I remember the first time my husband had to buy glasses. He didn’t have access to a military hospital and we ended up paying out of pocket for his glasses. It was over $300 which was about 1/4 of our monthly paycheck. I immediately began dreading the day our children would need some specs. I knew I needed to find a way to save money on glasses.
Thankfully my children have great vision insurance, but most people aren’t so fortunate. There are many online retailers that sell eyewear now as well as big box stores like Costco. There are still many opportunities to save on glasses.
While there are definitely ways to purchase glasses cheaply, I’m sharing some other tricks to save on eyewear. Every penny counts!
Reuse your old frames.
If you already have eyeglasses but you just need to change lenses, don’t buy a new pair. Just reuse your frames for custom lenses for glasses. A whole new pair of eyeglasses can set you back a few dollars compared to the cost to replace lenses in glasses.
Do your research.
Check for prices in different stores for cheap glasses. Look for eyeglasses online reviews. Check for price matching. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll be able to save at the end of it all with just a bit of research.
Zenni Optical is a great choice seeing as they have impressive reviews and customer service. Also, research on what frames you want because you’d want to keep your eyeglasses for long and frames will usually be a huge factor in that.
Take into account comfort, sizes, shapes, as well as the seller’s customer service and extent of warranties. Research on the frame’s material because some metals are not hypoallergenic and can cause you to have allergies.
Check your company benefits.
Some people skirt over these when contract signing. Don’t do that, take advantage of your perks and save money! If you’re employed, ask your employer to explain the benefits more. There might be a plan from the partnered healthcare provider on getting glasses for cheap. Don’t forget to check if your dependents are also listed in the coverage just in case your kids will also need eyeglasses.
Maximize your insurance.
It pays to know what your insurance covers for you. You may not have a separate vision insurance plan but you may be covered with a regular medical insurance plan. Once you’ve chosen your eyeglass store, call ahead if they accept your insurance plan. If not, talk to a customer service representative of the company of your insurance plan if they will reimburse you for your consultation fees and eyeglasses.
Watch out for internet deals.
If you have a cashback app like Rakuten, you can get a percentage of your money back if you snag a deal here. There are even online coupons available that you can download and have it scanned at the store for certain perks (maybe an add-on to your specs) or a discount for eyeglasses.
Keep your eyeglasses for longer.
If you follow the doctor’s orders for eye care, you’ll be able to keep your pair for much longer than a year. You wouldn’t need to replace your glasses after just a year. Opt to change them when the doctor finds that you need a lower or higher grade. Please refer to reusing your old frames tip as well.
Save your warranty.
People sometimes disregard this and find out after a while that their glasses needed maintenance! You might call a representative to check on your warranty, be prepared to wait on hold for a bit.
REALLY consider if you need the add-ons.
They do sound tempting, with ads saying just a few more dollars and you can get anti-reflective or polarized lenses. Before you know it, you may be paying more than half of your eyeglasses worth with add-ons you’ll barely need!
Here are some of the add-ons you might encounter:
Polarized lenses: This may seem to be a good idea for your eyeglasses if you always drive in the sun but if your car’s already tinted, you might not need to have these installed.
Polycarbonate lenses: These are usually for active sports. Reserve these for kids who are athletes, adults may not need this if you’re an office employee or an at-home freelancer.
Transition lenses: Depending on the lighting, this will automatically lighten and darken. You won’t need this much even for driving because your windshield can do the job of shielding your eyes.
Anti-reflective lenses: If you do a lot of public speaking, you may be able to use this or when you’re in front of a computer the whole day. But if you’re only getting reading eyeglasses, you won’t need these.
You should also check if the shop you chose is offering free add-ons for each eyeglasses purchase.
Take care of your eye glasses.
This may be the most obvious tip, but we can’t help but overlook certain steps, like not leaving them inside the car especially during summer months. Also remember not to put them in your bag without their container. If you remember these, you can save a lot of money from not opting for the add-ons such as the anti-scratch lenses.
Wow, this is great. We will definitely try them out for my husbands next pair. He is notorious for breaking or losing his glasses so we buy several pair a year, which get costly. Being glasses free thanks to lasiks for almost 10 years now, I don’t have to buy for me but, like you, I’m expecting its only a matter of time before the kids need glasses. Thanks for the post.
I have a Zenni pair on right now! They were..$19, I think. 🙂
Tracy H. says
LOVE Zenni…my stepdaughter told me about them. I don’t even KNOW how much we’ve saved…it’s a lot!!! LOL
I have on a pair from Zenni now. I am impressed with the company too. At the time I ordered from them, I was on Medicaid and the program *would* have paid for a pair of glasses, but I would have had to “go backwards” to regular plastic lenses instead of the high index thin lenses that are nearly a necessity with my higher power lenses (as well as had a very limited selection of “granny glasses frames”). I could have paid a co-pay of $40 for the upgrade to the thin lenses, but I got fashionable frames and the high index lenses for about 25 dollars including shipping — less than the Medicaid co-pay required. If I were paying what I had had too prior to any insurance, I would have spent somewhere along the lines of $300, just as the Sailor.
Beth Anne says
I LOVE ZENNI OPTICAL! I’ve been using them for over 5 years! 39dollarglasses.com is also a good one (esp if you need overnight delivery). Another great thing about zenni is you can get prescription sunglasses 🙂
My mom loves ordering hers from this site because she has bifocal and can afford to get glasses where you can’t see the bifocal lines 🙂
Yep…I use zenni and love it!! I paid $8 for glasses I get compliments on all. of. the. time.
Margery H. says
I have a Zenni pair of glasses. I mostly wear contacts, but needed a pair o back-up glasses. They are fine, but I realized after receiving them that they are made in China and air-shipped to the U.S. Yet one more thing that isn’t made in the U.S.A., so I had mixed feelings about that.
I actually bought 4 pairs for under 40 bucks…i got 2 that were cute and 2 that were just totally cheesy expecting them to break quickly. Shockingly all 4 are still kicking a year later.
Hi, I stumbled onto your website and really glad I did!! Zenni Optical is a site I’ll refer back to when it’s time for me to renew my prescription for glasses. Being able to select a model with the same face shape as myself and “try on” the glasses is WONDERFUL!! Much nicer than being in a store trying on samples that I can’t see because you can’t wear two pairs of glasses at the same time – the ones I need to wear in order to SEE the ones I’m trying on.
I also stumbled upon Zenni and I love them. The hardest part of ordering through them is knowing what your P.D. measurement is. I had to order a pair from my doctor in order to find it out. I have ordered five pairs from them now and have only had one pair that I wasn’t happy with they way the nose fit. I tell all of my friends about them.
Wow! This will be where I order my sons next pair from. Sadly we just shelled out over $250 for his right before thanksgiving :/ never again! Thanks for the info 🙂
Sometimes a good deal is not the right deal…. I work for an eye doctor and I have played around on sites like Zenni- the problem, besides being made overseas instead of supporting your local economy (Twice- office and lab!), is that people tend to pick the cheapest option, instead of the right option. For example, Kids should always be fitted in polycarbonate lenses- they are impact resistent (think windshield of your car), have UV protection and are relatively thin. But even after selecting a child’s frame on the Zenni site, I was still able to order plain plastic lenses. Any Brick and Mortar store that you go to will automatically fit your child in this type of material because it’s what they should be in!
As eye care providers, we are in the business of helping you see- and having a plastic lens break and splinter into your child’s eyes when they fall while learning how to ride a bike, is not in the best interest of helping your child see! Stronger prescriptions, bifocals, prisms require precise measurements in order to work properly- a generalized approximation (like what they use for bifocals) or an untrained measurer can affect your general satisfaction with the glasses or possibly cause problems with your vision later on. Instead of supporting another country’s economy, go to a Walmart, Costco or even your local eye doctor- Talk to them about how forgiving their warranties are and check out prices with them. Yes, you will probably pay more than $9 for glasses, but they should be made here and should be made correctly! Glasses are a PRESCRIPTION- are you going to start buying your medications from an online site because it’s cheaper when they’re filled overseas?
I can understand where Jenny and others are coming from, but the bottom line is – we’re retired military with six kids still at home. Our insurance gives NO vision coverage, and I have both astigmatism and near-sightedness and need bifocals. My glasses can cost $400 for one pair…one. I can’t possibly afford to get my glasses, plus a spare in case of breakage, as well as glasses for my husband and half my kids and still be able to eat. I’ll try Zenni gladly. I’ll also gladly give my business locally if the product can be made affordable to me. If anyone knows of local companies (and yes, the glasses I’m wearing now come from Walmart) that can make things more affordable, I’ll be there.
The reason that glasses in the United States are more expensive than those manufactured in China are numerous. The US requires that medical devices (and glasses are considered medical devices) meet certain ophthalmic and safety standards. They must be manufactured in an approved/licensed lab by employees that make at least minimum wage. There must be licensed opticians to ensure that ANSI standards are met. The glasses must be dispensed by a licensed optician or by an employee of a licensed optometrist/ophthalmologist.
Please remember that one in five of the lenses manufactured in China would not pass the impact resistence standards required in the US for all children’s glasses. While wearing glasses that are not the correct prescription will do no permanent harm ( one in four of the lenses manufactured in China would not meet ANSI standards), wearing a lens that could shatter will.
There is a reason we have safety standards in the US. There is also a reason why many Americans have lost jobs. Don’t complain about our economy and lack of jobs when purchasing products traditionally made and serviced in the US overseas.
When it comes down to it, two pairs of glasses for less than $30.00 is over 5 hundred dollars still in my pocket. That is more than half a month’s wages for me. I’ll keep it. I have been wearing Zenni since 2008 and love them. I have referred many friends to them and until an American company can come close to their cost and quality I won’t think of shopping elsewhere.
Here’s another great American company, Warby-Parker, that not will provide prescription glasses for $95, but provides stylish frames AND with every pair you buy, donates another pair to a person in need. They do not provide bifocals or progressives, but they are a good buy for a good cause. They also have brick and mortar stores in several cities.
Yes, they are a little more expensive than Zenni, but they offer free shipping, free returns, and a home try on program where you can try on five frames to see how they look and feel before you order. Lenses are high end, polycarbonate with anti reflective coating and UV protection.
I am anxiously awaiting my three pairs of glasses that I got for less then half of what I paid for the ones I’m currently wearing! I’m so excited! A customer of mine came in, when I worked at Target, and I complimented her adorable glasses. She said she got them there and ever since I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to order online, but I’m so excited that I did it and it’s only thirty bucks, so why not right?! OMG. I’m so excited ^__^ I googled Zenni Optical thinking I would find some scam or something after I already ordered them (pessimist me, I know.) and I found your blog which just makes me feel so much better about ordering them!!!
Aaron chapman says
I live in the united states and no matter where you buy glasses they could not cost hundreds of dollars to make. I mean there small metal frames or plastic and the lenses are little pieces of plastic or glass . Eye doctors are always trying to talk you into extra stuff to put more money in there pocket so they can own 5 houses and 15 cars. In the first place glasses should come with anything or everything that is good for your site. I paid $500.00 once from pearl vision and they talked me into all the extras and the glasses were no better than the cheap glasses i have baught elswhere. The reason our economy is so bad is because of greed and crooks.
I’ve bought multiple pairs of glasses from online retailers and from local stores. My whole family wears glasses and we have no vision insurance. We used a different online retailer when my husband’s glasses broke and he needed a pair right away (his only spare pair were out of reg – he was active duty Army at the time) and they were about $60. Overall, here’s what I’ve learned – Children grow when they feel like it and you sometimes have to get a new Rx in less than a year, in that case the warranty for big box retailers is void HOWEVER, if you have a pair that are going to get beat up and kicked around (sports goggles, for instance) it’s worthwhile to purchase them at SAMS or WalMart or whatever has a good warranty program.
While at my local SAMS picking out sports goggles I was told that Zenni had all of these lawsuits against them and they were bad for your eyes. I was almost talked into paying 3x the price for new glasses. I have found ZERO evidence of this and am annoyed enough with SAMS that we won’t be renewing our membership. — Retailers are in the business to sell things, no matter *what* they tell you. I had a “medical professional” lie to my face in order to get me to buy glasses. Not cool.
As long as you have your PD measured by a professional and you make sure that your glasses are in good shape and positioned on your face correctly, all FDA approved vendors sell glasses that work. Places like Target and WalMart also manufacture their glasses in China but because they have a larger network (and overhead that you’re paying for) theirs come a little quicker. At the end of the day, my husband was given the choice as to which glasses he wanted (he is now a civilian and works in front of a computer all day and money isn’t as much of an issue) and he stuck with Zenni. They’re FDA approved, we’ve never had a problem (other than occasionally picking a frame that was too big or too small – but that was a learning curve) and the business is based in California and required to follow the same US standards as any other American company.
We’ll be buying a pair of sports goggles for the kid (about $100) and then several pairs of glasses for the rest of the family from Zenni. We’re in a global economy whether we like it or not, I would rather keep my money. /$.02
I have been wearing zenni optical glasses for two years now and the quality of the glasses are the same if not better than some american made glasses. The bottom line is if you prefer to have the polycarbonate glasses definetely get them! its not like they don’t offer it and its only a fraction of the price any american store cost. The prescriptions are 100 percent correct and the quality is unbelievable for the price. In U.S. my first pair of glasses cost me 200 dollars and they didnt even fit my face. The optician was just trying to make a quick buck. Thanks to zenni optical I now know a little more about ordering my glasses and it saves a lot of money especially since my four your old also needs glasses. Zenni optical have saved my family hundreds of dollars and when greedy america make glasses affordable to families I may think about trying local glasses again, but until that day zenni optical is my number one pick.
My husband and I are wearing Zenni’s right now and just ordered out next 2 pairs! The pair I’m wearing cost $23 including shipping. My next pair has transitions lenses and came to $79 Total. Seriously good deals and great glasses!!!
D Kimsey says
Warby Parker glasses are four times as much as Zenni. and their frames are also made in China. I love their style, but they are from CHINA.
I hate buying things like glasses from China, but I have a limited amount of money to spend and paying $500 isn’t an option for me.
I have loved Zenni so far (the past four years or so). My glasses aren’t usually the cheapest of the cheap simply because I need the higher index lenses due to my prescription (-4.5 in each eye), but still, I just recently paid $48 for my pair including shipping. By contrast, even with vision insurance and a AAA discount, my last pair at Sears Optical cost me $275.
I do feel the quality is just a scootch lower. I have the slightest bit of blurriness with my Zennies no matter what I do. But it’s not prohibitive, doesn’t give me headaches and overall they work fine for my needs (and I’m on the computer a lot).
I agree with the Warby Parker assessment above. I checked them out, saw the prices and thought: If I’m going to do that, I’ll just go to my optometrist. They are super expensive and really don’t appear to be all that fabulous for the price difference, so I’m sticking with Zenni.
I have also tried optical4less; they’re not bad, but they had a smaller selection.
I have bought 2 pair of Zenni and have no complaints, as yet. I hate the idea though of buying items made in China, which I just read Zennis are. I didn’t know that before and would be much happier if they were American made. I find it discusting that glasses sold in the USA cost so much. The majority of people, as they age, need not only glasses, but hearing aids and our government allows doctors and companies to gouge mostly elderly. Think about the cost of hearing aids, and compare it to the cost of iphones, i pads and other modern electric equipment. Certainly tcompanies should be able to make hearing aids for under $400 a pair and still made a huge profit.
Matthew Kleinmann says
My wife has worn glasses all of her life. I saw zenni on line and she had just gotted a new prescription so she tried them. She picked out a frame and a single focus lens for $6.99. She was expecting $1 store junk but she got a very nice pair of glasses that she still wears, years later. Over the years she has gotten a few more pairs (same script) but with more bells and whistles. The original pair are now a backup pair in the glovebox of her car, but still perfectly functional. She loves the generic transitions auto darkening stuff in the new ones he has. Over all we have been just thrilled with both the product and the service from Zenni.
I recently lost my new glasses while outside an emergency trauma center waiting on my son. Long story short, my optometrist will replace them for the nominal fee of $468. half of what I paid for them two months ago. I am now awaiting a pair to arrive from ZENNI made off om my prescription from two months ago. They also ask that you fax them the prescription (to a CA number) and upon asking I was informed that they were a California company. Not taking anything for granted I checked their incorporation paperwork and found that they are a California company. I paid $67.12 for progressive bifocals with a stainless steel frame.
I have used Zenni and Payne glasses for online glasses and been very happy with both. I found Payne to be a little more economical for trifocal transition lenses than Zenni. Zenni was going ti be a little over $100 and Payne was about $40.
I always buy a pair of glasses from they eye doctor at over $400 and get my extras and sunglasses online.