I buy my prescription glasses online and have for the last 3 years. Nothing bad has happened to me, my eyes are just as poor as they have always been. It was three years ago I first tried buying glasses online because the $200 needed for one pair of very thick glasses seemed way to much for me and there had to be a better way.

I purchased a pair of metal rimmed, gold colored glasses that did not have the high index option chosen - basically my glasses were as thick as the bottom of a soda bottle. I had that pair for two years and they worked beautifully. I paid under $40 dollars for them.

This year I got my eyes checked and knew I was going to get my glasses online again. No hesitation. I had the optometrist measure my pupillary distance (distance between pupils when looking straight ahead) as I wanted it done by a professional, though I did pretty good the last time.

Two years ago, I ordered through Zenni Optical* and was happy with my frames. I decided to order through them again this year, but this time include the high index option to make the glass thinner and lighter on my face and stayed with a metal frame, but smaller in size.

Zenni Optical     /   39 Dollar Glasses

I also tried out a new company, 39 dollar glasses*, since I had heard some good things about them. But instead I chose a  darker plastic frame and high index option.

Here are my pros and cons with the my experience:

Zenni Optical - (A-)
pros - Multitude of designs. Very good prices. Shipping time was 10 days to get them. Able to track shipment

cons - I always have to super glue the plastic sheath that goes on the ear stem to keep it in place on the metal frame. I had to do that with the old pair as well. A bit small in lens size for my taste.

39 Dollar Glasses - (B)
pros - Multitude of glasses. Good prices and able to track shipment.

cons - Shipping was over 2 weeks. Had to reform the ear stem with a little heat. After the 30 day return time, I found a split on the right front of the plastic glasses and now my right lens squeaks when I clean the lens - almost like it might break or fall out, but it appears to still be tight.

I paid $58 for the dark plastic glasses from 39 Dollar Glasses and I paid $43 for the Zenni Optical metal framed ones. That does include shipping and the high index option on both. They both also came with a hard clamshell case and a microfiber cloth to clean the glasses.

With the Zenni Optical frames I bought clip-on sunglasses for $4 that was included in the $43 price. I gave Zenni Optical a better grade (A-) than 39 dollar glasses (B) because the price was lower and the shipping was quicker.

Overall I was happy with my decision. They both weren't perfect as I had to super glue the metal pair and the split formed on the plastic pair. I'm not too worried about the split as I will be getting my eyes checked in another 1-2 years since I have poor vision.

 Script and Clamshell cases

Tips for when you order prescription glasses online:
1. Your prescription - It's a violation of federal law in the U.S. for your optometrist to withhold your prescription from you. You don't have to buy the glasses they offer at the office either.

2. Find your pupillary distance - It is easier to have the optometrist measure this, but it can be done at home with a ruler that has millimeters on it (the red line in the picture above is mine - 62mm). The stronger your prescription is, the more important it is to get this right as the lens curves towards the edges. Also, be prepared to get a lecture about the dangers of buying eyeglasses online if you ask for your PD at the optometrist or to get a dirty look. A friend of mine said her optometrist declined to give it at all.

3. Google for discounts - Keep your eyes opened for discount codes that you can use for additional savings. Some savings are free shipping, 10-20% off and free clip-on sunglasses.

4. Measure your current glasses - If you like the size of your lens frame, measure it
(everything is in millimeters) as you may be choosing a size too small that will make your adjustment time longer. It also doesn't hurt to measure distance over the nose or from ear to eye to get an idea as well.

*I am not affiliated with either of these companies.

What are your thoughts on buying prescription glasses online?


  1. aaron robb // Wednesday, August 11, 2010 5:39:00 PM  

    I've bought from Zenni before and the glasses are great. Spent $27 for two pairs!! Talk about frugal. I've also hooked up about 7 other people with the company and they are all happy with their purchases. Its just good knowing that if i break them, they didn't cost me the normal $300.

    I've been reading the blog for a while now! Keep up the good work!

  2. Dawn // Wednesday, August 11, 2010 6:01:00 PM  

    Thanks for giving us your experience - glad to hear that it went well for you as well.

  3. Anonymous // Wednesday, August 11, 2010 6:30:00 PM  

    I first discovered Zenni thro the Clark Howard show and I'm glad i did. I'm getting ready to order another pair from them in the next few months. I definitely give then a thumbs up

  4. Jack Thomas // Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:53:00 AM  

    It's been four years since I've had an eye exam and I need new glasses, thanks for the link on the website.

  5. meg // Thursday, August 12, 2010 6:41:00 PM  

    Thank you so much for posting this--every time I get glasses I have to shell out $400 for the lenses alone and more if I need frames. Have bookmarked Zenni, esp. after seeing they have my lenses, and the Harry Potter frames I want, for a total of $50!

  6. Dawn // Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:39:00 PM  

    @ meg & thomas
    I'm glad the review and links were useful alternatives for you both

  7. Anonymous // Monday, August 16, 2010 10:23:00 PM  

    thanks for this post! I spend at least a hundred dollars for my much needed prescription glasses every year and that's after insurance. Great to have this info.