Cheap Eyeglasses - Where to buy them?

Getting the best value for your money when it comes to eyeglasses, sunglasses, eye exams, and contact lenses.

Postby george » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:07 am

So, I've written my few reviews on Lenscrafters eye exams and posted some of my research on anti-reflective lenses. Now I'm going to try to put some information together on places that sell eyeglasses cheaply. Most of these places will be online, but I'll also review the prices in brick and mortar stores as well.

What got me interesting in wanting to put together these threads is that my insurance only covers new glasses every 2 years. While it seemed like a got a great deal at Lenscrafters last year, when I was considering a new pair this year (to get the anti-reflective coating recommended by the optometrist), I was shocked to see the price of the lenses alone were several hundred dollars.

I will update this thread as I get the information about each company. I am thinking I may start a new thread for each eye store in order to keep the discussions more focused on experiences people have had with the specific eyeglass shops.
Last edited by george on Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby george » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:45 am

Here's my first review of lens costs and comparisons, for Lenscrafters.

In summary:

Plastic $125
Polycarbonate $190
Polycarbonate with scratch resistant coating $220
Polycarbonate with anti-reflective coating $325

These are the prices just for lenses. Expect frames to be around $100 and up. See the above link for more details.
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Postby george » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:26 pm

Here's my next review for Costco Optical.

Highlights:
Eye exam: $49
Frames: $40 - $140
Plastic Lenses: $50 (unknown if includes all coatings)
Polycarbonate with all coatings (Anti-reflective, UV, and scratch resistant): $74

Clearly a much better deal than Lenscrafters, but you will have to wait for your glasses.
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Postby george » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:47 pm

Here's my review for Walmart Vision Center.

Briefly:

Eye exam: $49
Frames: $18 - $140
Plastic Lenses: $30 (no coating). UV Protection add $10. Anti-reflective coating add $35.
Polycarbonate Lenses with UV, scratch resistant, and anti-reflective coatings: $118.
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Postby george » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:28 pm

Here's my review of Zenni Optical.

I've ordered glasses and am now waiting (I expect it'll be a while). They are definitely the cheapest I've found. Here's a brief price breakdown:

Many frames offered starting at $8 (including lenses) up to around $40.
Polycarbonate composite lenses 1.57 index included in price with anti-scratch and UV protection
Antireflective coating - $4.95
Tinting, polychromatic, and multifocal options available.
Shipping: $4.95 no matter how many pairs of glasses are ordered.
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Postby george » Thu Oct 29, 2009 11:40 pm

Here's my comments on 39dollarglasses.com.

Overall, decent prices relative to regular retailers, but more than most online retailers. You can get lenses and a basic frame for $39. Add anti-reflective coating for $24.95. They do offer many choices of frames and lens upgrades including high-index and tinting.

In brief, people said if the product came properly it was of decent quality. However, it seemed that there was a high rate of mistakes with orders and the customer service is horrible.
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Postby george » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:54 pm

Here's my initial review of Eyeglass Lens Direct. It's a different set-up from the other places in that they don't sell frames, just lenses. You mail in your frames and they replace the lenses. The reason I bothered reviewing them is they are the only online store I've seen thus far that sells name brand high quality lenses and lens treatments at discount prices. If you want to get the best anti-reflective coatings at a discount, this is the only option I've found so far. The basic prices aren't going to be close to Zenni, but you can get the highest quality options at a discount. You can also choose middle of the road options at prices that are probably competitive with my other top choice - Costco.
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Postby george » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:30 pm

I've added a review for Goggles4u.com which is another deep discount online eyeglass shop.

There are mixed reviews on the company, but they are currently offering special deals for as low as under $10 for eyeglasses with lenses delivered, including:

Basic frames
Middle index 1.56 plastic lenses (will be slightly thinner than the standard 1.50 plastic lenses)
Anti-reflective coating
Anti-scratch coating
UV filter coating
Hard case

Overall, it may be the lowest price for all of that.
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Postby george » Tue May 01, 2012 10:46 pm

I just posted a review for Pearle Vision.

Briefly, eye exam at my local store was $54, not including dilation or optomap.

Frames ranged from $50 up to several hundred.
Lenses are $120 (CR-39 plastic) and $199 (polycarbonate) for single vision. I'm sure they offer higher index at a higher price. Anti-reflective coating adds $80.

Be aware they typically have various promotions going on, such as buy one pair, get one pair free. They also offer lower prices for kids under age 14 ($129 for frames plus polycarbonate lenses).
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Postby Alex » Thu May 03, 2012 8:53 pm

I read all threads from this forum a few weeks ago since I started placing order at coastal.com. I also clicked your link for Zenni for your commission. I also placed an order with lensway.com (part of coastal.com's another business name). I've been wearing glasses since 1987. I usually bought my glasses at Hours Eyes on 50% off sales, which were cheaper than discount with insurance at Lenscreafters. In the past 5 years, I bought Transitions lenses and the prices were between $350-400 for my single vision -4.0 to -4.75 prescriptions with designer frames. Eye exams at both Hours Eyes and Lenscrafters (next to L's for eye exams) were not honest, the examiners always tricked a little bit of my prescription to force me to get new glasses. I was told that if I did not get new glasses (even for -0.25 prescription changes) my eyes would be hurt. Anyhow, I have to wear glasses all day; I bought glasses almost every year. I have most of old glasses with prescription ranging from -4.0 to -4.75 and all are working well.

I don’t have any health insurance in the past 2 years so I neither had eyes exams nor new glasses. I finally looked for cheaper places for eyes exams and found America's Best for $99 for 3 years of eyes exams. Those exams included “contact lenses” exams! I sometimes wear contact lenses and most contact lenses exams at Hours Eyes and Lanscrafters cost me over $100. I also checked at Walmart Vision Center and I was quoted at $120 including fitting fees. I printed out some free trial coupons from Bush & Lomb’s Provision and Air Optics from Alcon’s websites. It was easy to get appointment online but when I actual arrived there, I had to wait for walk-in patient’s appointment. Yeah, I took appointment a few days ahead but that walk-in person got my appointment time though I arrived 10 minutes earlier than my appointment time. The OD was nice, way better than the receptionists. I told her I would not buy glasses at her store, rather buy online. She agreed and told me to measure my PD when I went outside. The guy at the glasses counter did not measure so I did not get my PD on that day. I had to go there again to get correct PD to place online order and another trip to get my free trial contact lenses.

I googled for cheaper glasses and read reviews for hours while waiting for 50% sales from Hours Eyes. I finally found a place called coastal.com and they had 50% off of Luxury frames (designers) for St. Patrick’s Day sales. I called CS for some help since it was my first online order for glasses. She was very helpful, uploaded my picture (I could not uploaded by myself… with errors from their website). I tried several frames mostly “Made in Italy” but finally chose non-Luxury frame but still designer (Kenneth Cole) for free with coupon. I had to pay only for lenses. I chose $50 1.67 indexes Ultra Thin Air Lenses with $20 coating bundle (AR, UV, and scratch resistant) for $70. Received one week later and the frame (lenses) were too small for my face. I kept it since I could not afford $300+ from Hours Eyes’ 50% sales. I also checked at Walmart for transitions lenses but they would not take my existing designers frame. I did not like the frames they had in store. I was quoted $140 without AR for my single vision -4.50. America's Best also quoted $270 without AR for high indexes lenses but did not provide index number. Coastal.com did not offer Transitions lenses for my prescription; only generic photochromic lenses in grey color only with $119.95 without coatings. I ordered a few more from coastal.com; returned some. Return was easy but took over a month to get refund. By comparing their lenses, I don’t see visible differences between 1.59 Durable Air Lenses and 1.67 Ultra Thin Air. Well, the price difference between them was very obvious. 1.59 Durable Air Lenses are about the same thickness as my Hour Eyes and Lenscrafters glasses. Yes, I bought only thinnest lenses recommended by sales persons from there. Coastal offered free pairs for family members so I ordered some without coatings. Non-AR-coated free 1.50 lenses and $20 1.59 index lenses are not glaring. By comparing my bundle coated pair, non-coated pairs have purplish hue while coated pair has greenish hue. Since I read your “Eyeglass tips from an insider” thread, I skipped AR coating :D I can’t tell for scratching but I will let them to be careful. So far, we only use micro-fiber cleaning cloth from Dollar Tree (3 pieces of 12”x12” for only one dollar). Very useful one dollar purchase.

I also ordered 2 pairs of glasses from Zenni, received in 10 days. I chose only 1.57 Free Mid-Index Lenses with some tinted and AR coating. Though 0.02 differences between my Coastal and Zenni lenses, the visible thickness is quite obvious. I surely checked your calculator from “What is the difference between a 1.57 and 1.59 lens?” thread.

Coastal.com offered 1.59 Durable Air Lenses for $20, later they increased to $30. I found out lensway.com Wikipedia’s Coastal.com info. They offered most glasses including Luxuries frames from coastal.com for only $50, significantly cheaper. They also offered free 1.59 Durable Air Lenses with only $13 for coating bundle. But talking to CS was a pain in the a$$... she treated me like it was my fault the frame did not arrive :roll: … I haven’t received mine yet … about a week delayed from expected delivery date… so I cannot compare qualities … yet. I am expecting the same quality as Coastal since it used the same warehouse and the same lab. Lensway does not offer sunglasses, tinted lenses, or photochromic lenses. Only clear lenses in 3 indexes.

Comparing Coastal’s glasses to Zenni, I think I like Coastal better. Zenni is good but the glasses definitely looked cheap. Well, don’t get me wrong for complaining, I just mentioned :P I paid only ~ $34 for 2 pairs (one acetate and one metal frame) with both AR coating and both tinted. Since I am planning to wear Zenni glasses at home, I am happy for my purchase. I don’t feel the weight on my nose, it was very light (I chose acetate over plastic frame and also checked weight description). The metal pair is OK, not as comfortable as acetate though it has springs. Both C and Z glasses do not require fitting, all comfortable out of the boxes. Both came with blue hard cases with cloth. Coastal provided small screw driver with small lenses cleaner.

In conclusion, here’s the list of winners in my book:
Cheapest place for glasses: Zenni
Cheapest place for eyes exam (including contact lenses): America’s Best
Moderate place for glasses including designer frames: Coastal
Moderate place for some designer glasses with moderate lenses: Lensway
Alex
 

Postby george » Thu May 03, 2012 11:07 pm

Thanks Alex for the detailed post. I'm sure other people will find it useful.

While note previously mentioned in this thread, there are a few other threads on this websites about Coastal, but under their name of Coastal Contacts. There is a nice review of coastal in another thread. They also had a positive experience with them. There was also a thread here about a free glasses offer (just pay shipping) which Coastal was offering, and I believe they offer it from time to time.

The information you provided about America's Best and Lensway is very helpful. When I have more time, I'll have to look into those companies some more.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your experiences!
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Postby george » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:07 pm

I just added a post on America's Best. They have a good deal if you need an eye exam and very basic glasses. For $69 you get an eye exam plus two pairs of single vision glasses with plastic lenses.

Added 10/23/12: I've added information to the America's Best thread including the polycarbonate lenses add $135 for two pairs of glasses and anti-reflective coating adds $60 for two pairs of glasses. There are definitely cheaper options for polycarbonate and anti-reflective lenses shopping online.
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Postby george » Wed Jan 02, 2013 12:32 am

I just added a post on Sam's Club for Eyeglasses as they appear to be a good choice if you don't want to order online, especially their high index lens options.
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Postby moodna » Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:09 pm

I am appalled by everyone wanting to buy "cheap" eyeglasses. Hey, you get what you pay for! I am a licensed optician with 40 of experience, and I have witnessed the change from brick&mortar sales, to online. If you want cheap glasses, go to Zenni's. You will get cheap eyeglasses. If you want the worst eyeglasses, go to America's Best. If you want both less expensive (notice I didn't say cheap), try Walmart, Costco, or BJ's. They will offer a better product at a reduced price. If you want AR coatings, don't do the "house bundle" ( especially from VisionWorks, ECCA, Davis Vision, etc.). They are old technology ARs, and don't hold up to every day usage. Spend a few bucks more and get a premium AR with a 2 year warranty. If you are charged more for the warranty, you shouldn't have been. The lens companies that produce Crizal, Zeiss, etc. AR coats offer a 2 year warranty with no cost to the lab, and it should be no cost to you. If you have insurance, please don't say "I only want what the insurance covers." The insurance will cover the cheapest and worst options. If you want polycarbonate lenses you should not be charged extra for UV protection or scratch coat. These lenses have those properties inherent in the material...you cannot get them without that protection. If you want designer frames, the cheapest way is to go online and search. If the size or style is not right when you get them...Oh well. They might take them back. If the price is TOO good,beware of knock-offs made of cheaper materials. It's not a great idea to send your new designer frame purchased online to a Davis, Spectera, or Optum lab. Strange things seem to happen at those places, and they won't replace them.Then... bring them to a private practitioner for the lens order.You will most likely be told that they will not be responsible for any damage to the frame during processing. They will NOT intentionally damage your frame. They want you to come back for subsequent orders. Check your insurance coverage carefully. If you have VSP or EyeMed, Optum,or Davis - be aware that they are essentially discount plans. That is not a bad thing. You can choose what you want. They provide the very basics at no cost, or a reasonable co-pay.Any extras are provided at an additional co-pay that is essentially the lab's cost for product, so you pay something close to wholesale cost.
Now....my big question - When you wear them everyday, on your FACE, why do you want "cheap" eyeglasses? Wouldn't you want the BEST? And the best doesn't mean the most expensive!


Last bumped by Anonymous on Sat Nov 29, 2014 7:09 pm.
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