I recently developed a need for prescription eyewear. Now that's not surprising at my age of forty-mumble, but it was a concern to me given that I'm watching my pennies like so many these days. I was very concerned with the potential cost of glasses since the eye doctor recommended lineless bifocals and I know they are expen$ive!
After my eye exam, I did some research (like a good little librarian) and came up with this article from the Chicago Tribune a couple of years ago. It mentioned that good prices could be had from online glasses vendors when time wasn't an issue, and it mentioned one vendor in particular, Zenni Optical. I decided to give them a try.
Let me tell you, I am now the Missionary of Zenni Optical. I could not be happier with my glasses.
I dug out my prescription from the eye doctor and tried to interpret it. On the Zenni Optical site they have a nice page telling you how to take your basic prescription and calculate the correct lenses to order for various specialized types of glasses. Naturally I set up an Excel spreadsheet to do the math for me! Since their base price for a pair of single-vision lenses is a whopping eight dollars, I decided to go hog wild. I ordered:
A pair of single vision reading glasses and a pair of single vision computer glasses, both with the same half-rim frame, eight bucks each:
I color coded them so I can tell them apart: the readers are green and the computer glasses are pink.
I decided to get the bifocals too. According to the website, the lineless kind are sometimes not that great when your overall prescription is weak (my eyes aren't all that bad). It turns out that often the "useful" part of the lens is pretty small and you spend all day tilting your head around to get the good bit in front of whatever you're trying to look at. I decided to try conventional lined bifocals. And anyhow those are about $12 cheaper. With the leftover money I splurged on some fancier frames:
Even with the frame upgrade, that pair only ran me $46.
Just for yuks, I added a pair of prescription sunglasses (distance prescription only) with some $8 purple frames. The sunglass tint added all of $4.95. So I got four pairs of prescription eyeglasses, including bifocals and sunglasses, for... wait for it...
$80.85. Including shipping. From somewhere in the Far East where they are made. (Which, to be fair, took about three weeks. If you need your glasses in a more timely fashion, this is not your store.)
One caveat. Make sure you have the eye doc write down your pupillary distance or you'll end up like me. I didn't know to request this, and my eye doc's office says they don't measure it. That's why I found myself staring past a friend's head while she held a ruler across the bridge of my nose! She apparently did a good job, since my glasses aren't giving me headaches.
Now, I wouldn't presume to tell anyone what kind of decisions to make with their own personal eyeballs. I only note that everyone I tell this story to winces, sucks air through their teeth, and tells me how much they spent on whatever glasses they themselves are wearing at the time. And those numbers are remarkably different!
Edited to add: Click here to download a Zenni calculator in Excel. Made by me; all errors mine; use at your own risk!