Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers

November 10, 2006

WE’VE MOVED! This post, the conversation, and research have shifted to GlassyEyes.com. Join us for in-depth recommendations and horror stories. It seems that quite a few people are looking for alternatives to over-priced eyewear.


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. Snap!

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?


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.

UPDATE TWO: Thanks for all of the kind words and thoughtful responses! I can’t believe the nerve this has touched. Want to share your experiences? I’ve started an aggregator site (http://www.glassyeyes.com), that will hopefully evolve into both a place to rate the shoppes and discuss this topic further. I really feel like the can of worms may be open now. Let me know what you think!

158 Responses to “Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers”

  1. aApe Says:

    this is great. thanks.
    how do you get them bent to fit your face just right when you get them online? do you just go back to hourglass, and act like you got them there and are in for a tune up?

  2. gloveshot Says:

    I thought I was getting a good deal with high-end looking glasses from Costco for $110 that had better fit and clarity than those costing 3 to 5 times as much. BTW, LensCrafters doesn’t have the ability to make lenses to fit my prescription.

  3. Danny Says:

    I’m in the same boat. What I’m wondering is: Doesn’t the tech who adjusts the lenses to the frame have to do some measuring on your face? I recall someone measuring the distance between my two eyes or nose width or something at Lenscafters, but I can’t remember if that was the tech or the optometrist.

    I’ll definitely shop online for new glasses though…


  4. Joel Says:

    On my medical plan, and of most people I know, we get $200 off of eye glasses every 2 years. That might explain why the stores make it their starting price, even if they aren’t worth that much.

    I’ll ask around, but I know of *very* few people with such a benefit.

  5. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers [3mew.Wordpress] […]

  6. andrew Says:

    I did all the measurements and ordered a pair of sunglasses from an online store, and they set me back about $90, and…they didn’t fit. At all. Like I felt like I was wearing kid’s sunglasses. I don’t know if they screwed up and sent me the wrong size or what, but I mailed them back and got a refund of about $10 after their return charges.
    A few months later I spent about $250 to get a pair locally. I wish there were middle ground, where you could get fitted locally, and get them mailed to you a month later for 1/3 the cost.

    My argument is that there *is* a market for a middle ground, all it takes is some pressure from the populace.

  7. rootless Says:

    And here I thought Costco was a good deal. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Screen Rant Says:

    Very timely article for me as I’m in dire need of a new pair. I was going to do Costco, but I’ll check out your recommendations.



  9. Gremlin Says:

    I’ve ordered from web discounters for my last two pairs of glasses. Retail stores still have a purpose for me — they are basically a fitting room. I go to the overpriced mall store or spectacle boutique, find the frames I want there, write down all the info, order online at a fraction of the price, and return to the retail store to get my new glasses adjusted periodically. A little more research and legwork, but I save a bundle and have great glasses.

  10. steveodom Says:

    Nice. I am in the market for frames, but was hesitant to buy online. Not anymore.

  11. Darrell Says:

    Well, at least at these prices, I would not flip out if they were not perfect. At around $300+, I’m just about never satisfied with the glasses.

    One of the underlying themes of my qwest. 😉

  12. John Reese Says:

    While I personally refuse to buy my glasses online (as I feel about most major purchases), I have found that shopping for glasses at the local Sam’s Club is an incredible steal as well. I got a good pair of g;asses (generic half rim) with a guarantee, high-index lens with anti-scratch coating, for $160. Can’t beat that from a store.

    However, seeing prices this low just may tempt me to do the unthinkable next time I need to replace what I have….

  13. Kint Says:

    Awesome research, keep it up. Thanks for the info!

  14. John Farrell Says:

    I think your article took down the website so I’ll ask here.
    Did the prescription match up right? Is your optical center were it should be?
    I’m a lower income individual and have been saving up for new glasses for months now, this might be just what I need. Thanks for the great post.

    Optically, they’re a step up from my last pair (probably due to the lack of scratches and AR coating — couldn’t afford those *luxuries* last time around). Optical center seems dead on. With all things… YMMV, but it might be worth a try.

  15. kingkong Says:

    I would never have thought of buying glasses online. I’ll have to check it out

  16. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com […]

  17. totalpardo Says:

    thanks bro – this is a nice find to save some cashola. i am definitely trying your suggestions.

  18. Dale Cruse Says:

    Oh hell yes. Think I’ll order a pair or two tonight. Thanks!

  19. Ryan Says:

    Looks to me like you borked zenni optical’s site. 🙂 Nice work!

    I’m in desperate need of a new pair of spectacles and will definately try this out.

  20. Stephanie Says:

    You stated that you are an informed shopper; however, perhaps not informed enough. You were originally interested in Silhouette frames. As an optician, I can assure you that you get what you pay for. In our store, we will only carry Silhouette rimless frames because they are FAR superior to any other rimless system that is currently produced. They are made of hyperflex titanium (5X stronger than beta titanium). In addition, they have no screws, require very little adjustment and weigh less than 1 ounce. They are also the leader in rimless frames and are the first to come out with new technology. Our mark up on frames is no where near 1000% as you stated. 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). 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. 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. Most stores will also price match online offers when possible to keep their customers happy and coming back. Now for the issue of your ‘cheap’ lenses, I can assure you that the lenses that you received are ‘cheap’ as well. There are lenses that can be purchased from manufacturers for as little as $2-$3 per lens but are distorted and very poor quality. Opticians are trained to know the differences between these substandard lenses and the good stuff. Let me use this example: there are wide ranges of prices for diamonds. You can pay as little as $50–and in return you get poor cut, clarity and color so is that really a bargain?? Again, you get what you pay for. I would recommend that you take your glasses (which probably cost the seller a total of $10-$11) to a qualified optician. They can put your lenses in a strain-o-scope to show you the extent of the distortion in your lenses and may be able to point out all of the defects and incorrect measurements as well. I also want to state that not all opticians are created equal…..find a reputable optician (not likely to find this in a chain) and they will truly be able to get you the most value for your money.

    Click here for my point-by-point response.

  21. camille Says:

    I got my glasses from $99 and $50 for the lenses here in NY Chinatown. I am considering getting new frames from ebay and just getting the shop to put in lenses. Your’e totally right! Glasses can really be insanely overpriced!

  22. thomas hebert Says:

    The only difficult part I’ve found in getting glasses via the web is that the local optometrist (at least in the State of Georgia) who develops your prescription won’t always want to provide you with your PD measurement, which is your distance between your pupils or eyes. This proves to be the thing handcuffing many people to a local eyeglass store.

    I’m pretty sure he’s required to provide it to you — assuming you’re paying for his services. Start reading this to him when he refuses. I have a feeling he’ll just write it down to make you stop. 😉
    – Ira

    • JeanAnn Miller Says:

      I had my husband measure for me – we had a ruler with mm on the bottom side. Then one day in Wal-Mart’s Optical dept, I asked them to measure – was 1 mm different which is not enough to make a difference. I would even bet my husband’s measurements were more accurate!

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  24. Tony Says:

    re: Stephanie’s comments:

    Your whole post sounds like a desperate person realizing that the “cat’s out of the bag”, so-to-speak, as far as eye glass purchases go.

    While there’s (almost) always a way to justify outrageous pricing, and exhorborant markups, the return on investment is largely based on how purchaser feels about their purchase (In this case, how the glasses fit, how good of quality the lenses are, and how the wearer feels about the overall look of the glasses when they’re wearing them).

    I’m sure that most Audi and Mercedes dealers will tell you that you’re paying so much for one of their new cars because you’re getting all that great German engineering, and the quality of the ride and such, but when you get right down to it, most of us cannot afford new Audi’s and Mercedes, and in the end will find a much lower priced car that meets the needs, be it new or used.

    We might lust after that new Audi A8, but when it comes right down to it, a Honda or a VW will likely meet our needs, and will carry a price tag of less than half that of an Audi. The money saved can be put towards improving other facets of our life.

    I see glasses the same way. We could spend a ton of money to get “the best” glasses (in your example, “hyperflex titanium” vs. “beta titanium”), but for most people, they’ll never know the difference. As long as the glasses fit nice, look nice, and allow us to see better, they’re fulfilling their purpose.

    Yeah, the cheaper glasses might wear a bit sooner than the ultra-elite glasses, but when you can buy 5-6 pairs of them for that money, who cares???

    I could go on, but your post really convinced me that this articles right on the money. If someone such as yourself felt so compelled to try and “sell us” on why the prices opticians charge are worth it, then it drives home the point of “Oh shit – They’re on to us! Better try and justify the prices we charge and retain a few customers”.

    A shorter, post with less “I know this because I’m an optician” diatribe would have proven your point better. The fact that you felt compelled to go into such detail tells me that this guy’s onto something with these mail order shops.

    I for one will be looking online before dropping any coin w/my local glass dealers. Thanks for the article, and Stephanie, thanks for your feedback!

    • peter Says:

      yes . the dollar store has frames for $1. i bet the frames costs less than that too make i bet u any money. same as the liquid they use fro anti reflecting etc probably $30 for a 20 lire jug (5 gallons). its hiway robbery. and i’m not saying they shouldnt make money. but come on. by the way the store i went to had a sale 199 for 2 pairs, but with anti reflection coatins comes to 299 plus tax. and if i only want 1 pair of the exact same frame its 329!!! for 1pair and 299 for 2 !!!! tell me how much the profit is now!! this is just a general reply to all the posts.

  25. Riley Says:

    Note too how eyeglass stores *never* seem to be able to install an updated prescription into one’s existing frames. The “racket” is always to make the customer purchase frames rather than simply put new lenses into an existing frameset…

  26. Stan Says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with the markup. My brother in law is an optometrist, and he and his wife run their practice and optical shop in a high end shopping center in a large city. They both drive Mercedes, and my bro-in-law hints that they net over a half million dollars a year. Even if he’s bragging, there’s no doubt that they still pull in a large chunk of change (easily $300K/year).

    I have no way to validate this claim. Let’s see some W2’s people! 😉
    – Ira

  27. Douglas Says:

    I call shenanagans ^^^

  28. Tasha Says:

    Oh, all of you should take a trip to South Korea. I’ve been living here for nearly 11 years, and I can tell you that it’s the bandwith capital of the world, but also the glasses capital of the world. Since the majority of South Koreans wear some sort of corrective lenses, the service and product are excellent, and the price is inexpensive.
    I visit the USA every summer, and usually have an annual eye exam while I’m there. I bring my prescription to my favorite An-Gyoung (glasses store) when I get back to South Korea, and have it filled in about 15 minutes. The frames, high-index lenses, protective coating, and photochromatic treatment never set me back more than 60,000 won, which is approximately $60.
    Additionally, adjustments and basic replacement parts (screws, nosepads, etc.) are free for life. You can also stop in any glasses store (and there are many), to use their ultrasonic cleaning machines free of charge. You’ll also find the cleaning machine inside many department stores.

    Your story seems to be a recurring one. We’re being screwed over here to be sure. It’s time to see that end.
    – Ira

  29. Douglas Says:

    (I was responding to Stephanie) “not informed enough” … “I’m an optician” … “support your community” . I’m all about supporting my community, but I don’t think overpaid / overcharging doctors are in need. Go grocery shopping somewhere outside of publix or buy your vaccumes from somewhere instead of wal mart. Plus, I’ll always be going back to the doctor for eye exams.

  30. Steve Says:

    Online retailers have acceptable to excellent quality of frames and lenses. Few simple reasons are that they don’t have to pay rent save on other related expenses generally incureed to run a physical outlet. This way they are able to pass on the savings to their online customers. It is no more a hidden truth that physical eyeglasses retailers do charge alot, if not 1000% more than atleast 3x more than what they cost them. If you are looking for name brands then you may not find major difference as the the company like D&G or Silhouette are already very expensive but you are smart enough to know why they are so expensive. Every other so called name brand is being manufacturered in third world country.
    In my opinion online retailers have far more experience then a normal retailer due to huge volumes and when I received my first pair, honestly speaking I was unable to find any difference with my $400 frame and lenses. Still using the one I bought on the internet for 25.99
    Most of these sites have very good guide of how to measure them online and order. In 99% cases you don’t need to adjust them and they also have very good after sales service to maitain there market ruputation.
    Another valuable piece of infomration: In USA FDA only allows quality lens and frame material based on impact resistance do what you are getting is FDA approved otherwise no one can sell them.
    Complementary services like ultra sonic cleaning may be just to make you feel better. By the way you can get good ultra sonic clearner for just $30 why go for $300 eyeglasses (I am using eyeglasses for last 10 years never used ultra sonic clearner)
    My Suggestion is to stop buying glasses at local store and get use to buy glasses online. Invest your saving elsewhere.

  31. Stephanie Says:

    re: tony

    While you may not splurge for that Audi A8, I do notice that you would at least go for the Honda or VW and not settlle for a ’95 Geo Prism. Going for all of the bells and whistles is not for everyone but I do suggest that not all online optical deals are actually GOOD deals. As far as the mark up, maybe it depends on where you are located. As for Columbus, Ohio, we are very competitively priced. (and for the record, we do put lenses into patients own frames if they are in good condition). Unfortunately, once most people are “screwed over” by an optical shop (or any type of shop for that matter), it is difficult to trust in another one.

  32. Jeri Says:

    For the person who mentioned not being given the “PD.” All people who do eye exams are required by Federal mandate to provide your PD. It’s part of your prescription, you paid for it, and are entitled to it. Accept no excuses for not being given the information.
    It is also not rocket science. If you have someone measure the distance from the center of the pupil of one eye, to the center of the pupil of the other eye with the centimeter scale of a regular foot ruler, and multiply the answer in centimeters, by 10, you have the millimeter PD.
    When this measurement is being done, you should be focusing on a distant object, and not looking at the person who is going the measurement.
    There are several ways of expressing PD in writing. You might see something like 68/65, which means that your distance vision PD is 68mm, but to convert your multifocal prescription to single vision reading, you narrow the PD by 3mm – because we become slightly cross-eyed when reading something (up close viewing). It may also be expressed as a reading like 30.5/32 – add the two together and round up for your workable PD. These are the measurements from the center outward to each pupil.
    But remember, you are legally entitled to the information as part of your prescription, and many prescription forms include a designation for PD, whether it’s been recorded for you, or not. If not, call the office and request the information. It’s not being there is carelessness at best, and frequently is not included by design.

    Indeed you are!
    – Ira

  33. esondag Says:

    I found it interesting that the optician who commented accused the online resellers of making approximately a 500% markup, and further suggested that a reputable optician’s markup is nowhere near 1000%.

    So what is the markup? 500% is nowhere near 1000%. Hell, 700% isn’t really that close, either, and 300% is wayyyy off. But even a 300% markup amounts to ridiculous profiteering after considering the cost of overhead, service, expertise, and the revenue limitations inherent in servicing a small population of buyers (i.e. low sales volume).

    It’s ironic that the optician chose diamonds as an example supporting the ‘quality’ argument. Diamond costs and profit margins are likewise artificially controlled by small groups of sellers, and the diamond cartels fall back on the same arguments when presented with any negative insights into their operations and business practices.

    Just the same way that Wal-Mart killed the corner store, opticians are under fire from online retailers. Differentiate or disappear. The free lunch is over.

  34. Marisa Says:

    I usually order my frames online, and then bring them to a really good local shop for the lenses. I have ultra-high-index lenses (or whatever they’re calling the super-thin ones these days), and it’s important to me that they be just right.
    That said, the last time I got new lenses, I went to Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s), and they totally messed it up. The glasses just don’t have the right focal point for me, because for some reason they assumed that I’d be wearing my glasses jammed up against my forehead. I went back three times for re-adjustments and to try to get them to redo the lenses, but they still pretty much suck (for more than $150, too). I either wear them so that I can see, but have my lashes brushing the lenses, or move them to a more reasonable position and can’t see very well.
    Next time, I’m getting the whole shebang online. Damn.

    Yeah, just because you buy *in* a store doesn’t mean they’ll work right. It is often (but not always as you can see here) easier to to get it fixed from a brick and mortar, but at what cost? Ordering online isn’t for everyone, but it is certainly a viable option for most.

  35. brent Says:

    Great story! This is what I’m looking for. Just curious, what styles did you buy from those online stores. I really like the rimless ones you have the picture of. Thanks!

  36. Theokie Says:

    I work on the receiving dock for one of the largest distributor of sunglasses and prescription frames, and well receiving the freight i see the invoices on all varieties of frames, cheap ones to high end designers, and well the mark up is damn near 1000 percent when we get almost 1000 dozen frames for 16,000 dollars from China, or 250 dozen for 10,000 from Italy for some very well known designers.
    Also doing Quality control on the freight, i can say there is a difference between the store brand and the designer frames but well the differences aren’t really worth the price, generally just a bit lighter, more vibrant color or better polished.

    I’d LOVE to get a couple copies of some invoices. Email me at ‘glassyeyes [at] gmail.com’ please!
    – Ira

    • james Says:

      Im afraid this guy is way off mark. Invoices are for inventory control purposes only. They dont show how many frames where ordered from the manufacturer to get them at that price. I happen to know for a fact the cost that goes into manufacturing both Zyl and metal frames, to get 12k frames of china quality at .75 cents per unit like this guy claims, the initial order would be be huge id estimate @500k frames ordered to get them at that cost. Im guessing this guy works at the Luxottica distribution center being they are the largest Italian distributor and they own lenscrafters, pearl, sears, target optical.
      And no offense to Theokie but his freight quality control nowhere near qualify s him to judge quality of one frame over another, only which ones get crushed easier. Its basic economics supply and demand and people are judging it when they have no clue what it takes to get glasses on your face that you like and you can see out of.

  37. Greg Says:

    LensCrafters gives a 30% discount if you have AAA. Of course, AAA is expensive auto insurance, but I go with the $50/year emergency roadside assistance plan. I earn back the $50 cost in AAA discounts every year – particularly on the eye glasses.

    Interesting story. I’ll check out the online retailers you mentioned.

  38. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com (tags: blogs glasses shopping) […]

  39. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers. I always knew they were way overpriced. […]

  40. I got an eye exam done a couple of months ago. I ordered a pair of glasses from the optometrist, and also requested a copy of my prescription. That evening, I ordered two pair of glasses from http://www.optical4less.com.

    Not only did the two pair of glasses from O4L arrive *quicker* than the glasses from the place two blocks away, they were better quality, and had anti-glare coating, etc. The glasses from the optimetrist cost more ($69 for two pair of glasses shipped from O4L, more than $80 for the single pair from the local place even after insurance), and quite frankly, they suck, so they’re relegated to “emergency pair” if the other two pair I have get broken.

    I’ll never be ordering glasses from a local place again – my prescription hasn’t really changed in the past five years, so when I want another pair of glasses I can just go to O4L and order, without having to worry about it having been six months since my last exam.

  41. BobH Says:

    I bought a pair of knockoff Silhouettes, and the frame broke within a month. I went back to my optician and bought the real thing.

    The originals are, as the optician points out, of a much higher quality. And they definitely fit better, particularly since they need occasional adjusting (which my optician does for free).

    I don’t have an issue with buying online (although I do object to the weasels — that would include you, Gremlin of post #8 — who go to a physical store, take advantage of the customer service and then go home and buy the product online). But go in with your eyes wide open (so to speak): The quality is not going to be the same. If reduced quality is OK with you, go for it.

  42. Unbelievable! For those prices you could fly to Thailand where I live, stay a week at the beach, and while you are here go to a local mall and buy a pair of glasses with plain glass in them. Then go to an eyeglasses store, have your eyes tested for free, and have them cut and fit your prescription lens. Total cost? $20 to $25 for the glasses. The other $400 or $500 will pay for a great holiday here.

    And while you are here, why not have your teeth fixed? My dentist charges $12 for one filling. A root canal is $12, and a cap is $10. No wonder so many people are jumping on planes and coming here for their medical needs.


  43. Matt Says:

    # 36 – BobH:
    “I don’t have an issue with buying online (although I do object to the weasels — that would include you, Gremlin of post #8 — who go to a physical store, take advantage of the customer service and then go home and buy the product online).”

    Oh come on, weasels? If I go to a car dealership, spend some talking to a salesman, take a test drive, etc. I ‘m not duty-bound to buy a car from him.

    Shopping around is the norm in a vast majority of businesses, why shouldn’t I be able to shop around for eyewear?

    Would you be so outraged if, instead of going online, Gremlin had gone to two or three local stores to check out glasses? Heck, if the physical glasses store had what Gremlin really wanted at a competitive price, I’m sure he/she would indeed be walking out with a pair. I don’t think people shop online for shits and giggles; there’s something being offered online that people aren’t getting from their usual places.

    Bottom line, when I get my eyes checked, all I’m paying for is the checkup, I’m not signing over my freedom to look around. Likewise, when I ask to see some pairs of glasses, that’s all I’m asking for – a good look. Who knows, this might force places to become more competitive.

  44. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com (tags: cool deals health money shopping reference lifehacks) […]

  45. Hal Says:

    I bought a pair for $35 from Zenni Optical (not sure of the website, but found it through an adword ad) and they are perfect.

    Better quality and better looking than my last pair. It was going to be a hassle getting my RX from my eye dr, but I just looked on my contact lenses and then got someone to measure my pupilary distance. I was worried that it wouldn’t be right (the pupilary distance), but it worked perfectly and the glasses are terrific.


  46. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com whoa. Might as well try one of these next time I need prescription sunglasses (tags: tips shopping glasses) […]

  47. Chris Says:

    I was in the same boat until a few years back. Can only recommend to book a holiday to Asia (i.e. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines or Indonesia) and stock up on glasses, contact lenses and else.

    Or even better, do as I did 3 years back and do LASIK in Singapore (or Bangkok). You save a hell of a money and will never need these glasses again….


  48. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers (tags: shopping glasses eyeglasses health deals online vision) […]

  49. ron Says:

    One thing I haven’t seen discussed much yet is the buying of SUNGLASSES online. I treat my sunglasses far worse than I treat my daily glasses and so it’s great to only spend $40 or $50 on a pair. I’ve ordered a couple from 39dollarglasses.com and they’re fine. 39$ is, as far as I can tell, the only online retailer to offer polarized lenses – I REALLY wish that some of these other retailers would offer this option as well because 39$ doesn’t have a great selection of frames. (I’d like to find some frames that ‘wrap around’ a bit more, like Oakley style.

  50. Steve Says:

    As far as sunglasses are concerned goggles4u offering free tinting on lens to use prescription or non prescription glasses as sun glasses. Price is only US$ 25.99 with free shipping.

  51. ron Says:

    Yes, several places offer tinting but I want tinting + polarization. Which leaves me with 39$glasses pretty much. (There’s another web-based glasses retailer in the UK that does it too but I’m not sure if they ship to the US or how much more the cost would be to do so). And, admittedly, the cost of adding tinting and polarization and antireflective still puts the 39dollarglasses at around 70 or 80 bucks.

  52. CY Says:

    I think you have hit on a major sore spot amongst us 4 eyed folk. I recently broke my pair of rather expensive French Face-a-Face frames. I was shocked that Lenscrafters was $350+ for rather plain looking frames. I couldn’t do it. My solution? Here’s another tip: overstock by the frame maker. I contacted a store that carried the brand of my old frames. The same model was discontinuted, so the remaining frames in stock were half off. And, I could just use my same lenses! So, I mail ordered the frames, popped the lenses in myself (which I don’t know is the best idea). That took a pair of $350 frames down to $175, and no need to buy new lenses.

    This is a good plan too. I’d have done the same with my clear lucite Ray-Ban pair, but I’d have had to pay $85+ for the frames online and my lenses were toast. I, seriously, was going to do this, because at the time it was my most economical option — until my world changed (or at least my options expanded). I’m glad I didn’t pull the trigger on that option.
    – Ira

  53. engtech Says:

    Fun stuff, eh? I wrote about my last experience buying frames here: http://engtech.wordpress.com/2006/08/24/9-essential-tips-for-buying-new-eyewear/
    I ended up returning them, and I still haven’t bought new ones. It’s interesting to hear about so many people buying online. I’ve never even thought of that before (other than contacts).
    What’s your prescription at? Is it fairly low, or fairly high? I find that no matter how cheap the frames are, my lenses are still stupidly expensive because I have to get high index.

    My prescription is:
    OD -4.25 -1.25 178
    OS -3.50 -2.00 177
    PD 64

    Not extremely bad, but I’m blind without these things.

  54. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com (tags: eyeglasses) […]

  55. wenat Says:

    This was discussed on redflagdeals a while back: http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/showthread.php?t=243153
    Someone there raised a good point: at these prices, do we know that these aren’t made with slave labour/child labour?
    Also, see page 25 of that thread for a photo of the unbelievable goggles4u packaging (comes in a cloth bag from Pakistan) — http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/showthread.php?t=243153&page=25

    I guess that’s a good question, but how do I know that anything I’m wearing or buying is made under less than savory conditions? For that matter, how do I know how my last pair of frames was manufactured? If I knew that things were underhanded, I’d avoid it — obviously.
    – Ira

  56. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers A blog post about getting eyeglasses online… interesting… (tags: shopping) […]

  57. Toni Says:

    My glasses cost $400 at WalMart! I’m married with children and that money is hard to part with. Thanks to all of you who have commented here. I will get my eye exam which my insurance will pay for, and I will be sure to ask for the PD measurement. I will then be ready to buy my first pair of
    glasses ONLINE. I need this break! My glasses have been stepped on, lost outside in the flower-bed (for weeks), scratched while using the tile saw, used as protective lenses while painting the house with a sprayer, used while applying stucco on the house and many other rough & tumble events. I can’t wait to see how my first pair arrives. I don’t take very good care of my glasses because I’m too busy doing a million things. If I’m happy with my order, I will finally be able to have 5 or 6 pair, and have a few new styles. I can’t wait to order. (Thanks Tony…..for your information, I’m with you).

  58. James Says:

    Amazing, I paid about $350 for the same pair about 6 months ago. I buy just about everything online but never considered glasses.

    I guess the next time my grandfather needs a new hip I should try to find that online too.

  59. Michael Says:

    @ Wenat,
    How do you know whether or not ANY frames were a by-product of child labor? Just because the frames at local shops have high price points doesn’t mean they didn’t come out of a sweatshop.

    – Ira

  60. Kamen Says:

    Re: Zenni –
    I had been very pleased w/ Zenni – ordered four times!
    However, the fourth pair I got was a lemon from the start (if that exists for glasses) – the nosepads were coming out, screws, etc. Then, while cleaning my glasses, I heard a snap and looked down to discover the lens had broken.
    I called the customer service number and have never been treated so rudely by a rep in my life! She never even let me finish explaining, then cut me off and said “hold on” and disappeared for a minute. She kept repeating that they wouldn’t do anything. My favorite comment (in sarcastic voice) – “Well if rimless glasses are too fragile for you, maybe you should just get full rimmed ones next time.” We asked if we could talk to a supervisor and she said “Nope, I’m it.” We then asked for the name of the president of the company to write to. Her response? “The president is in China and I have another call. Goodbye.”
    I work in customer service, so believe me, I was being extremely polite!
    In short, the glasses may be fine when you get them, and if they are crappy it’s no big loss financially… but pray you never need to deal with customer service!

    This is very valuable. Please post it to the “Horror Stories” over at Glassy Eyes please! While you’re at it, you could post the good stuff to the “Experiences” post too. I’m trying to compile these things. I think we can do a lot to change the online practices and the prices in the malls.
    – Ira

  61. bynnie Says:

    Your rimless glasses look great on you!

    Why thank you. 😉

  62. AW Says:

    I’m sure I’ll get flack for it but the reason I didn’t and won’t buy my glasses online is style. How do you know they’ll suit your face or that the lens shape isn’t too small. I went to a trendy eyeware store because I was looking for something different and bolder than my previous pair. I had a certain shape in mind, but when I tried them on, they didn’t suit me. However, I found very cool pair that I probably won’t not have selected if I was shopping online. Yes they were expensive but I wear my glasses every day and I’m willing pay for quality pair of cool glasses.
    On a side note, I have never had a problem with getting a copy of my RX from my doctor. My company uses one office/chain for our safety glasses which is different from my own doctor. All we have to do is go to that store with our RX and the company gets invoiced for the glasses.

    I’ve got good taste, but I’m more of a utilitarian. I know my old glasses looked good so I measured the lenses and the frame sizes and looked for a 140 temple size. I knew it would fit my face when I ordered it — assuming the listed measurements were accurate. You could do the same thing with any pair of frames. It worked out well.
    – Ira

  63. Great Post!

    I wonder if we can shop new car online and get it alot cheaper than buying one at local dealer.

    If anybody know about it, let us know 🙂


  64. NBK Says:

    You say the optometrists are required, by law, to give you your prescription.
    Well, it helps if you actually KNOW what the relevant Federal commercial code is, and have a copy of it on hand to show to them if they want to be punks about it.
    So, what is the relevant (Federal) law citation?

    I posted it on GlassyEyes.com, here.

  65. Greg Says:

    I’ve always been troubled by the fact that optometrists sell eyeglasses. Why should someone diagnosing you have such a clear financial interest in that diagnosis. I’m not naive enough to think that physicians don’t get romanced by drug companies to push their product, but it’s not like the doctor is connected to the pharmacy and takes a direct piece of the prescription he just wrote you. Maybe it makes the most sense, but the doctor seems like the lure to get you into the shop and spend several hundred dollars on frames and lenses. That makes me leery. And while you obviously get better service and attention than you would online, the markups on frames are beyond outrageous.

    Amen, brutha.
    – Ira

  66. […] Well, I never thought that I will blog about buying eyeglasses online but here I am. I found this pair of posts “Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers” (with 65 comments so far) and “Eyeglasses — A response to “Stephanie”, an Optometrist” (with 32 comments) that talks about someone’s experience buying eyeglassess online a ton cheaper than buying from stores. (Warning: I haven’t bought from these online eyeglasses stores and since we are talking about our eyes, make sure we understand all the pros and cons of using these stores.) […]

  67. Juhani Says:


    There are a couple of myths with the opticians story.

    I know a man, who sells frames and glasses to stores. He sold me a pair of really top quality glasses (high-end frame + Zeiss 4 layer lenses) for maybe 55$. The quality is top, because I have used them for 5 years and they still sit straight, never fall off etc. Activities include mountain climbing and skydiving. The pair of Zeiss lenses cost me maybe 15$. So yes, it is possible to buy a pair of 300$ glasses for 50$. Now I have some Poland lenses in the same frame and they are not as good.

    Opticians are not that top quality. I have tested them with a pair of optical sunglasses (distortion comes from rainbow effect). None! (from maybe 10 tested) have been able to tell me the problem. The only one, who could, was dr. Shotter and he was an eye surgeon. So the quality of opticians is a myth, no undrestanding of even high-school physics.

    The markup is btw up to 1600% that I really know and that was with the prices the wholesaler sold.

  68. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com (tags: shopping glasses eyeglasses health lifehacks lunettes) […]

  69. […] 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). Source: Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com […]

  70. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com (tags: money) […]

  71. Mary Says:

    Thanks for the great info! My hubby bought expensive glasses from a local eyeglass outfit and had problems from the beginning. His favorite pair (automatic shading?term) were scratched and kept falling out of the frames. I’ve super-glued them many times.

    I’ve downloaded the FTC PART 456–OPHTHALMIC PRACTICE RULES–, so his insurance can pay for the new prescriptions, and he can take it home to see if there are better deals on the web. All your links have been saved to my favorites file.

    For myself, I’ve only needed reading glasses in the past 6 years, progressing to 1.75.
    There’s a “Dollar Tree” store 15 miles away where everything is $1.00.
    I stock up on several pairs of glasses every time I’m in the area.
    Our local “Dollar Stores” charge at least $5 per pair – for the same quality.

    Ira, you’ve provided an excellent commentary and I admire your “chutzpah” for finding a niche for yourself. Best wishes to you!

  72. Dave Dash Says:


    I happen to drive a Geo Prizm (with a “z”), in fact a 1995 Geo Prizm. It has almost 186K miles with no major issues. It’s original clutch lasted almost 10 years. It’s built at a plant that is a venture between Toyota and GM. Other than a few trims and whatnot, it is the exact same car as a Toyota Corolla… built for reliability.

    Sorry, it was an easy target, and I understand what you’re trying to say, but at the same time there’s really no useful argument you can make in this situation with the eyeglasses. Spending less than $100 for glasses makes sense for a lot of people – regardless of quality.

    1. If there is no percieved difference to the end user, then it is pointless to spend extra money.
    2. If your spending a fraction of the cost for glasses, you now have the luxury to buy things more often.

    I, unintentionally, buy new glasses regularly. I hate doing it, but I inevitably break them, or lose them. Lucky for me, there’s an America’s Best chain not too far from where I live, which sells glasses at a fraction of the cost, with all the bells and whistles I want. I don’t need to spend extra money on a “vision” plan or spend hundreds at other eye glass shops. I’ve never noticed a difference in the lens quality, of course, I don’t have fancy machines to tell me what the differences are.

    Here’s what I suggest. Order some glasses online at these retailers, and do an honest evaluation of them. If there are notable differences, let people know, post about it in a blog, you’ll get people to read it for sure. If you honestly tell them what the differences and WHY they should care, that’s worthy content.

  73. Josh Says:

    Can you share the frame link for the pair you have and which lens style that is?
    Yeah I’m a copycat

    Click here for all the info on the Titanium frames.

  74. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com Love these and the consumer lived happily ever after stories….. (tags: blogs, consumer, eyeglasses, business model) Bookmark to: […]

  75. Fred Keese Says:

    Finally after 55 replies someone mentioned that reading glasses can be bought in any dollar store for $1. That gives you a very rough idea of what your last pair is really worth. But the biggest ripoff ever occurred years ago when someone decided not to make lenses available without prescription to all, nearsighted and farsighted alike. A buck a pair, and still profit in them, now who can guess at the markup on that ill-fitting $400 pair which just broke?

  76. Dave

    Interesting topic… I’m working in this industry myself and I don’t agree about this in 100%, but I added your page to my bookmarks and hope to see more interesting articles in the future

  77. benson Says:



  78. Steve Says:

    Reading Glasses can be purchased but they do not have any Stigmatism correction. They just provide magnification. If you have a prescription with cylinder and axis value and with that you have additiona value for reading then the best is to get it from online prescription eyeglasses store custom made as readymade reading glasses willl not a good choice in this case.
    Most of the readymade reading glasses do not have neceassary antiglare coating as well. So my recommendation is not get a readymade reading glasses but instead of that you can get a good reading glasses from any good onlystore custom made to you prescription. In this case the price will be around $20.00 to 30 varies from store to store.

  79. sarchi Says:

    ..probably an idea for a themea

    paris fr

    can you see OK! takes on a new visionn 🙂

  80. PeteJala Says:

    I’ve tried all 3 the popular online glasses retailers (optical4less , zenni and goggles4u). However, from my experience I can only recommend optical4less.com
    The other 2 (zenni and goggles)are cheap. But for real optical quality, customer service and overall value. optical4less.com is top notch while no other online companies can compare.

    My next order for two pair goes out in the next couple of days and I’m using optical4less. I, however, CAN vouch for the quality I received from the other two outlets you mention — in particular the Zenni pair.

  81. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers « 3mew.com Great blog post on the travresty of RX glasses and how to beat the system with off brands. (tags: glasses eyeglasses deals vision online health shopping) […]

  82. Toni Says:

    Thank you PeteJala. I was going to try ZenniOptical.com or 39DollarGlasses.com first. But after reading that you tried 3 others and found Optical4Less.com to be the best, I will definately make that my first choice. Thanks for your input.

  83. DomP Says:

    This great and worht the initial risk.

    However, I’m also looking for swimming googles with prescription. I was out at the Australian Great Barrier Reff with my wife on our honeymoon, thinking I would be contained to the glass bottom boat but one of the operators produced a set prescription google so we could go snorkeling !! Haven’t tracked them down just yet.

    Good work though – we still need an application where you can drop the glasses on a digital image of your face


  84. JAM Says:

    Oh, how happy I am to fall into this string. I have worn glasses since I was 12yrs old (x4 now) and two prescriptions ago I humbly transitioned into the “progressive lens” club.
    Based on the vision coverage my company opted for in any given year, sometimes I have paid out up to $400. “It’s not the frame but your prescription and lens” is their reply to my choking.

    My grown son does not have the luxury of less than adequate vision benefits, and has found himself squinting. Yes, my child, it’s time.

    That brought me to this string. I was net surfing to see what “specials” were out there as I’ve offered to cover the cost for my son. I’ve already made a promise to myself to get my eyes looked at after the holiday.

    I hate buying new glasses. Almost as much as I hate car dealers. And I mutter those words every time I go in to buy new frames. But I’ve switched to Carmax and you’ve given me HOPE for new glasses !

    On to plan B: have our eyes examined by a qualified optometrist. I will endure the pain of trying on a million pairs of frames asking the complete stranger beside me: do these look alright? I will ask for a WRITTEN prescription (and as stated before, they don’t always offer them and hate to hand them out ). I will then find a reputable company that I can order my frame and lens from. I know what I want when I need it I want it. I have sent the last kid of one of those box stores to college due to the high markups.
    Our eyes are our own precious gifts and we owe it to ourselves to give them the best. But the best does not necessarily mean the most expensive.
    Opticians are not responsible, nor trained, for eye examinations or treatment solutions for eye disorders. They help you pick our your frames and adjust them to fit comfortably
    Optometrists are doctors who perform annual examinations to treat any vision problems and detect signs of disease and abnormal conditions.
    Ophthalmologists must acquire a Doctor of Medicine degree, a broad knowledge of general medicine, and clinical training.

  85. marlene Says:

    I share the sentiments, I myself have gotten great glasses at an online eyeglass store – eyebuydirect.com. I rarely wear contact lens now because last time I had my eyes checked, there were lots of scratches already.

  86. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers (tags: eyeglasses ecommerce) […]

  87. southern fried eyeballs Says:

    Thanks for the great info! Knowledge is powerfull. I ran across this website in early November, did some research, and ordered a pair of glasses from goggles4u.com. I received them two weeks later, and have received TONS of compliments.

    I ran into my optometrist this weekend, and she complimented me on the frames as well. When she inquired about the cost and purchase location, my doctor was SHOCKED to learn that I purhased them for $25 online. She admitted that eyeglasses have a huge mark-up, jotted down a couple of websites that I mentioned, and said she is going to take a look very soon.

    Thanks again for saving me $200-$350 on this pair of lenses.

    – Sincerely, DQ
    Southern Fried Eyeballs

  88. Hello,

    Thank you so much for your referral….I was planning on spending $218 at Wal-mart before I found this recommendation.

    The Governator

  89. Justin N Says:

    I recentrly spent $400+ at a retail chain for some sunglasses/glasses. I got all the coatings and whatnot because my wife said that I would be keeping these glasses for a few years. My perscription didn’t really change at all, but I bought new glasses because my old ones were falling apart.

    It was suggested that I buy polarized sunglasses if I like the outdoors and do a lot of driving. Driving with polarized sunglasses is problematic. You can see the tint and temper of every cars’ window and the coating makes it impossible to read some lcd displays. For these reasons the FAA recommends against polarized sunglasses for pilots.

    I think I may try one of these companies for a pair of non-polarized tinted specs for driving events (HPDE’s and autox), and medium sunny days (I’m thinking amber or yellow to bring out the edges of objects). I will probably modify them to have a gusset (gasket??) to protect particles from going into my eyes during these events (open windows are a requirement and i wear a helmet without a face shield).

  90. Joe Says:

    I’ve spent a huge amount these past years for glasses. It sounds like there’s some degree of risk, but I could buy three pairs for what I’ve spent locally for my last set. I bet one would be better than what I have now. I think the local company was a bit off from my perscription. Thanks for the information.

  91. […] Ira Mitchell stellte sich diese Frage auch, entschied sich statt einer 500 Dollar Optiker-Brille für eine 61 Dollar Internet-Brille. Keiner hätte es bemerkt, gäbe es da nicht das böse Internet. Märkte sind Gespräche, und Eyeglasses Stores are for suckers. 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. […]

  92. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers […]

  93. turander Says:

    you would look good in any glasses so online is for you !

  94. FourEyes Says:

    Hi, this maybe a little off topic but does ANYBODY know how to get a pair of (optical) frames custom-made? I ask because I have frames that are beyond repair and I can’t stand all the glasses in stores now; everywhere I go, you have a choice of either what would have been women’s frames as short as 8-9 years ago; tiny glasses with tiny lenses with a dangerously small field of vision for anybody with a strong RX (like me) in the men’s section or those huge grandpa glasses; no offense to anybody who wears those but I’m only 27 years old, I’m not ready for those just yet. The broken frame I’m talking about is an Emporio Aramani frame that is discontinued and I cannot find it ANYWHERE; I’ve been looking for a couple of years too. But I figure that SOMEBODY can custom-make a set of frames for me? I’ve actually heard of it being done before (obviously didn’t hear enough but I’m pretty sure it can be done). These frames I’m talking about are the most perfect pair that I’ve ever had and I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 6.

  95. Lyn Davis Says:

    perhaps doing a search for vintage eyeglass frames might help you find something

  96. thirtyeyes Says:

    I just spent $495. After reading this site I noticed that LC did not write down the PD on the prescription and the optician just made a dot on the lenses with a marker. I guess that’s a precision measurement? I’m going to give it a go with prescription sunglasses on-line.

  97. thirtyeyes Says:

    Oh, I get $200 every two years from my work, that’s it for vision coverage. Two years from now, I’m going to buy $200 worth of glasses on line, that’ll probably be 3-4 pairs plus an eye exam.

  98. Arya Says:

    Hey, so I just got my eye exam today (Atlanta), but I didn’t read this article until after. I had them fax me my prescription, but it doesn’t show PD. So I called and asked for it, but they said they only measure it when fitting your for glasses. So, it’s tricky because if they haven’t recorded it, I can’t yell at them for withholding my information. But if they don’t record it as part of a standard eye exam, then… what can I do?

  99. varun Says:

    I was recently looking for prescription frames at affordable prices on the net when i came across this website http://www.drspectacles.com . Although it seemed a little amateurish i went ahead and dropped an e-mail just to check. Surprisingly enough,i received a response within 6 hours and was given complete details on the brand, quality, color, more pictures, a guarentee policy. I went ahead and ordered these frames and am extremely pleased with the no nonsense service i got from the owner of this website. Although it is owned by some indian, he even returned back my money on one of the pairs i did not like much. Amazing is the only word i can think of . Hope to purchase again from there in the future…..

  100. Erin Says:

    I went to lenscrafter and my glasses NEVER fit right, even after 5 visits and many complaints. They were checked and ajusted and anything else you could think of. In the end, they broke and were a huge wast of my time and money.

  101. Annette Siglow Says:

    I loved reading this information on your website about eye glasses and how not to shop at any eye glass store. I did check out the website that you can purchase quality glasses for a very reasonible price but there is only one in Michigan. I unfortunately have to try the glasses on before purchasing them to be sure I will like the look, but the only place you have in Michigan is in Grand Rapids.

    Do you know of a place around the Detroit area?

    Thank You for all of your efforts, it is greatly appreciated.


  102. I think both online and offline retailers have their advantages and disadvantages but I think what we all want is good value for money… and it looks as though you found it.

  103. Grant Says:

    I agree that money can be saved by purchasing all of our purchases on line food, clothes, cars, furnature even read the paper without purchasing a thing locally. The big question is how much will it cost society? I have an optical store and my markups are no where near the ones described on this site. The mark ups described support the distributors, labs and employ the dock workers that bark about the markup they see. I also employ people locally and for that matter pay taxes locally and shop locally. I guess I have to ask myself why bother supporting my neighbours when I can support some one else in another country. What ever happened to buy American? I thought that was big in the U.S. We used to build our things we use, then we shipped it all overseas and thousands of jobs were lost. Now we are shipping all our purchases overseas as well. I guess Americans just don’t give a S#@t anymore. Let foreign countries take all of our money then we can learn to follow there laws.

  104. Jae Says:

    Regarding Grant’s comment about “buy American”. Yes, we are now a global economy and there is probably no turning back. Let me ask you this, are all the frames that you sell in your optical shop made here in America. Or are you supporting other country’s workers and buying their products?

    Don’t think we can get around change. It happens. It’s a new world out there for good or bad. When the cost of labor is low in overpopulated countries their products will be cheaper. And people will buy them.

  105. Clark Says:

    I have just ordered glasses online for the first time. I am very comfortable shopping online and am incredibly happy to be able to buy glasses that I can actually afford.
    For me, it was totally about price. My prescription are -9.50 and -11.25 and the 1.67 lenses alone cost from 110.00 (Costco) to over 300.00 (JCPenney). I would hate to even ask at Lenscrafters. The problem with Costco is that I would have to buy a membership to get the glasses! Needless to say, because of my VERY HIGH prescriptions, I wear contacts mostly but having a pair of glasses for emergencies and at bedtime is a need that I have ignored for the last three years. I feel like I have had been held hostage by traditional stores that have gouged me because of my need (not want).
    Thank you, Ira, for being willing to be our guinea pig!

  106. Ted in Asia Says:

    Greetings, just stumbled across your fine site and glad to see that there are cracks in the walls of the 3 big manufacturing myths here in China…(Glasses/Shoes/Watches)

    Virtually every name brand (very expensive) sunglass / prescription frame is produced here for under 2usd.

    Shoes at the highest end of the market are under 8usd.

    And the some of best watches on the market are between 2 ~ 20usd.

    The companies involved need these margins in order to pay multimillion dollar endorsements…well…they don’t pay in the end, you who purchase these branded products do.

    Enough said.

    Excellent forum, thank you.

  107. […] stumbled upon this very informative blog post at 3mew.com called “Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers“, where the blogger wrote about his struggle to find reasonably priced eye wear and how he […]

  108. […] Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers 3mew.com Hmmm. Buying cheap glasses online…. could be useful…. (tags: glasses useful tips Shopping) This was written by shawn. Posted on Saturday, November 11, 2006, at 5:21 pm. Filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Post a comment or leave a trackback. […]

  109. fogman Says:

    you buy glasses online cos you cannot afford the quality. trying to save on your eyecare – foolish or ecomonical?l—-

    lets face it — its not the same is it!!! dumb ass!

    buy a cheap car — get a cheap car
    buy a jap import that looks ok fine
    it wont be a porshse

    i dont think you are a contact lenses wearer

    get laser surgery done – yeah go to india the finest surgeon for 1/2 price they use the same equipment!!!

    i love the quote some of the best wtaches around on the market are 2-20 dollars…..hahhahahahha
    old saying
    poor man who needs anything
    buys cheap!

  110. chris Says:

    I was wondering since eyeglass lenses are clear and later put in a bath to tint them. Well, can a clear pair of prescription lenses later be tinted if you decide you want sunglasses?


  111. shell leong Says:

    THANK YOU so much for your in depth research and recommendation. I too couldn’t believe how expensive in store prices were, and started looking for alternatives and chanced on your site.

    I have successfully ordered the perfect pair of glasses from Zenni for my boyfriend who broke his glasses recently. It looks just like his old pair, and… it actually fits and feels better.

    And for 1/4 of the price one would pay in store!

  112. Shirley Says:

    I am so glad I found this site. I cannot afford to pay the $400.00 I’ve been paying for the last decade to Lenscrafters. I cannot see well and my lenses deteriorated because some perm solution splashed on them when I was doing my daughters hair. I can’t waid to order glasses for under $100.00.
    Bless you all

  113. Dan Bowser Says:

    Just ordered my second pair of bifocal/transistion lens glases in 2 years from Zenni. My eye doctor at walmart writes down the Pupillary distance and everything for me cause he knows I order online. $86.00 total for everything. My last pair were perfect! I love that place.

  114. Anna Says:

    AMEN, I started looking around for alternatives 4 or 5 years ago and started ordering from glasses4less.com I cannot say enough about their service. The head honcho at my optometrist was so upset when I’d ask for the ‘script that when I had problems she said it was because of where I was buying my glasses. I had them checked by another local optician, he said they were perfect. The head honcho insisted they were made wrong so I sent them back to glasses4less. The head optician was nice enough to spend time and write a letter detailing their service and finally my optometrist said his employee had made a huge blunder and FIRED her after 20 years of working for him!!!!

    It can take 3 weeks to receive the glasses but it’s worth the wait especially knowing they will be there for me if I have some kind of problem. BTW, the ‘script from your optometrist includes everything you need including the face measurement. You might have to ask specifically for it since they know they’re losing business and are reluctant to make it easy for you. I really hope more people or should I say sheeple open their eyes (pun intended) and STOP buying into this scam. Thanks for the opportunity to blow off some steam and your efforts at exposing yet ANOTHER industry scamming the public.

  115. howard Says:

    I was originally trained as an optician. After a few years I went back to college and became an optometrist.I have never written a PD on a prescription nor is it part of an eye exam. Also, there is much more than just a PD involved in fitting high power lenses and progressive lenses.Also there is more to a polorized lenses than just Rx & PD. However, if you want to go to online & order eye wear , its fine,with a money back provision. Also most optical shops charge $10 to $15.00 to adjust eyeglasses not purchased in there office.

  116. Daniel P Says:

    I whole heartedly endorse Zenni, I just ordered two more pair from Zenni, the glasses are 100% better than Lenscrafters, LC is a place where the fancy boardroom classics are made in china, (look at all the frames when your in there next time, they are all made in china), and cost them about 2.50 per pair, and are cheap base metal that the finish rubs off of after one year, and then tarnish, and turn your head green, hey but at least those $2.50 china made glasses frames cost you only $119.00!! At Zenni you can get 100% titanium or hypo-alergenic stainless steel for less than 1/4 what you pay for the lenscrappers. And if you get their best quality, polycarbonate, high index lenses, (pentax), you still pay way less than half. This is America free enterprise competetion rules the market place. BTW I also don’t feel comfortable with a high school junior student with a pair of pliers adjusting my glasses, even if it is for free.

  117. Carrie Says:

    I am a single mom with 2 kids. Our family dog ate my glasses a few months agoe, I didn’t have the money to replace them at cost in the eye glasses store. I have had bad vision and tension headaches ever sence. I was able to order new glasses for less then a quarter of what I would of paid. Thankyou very much for the information and insight. I appreciate it.

  118. Rob Says:


    Good for you all.. I bought some $20 frames 3 years ago… they’re still great.. (but lens are now toast.)

    Yes, the markup MUST be Huge… (like shoes, watches, military hammers *>* )… Think about it… Costco, reading glasses, THREE pairs, WITH hard cases… $19 !!!

    You can’t tell me there is that much more plastic in my glasses!

    and as far as “Supporting Local”…what about the RETAILERS supporting Community?!?!

  119. Tim Says:

    Anyone who believes the eyewear you receive online is the same as eyewear you buy from an optician is a moron. Sure if you have a very light Rx you can save some bucks, but most people have needs that none of those online places can meet. And to all of you part time, just outta highschool, used to work in a doctor’s office idiots, tell me how an online company adresses; seg height, bridge fit, prism, retroscopt tilt and a host of other issues your UPS man can’t handle for you upon delivery of your new glasses. why not cough up a few extra bucks and get the personalized treatment your eyes deserve.

  120. Joe Says:

    Oh I like that. A “few” extra bucks? I paid $400 for my last set of glasses the last time I went to an optician. My prescription is ordinary, so that wasn’t a factor. Comparing my $400 expenditure to the same kind of glasses from an online company for $39.00, you get a markup ratio of over 10:1. That’s 1000% on my calculator. From now on, I will take my chances with an online company, and use a little of my own ingenuity to do the adjustments. I figure at 10:1 cost markup, I can make a lot of mistakes with the online companies and still come out with a huge bargain. Sorry, you sound like an optician’s ad man.

  121. Nicole Says:

    ..I wanted to add that providing the PD on the Rx is not required by law. Most Rx pads don’t have a place for it.

    Some offices will take your measurement, such as the PD or the bifocal seg height (if you have the frame),and many offices will put lenses in your existing frame.

    Perhaps my ire shouldn’t be aimed at the general public’s assumptions, but rather the under handed nature of many of my optical colleagues

  122. Nicole Says:

    A skilled optician is much more than a salesperson.
    Not all opticians or optical shops are created equal.
    Do not base everything on your assumptions of how much things cost, or how lenses are made.
    Some offices can be bastards, not offer Rx, charge for everything known to man, and care more about $ than the pt.

    Not all of them are like that.
    Quality of lenses and frames differs like any other product.

    Granted, I’d like for a pt to get thier eyewear from me, but I am more concerned about educating them on what we sell, why,what the warranties are, etc, so they can make the smartest choice for themselves.

    The 2 year Rx law is because there is more to an exam besides the refraction. Most ocular health problems are noticed by an exam before the pt notices any issue with sight/pain/etc.

    If a pt decides to get thier glasses online, more power to them. I’ll adjust it for them, fix it if it breaks, and check the accuracy of the Rx…

    Do not assume that everything an eye care professional says is automatically capitalist propaganda by greed mongers.

    Do you feel the same way about your cost of going to the dentist or the physician?

    I’d be happy to answer any questions to clear up any misconceptions, but I get the feeling that I’m going to be flamed and ridiculed because I do not agree whole heartedly with the whole ‘racket’ thing.

    Also, independent stores do not have the buying power of costco,walmart,ect…so prices will be different –some astronomically high.

    It boils down to what the pt wants as far as quality, lens type,frame,ect…also, the OD I work for drives a 2001 pick up truck…

    Do not let your assumptions and misconceptions turn into unsubstantiated fact.

    I am a certified dispensing optician and author, so I’m not just talking out of my ass…

  123. Anthony Says:

    Well, I just had my eye exam with a great doctor who is at LensCrafters. I went over to the otehr side and felt like I was crossing an invisible divide from “professional” to “Used car salesman”. They quoted me all these figures and said 50% off this, 50% off that and confused the hell out of me. My final price for two pair of glasses (one progressive) and one for reading)? $512.00. I decided, ENOUGH. I said never mind and left and found this site, ordered the same glasses online and saved $300. THANK YOU.

  124. Gail Says:

    Was wondering if it is acceptable to haggle over prices on frames at an independent optical shop?

  125. Nicole Says:

    Haggling at independent optical shops all depends on the shop. At the office I work at, we will offer discounts to a point but by law we cannot change the cost of frames, lenses to increase what an insurance plan may cover. Haggling is often a cultural thing, so that also can influence if haggling will be accepted.

    Aside from the discounts we offer to help patients who do not have vision insurance, we do not haggle. It cheapens the whole thing and does throw us into the ‘used car salesman’ thing… and like someone mentioned, it does get really confusing.

    Online stores don’t have to worry about debts accrued by payroll, utilities, student loans for the optometrist or the cost of the equipment.

    There are offices that are not ethical, and like someone mentioned, that chain stores are not automatically less expensive.

    Vision insurance companies are instrumental in dictating prices. Vision ins. companies pay certain amounts on claims for exams and materials. Because of this, the retailer will often change thier cost so that they get the most for reimbursement.

    If our office did not take insurances, we would be able to lower our prices, but with vision insurances, we are much more apt to take a loss ( less than our cost ) if we were to have the same price range if we had no insurance versus with insurance.
    There are differences in products, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and not all optical professionals are greedy bastards, but just be aware of the risks of online shopping of any nature. It boils down to what the patient wants out of thier experience,and either finding an office that you can trust or an online retailer.

    With online retailers, be careful as far as warranties and such go. If your intent is to save money, it’s still a good idea to be aware of what thier remake/warranty policy is. If you have to spend more money to repair or replace something, then it kind of goes against the whole idea.

    As I’ve said before, it’s all about the patients being educated on things and able to confidentally make thier own decision.

  126. […] site is really a victim of it’s most famous post, and that’s fine. It has catapulted me into a world I never had any inclination of getting […]

  127. […] eyes, glasses, shopping(From Bill’s shared items in Google Reader) Last year, I stumbled upon a blog post about buying prescription eyeglasses online. It sounded too good to be true: you could get any […]

  128. Idetrorce Says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  129. Robert Says:

    Last time I bought eyeglasses was at JC Penney’s. They had a special two pairs for $98.00, so I bought four pairs – two pairs with bifocals and two pairs with just the same prescription as the bifocals. I use those for playing the piano and using the computer. Then I can see both the screen and keypad without craning my neck up to see. Also, I can read music and see the piano keys with moving my head. They were fine and lasted about three years, now I’m ready to go on line as they no longer have that sale and prices have skyrocketed.

  130. Frank Says:


    I am so happy to see other people are experiencing the same thing as myself… as they say, misery loves company. I thought it was just me until I started looking on-line, I don’t know what made me think of that? At any rate, I think Lens Crafters is the biggest rip off, I have had nothing but bad luck with them and yet I keep going back, it must be that 1 hour thing. This will be the 4th time I go back to have my lenses replaced. It appears the lens gets a stress fracture crack between the frame and lens every 2-3 months. After the last time they started blaming it on me saying they weren’t going to take care of this problem anymore. My 1 year is coming up next month. This sucks! These glasses cost me over $500 and I think they look really sharp. I did see the same ones on-line for $19.00 I was shocked at the mark up. I have a regular prescription, nothing fancy… I’m in the wrong business. The folks at Lens Crafters are mean and not very nice, I can’t believe the poor customer service and I have to wait forever for somebody to wait on me. Well, have to tell you, I’ll never ever step foot into a eyeglass store again, I’m thinking about partnering up with one of the on-line eyeglass stores and launching my own website… people need to know this, I just don’t think people know any better as I didn’t either.


  131. JanB Says:

    I am so glad that I “stumbled upon” your site! I just placed my order for a pair of glasses. I haven’t had a new pair for a couple of years and I actually think I need bifocals, but I am afraid of buying a pair and spending so much and not being able to get used to them. So I bought a regular pair for myself to see if they are great and if they are, I can still buy the bifocals. I had thought if I just went for the bifocals right off the bat and couldn’t stand them, that might turn me off of it altogether.

    Thanks for the information, it shouldn’t be a luxury to own good glasses!!

  132. kevin gill Says:

    I need one of these fantastic online glass places please post the web sites

  133. sammy Says:

    I just forked out $600 for a rimless ultra high index ,progressive, antireflective coated, pair of glasses. The work I do requires good close vision. I hate paying that much for eyeglasses.

    I also paid $200 for my one of my kids glasses.

    I plan on trying the online option.

  134. Kenneth Udut Says:

    I just ordered a $22 pair from zenni and a $30 pair from goggles4u.

    Let’s see:

    1) who gets here faster
    2) who is of the higher quality.

    The winner will get my kudos across the web!

    Kenneth Udut of Naples, FL

  135. […] wrote “the eyeglasses post” on November 10, 2006. I think I was playing with del.icio.us at the time and posted the link. A few […]

  136. At the risk of being redundant, thank you. You are so right. Here in Idaho the optometrists have a neat deal. They are regulated by themselves, under Idaho law. Isn’t that simply peachy? The regulators are the regulated. One thing they have ordered is that you cannot get a prescription for eyeglasses in Idaho without submitting to, and paying for, a complete eye exam. I asked one optometrist if he coudn’t just give me prescription for glasses. He was embarassed, but he said, “I’m sorry, but it’s against the law”. Nor can you get lenses ground in any shop in Idaho without a precription signed by, guess who, a licensed optometrist in Idaho. But guess what – you can write your own prescription. All you need is a phoropter, (that thing they make you look through to determine your prescription) and you can buy one one line for around $200 – less than what you would pay for a new pair of glasses, plus the obligatory eye exam in Idaho.

  137. M. Medina Says:

    Just got my $26 pair of glasses today March 4 from goggle4u. I did have to follow up on it though since the status says it was shipped last Feb. 20. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining since the last pair I ordered from Walmart came back to me with the wrong lenses and I had to wait another 7 days to get the right ones.

    Well, I am sooo pleased with the glasses I received! It came with a extra pair of nose pads plus a case and cleaning cloth. The fit may need a little adjusting, but I can live with it and for the price, it sure beats the hell out of my $380+ glasses.

    I must say I was a bit hesitant in ordering online glasses at first, which is why I went for the lowest price I could get for my requirements. But after today, I’m just so excited to go online and purchase another 2 or 3 more pairs!

  138. Korb Says:

    Let me tell you what happend to me the past couple at my local optometrist, that drove me to buy on-line.

    I bought my first pair of progressive glasses, w/ antiglar, nice frames purchased 11 months ago, $680.00 (after insurance $480). then last week I lost them. ARRGH!

    So I called my optometrist and they said they would give me a discount because I lost them, $450. I gave them my credit card number and thought it was all good.
    Then the secretary calls back and says she sees it has almost been a year and I need to come in for a checkup. I explained that I just want my glasses and though my checkup would be covered a new pair would not (new glasses only every 2 years on insurance).

    She says if I do not come in (so they can charge my insurance $120) she will not give me the discount. I told her to go jump in the lake, and went and picked up my prescription and bought the exact same pair online. ($200)

    I agree that after a year i should get my eyes checked again, and I will, but it will not be at that place!!!

  139. Jerry Wilke Says:

    I started wearing glasses years ago because my work (Boeing) required safety glasses and the plastic ones from the tool room didn’t fit good, didn’t look good etc and I was always taking them off while I was on the job. My employer provided insurance (Regence BlueShield) paid for prescription safety glasses so why not. Now I’m 68 years old and need reading glasses at least. I still have insurance that pays for my prescription and my glasses. On 03-18-2008, I went to Pearl Vision where I have been going for 13 years got the prescription just fine, then when I sat down to order the glasses I received the biggest runaround you ever saw. Below is what I wrote to them. They weren’t concerned enough to even answer.

    1. I have for 13 years ordered the same safety glasses with the same frames on the same 2 for 1 deal from the same store with my insurance paying all or practically all the cost.
    2. This year I went through the exam as always, and then tried to order the glasses as always, only to be told that I didn’t want those glasses or those frames. They were too heavy, they didn’t look good, and they were not expensive enough.
    3. The young oriental girl that was waiting on me insisted that I pick other frames.
    4. After trying on the other frames, I said I want the same frames I always get.
    5. The girl then stated that if I get those frames, she cannot honor the 2 for 1 because the frames are on sale and are not expensive enough.
    6. She went on to say that the $300 from my insurance, was not even close to enough for the glasses and that I must pay an additional $350.
    6. I took the prescriptions and walked out.
    7. I will be informing my insurance co. (that insures approx 50,000 Boeing employees, plus other companies and individuals), BBB, AARP, AAA, Attorney General and whoever else will listen.
    8. PEARLE VISION has just lost one of its best customers.
    I am rough on glasses, I leave them laying all over, in my shirt, in my coat, in each room, in the vehicles, in my shop etc. All are badly scratched, some have missing screws etc. but I will probably never change my ways. I have found the only ones to stand up to my abuse are safety glasses with the solid nose piece. I want them to fold to fit in a shirt pocket, and I want my insurance to pay most of the bill. Pearle Vision has shown they no longer want my business. However I am a little skeptical about mail order of prescription glasses.
    I am willing to converse with anyone wanting my insurance company’s business.

  140. ashley Says:

    I just ordered my first pair of frames from online for almost 1/3 of what my local shop wanted to charge me. They were still pricey ($130) but I love them and similar styles were just a little off, but like other people I didn’t get my pd measured because they’ll ‘do that when I come back’ (yeah right) so even though I will be buyng lenses from Costco, I’m still saving about 300$. I plan on ordering a few other cheapie pairs including lenses from online. I’m just using the shops as my fitting room from now on.

  141. And I’m sure you can find someone on the internet to appendix out for $99.95. You get what you pay for. That $4.95 AR coating is junk. It costs us 10 times that for a lab to apply a good AR coating. When you buy from a local office you get the service, quality and name brands you’d expect. I own an optometry practice and we have a great website, but we actually tell people not to buy online from our store. Why? Because you won’t be as happy with your glasses as you’d be if you stopped in to the store and tried them on first. Measurements should be taken with those glasses in mind. Most glasses actually need to be adjusted to fit. It’s a simple procedure, but not something a wearer would ordinarily be able to do. Don’t EVER buy a pair of progressive lenses online. If you are looking for a cheap pair of reading glasses Walgreen’s has a great selection. If you want quality and the brands you trust, visit a reputable local retailer. If you feel they are overcharging you, Google the frame before you buy. We get a fair amount of online business from out of state because people found us that way. Competition is good, but getting the right pair of glasses is worth a few bucks more.

  142. […] Als Kunde bezahle ich nur dann mehr, wenn ich den Unterschied im Angebot auch wahrnehme! Niemand kauft sich eine Hose, die nur billig ist und nicht gefällt. Dass ein Geschäft Personal- und Raumkosten mitschleppt, ist kein Differenzierungsmerkmal! [s. Kommentar 18] […]

  143. Manish Says:

    Great write up. I use a similar site:
    guess how much they cost? 🙂
    A titanium frame will cost more than 39, but I’ve ordered two pairs-one regular prescriptions and one prescription sunglasses-both fit perfectly, look good and set me back by $98 total. They have a wizard that asks questions like shape of face etc to make recommendation for you. Good Luck! You have to give them your prescription and Dr’s number so they can call and verify.

  144. Ollie Says:

    The first time I went to a big-chain glasses store to get my first pair of glasses, somebody was helping me out while I looked. I picked up a pair and asked. I was told “three-nighty-nine.” “Four bucks? Sounds good!”

    The sales person thought I was joking. No, I really couldn’t imagine glasses costing almost $400. Granted, they looked pretty nice, but still.

    I’ve lost and broken glasses too often to consider having any. Even now, wearing contacts, I don’t have any eyeglasses. On top of that, the last two optimologists I went to were pretty rude and mean. Neither of them seemed to care that my vision would get better and worse, and that at times I could see BETTER without my contacts than with them in! All they seemed to care about was getting me to buy a pair of glasses.

    I can understand some of the critiques of buying online, and it’s true I can’t really tell the quality of everything that may be important. However, for what is a fraction of the cost of trying out glasses from a retail outlet — where I still don’t really have any control over quality, and am still just fully trusting them — I think it’s worth giving it a shot.

    My eyes have actually gotten better over time once I started to refrain from wearing lenses unless I really needed them, but going back for new eye tests again and again, and buying new lenses and frames, AGAIN and AGAIN, would be crazy expensive. This way, I hope I can step down my prescription and gain my vision back.

  145. Maria G. Says:

    I just spent $800.00 for 2 pair of glasses at Pearle Vision. 2 years ago I spent $380 at Lens Crafters, the glassess at Lens Crafters broke and they discontinued the frames, (they usually sell closeout and discontinued frames) so they said I need a new RX and have to buy a new frame and new lenses. What a waste of money. I added the anti glare. Does anyone know if anti glare is worth it on, rimless titanium?

  146. Rebecca Says:

    Thanks for the website and all the comments from others. This has been very interesting and informative reading.

    Was wondering if anyone had any experience ordering prism lenses online? I was recently diagnosed with sixth nerve palsy and had to get prism lenses (with bifocals). Oh Joy!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 The store said I had to have larger glasses to accommodate both the prism and the bifocals, but boy, are they heavy and expensive. I’d love to have a lighter (and of course more stylish) alternative.

    Thank you!!! 🙂

  147. merilyn Says:

    I just paid $560+ for one pair of rimless, titanium progressive lens glasses and one new frame of the same type for the previous pair of glasses, which had broken. I waited almost 4 weeks, and finally called the optical shop, where, imagine that, they “had just come in.”

    I went to get them, and the sales clerk just handed me the two cases and said, “Have a great day!” I insisted on taking them out and trying them on, and she knew nothing about centering the lenses, fitting the temples, etc. She just kept saying, “They look great to me!”

    With all due respect to the optometrists and opticians who have replied to this blog, just paying money had shopping in a store doesn’t guarantee anything. Believe me, I would get the same service over the internet that I got from this gal! I’m ready to make the switch to buying online.

  148. merilyn Says:

    Probably should have mentioned in my previous post that $560+ was my out-of-pocket price. My vision insurance covered a large part of the price for my new glasses, so I’d estimate the total price would have been $750, easily.

  149. Rob W. Says:

    I know this thread is almost as old as dirt, but I had to comment… from the language you’ve used (tack sharp) and the pictures you’ve posted, you *have* to be a photographer; what did you use to get that DoF? F/1.4? 🙂

  150. Amber Says:

    OMG!!! That is exactly my situation. Thank you for writing this. I just can’t pay $500 just for frames. My lenses are more than the frames cost too. Who can realistically afford these prices?

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