Online Optics

eyeglasses

Dede & I had both been wanting to get some new eyeglasses for a few months now—we were both overdue for new ‘scripts and the rough & tumble nature of being a toddler’s parents had taken its toll on our glasses. (A nasty heel swipe to the nose in October was the last straw, so I bent my mangled glasses back into some facsimile of proper shape and made an appointment with my optometrist.)

Anyway, like us, many of you probably have often winced at the sky-high prices at the local EyeMasters, LensCrafters or other such "brick & mortar" eyeglass shops. But you pry open your wallet, pony up the big bucks, and get what you need—at a very premium price. And since Dede & I both started doing the bifocal bugaloo a couple of years ago, our glasses are all the more pricey. But this time was different…

When we went looking for glasses to fit Liam last year, we couldn’t find a single store locally that carried a frame small enough to fit a 2 year old. One shop did offer one pair of glasses that came close, but those were $130 just for the frame and didn’t feature springy hinges, flexy temples, or anything that would inspire us to believe that they’d hold up to a toddler’s torture. But then another adoptive couple told us about Zenni Optical and the results couldn’t have been better!

So, when it came time for us to get some new specs, we decided to boldly venture into the world of online eyeglasses too!   I picked out a snazzy pair of light, rimless, frames with Transitions-style progressive (no-line) bifocal lenses, treated with anti-glare pixie-dust—all for under $100 shipped! Dede opted for a half-rimless pair with progressive lenses and some funky plastic-framed sunglasses with a cool hibiscus design on the temples for less than $100 shipped! That’s a fraction of what a single pair of similar glasses would cost locally!

Buying glasses sight unseen (rimshot) does seem like a daunting proposition, but once you break it down, it’s not too tough. You just need the dimensions from glasses you own or a pair you like at a store. For example, my previous frames were 53mm wide by 27mm tall, had a bridge width of 17mm, and temple length of 140mm. So using those measurements as a guide when shopping online for my new glasses, I looked for a pair that closely matched so they’ fit well and be proportionate for my face.

So yeah, buying glasses online is a little intimidating at first but the incredibly low prices make it easy to venture into the unknown!

And it also helps that there’s a large and rapidly-growing subculture of glasses-wearers who use online optical shops. Ira Mitchell’s excellent GlassyEyes.com website has a wealth of useful info specific to this.   The GlassyEyes forum is a hotbed of discussions where friendly & knowledgeable folks will help you ease into this new frontier with lots of anecdotal info & suggestions. For example, having never gone “rimless” before, I was nervous about the thickness of the lens and one of the helpful guys posted a link to a handy Lens Thickness Calculator tool that put my mind at ease.

Update:   In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve gotta admit that those snazzy rimless frames sounded better than they actually worked out to be.   The temples were an Oakley-style straight-legged affair so they slid off nearly every time I bent over.   I don’t fault Zenni for this — I just chose a frame style that was too different and loosely-fitting than what I’m used to.   They’re still well worth having as a backup though.

And when we had Liam’s eyes checked a few weeks ago, his vision had changed enough that he needed new lenses. But Zenni no longer carries the frame we bought for him last year or any other comparable childrens’ models. So, based on the excellent reviews on GlassyEyes, we tried a very similar pair from Coastal Contacts.   Thanks to a fantastic half-off seasonal promotion, I bought new glasses for both Liam and myself for slightly under $50, they arrived a mere 8 days after I placed the order, and they’re great!

So, if you’re ready for some new glasses and are tired of getting robbed blind (rimshot) by the high-priced local retailers, I highly recommend trying one of the online stores. At $35-50 for a pair of glasses, you can afford to experiment a little.

2 Comments

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