - ON THE INTERNET? eyewearrepair.com will fix my glasses and it will cost me between $15-45. Also, qtena.com HAS REPAIR PARTS for glasses AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC - including a PD Ruler ($1.95). Just do a Google search for "eyeglass repair parts". Unfortunately most online eyeglass companies will NOT just make new lenses for your old frames. BUT WHO CARES! At between $25-50 a pair, for something brand new, sure beats any repair or chopping mall chain store any old day. Oh, and by the way - most lens makers get a lens "blank" from off the shelf, clamp it into the grinding machine, punch in the prescription numbers into the computer that controls the machine, and the rest is done to exacting specs via the computer. Since when is THAT "highly technical"??? Honestly, the only "technical" aspect about glasses is fitting the frames to the wearer. Why should we be forced to pay hundreds of dollars for a service that takes no longer than 10 minutes, and can be performed by a "highly trained" french fry clerk at my local chopping mall? I swear, these eyeglass retailers must think we're a bunch of mindless morons. AND YOU ARE IF YOU BUY FROM THEM.

 
At December 18, 2008 at 7:22 PM FeralCritter said...

Has anyone found a good site that will do glasses with PRISM ? I am unemployed and without optical insurance. Just got quoted $225 to $315 for lenses alone. Could sure use a better solution !

 
At December 28, 2008 at 10:29 AM Hey Ari said...

To the person that did the numbers on how much it costs to run an eyewear shop -

Those numbers come out to 4 pairs of glasses a day (open 30 days/month) at an average price of $291. This rises to a shocking 5 pairs a day if the shop is closed both Saturday and Sunday.

Subtract out a $45 exam and we are still looking at an average price of $246 a pair.

A pair of glasses from Walmart? $200 - $600? Average price is higher than that $291. I'm presbyopic, average prescription, and my cost was going to be around $450 for their Nikon frame and lenses.

 
At January 11, 2009 at 4:49 PM dtrav said...

Based on the info on your site (and on a wing and a prayer) I ordered speced-out glasses from 39dollarglasses.com ... titanium half-frames, lineless bifocals, high-index lenses, scratch & antigare coating. The highest price from a local outfit (one that would actually give me a quote) was $560 ... from 39dollarglasses, $155 delivered.

Also, be sure to price out your eye exam. Half the local places I wouldn't give me a quote, not even a range. The highest price I got was $230, but I ended up with a fullscale exam for $75.

I saved something like $560 here, not chump-change, And with replacement lenses costing only $70, I will never again look at the world through sandpapered lenses! Thanks guys, this is great.

 
At January 17, 2009 at 7:13 PM Anonymous said...

Someone made a comment that the greed of optometrists is why contacts cannot be bought without a current prescription. This is just not the case. Contacts, because they actualy are worn on the eye become a medical device, and the optometrist is legally liable for the correct fit and so on if you develop problems. If you don't partice proper hygiene thats your own problem. but anyway... Since they are a medical device, unlike glasses, contacts are held under more stringent standards.

 
At January 19, 2009 at 2:00 PM Zosia said...

I have received a a pir of glasses from zenni and I am very very satisfied costumer. The fit is perfect and the price is fantastic.Thank you very much for the blog.
Zofia

 
At January 28, 2009 at 1:02 PM Darlene said...

Has anyone used www.glassescrafter.com

They have great prices but I wrote to them and they did not write back which makes me nervous.

Any feedback would be great.
Thanks,
Darlene

 
At January 28, 2009 at 2:37 PM Anonymous said...

I read your original post about Zenni and (long story short), I ordered a pair of glasses on 12/16/08.

I've called Zenni several times about this order and written 3 e-mails with NO response from Zenni, other than, on one of the early calls, to have a rep. from Zenni tell me that the orders were heavy and they were having trouble filling them. HA..!

Today I contacted my CC agency to dispute the charges for my glasses and I e-mailed Zenni to cancel the order if they couldn't fill it.

I'm curious if anyone else has (or, is having) problems with Zenni - e-mail me at jack dot beale at att dot net...

Thanks...

 
At February 1, 2009 at 5:11 PM Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this info. I am a cautious shopper but after spending $800 last year on 4 pairs of glasses (ironically I thought I was getting a deal) I decided to check out what was available online. Even if the system doesn't work perfectly for that price I don't really care - I feel so ripped off by the suppliers of my other glasses that I would rather try something new than go back to them!

 
At February 23, 2009 at 6:50 PM Anonymous said...

I love the comments from the folks that say you should continue to throw money away with companies like Pearle, because they'll "clean" and "adjust" your glasses for you after purchase.

I've been wearing glasses since I was 8 yrs. old. For years I was able to get my glasses properly adjusted and taken care of. But not for the last 15 yrs. or so -- the last time I got glasses at Pearle (about a year ago), I had to
wait almost a week for them to come in. When they did and I went to pick them up, the clerk (I say clerk, because that's all they are) handed me my new glasses. When I asked about having them fitted she appeared quite surprised, but finally agreed she'd see what she could do and disappeared into the back room.

After waiting about 10 min. for her to reappear I finally walked over to look into the back. To my horror, I saw the clerk manhandling my new ($400) frames with (wait for it...) a 10 inch pair of channel lock pliers! Like you normally use on plumbing, or your car! She had the ear pieces bent at nearly 90 degrees, while the frame around the lenses was so skewed that the left lens kept popping out.

Sadly, while she was truly pathetic, she certainly wasn't an anomaly. When I asked her what kind of training she'd had to work there, she freely admitted that the *only* training required was on how to run the cash register. What a sorry, sorry mess.

And I haven't found it to be any different at any place I've gone, whether independent or chain. I'd GLADLY go to an independent if I could find one that had someone who could properly adjust frames, or knew anything about putting the lenses and frames together. By the way, the last two times I've had to purchase glasses I've had terrible problems with headaches. Both times I (eventually) found out that they had installed the lenses backwards (left lens over right eye, right lens over left eye) in the frame. And because of the shape of the lens opening new lens had to be made -- and they actually tried to charge me for the cost of new lenses! Reminds me of something I read the other day -- in China the gov't requires the victims of executions pay for the bullet used to shoot them. Apparently the good ol' boys at Pearle and LensCrappers read the same story. :-)

 
At March 24, 2009 at 12:59 PM Joe said...

Avoid GlassesCrafter. Check this site about complaints.

http://www.fraudwatchers.org/forums/showthread.php?t=15618&highlight=glassescrafter

 
At April 24, 2009 at 4:04 PM GRITTER said...

Well, I took your word for it, and I ordered three pairs from goggles4u.com, and it took exactly 14 days to get to my home, in Ohio. I am VERY PLEASED with the quality! Total was $90.00 to my door! For 3 Pairs! Amazing! Phcuk Walmart! I got my eye exam there, for $50, and they wouldn't give me my pupilary distance, until I ranted for nearly twenty minutes, and then I got it out of them. Lens Crafters is the WORST! I've always gotten WORSE glasses for $350 - $500 from those bastards! Thanks for the in"sight".

 
At April 24, 2009 at 7:48 PM guy with glasses said...

Zenni has been great for me. I've ordered 6 pair so far, and we've gotten 2 for my wife. No trouble with any of them so far. I've got 2 friends that just ordered their first pair (1 from zenni & one from goggles4u).

 
At May 17, 2009 at 6:14 AM Anonymous said...

If you have a problem with your doctor being reluctant to give you a copy of your perscription, tell him/her you are going traveling and you need to bring a copy of your perscription in case of an emergency. No one wants to find themselves overseas (or even in a different city) with a pair of broken glasses. Keeping a copy of your vision perscription with you is just plain sensible and I can't see why a doctor wouldn't understand that.
-----------------
No, just tell the damn doctor that by law he must give you your prescription. Snatch it from him and then walk out. No playing around like a pussy trying to kiss someone's ass.

 
At May 18, 2009 at 2:32 PM Anonymous said...

I HAVE A QUESTION for everyone wearing the "memory" type of titanium glasses:

I have an especially crooked head & ear placement, not to mention a fairly crooked face (you can't tell unless you look carefully).

All the glasses I've ever worn had to be carefully tweaked in several different ways -- one earpiece sits 1/4" lower on one side.

What I want to know is whether titanium glasses are easily adjusted by the buyer, and how well they will hold an adjustment.

If they require some special equipment and skill to adjust, how does one achieve that if the glasses are purchased online?

Thanks for this great blog, by the way; you've convinced me to at least try a pair of cheaper www glasses.

~ Unity

 
At May 22, 2009 at 2:06 PM ~ Unity said...

Wondering if you could blog about the difference between titanium and titanium alloys? And the difference between the types of alloys available? What is "Beta-titanium"?

thanks!

~ Unity

 
At June 2, 2009 at 3:55 PM Anonymous said...

I love the comments from the folks that say you should continue to throw money away with companies like Pearle, because they'll "clean" and "adjust" your glasses for you after purchase.

I've been wearing glasses since I was 8 yrs. old. For years I was able to get my glasses properly adjusted and taken care of. But not for the last 15 yrs. or so -- the last time I got glasses at Pearle (about a year ago), I had to
wait almost a week for them to come in. When they did and I went to pick them up, the clerk (I say clerk, because that's all they are) handed me my new glasses. When I asked about having them fitted she appeared quite surprised, but finally agreed she'd see what she could do and disappeared into the back room.

After waiting about 10 min. for her to reappear I finally walked over to look into the back. To my horror, I saw the clerk manhandling my new ($400) frames with (wait for it...) a 10 inch pair of channel lock pliers! Like you normally use on plumbing, or your car! She had the ear pieces bent at nearly 90 degrees, while the frame around the lenses was so skewed that the left lens kept popping out.

Sadly, while she was truly pathetic, she certainly wasn't an anomaly. When I asked her what kind of training she'd had to work there, she freely admitted that the *only* training required was on how to run the cash register. What a sorry, sorry mess.

And I haven't found it to be any different at any place I've gone, whether independent or chain. I'd GLADLY go to an independent if I could find one that had someone who could properly adjust frames, or knew anything about putting the lenses and frames together. By the way, the last two times I've had to purchase glasses I've had terrible problems with headaches. Both times I (eventually) found out that they had installed the lenses backwards (left lens over right eye, right lens over left eye) in the frame. And because of the shape of the lens opening new lens had to be made -- and they actually tried to charge me for the cost of new lenses! Reminds me of something I read the other day -- in China the gov't requires the victims of executions pay for the bullet used to shoot them. Apparently the good ol' boys at Pearle and LensCrappers read the same story. :-)

 
At June 4, 2009 at 4:39 PM Anonymous said...

After 35 days I received my Zenni Optical order.

The items were as ordered. The quality is reasonable--the glasses feel very fragile, but are light, comfortable, and fun (with the options I was able to afford at Zenni).

I was very upset that the site and e-mail told me I would have a 2 week wait, then I ended up waiting 5 without any reason being given for the extra delay.

The customer service experience was abysmal. Anne should be placed in a capacity that does not EVER communicate with or affect customers. When your company promises 2 week delivery and a customer calls after 2, 3, 4, and 5 weeks wanting to know what is going on with their order, that customer is not being a jerk--either there should be an honest reason for the delay or your company deliberately misled the customer.

Despite my frustration, my initial response to the product is fairly positive. If you go into it expecting at least a month delay and avoid customer service as much as possible, it might be worth the price for non-essential fashion or backup glasses.

 
At July 23, 2009 at 5:42 PM Matthew said...

I'm not sure if you want reviews for UK glasses sites too but this is a good one.

Next Vision


Website

The website is very clean and easy to follow with a very wide choice of both cheaper priced glasses and designer glasses.

Next are a massive company in the UK covering everything from clothing to kitchens.

One of the big benefits of ordering from this site is that you can add it onto you credit account with them to pay off at a later date.

Methods of contact include email and also a phone number to a specialist department at Next.

The pictures of the glasses seem very clear and although there's no big description of the glasses you do get full dimensions to let you know if they'll suit you.



Prices

Prices are only for single vision lenses and they start from just £15.01 for a pair of Next branded glasses including standard lenses (including anti-scratch) but can be over £100 for the designer glasses.

Some of the Next frames start from £15 and you can add a very wide range of lenses to these for differing amounts. Sun lenses are only £5 extra and you are also able to choose photochromic lenses for all glasses.

Review

I ordered a pair of D&G glasses from them for £118.01 (an offer on these for a scratch resistant anti-reflection lens for only a penny!) and i also ordered a pair of Next branded glasses for £20 including Sun lenses.

Both pairs arrived just 3 days after placing my order and the lenses seem excellent quaility also.

Got a free case and cloth with both pairs. Very professional packing as you'd expect from a company of their size.

Would I recommend Next Vision.

1 word - definitely!


hope this helps someone !

 
At August 14, 2009 at 9:11 AM Anonymous said...

Just got my rimless glasses from Zenni yesterday. I have a wide face and Zenni let me choose the shape/width of my lenses. I got the 55mm wide one and it’s perfect! I also have deep prescription and Zenni offers 1.67 high-index. I wish they’d have 1.74 high index but for around $70.00 and 18 days of wait time(I live in East Coast), it’s a great deal!

 
At August 14, 2009 at 10:30 AM Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous, (DEC 9)

(Posted : Anyone from the UK with experience?

The last time I visited Specsavers, they were reluctant to let me even see the perscription details. I expect that if I visit for a check-up (long overdue:-) I''ll be hard sold to ordering glasses from them, or leave with nothing.)

In the UK they are required by law to let you have a copy of the prescription. I know this as I got my glasses from Next Vision after getting my prescription on the high street. Just stand find if they try to pressure you. Here's the link I used http://vision.next.co.uk

 
At August 14, 2009 at 12:46 PM Anonymous said...

That link was Next Vision

Hope this helps !

 
At September 21, 2009 at 2:29 PM Anonymous said...

About expensive glasses at retail stores and outlets. Will someone explain to me why Luxottica Retail, based in Italy and is owner of Pearle, Sears Optical, Target Optical, LensCrafters and others has not been cited as a monopoly? No wonder everything is so expensive if one place owns all the eyeglass places in the world.

 
At November 8, 2009 at 3:49 PM MadLDO said...

Hello, I am an LDO and have been in the field since 1990 its all I have done for the past 19 years. I first heard of the online optical a few years back however at that time I worked "high end" so I never got a chance to see a pair of online glasses. I now manage a "lower end" retail chain store and I now have seen the online glasses come in with all sorts of problems. So I will provide you with information that might surprise you. First ill start with the obvious, the drill mounts you have are mounted incorrectly so I'm afraid the quality and fit is not excellent, although that is subjective. The right temple is mounted lower than the left and hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like the bridge is mounted higher on the left as well. The right temple tip is turned down to much causing the frames to lean low on your right. Again, hard to tell from the one pic. I'm assuming you have not taken it to you local optician for your free adjustments, if not you should go back and ask them to fix the temples for you. Your right temple will need to be bent down a good bit due to your right ear being lower than the left. That is of course you want "us" to see the glasses level, if you want to see the glasses level looking out of them , youll need to leave the frames tilted down to the right a bit due to your left eye being a bit higher than the right, this is a personal preference. Make sure you tell the optician that is adjusting your frames that the "thin" lens is a non impact lens that is likely to break if its not dissembled before adjusting the frame.If the frame is screwless, they may not be able have this done because the screwless come with special "caps" for the back so you might have to email zenni to see if they can send you extra. Guess its a good thing your local optician is there to fix this for you.
Ok on to your Transistions, if by "The fit and finish is not of the same quality" your referring to the gaps in the lens on the upper and lower right nasal and upper right temporal, or the left lens bevel being off, then I would agree with you on that. One thing that might concern you is the oc height, im guessing that your rx is @ -5.50 ou with some cyl? if so as you wear your Transistions, you are inducing base up prism in each eye? With high myopia such as yourself, the oc is equally important as the pd, unfortunately they cant address the oc height because you need the frame to take that measurement before the lens is edged. Fortunately you can ask your local optician to adjust your nosepads to raise the frame up on your nose, looks like the bridge is resting on your nose anyway.
Just so you know Lenscrafters is not your only option there are other optical stores out their with much lower prices, but since your "an informed shopper" I'm sure your aware that a store such as mine could have made similar frames with guaranteed better quality lenses for about $130 more dollars. Since you like to keep your glasses for 4 yrs+ and have specific optic needs id say its worth it.Then your local optician wouldn't have to do this extra work that you need done for free, I don't like to work for free do you?

 
At November 8, 2009 at 3:50 PM MadLDO said...

part 2:

Now about some of the misconceptions in this blogg, the lenscrafters frames you bought in 04 are not designed to be worn or to last that long, thin zyl frames come out of adjustment often and getting them adjusted is normal but will pull the moister out of the frame when they heat it causing them to dry rot and break. Id say you got your moneys worth. Now bear in mind I'm only going by the pictures so there is some assumption on my part. Lets talk about the optics for a bit now, you should research "ansi standards" for glasses, "abby value", "induced or unwanted prism". The measurements we use are regulated by the government. There is a reason. You pd method is the best and most informed I have seen thus far, very wise to occlude the eye but you still only have a 1.5mm Torrence per eye before you induce prism, the amount induce is relative to the dioptic power of the lens. If you take the time to research those those mentioned you will see that it can cause a negative effect in your vision.You might think the vision is good, and it might be but there is a better chance that it is causing your eyes harm that often goes unnoticed till your next exam, I have seen it a lot first hand while troubleshooting glasses made incorrectly that have been worn for years. We find it when you try the new glasses on and they are made perfectly, you wont be able to see correctly out of them even though there are perfect because your eyes adjusted to incorrect glasses. So using the word scam is a bit unfair, your paying for convenience,quality, style, and the ability to get problems resolved quickly.
1000% markup? where did you get that figure? frames have @ 200% markup only if you buy 1000s of frames at a time, nice chunk of capital there, lenses @ 300% mark up and again need to buy 1000s, however the machines used to get your lens cut is @ $500,000 per store takes a while to pay that off to but gets people there glasses quickly. So id guess all those that posted her complaining about the prices have no clue how retail works. So your scam theory can be applied to nearly every profession in the country.
Ill welcome any comments and answer any questions, you or anyone might have, all id ask is to research the things I mentioned above to minimize the ignorant rants.
I want to sign off with saying that not all online glasses are bad, fact I recommend online glasses to some of my patents if they need disposable glasses that wont be worn for long periods of time. I do truly care about my patients vision after all, my loved ones share the road with these people.

 
At November 8, 2009 at 8:38 PM Anonymous said...

I am pretty surprised that you recommend Goggles 4 U. That was the first website I purchased glasses from online and I didn't have a good experience; I thought the glasses were cheap. The only other place I have purchased from is eyeglasses.com, and I thought the glasses were great.

I know people want to save money, but you have to watch out where you buy them.

 
At December 24, 2009 at 2:37 PM Mark said...

MadLDO,

Sorry man, but you miss the point. I have no reason to doubt what you say. But most people do not want or can't pay an exorbitant price for glasses. Sure you mention all these things about gaps and lower ears and "not perfectly aligned", but some of us just don't care. We just want a pair of glasses to help us see for a reasonable price. And that is what online glasses offer us. If I had tons of money and wanted perfection, I'd come see you.

Mark

 
At January 11, 2010 at 8:30 AM Anonymous said...

Just got my glasses from EyeBuyDirect. Very pleased. Got 2 pairs for myself and one for my son. All were great. The only thing I didn't like was the color of one of my frames. The site said red, but it was more pink

Mark

 
At February 3, 2010 at 2:24 PM Anonymous said...

I see that most of your post are old - I agree with you on the cost of glasses but I think you are forgeting that the cost of technology of the products that you are getting was not cheaply discovered and the cost of machinery is the cost that people like you and other do not understand. Silhouette for example developed a product that took time and resources to develop the price that a doctor has to pay for that product is about 120. per frame, The doctor is obligated to purchase 24 pieces of that product in order to sell any of them. So when you go in to a store and see that product the doctor may have 2400 dollars invested in that one product. Then the patient choses lenses and the lens matrix is greatly varied and most people pay alot for cheap product. Not all lens product is the same and so are better quailty. The equipment that runs that lens is very imporatnt in producing quaility. There are a lot of factors involed in producing a custom pair of glasses for a people. Your wrong in thinking every doctor is out to screw u. I would not want any one like u in my store u are lookin for crap. So in the next few years when every one wants cheap and the only thing the doctor does is hand you the rx and says see ya. He will charge more for the rx or maybe we can get him to work for less. Maybe you can do your own Rx.

 
At February 6, 2010 at 9:22 PM engnenk said...

There are too many misguided statements about the 1000% markup. The true markup on higher end frames is between 100% and 200%. That is very standard in the retail world. You cannot compare the price paid by knock-off wholesalers and retailers selling the real thing. You are comparing apples and oranges.

 
At February 7, 2010 at 2:45 PM Ira said...

@engenk,

No. I'm not.

 
At February 9, 2010 at 9:03 PM engnenk said...

So....the $380 Silhouette frames cost the retailer $38. If that were true, online retailers would be selling them for $80-$100. This gives them their 100% (or more) mark-up. A fair and reasonable profit but competition from other online retailers would probably push the profit margins even lower. However, the cheapest I can locate Silhouette frames online is $189 at framesdirect.com and other online retailers are getting $220+. I think that the wholesale price is probably closer to $150. Even at that price, the bricks & mortar retailer is making a handsome profit but nowhere near the 1,000% that you are accusing him of.

It just doesn't add up that one of the really cheap online shops that sponsor your blog can sell the same thing for less than $40.

Maybe it is the same design and it looks the same, but it is probably not the same material and the level of detail is not the same. You can go to China and buy fake Armani ties. The label might say Armani but the material isn't the same and the level of craftsmanship is not the same. They are both ties and they both may look the same, but they are not the same. Similarly, the very cheap "titanium" frames may look like the Silhouettes but they are not the same. Thus, the "apples and oranges" comparison.

The mom & pop bricks & mortar retailer isn't the villain you portray them to be. They are just trying to make a decent profit on their shop. Perhaps the Luxottica stores are a different story but the local guys are probably struggling just like the rest of us.

This entire post is not an effort to convince anyone that they should buy in a shop instead of frequenting the websites of your sponsors. The point is that you are implying that local retailers are gouging their customers when this is not true.

The only reason I found your blog is because I extensively researched the product that I was seeking. Once I read the posts of buyers complaining about the substandard materials, I decided that even though the price was very attractive, I was willing to pay more (but still not full retail) for the real thing.

So, this is a very long way of responding to your I am not comment by saying.....you are too

 
At February 9, 2010 at 10:30 PM Ira said...

@engenk,

I'm not specifically against what the mom and pop stores are doing, and using Silhouettes has proven to be a comparison that doesn't work (as they're ridiculously overpriced at all levels of the distribution chain). Some people need the "comfort" of a label. I don't.

Who's the bad guy in the equation? Luxottica without a doubt.

As for my site's "sponsors", there are none. I have affiliate links to a few of the stores, but i don't accept any direct advertising or direction. I have relationships with a couple of the sites that allow me to step in and help in the rare instance that there are problems.

You're more than welcome to spend more money than you have to, but in my experience of roughly 40 pairs, "substandard" isn't a word I've ever come close to using. I think you'll find than hundreds or thousands of others would agree.

 
At February 14, 2010 at 8:00 PM Anonymous said...

I have worn glasses or contacts for 52 years. I have gone to "quality" establishments to get my perscriptions filled. So far I have had one lense twice as thick as the other. I complained and they (lenscrafter) said wear them for a couple of weeks and I would adjust to the prescription. After falling twice and staying nauseated I went back and refused to leave the store until they did something. Found out they had put the wrong prescription on one side. I pity the poor soul trying to adapt to my prescriptions. At a WalMart I tried to get used to the glasses but when I asked them to do something because I could not see, they refused. I could go on and on and on. The end of this story is I am going to purchase glasses through the internet for what years I have left. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

 
At February 16, 2010 at 5:23 AM Anonymous said...

I see that censorship is alive and well on this blog. The "moderator" posts comments extolling online purchases but refuses to disclose the true nature of his financial relationship with the online glasses retailers who maintain links on his site.

 
At February 16, 2010 at 7:20 AM Ira said...

@anon,

No. Actually, the "moderator's" fingers were cold on a lake in Northern Wisconsin this weekend and he accidently hit the "remove" link on the tiny IPhone screen rather than "publish."

Thanks for giving me another chance, Mr. (or Mrs.) Ray of Sunshine.

The affiliate links you see on the sits are just that. For a few of the retailers I receive a small percentage of sale. I've never received any direct cash or accepted any traditional advertising. This has been covered in the site and the forums. I've spent thousands of hours on this site in the three years Ive been doing this. How much could you save?

 
At February 19, 2010 at 6:24 AM Damon Von Borges said...

I had been looking for various online companies offering glasses at a cheaper or in fact reasonable price. The branded ones are exorbitant for me. One of my friends recommended 39 Dollar Glasses and I have been since buying from them. Good deal and great glasses too.

 
At March 8, 2010 at 4:23 PM Anonymous said...

First of all, let me just say, your glasses look horrible and are also horribly adjusted. The adjustments and repairs, free nosepads, cleaning, etc are all included in the mark-up. Otherwise, what would happen is your glasses could be bought for $100 or so and then you would be paying $20-$50 per service whenever you come in.

Another note to take into consideration, how do these people get you these glasses so inexpensively. Well, most of these are produced in third world countries, where labor is less than 10 cents per hour. You are funding other countries and neglecting your local economy. Funding other countries and neglecting your own is very un-patriotic and in my eyes makes you just as bad as those huge fortune 500 companies who send jobs over sees to places like India.

Yes, you got frames for dirt cheap, but what happens if they break? What happens if you have a problem with the lenses. What happens if the lenses scratch? Is there a warranty that covers free replacement? Is there someone who gets shipped in a box to your house to adjust them? Yes, you can probably go to your local shop for a free adjustment, but the more and more people who use purchasing glasses online as an option, the less these businesses can afford to stay open while doing free adjustments. In which case, yes, the glasses will be eventually sold at a price that does not include the cost of warranty, repairs, adjustments, etc.

Most of these on-line companies, when you have a problem, will simply shrug their shoulders and say oh well! You cannot return them, they cannot fix them, and you're stuck with an $81 pair of crap-glasses. You buy it at a store and you get the peace of mind knowing that your glasses will be forever serviced.

While I agree, huge corporations like Lenscrafters are not the best places to shop, your local mom-n-pop optical shops are. You may pay the same price, but you are supporting a local economy as well as you are guarunteed to get better service and sometimes they will work with you or have better promotions.

Further, the fact that your glasses look horrible on you, leads me to believe that perhaps your statement about the glasses being of a better selection, is false! If you go into a real store, you get help from professionals who will prevent you from looking as unattractive as possible. God knows, we can't help ugly, but at least, we can have glasses that compliment you in some shape or fassion. The ones you picked out are very boring, and unattractive for your face shape and structure, especially the pair with photochromatic lenses.

Lets also take into fact measurements. Some of these places advice you to take your own "PD" measurement. Its actually more likely to be inaccurate because you will be looking inward and your PD will be scewed. While most single vision prescriptions may not be altered by this, your higher powered lenses, people with heavy astigmatisms, and no-line progressive bifocals will more than likely have issues with their vision. Also, these companies do not instruct you on measuring your seg-height, which is the distance between the bottom of the frame and the center of your pupil in progressive lenses or to the bottom of your lower lid in bifocals. If this is not correct, you'll be looking through the wrong segment all the time.

Basically....Buyer beware, quit being cheap, and support AMERICANS, not foreign countries who don't do us a damn bit of good. Unless you are just selfish and happy looking ugly in your ugly glasses! :)

 
At April 7, 2010 at 8:47 PM Clean Cut Hippy said...

Its amazing how many optometrists are posting drivel here. Measuring your pd is not hard, I did it myself and called my optometrist to confirm. I got 63 they said 62.5 turns out some labs don't do half mm increments anyway.

The real problem is that, unfortunately, technology and capitalism don't blend. Technological development is moving faster and faster everyday. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING, expect a pay cut soon when a machine takes your job. Everyone but the ultra rich will be re-assigned to the lower class.

ITS HAPPENING IN YOUR FACE ALREADY BUT TIGER WOODS IS CHEATING SO...

Did anyone notice that the new "trek" movie didn't touch on the whole "resource based economy" thing? That's made star trek so fascinating.

In a world where very few have to (or in the case of trek "get to") work, who gets to eat? That's really what I have been wondering. Because that's where we are headed.

With the electronic eye tests hitting the market we need less doctors. You guys are just another group displaced by the truly dark nature of capitalism.

Its nice to see it happen to the rich for a change. Do these same doctors use the "self check" at the grocery store I wonder?

America is dying (let me rephrase that DEAD) because of greed, and these guys think they should get an extra five hundred dollars for telling you whether your head is large or small. I'll see you in the unemployment line doc.

Or maybe we can both get jobs as greeters. Soon you to will only be able to afford 8 dollar glasses from Hong Kong. Good thing you know how to measure heads.

I'm not being mellow dramatic technology increases exponentially.

We are all in this together...

Innovate or assimilate....

 
At May 18, 2010 at 11:58 AM Anonymous said...

Let me know what kind of work you are doing and I will find a china man to take your place. Good luck when china owns us.

 
At May 19, 2010 at 8:19 AM Anonymous said...

Did you know that there are over 500 different brands of progressive lens(no-line bifocals) with varying degrees of quality. The correct progressive lens for you is based on your occupation, lifestyle, prescription, hobbies and frame that you select.

Did you know that many eyeglass shoppers have the mistaken assumption that a rimless frame will be lighter than a full metal frame or plastic frame? But if your prescription exceeds +2.00 Dioptars in power the glasses will be heavier because they have to be fabricated thicker for that part of the lens whose edge is not enclosed for safety reasons.

Do you know how many people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on high definition equipment so they can see their television shows in perfect optical clarity? Yet, a high percentage of those folks who completely wasted their money because they were not willing to spend one tenth of that amount on prescription lens that have a similar optical quality so that they may experience "high definition" in every corner of their world and not just one room in their home?

Life is too short not to see this world in the best optical clarity possible but you are stealing quality of life from yourselves if you do not seek help from a trusted optician. We are talking about correcting one of only five senses given to us by nature in order to comprehend and cope with every aspect of our existence.

That's right, a trusted optician. First of all, optical shops are not manned by store clerks in front of a cash register. They are trained professionals who have the knowledge to guide you to the decision that is best for you based on your personal needs. Are there some unethical practices? Of course. However, if you feel you've been deceived then do the same thing if it happens to a car mechanic. Go to a different optical!

Optical frames and lens aren't simply strands of metal and plastic fused together. Medication pills that help fight and cure life threatening diseases aren't just a bunch of random chemicals compacted into a small tablet. A lot of research, engineering, technological innovation, and financial commitment go into both. The frame and the pill that you buy may not have cost anywear near the $200 or $30 that you paid but the very first one produced cost hundreds of thousands to millions.

Did you know that we buy thousands of dollars worth of clothes to offer protection, comfort, and style? Yet, 90% of the time that investment is sitting in a closet of dirty clothes hamper. The majority of eyeglass wearers have one set that they wear almost all the time. Eyeglasses are just about the only way to physically change the appearence of your face without plastic surgery, they are a part of you that people see and notice every day because we tend to look people in the face when we are dealing with them.

What does your eyeglasses tell people about you?


Did you know that the concept of "head size" is practically irrelevant when it comes to buying eyeglass frames because new technology and innovation has resulted in the design of frames with temples that bow to a certain degree so that a large person with a heavy prescription doesn't have to wear a two ton monstrosity for them to feel proportional?

Did you know that the wrong choice of frame shape or bridge size can result in the geometic appearence of large noses, narrow eyes, and irregular and unattractive face shapes?

Did you know that imbedded in these "extravagent" optical shop prices are additional services like free cleaning, repairs, and adjustments, not to mention quick resolution to any issues from a recent purchase?

Eyeglass stores aren't for "suckers" any more than Barnes and Nobles is for those unfortunate enough to never hear of a library. They are for people who place a high priority on the simple desire to wear an attractive quality eyeglass frames with the best lens afforded by available technology while receiving asitance from someone who has been trained in that area.

 
At July 24, 2010 at 12:32 PM Meg said...

"I am sure that many of you are paying for internet service, cutting edge technology on your computer, have cell phones, etc."

Well, given that I am a broke college student living with my parents... no, I don't pay for internet. My computer was bottom-of-the-line when I purchased it three years ago (out of necessity, as my old one had a motherboard failure), despite me being a computer science student. My cell phone, I got as a present when I was 16, and I'm on the cheapest plan possible. I don't wear designer clothing either; in fact I intentionally avoid designer clothes because I want my money to go to the quality of construction, not a label that no one will see. I want to graduate with a minimum of debt, not wallow in luxury and then spend the rest of my life paying it off. Not everyone is as rich as you I guess. Between these 'let them eat cake' type remarks and the borderline racism of assuming everything from HK is cheap junk, your post actually pushed me into thinking more seriously about buying online. If those are the only reasons to shop local, then forget it. Frames don't magically become higher quality when a licensed optician purchases them from HK and resells them.

 
At July 26, 2010 at 12:17 PM Wet Shaving said...

It surprises me to see how many suckers actually fall for overpriced glasses

 
At August 3, 2010 at 9:33 AM Anonymous said...

I'm not against optometrists earning good money, but I am against them doing it by providing substandard care. Case in point, a nurse my wife works with recommended this optometrist to us and raved how great he was. I now call his practice "Home of the 5 minute eye exam," as he took a very short time(less than 10 minutes) with us and only had us read a couple of lines of text off the wall. That was my shortest eye exam ever.

On top of that, his front office staff scratched my wife's hi-index($300/each) lenses, and I had to actually ask for a place to wash my hands before removing my contact lenses.

When comparing his prescription and her last one, she thought something wasn't right, so she got a second opinion from her original optometrist, and found some of the numbers were transposed between R and L. Although my glasses are fine, I have one contact lens that hurts sometimes, so I'm going to get a second opinion as well.

As for opticians, we found an independent who took the time to make the prescriptions properly, adjust them, etc. and in fact, she said he was the first to ever give her a good pair of glasses for her high(-11) prescription. A frame he sold her broke and the coatings(which had been put on at the factory) on a pair of lenses cracked and he gave her a price break on both to replace them. Sadly, he retired due to declining health, so now we're in the hunt for someone new. Perhaps I can get her to buy online.

 
At August 5, 2010 at 11:40 AM Anonymous said...

UPDATE: The Five Minute Eye Exam

I went to see my original optometrist yesterday to get a second opinion and it turns out I was probably right to do so. My left contact lens, which even though I could see out of was giving me some eye strain, was underprescribed. I have a trial pair of lenses now that work much better.

As for my glasses prescription, Five Minute Eye Exam optometrist had a lower astigmatism rating for my right eye than my previous presciption(which his staff copied) and didn't catch the slight astigmatism I now have in my left eye. They did both agree however that I am on the borderline for bifocals.

I actually got what I think is a better prescription from WalMart than I did from an independent practice. In addition, the exam from WalMart was actually cheaper without insurance than the other place cost me with insurance.

You just never know who's going to be good and who isn't. Looks like all's well that ends well. Now need to go online and get a new pair of glasses!

 
At August 16, 2010 at 10:39 AM Anonymous said...

UPDATE: More on the Five Minute Eye Exam

My wife went back to her previous optometrist for an exam. It was a strange thing her prescription actually improved and she's been told by multiple specialists that will never happen. She had a pair of glasses made and was having problems with them, so she went back to the optometrist. The lenses matched the prescription, so he did some follow up and came up with a different set of numbers, and wrote her a prescription that was identical to her previous one that she was having problems with prior to the new one!

He then offered her either a refund or one more prescription but after that, he said he couldn't do anymore. She suspected she needed more strength but to keep the astigmatism the same. He did try some combinations of the numbers on the two prescriptions and came up with another one that we hope will be correct. She shouldn't have to go back 3 times to get it right.

It was just crazy. The problem these days is many optometrists are more concerned with volume than anything else, so they just try to run you in run you out, regardless of the quality of work.

UK consumer magazine Which? did an undercover study of optometrists and found nearly half of the exams were of poor quality. The information is here:
http://www.pupillary-distance.net/?page_id=291

I wonder if such a thing has ever been done in my country, the U.S.A? It wouldn't surprise me if the results were similar.

On another note the website I mentioned is a UK based site trying to get the law changed in that country to make PD part of the prescription. I think we need something like that here in the U.S.A. How do we get the ball rolling?

http://www.pupillary-distance.net

 
At November 26, 2010 at 1:33 AM Joe said...

That guy who made an analogy of buying books at Barnes & Noble instead of going to the library being the same as buying glasses at Lenscrafters instead of the internet is sadly clueless. First off, a multitude of books on B&N or Amazon are not available in the library. Secondly, books costs $10, glasses costs $500-800 without insurance. Does the technology in Rx glasses the same as a new computer or an iPad? A nice designer pair of glasses with progressive lenses and all the bells and whistles should not cost you more than $300 and that's without insurance. You can buy designer pairs online for a lot cheaper than what Lenscrafters is selling....heck you can buy the frames even cheaper on eBay if you don't mind going that route and you already know the brand and model you want. If you have your prescription you have a choice of going to any reasonably priced local optician to install the lenses and although it's cheaper online to get the lenses, there are drawbacks. It all depends if the extra cost (maybe $100 or more) of the convenience and the personal service is worth to you. Otherwise the lenses you get on the internet has the same quality as the store bought brands.

 
At May 31, 2012 at 12:19 AM vanessadg van said...

Interesting article! I also wear glasses and I know how hard it is to find exactly the pair that would be ideal, and went on design and price. On-line shopping at the same time, it is very easy to order. There are usually represented by a huge, wide range. For example I can easily chose a pair of Oakley glasses at an affordable price and excellent quality.

 
At July 11, 2012 at 4:49 AM Tyler Cameron said...

I live in Virginia Beach, moved from Memphis. In Memphis, I went to Eyear. Never had issues with them. In Virginia Beach, I had Atlantic Eyecare. HORRIBLE. GODAWFUL. 3 visits! First visit, they got my axis wrong on one eye! It SHOULD be 128. THEY STARTED WITH 019!! 2nd visit, I came back, complaining of headaches. THey realized they got axis wrong - changed it from 019 -> 055. Ok. Better?.. But they also decided my rx was too high? ok. Whatever, I trusted them. Week later, headaches (this time due to the significant chromatic aberration + to weak of an rx. ) I wrote a bad review of them on Google Places, criticizing their bad customer service. (more on that in a bit..) Removed 2 days later cause I wanted to give them another chance.
Big mistake. I go back a 3rd time, and the 2nd time, I had requested CR39 lenses, I CANNOT STAND polycarbonate! The chromatic aberration is unacceptable! But they denied me that option because I'm under 18 and they don't want to be held liable if they shatter, ok, I asked "So why not just have my mom sign a waiver?" And they deflected, saying they would be almost twice as thick and heavy?... Right.. I let them give me poly again...
Back to my 3rd visit: I get in the exam room, When the guy came into the exam room, he said in a very rude tone, "I read your review about us online.". Still continuing this tone, accusing me of derogatory remarks, "we don't appreciate it!" And all that. Then he told me that after that exam, they will not be servicing me anymore because of that, and then I asked if after the exam, I could have my documents, and he continued the rude tone "I don't know. We'll have to see. Maybe you should think about it before making derogatory comments" He gave me an exam and FINALLY, it's at least closeish. He said it was similar to the rx I got after the first exam visit... ok. Whatever.
I'm vacationing in Memphis, my online cheap glasses broke on my plane cause I was being an idiot... didn't exactly have a choice to buy online cause without glasses, for a WEEK, that would completely ruin the vacation because I've got a pretty strong rx.
My dad took me to Eyear, even though we hadn't been there in over 6 years... AMAZING customer service!!! Lady scanned my lenses from the borked frames and they got my Rx from that. I asked what their cheapest frames were, they showed me an entire section with $69 frames (and pretty nice ones at that) and asked "How much are CR39 lenses?" and she didn't hesitate, told me $72. Fair enough. I picked a frame and asked how long, an hour. Perfect! So she checks my rx once more and starts to go in the back room and made sure, "And they'll be CR39?" she confirmed that, again, no hesitance.. Shocked, I said "Fantastic!!" smiling! I come back an hour later, and sure enough, they're CR39, are not "almost twice as thick" as my poly lenses, they're heavier, but it actually makes the frame feel of higher quality. Further confirmed they were CR39 by looking for color fringing. Sure enough, they are CR39!! They didn't even need to have my dad sign a waiver, which I thought was kinda strange, but ok. But the price was not unreasonable, yes, I needed glasses QUICK, but if the same place was in Virginia Beach, I would GLADLY pay that premium for their amazing customer care and service. Less than $175? That's terrific, and to my surprise, the frames online are actually more expensive! They're even my favorite frames thus far, and I usually pick rather expensive frames. I'm extremely satisfied!

 

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