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
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
… 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
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