Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers (reader's tip)

Tired of paying outrageous prices for your glasses? Our reader Kris Wolff gave us a great tip on Glassy Eyes, a blog about one man's quest to find reasonably priced designer eyewear.

Glassy Eyes is a good place to find deals for glasses and share stories with fellow ocular bargain hunters. Ira (the blog's author) also writes detailed reviews of his favorite online vendors.

Do these deal sites actually work? Are you going to go blind wearing this stuff? Our reader Kris was able to find $26 glasses that could've easily cost her $400:

I tried one of the companies [Glassy Eyes] recommended, goggles4u.com. I got my glasses with all the usual coatings (UV protection, scratch-resistant, etc.) at no charge, there was no charge for regular shipping, and I got a free hard case and cleaning cloth. My glasses came in about 10 days.

How much? $25.99.

They look very similar to a pair of DKNY glasses that a big chain store was going to charge me $400 for. I am really happy with my glasses and just wanted to share this with other people — I had no idea websites like this existed

After saving that much money, Kris couldn't resist buying a few more pairs:

I ordered a second pair of glasses from another site that Glassy Eyes recommended — Zenni Optical. They have some cheaper glasses than Goggles4u starting at $8.95, but as you can imagine those are not so stylish.

Of the $19 plastic selection, I found two or three pairs that I liked, and ordered one, which was pictured in the tortoise shell color only, but said that it was also available in "light blue." The anti-reflective coating was an additional $4.95 and shipping was another $4.95 for a total of $28.90.

They came in last night, about 10 days after I ordered them, and also came with a hard case and cleaning cloth. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed by the "light blue" which could better be described as "crystal blue" — clear, with only a slight tinge of blue. The nice thing about Goggles4u is that they show every pair of glasses in every color available, so you have a better sense of what the color is going to be. It's like when catalogues use colors like "loden," "moss," or "forest" and you don't know if they are all about the same color or wildly different.

At these prices I'm going to go buy another pair from Goggles4u (who offer a 15% discount on repeat orders). And Glassy Eyes often has discounts posted for the various online eyeglass stores, so people should check there before placing their orders.

Thanks for the great tips Kris!

I know many people are wary of buying cheap glasses. "You only get one pair of eyes," my mom used to tell me (usually when I'm entering my 18th hour of Starcraft nerdery). Similarly concerned for our welfare, an optician actually contacted Ira about the dangers of buying cheap glasses. Here's Ira's response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Way to stick it to the man, Ira!

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Andrea Karim's picture

I might have to try this. After my Lasik failed me, I'm going to have to start shopping for specs again. And I was just dreading what I knew would be a giant bill at the end of the day, even after insurance covers the cost of the lenses and all. Forget the "additional service". I've never been to a optician who was going to give me more than the most basic, cursory service. For under $60 for glasses, I say forget service.

Will Chen's picture

I didn't know Lasik can stop working.  On the bright side, you can probably pull off that Lisa Loeb look.

Andrea Karim's picture

I did! I had an awesome pair, and I looked so cute in them. I was just hoping to finally go through life without having to spend every few minutes searching for my glasses, so I poured the thousands into Lasik. Some people's eyes will go back to the way they were before, and I was one of the lucky few. So, Lisa Loebiness, here I come.

Jessica Okon's picture

Hug for this post! My glasses got crushed. Long story.

Jessica Okon's picture

Oh yeah, if you are so inclined, you can buy your own  ultrasonic cleaner  for under 50  bucks. You can clean both your glasses & jewlery (don't use it for pearls or other porous stones.)

Also, I have had my eyeglasses adjusted for free at both Wal-Mart Optical, Lens Crafters and the local shop where I actually bought my frames. Just go in when they are not busy. 


Guest's picture

When I was in college I went to get a new eyeglasses prescription from a local store. After checking my eyes he started to try to sell me glasses. When I told him I wanted to get my glasses from my usual provider back home he made a mark on the prescription paper and handed it to me. It turned out that that mark was to change the sign on the prescription for astigmatism. Since I didn't buy glasses from him he gave me the wrong prescription.

This is why I like to get my prescription checked at lens crafters. The way they are set up is that the people who check your eyes are a different business from the people who sell you glasses. You get a prescription and pay for it and then go over to the other folks to get the prescription filled.

The last time I bought glasses I got the prescription there but then ordered the glasses from the internet.

If you do this, make sure the prescription is completely filled out. My prescription didn't have the interpupilary distance and I had to measure it myself.

Guest's picture

The optician inside the Lenscrafter store was the one that checked my prescription, then I bought my glasses online. The Goggles4U site doesn't ask for the pupil distance, but the Zenni site does - point for them, I guess. They say the average is 62mm, which is what I used, since I found it very hard to measure my own pupil distance.

Andrea Karim's picture


I can't verify that they are great or anything, just found them.

Guest's picture
Rob O.

We hadn’t discovered Ira’s site before doing so, but last month, we bought glasses online for our 2 year old son. The biggest problem we were having when looking locally is that none of the brick & mortar shops in our area carry eyeglass frames small enough for an infant/toddler.

We found frames at Zenni Optical that were not only sized right, but were made of titanium memory metal and featured the wrap-around tips on the earpieces. He has definitely put those frame’s flexibility & durability to the test — and so far, they’re still in one piece!

We had the lenses validated by a local optician and they’re exactly as prescribed. And for $35 shipped, we couldn’t be happier. Now if we could just get the kiddo to leave them on…

Guest's picture
Crystal The Optician

I do agree. Eyeglass store are for suckers IF you have a simple Rx however if you have a more complex Rx i.e. bifocal without a line or a post cataract surgury Rx then you should definitley visit a smaller optical shop. Forget about the big box stores; they wouldn't have a clue about these types of RXs'.

Guest's picture

I have a pair of glasses that I bought last year and I hate them. They are too heavy. The glasses are very stylish and a name brand. My problem is that they don't stay on my nose because my bridge is very short. Here is my question: why can't I sell my glasses/frames? I have another pair of Guess glasses that I can't wear because they are the wrong script (long story). What do you think?

Guest's picture

Another great site is www.replacementlensexpress.com.
They specialize in the prescription lenses, which start at $25 for single vision. I found great success with this company and really appreciated their attentive customer service. They've only just started adding eyewear (Ray-Ban Wayfarers) and I think they will add more. In the mean time, you just have to e-mail them the frames you are interested in and they will send back a price quote and beat anything else that's out there online.

Guest's picture

Thanks for sharing. I’m a glasses wearer and I have been since I was 18 years old. And my favorite online store is GlassesShop.com, GlassesShop offers a 110% lowest price guarantee, 100% satisfaction guarantee.