The Mister and I just completed orders for prescription glasses on the internet, so I thought I’d share our experience. For anyone who’s in doubt about making the leap, the tl;dr of my verdict: if you have a single vision prescription, DO IT NOW–otherwise, maybe.
I have vision insurance, he does not. My first pair of glasses from the optometrist ended up costing me +/- $60 out of pocket, my second pair was more like $90 (even though the frames were cheaper–say what!) I’ll continue to make use of my vision insurance (the eye exam is free and I get $120 toward the glasses, so why not?) But ordering glasses online gives me access to a wider selection of frames. I’m really picky about what I put on my face–anything that comes in on my cheeks creates the illusion that they’re about a million miles wide. My Mister, on the other hand, has a face that can wear anything (the wee bastard.) But without vision insurance, there’s no way he was going to plunk down cash at the optometrist.
He first cabbaged in on Coastal.com‘s alleyway drug dealer offer of “the first one’s free“. He got these guys in “rootbeer”–the total on the order came out to $17 shipping. Not too shabby. The shipping seemed fast–not more than a week, if I recall. When they arrived, the frames were definitely MUCH darker than the picture shows, even on the models. Still, they’re really handsome on him and the lenses seem to be of really nice quality. They came with a repair kit, a nice case and a cleaning cloth. Would we buy them at full price? Eh. Not so much. But if you don’t have vision insurance, you know $99 for a pair of glasses isn’t exactly highway robbery.
We placed an order together on Zenni Optical (link). We got four pairs of glasses for $50–no coupon codes. I got these, he got these and we each ordered a cheap pair of frames as prescription sunglasses. The shipping process seemed to take forever (they hung on the status “manufactured” for several days.) The quality of the lenses is definitely less than Coastal’s–they have a bit of lens glare at night and they feel more plasticy. The sunglasses I’m torn on. First of all, you can get sunglass tinting for $5 from these guys, which is cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen. However, they recommend you get 80% tint. With the grey tint, it’s incredibly dark and appears totally black to anyone looking at me–and everything gets a blue tinge. With the brown tint, everything gets a green tinge but it’s a bit more transparent. Still, it’s an awesome bargain and I’m pleased with what I got. Having learned those facts, my next order will be perfecto (and I’ll probably shill out the extra $5 for anti-glare coating.) These came with pretty terrible cases (not that I’ve ever used glasses cases in my life) and cleaning cloths.
That’s the single-vision review, which is totally a DO IT NOW.
For anyone with bifocals/progressives, compact lenses or any other need? Maybe. Adding on that expense can take the cost up a fair bit. For bifocals/progressives on Zenni, it’s around $30 and for Coastal, I’ve read that it’s +/- $100. Coastal does include some premium coatings with the price and they often run sales, so you might come out ahead on that cost. I think it makes sense to just sit down and build a pair of glasses on one of these sites and figure out the total cost, then compare that to what you’d get at the optometrist–bearing in mind that these sites don’t accept any form of insurance, it’s probably a tossup.