Best place to get inexpensive glasses

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Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by tjstogner » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:07 am

My sister needs new glasses and asked me the best place to get inexpensive glasses. I don't wear them, so I figured I'd ask here on the forums. She's 19 and doesn't have vision insurance, what would you recommend she do? Thanks

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reducing cost of glasses: amortized indestructable frames

Post by manyness » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:23 am

While not directly the answer you seek I've found that the expensive flexible frames are well worth the added expense. Sit on them, fall asleep sideways, whatever no immediate need to replace the frames. I've witnesses several people who are on their eighth, sixth, and sixth YEARS with the same ONE frame merely changing out the lenses. They'll likely last decades more.
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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by mike127 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:31 am

I've spent years buying expensive glasses only to realize late in the game that they're expensive mostly because only a few companies control the market in the US (check out ... expensive/ for information) and that you can get good quality glasses for much less.

Some websites we've used have been,, and The last is slightly more expensive than the others but will ship you five frames of your choice at no cost for a home try-on; they also have outstanding customer service. I've also heard good things about Costco for glasses but have never used them.

One thing to pay attention to, whether you buy online or in a store, is the quality of lenses that you purchase. If you have a high prescription this matters more, but in general the cheaper pairs of glasses tend to use a polycarbonate lens, which I've heard isn't as good. (I have not been able to tell the difference -- but maybe this is because I either have too little a vision impairment for it to matter or am just too blind to notice :) There are some good threads on Bogleheads about this.

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by cheese_breath » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:04 am

I haven't used them myself, but I hear Costco and Walmart are inexpensive.

Regarding polycarbonate lenses, some people do have problems with them. They don't bother me, but the make my wife sick.
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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by Aptenodytes » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:15 am

I've bought two pair from the online store Warby Parker and like the products and service. They have a limited range of styles which isn't for everybody, but if it fits your fashion sense I'd recommend it. They lend you frames to try out before you make your final selection.

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by pennstater2005 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:21 am

If you have an America's Best near you can get two pairs of eyeglasses with eye exam for $69. I went there and they will upsell you on everything but if you refuse its a great deal. Both glasses are in great shape after one year.
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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by mullery » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:30 am

I buy my glasses from They have a very nice selection and the prices are LOW. If you select one of their many low-cost frames and just stick with the standard lenses, you can get a pair for $20. They frequently run buy-one-get-one-free sales too. About the only complaint I have with them is that it takes about 10-14 days to get your new glasses shipped. I have ordered standard eyeglasses, sunglasses, and progressive lense glasses and all were an excellent value.

If you go the online route, have your sister get an eye exam and have her prescription printed out. She'll need the get the pupillary distance (PD) from the eye doctor also. She'll need to enter the prescription and PD on the website when she sets-up an account. I found a coupon online for an eye exam at a local optometrist for $39. I got an eye exam, a pair of eyeglasses, and a pair of sunglasses all for less than $100 this way.

Good luck!


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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by bzcat » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:42 am

mike127 wrote:
Some websites we've used have been,, and
My wife and I have purchased a dozen pairs from sites like these. Once we started ordering from these optical web sites we never looked back.

The Pupil Distance was easy enough to measure on our own with a ruler- we never had issues because we measured it ourselves.

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by orlandoman » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:06 am

Bought at Costco & would recommend them. Lenses & frames are about 1/2 the cost of chains like Lenscrafters. And, with Costco you can return without any questions if not satisfied.
"Not everything you read on the Internet is true", Abraham Lincoln

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by mgullo » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:21 am

I buy my glasses at Zenni optical. Big selection and quite inexpensive. You must know your prescription and the distance between pupils (very easy to measure).
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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by frugaltype » Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:28 am

I find that the shape of the nose piece is very important for comfort, so I never buy glasses without trying them on.

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by Padlin » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:04 am

If she needs progressives be careful, they need to have the pupil height as well as distance. Normally done by putting on the glasses with fake lenses, they are then marked with a sharpie. The one time I didn't get the height marked I could not wear them. I'd hesitate to buy from a site that does not require both and has not worked out how to get the info.
Regards | Bob

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by frugaltype » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:27 pm

And now for a little entertainment, Sears optical:

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by PaddyMac » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:47 pm

I went the Costco route last year. The exam was really rushed but I only needed sunglasses and my prescription hadn't changed much from the previous year; I gave them my last prescription as a start. Then I picked out a pair of frames in the store, only to have them completely screw up the order. One of the lenses was +1 when it should have been -1 (or vice versa, can't remember now). As soon as I put them on I said "I can't see", but they shrugged it off and said "all glasses need time for you to adjust". So I drove home and had a massive migraine by the time I got back. They did eventually agree that there was an error but the redo still didn't feel good and I still got headaches. The glasses were also really thick and chunky. You get what you pay for. And I LUV Costco, but not for glasses.

A few years ago I got polycarbonates reading glasses from LensCrafters but they were so easily scratched that they were next to useless in a year. Didn't go back.

This year, after feeling my prescription slip, I said f^#* it and spent $2K+ on 4 pairs of new glasses with the best thinnest glass, nice frames, and set up by my optician after a relaxed and thorough exam. I got progressives, reading/craft glasses (9"), computer glasses (24") and sunglasses. The progressives were completely custom - they even took photos of my face from different angles wearing the frame (after tweaking it for the nose) into an iPad app. And this is in a rural optician in NM, so things sure have changed!

As I get older I just hate not being able to see well in all situation and am willing to pay for better custom glass. These are the most comfortable progressives I've had so far, which is great considering my eyesight just keeps going from bad to worse.

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by sport » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:58 pm

My wife and I both bought our glasses at Costco using prescriptions from an ophthalmologist. We have both been happy with them.

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Re: Best place to get inexpensive glasses

Post by chaz » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:07 pm

I second Costco and Walmart.
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