There are a number of ways to buy prescription eyeglasses, including from local opticians, independent optometrists, optical departments in big-box retailers, and online-only vendors. Regardless of the option you choose, the good news is that prescription eyeglasses do not have to cost hundreds of dollars.
There are two ways you can purchase prescription eyeglasses — in person or online. To use an online provider, you will need to see an eye doctor for a routine exam first. It is surprisingly easy to upload your prescription to purchase eyeglasses online.
There are a number of things to consider before you decide where to buy glasses, such as the quality of frames, accuracy of lenses, customer service, total price including shipping, return and refund policies, and accessibility. Using these criteria and my research, here are eight of the best places to order eyeglasses.
BEST EYEGLASSES IN-STORE
Costco Optical is definitely worth visiting if you’re more comfortable ordering frames in person, which is the traditional way, and you’re a Costco member. Costco Optical is hands-down my No. 1 pick for in-store optical services. It is a great place to get a quality eye exam and complete optical services.
Costco Optical customer service is extraordinary, much like you’d find at the offices of an independent doctor of optometry. The big difference is not only how much money you save at Costco but also the top-notch service after the sale. If you’re not happy, Costco will give you your money back, unless prohibited by state law.
At Costco Optical, an eye exam costs, on average, $79. Eyeglasses, including frames and lenses, start at $120.
BEST EYEGLASSES ONLINE
ZenniOptical.com is an industry disruptor when it comes to buying eyeglasses. The online-only store offers the absolute cheapest prices on plastic frames and includes the cost of single-vision plastic lenses in those prices — starting as low as $6.95. Progressive lenses are surprisingly affordable.
You can actually try on frames using the virtual try-on tool (it’s so slick how that works). With its great prices and customer service, Zenni is the best place to buy eyeglasses online.
I have been a customer of Zenni Optical for a number of years and still find this to be the best place to buy prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses. Several times, I have seen my Costco eye doctor for a routine exam and then gone, prescription in hand, to Zenni Optical to select and purchase the eyeglasses. It’s easy.
At Zenni, you’ll find a wide range of frame styles and lens options available, and it’ll be easy to place an order through their website. You can expect your glasses to ship for $4.95. They usually take three to five business days to arrive.
I should note that while in the past Zenni has fallen short for its customer service, the company has really stepped it up in recent years. I have never had a problem. In fact, once when I needed to make a return when the frames did not fit well, Zenni replaced my purchase quickly with no questions asked. Zenni’s customer service is excellent.
OTHER BEST PLACES
Costco Optical and Zenni Optical are not the only great places to buy prescription eyewear. However, due to the limitation of space here and for your convenience, I have compiled the details for six additional best sources to buy prescription eyeglasses at EverydayCheapskate.com/eyeglasses.
GOOD TO KNOW
The cheap prices from online retailers can be very enticing. Just keep in mind that before you order from a site like Zenni Optical, you need to get an exam and updated prescription from an eye doctor. Once you have that in hand, the online provider will walk you through the steps to submit your prescription.
You’ll also need to find out your pupillary distance, which is the space between the centers of your pupils, measured in millimeters. Certain frames will not work with certain pupillary distances because the center of the lenses will either be too wide or too narrow. You need a fit that’s just right.
If your pupillary distance is already noted on your prescription, you are good to go. If not, many doctors will provide this information upon request.
Under the Federal Trade Commission’s Eyeglass Rule, doctors must:
— Give you a prescription for glasses at the end of your exam.
— Not require an extra fee or sign a waiver in exchange for the prescription.
— Not require that you buy your glasses from the eye doctor to get your prescription,
In some states, your doctor is also required to give you your pupillary distance. You can always ask for this even if it isn’t included in your prescription. If all else fails and you have a doctor who is just not cooperating, you can follow Zenni Optical’s guide on its website for how to measure your pupillary distance at home.
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