How to Buy Eyeglasses Online and Save Yourself Some Money

Christian Cawley 27-06-2016

Buying glasses can be expensive and time-consuming; not only do you have to take time out of work for appointments with your optician, you also need to take the time out to choose a frame, then pick up the glasses when the lenses have been fitted . . . and then there’s the bill for the eye test, the frames, the lenses, and various lens treatments.


Like I said, it’s expensive. But more and more people are shunning the up-selling that takes place at retail locations, taking their prescriptions with them when they leave, and saving money in the process. Let’s take a look at how you can do the same.

Learn How to Exercise Your Right to Choice

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You’ve had your eye test. Handed to you on a card or piece of paper is your prescription, and you’re expected to head into the next room and choose from a wide selection of frames; in most cases, the frames will be prohibitively expensive, with just a few shoddy, affordable options.


What you need to do here is consider your options. Do you want to pay $200, $400, or more for a pair of glasses, or head elsewhere for a savings of 50–80%?


We all know the answer, but it can be tricky to actually do it. It might be considered rude for you to just walk out, so feel free to let the advisor or salesperson know that you’re off to “consider your options,” or “grab a coffee,” or even “go to the bathroom” and leave the store.

No physical prescription? Demand a copy be printed off immediately, or else forwarded to you via email the same day. You’ll need it when you buy your cheap eyeglasses online.

So, Where Should You Buy Your Low-Cost Glasses?

Online and offline third-party glasses suppliers don’t have the same overheads as an optician’s practice. As a result, they can offer lower prices. By shopping for your glasses online and picking out frames yourself, you cut out the middle-man, the frame salesperson. Various websites provide this service. We’ll take a look at some of them now.

Warby Parker

There’s little difference between Warby Parker and the other sites listed here, except for one key point: Warby will give you the opportunity to select five frames to try on for five days, which they will ship to you for free.



Admittedly, they’re a more expensive retailer than you might expect (prescription glasses start at $95), but with a wide selection, you should find the frames to suit, especially when given the chance to try them on before you commit to a specific pair.

There’s a lot to like about Warby Parker. Learn more in this Warby Parker review.


With a discount offer for signing up to their newsletter, Zenni also has a collection of affordable frames on offer, starting from $29.95 for adult sizes and $6.95 for children. While the site has a shortage of label brands, it has some stylish collections grouped by theme that are worth checking out.


Zenni also has a virtual try-on feature that lets you see what frames will look like on your face using a photo or video. Learn more in this Zenni Optical review.


This online marketplace for glasses offers a 15% discount on your first order and free shipping when you sign up to their newsletter, which is a good start. Various other offers can be picked up from time to time, including buy-one-get-one-free. Eyebuydirect sells only their own frames, but they also have a higher-end label called RFLKT that gives you some options that look like brand-name specs.

Frames Direct

Top brands such as Gucci and Ray Ban are available here, and signing up to their newsletter will deliver a 10% discount to your first order. Along with famous brands, Frames Direct also offers a collection of standard frame designs without the “label” price tag. They even sell contacts, so you can get all of your prescription optical needs taken care of with a single stop.


With glasses starting from as low as $19, and regular seasonal discounts, Coastal is a good online marketplace that also offers big name brands and its own, “regular” designs. Lenses come in a number of useful options, with bifocal and progressive lenses available alongside sunglasses, and coatings.



Coastal also offers contact lenses and a very useful style finder that helps you find a set of frames that will best fit your face shape.

Take a Look at Your Prescription

While your optical prescription may appear to be a bunch of weird lines, circles and strange phrases, it really isn’t too difficult to interpret. Because of this, it can be easily inputted into the website of your chosen glasses supplier.

Two options are generally available here. The first is to input the prescription manually, into an annotated online form that more or less resembles the prescription (sight prescriptions follow a standard format).


Perhaps more preferable, however, is the scanned/photographed option. All you need here is to create an image of your prescription using a scanner The Best Printers & Scanners For Your Scanning & Printing Needs [Gadget Corner] Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Printers & scanners? Yawn. Who cares about those? They’re not thin, they don’t run apps (usually), and they’re made by companies like HP, which as a brand, is every... Read More or your smartphone camera How To Build Your Own Smartphone Document Scanner Have you ever tried to take a photo of a document with your smartphone camera, hoping to convert it using OCR software into a PDF or Word document later on? Perhaps you’ve attempted to take... Read More , and upload this as part of the purchase transaction.

Once this is done, and you’ve placed your order, it should only take a few days for your new glasses to arrive, direct to your door!

Dealing with Problems

Once you’ve received your glasses, you’ll need to try them out. If the prescription has been entered correctly, and the instructions on the site executed to the letter, then the only real problems you’re likely to have is with the frames being uncomfortable, and that’s usually a pretty easy fix. Check the website where you bought the frames to see if they’ll cover the cost of an adjustment.


Other problems, like those concerning your lenses, can be trickier to iron out, but again, you should contact the glasses supplier to explain the problem. In many cases they’ll ask you to return the glasses for assessment, and if a problem is found, replace them. However, in some situations, they will recommend a second eye test.

Did you buy your glasses online? Perhaps you used a retailer we missed out? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Image Credit: YuryKo via, Adam Gregor via

Related topics: Online Shopping, Save Money.

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  1. Vikas Nehra
    May 14, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    In India cheapest eyewear collation at

  2. Asad Barry
    August 13, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I was a regular customer of Zenni until they shipped me crap item, i bought my glasses with polarized lenses and it was like $75 total for all including shiiping.
    My experience with goggles4u was good.
    I think warbyparker is expensive if you compare others.
    i would suggest as they impressive, newly launched store gave me eyeglasses for free , i just had to pay for shipping

  3. mom4max
    June 27, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    I bought my first pair of bifocals from Zenni back in 2009. Total outlay, about $35. Worked great, I'm still wearing them. I just bought two more pair from a new Rx last week, total outlay $109. Zenni is much cheaper than anyone else, but they have a more restrictive return policy and the glasses take quite a while to arrive when you choose the cheapest shipping option, about three weeks for my first pair and that's what I expect with these. When I priced from all of the other options listed here, it was over $100 for a single pair.

    You didn't mention pupilary distance in your article at all. This is a required measurement and not something that you typically get on your prescription, so make sure you ask for it.

    Measure your current glasses carefully to get an idea of how big the frames you are considering are, all of the online places will show the sizes of the lenses, the arms, the total across the front of the frames and the distance between the lenses for every single frame. Even if you upload a photo of yourself, what you see on screen might not be the same size as the glasses when they arrive.

    My only other suggestion is that if you are very sensitive to changes in your eyeglasses or if you have had problems with glasses from B&M stores in the past, you are probably better off with a local optician. In the long run, it will be less hassle and easier to get a local store to correct a problem.