If you have to put on glasses (or take them off) to read this article, you're in good company: 143 million American adults sport spectacles.
With squinting and eye strain taking their toll, we shell out over $28.7 billion each year on vision-related products and services like glasses and contact lenses without, well, batting an eye.
Focus on this: Buying glasses can break the bank, but they are a necessary expense—unless you enjoy stumbling through life not seeing clearly, of course.
But there is some relief in sight.
You don't have to wait for Cyber Monday sales to take advantage of deep discounts on eyeglasses.
You don't have to live paycheck to paycheck to have clear vision.
And you certainly don't have to make time in your schedule to drive to the optician, either.
You can buy leading brands of eyewear from reputable retailers online for far less than you might pay in the store.
And guess what?
You won't be sacrificing knowledgeable customer service or the ability to try on frames.
I actually tried out buying my latest pair of glasses online, and I really liked the fact that I had more options, less pressure from a sales person, and the privacy of ordering from my home.
It's the same privacy you get when you try on clothes in a fitting room of a store, and you don't have to worry about anyone else influencing your decision.
Many eyewear retailers offer virtual and at-home trials, so you'll know exactly how your new glasses will look.
In fact, you can buy glasses online with the same confidence and ease as you would clothing, household goods, and technology.
Wearing glasses is obviously the cool thing to do, but your bespectacled self is set to get much cooler when you purchase your next set of frames online.
Keep reading to see our point of view.
Glasses Are a Necessary—and Expensive—Evil
Unless you reframe your thinking
You might think of your glasses as fun, fashion-forward accessories, but let's be honest: You need them, or else you'll walk into things.
Your glasses are not a frivolous purchase.
But, unfortunately, they are expensive.
Here's the good news: You can buy just about everything under the sun on the internet, and that includes the hottest frames at the lowest prices.
Click or swipe to find the best deals.You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to understand why online shopping is such a big deal when it comes to decreasing your financial outlay.
Not even the best Black Friday in-store deals can diminish the convenience that online shopping offers.
And for those who don't appreciate a hovering sales associate raring to go in with a hard sell, the internet also offers a wealth of consumer reviews (both on specific vendors and their products).
This allows shoppers to make informed decisions and, in effect, vote with their wallets.
Stores save, so you save. For companies who use the internet as their virtual marketplace, they save a ton on overhead costs like store rent and staff salaries—not to mention those huge pieces of optical equipment.
Online eyeglass providers like Frames Direct save even more when they buy their trendy frames straight from the manufacturer.
Buying wholesale offers them discounts—and those savings get passed along to the consumer.
So if you've never considered buying glasses online before, I hope we've shed enough light on the matter for you to see why you should try buying online the next time you need a pair.
Buying Your Glasses Online Is a 20/20 Decision
Focus on all the perks so clearly set before you
If you think you have to go into a store to try on frames for purchase, think again.
Companies like Warby Parker and Eye Buy Direct make it super easy for you to test frames and make purchases at home.
Of course, there's one thing you can't do at home: You still need to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist to get your eyes examined and your prescription updated.
But aside from that, you can do your eyewear shopping on your own terms.
You'll see more money in your wallet. It's not a question of if you'll save money—but rather how much.
Depending on which site you shop and brand you buy, you can score savings of up to 70%.
That's because you're paying for lots of customizations in the store, usually as an up-sell by a persuasive sales associate.
The pricing with online eyewear retailers is pretty transparent (and it's easy to click the "No, thanks" button on any up-sell pop-up and move on), so there won't be any nasty surprises upon check out.
Shop from a wider selection of frames.Unless your optician of choice has a glass display cabinet the size of a warehouse, you're likely to be working with a limited number of eyewear options on site.
Even if the brick and mortar store does carry what you're looking for, there's no guarantee they'll have it in stock—or that there isn't already someone in the store trying on that very same pair of glasses.
The internet offers a nearly infinite amount of product options, so take advantage of it!
Try on to your heart's content.Trying on a pair of glasses is so much easier than trying on clothes or shoes.
Some leading online sites will actually ship you frames to try on at home, but there are also very cool virtual mirror options that allow you to upload a photo of your full face so you see what your new frames will look like on you.
Be able to actually—literally—see what you look like.The irony of eyeglass shopping is that you have to take off your glasses to put on a pair of non-prescription glasses.
If you don't wear contacts, imagine the difficulty this can cause!
With virtual try-ons, you can keep your glasses on and your vision intact while you peep your new look.
Take advantage of generous return policies.Glasses purchased online can be returned in the same way you return other items bought online.
For example, Warby Parker offers a 30-day hassle-free return period.
Don't like your glasses?
Just pack 'em up and send 'em back to try again.
You'll save gas and time by not having to go back to the store—but don't forget to actually send back your glasses.
Be sure to pay attention to the return policy time frame so that you can get a refund if you aren't fully satisfied.
Seeing Is Believing
Visualize yourself in a new pair of glasses
We promise: It's not difficult to buy glasses online.
But before you start searching for funky new frames for your latest pair, there are a few things to check off your to-do list.
Schedule an appointment to test your peepers.Unless you've got 20/20 vision and are purchasing glasses for sheer aesthetic value, or you're pretty sure your prescription hasn't changed at all, we'd recommend going in for an eye exam to get an updated prescription.
Prescriptions typically expire after a year.
An annual eye exam is important for the health of your eye, as well as to see if your eyesight has weakened (or improved!) over the past year.
Get a copy of your prescription. Already tested within a year?
Online eyeglass stores need an updated prescription, so be sure to get a copy from your optometrist.
As long as your prescription is still valid, you can make a phone or email request for a copy.
You might experience a pushback from some retailers—after all, brick-and-mortar stores don't take very kindly to online outlets getting any part of their biz.
But guess what?
It's actually a federal violation for a retailer to withhold your prescription, so ask away!
Calculate your pupillary distance. Your pupillary distance is—you guessed it!—the distance between your pupils (those are the dark black circles in the center of your eyes).
This is usually written on your prescription, but you can also measure it on your own—it's not that hard!
Measure the distance by yourself with a ruler (an actual ruler or one that you download online), or you can enlist the help of a friend.
Pick the right frames for your face. Glasses should complement your face, not overwhelm it.
Bigger, thicker frames are trending right now, but you don't want that gorgeous face of yours to disappear behind one.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right size frame for your face:
- Lens width: This is the width of the— wait for it—lens.
- Bridge width: This refers to the size of the piece of your eyeglasses that fits over your nose.
- Temple arm length: This is the length of the arms that extend back toward your ears. Some frames are shorter than others, so make sure your frame of choice has arms long enough so they rest snugly and comfortably behind your ears.
But that's just part of it.
To achieve your best look, you'll also want to consider the following:
- Color: Do you want to go bold with a vibrant hue, or more conservative and opt for tortoiseshell, black, or even rimless glasses?
- Activity level: The glasses you wear at work shouldn't be the same that you use for playing soccer on the weekends. Be sure to choose a type of frame that is as rugged as you need it to be.
- Personality: Want to be serious and go with horn-rimmed glasses? Or would you like to be sassy and go with a cat's eye? It's your choice—and there are lots of them!
Focus on your lens type. Single-vision lenses focus on one of two types of sight: farsighted (you only need glasses when reading) or nearsighted (you can read without glasses, but things are fuzzy at a distance).
There are many people whose eyesight falls into both categories whether because of age or genetics.
Back in the day, you'd have to switch off between two pairs of glasses, but multifocal lenses, including progressive lenses, allow you to wear just one pair for all your ocular needs.
Keep an eye on lens material. You've probably noticed this already, but modern eyeglasses aren't made of actual glass.
Instead, they're made from more durable materials like plastic and polycarbonate, allowing ordinary wear and tear and also capable of sustaining impact without breaking into shards that can hurt your delicate eyes and face.
Choose from lots of lenses. Just like you can cut down on wearing multiple pairs of glasses with multifocal lenses, you can also ditch your sunglasses with photochromic lenses.
These are lenses that darken when hit with bright light, so you can wear them seamlessly both indoors and outside.
But wait, there's more!
The number of options you have for lenses makes picking out the frames seem like the easy part.
But we're talking about the only pair of eyes you've got, and they deserve more than a little focus and attention.
While you don't have much choice over your prescription, you've got lots of choices when it comes to the lenses you wear.
There are transition lenses that make your glasses do double-time by darkening like sunglasses whenever bright light hits them.
There's digital light protection, which allows for a better reading experience for frequent tablet and computer users—though the jury is still out whether these blue light filters are of any significant help in the long run.
Treat your lenses for the right sight.Then there's anti-reflective coating, which makes nighttime driving a more pleasant experience for nearsighted drivers.
Don't forget about scratch-resistant coating—a must-have addition if you're not the type who can treat your glasses with utmost care.
And, of course, there's also ultraviolet protection, anti-fog coating, and other treatments that serve to enhance the wearer's comfort and clarity.
But first, you've got to like how your frames look and feel.
See to it that your glasses look and feel great
It's all well and good to drool over a celebrity's choice of eyewear, but you've got to plop them on over your own ears and nose for you to really get an idea of what works.
Find the right eyeglasses for your face shape.Whether your face is oval, round, square, diamond, or heart-shaped (awww!) plays a big role in determining what frames work for you.
Shop for the best deals. If you're already used to scoring great deals online, you can share the financial wealth when it comes to buying new eyeglasses.
Of course, these are your eyes, so treat them well.
Price is one thing, but the quality and reputation of the retailer are quite another.
Research the retailer's reputation.Word of mouth is always helpful, but so are online reviews.
Comb through them and be wary of any deal-breakers that may cement your decision based on what other happy (or unhappy) customers have said.
Inquire about insurance.Online retailers may also accept your vision plan or flexible spending benefits along with your credit card (sweet!), so be sure to inquire.
Review warranties and return policies. Even online shopper extraordinaire need a reminder on this one.
You'll likely be given a short time period in which you can test out your new specs, but after that, any chance at a refund is null and void.
Keep that in mind if you're not in love with your new lenses, and make sure you return them within the retailer's guidelines.
Hang on to the box they came in. Your eyeglasses will arrive at your doorstep very neatly tucked into a box for protection.
Do yourself a favor: Open up your glasses and try them on, but don't get rid of ANY of the packaging.
If you don't like your glasses, it will be much easier to repackage them the way they came and ship them back to try again.
And with many retailers including a prepaid shipping label, you won't have to worry about making a trip to the post office.
Prowl for promotions.No vision benefits? No problem!
Think about what other memberships and affiliations you might have that give discounts.
For example, if you've got an AAA membership, you can likely get a good discount on your glasses.
You can also look for an online promo code to score a sweet deal on your specs.
And because the internet is always open, you can shop 'round the clock instead of making tracks to the store.
Stay in the right frame of mind when shopping for new eyeglasses
Having poor eyesight shouldn't be a punishment for your wallet.
If eyeglasses are a wardrobe staple for you, then you've no doubt dealt with sticker shock at the optical store.
You could wait for the store to have its yearly blowout sale on specs—or you can shop year-round for far less on the internet.
Online eyewear companies make it really easy for you to try on glasses—whether virtually or actually—in the comfort of your own home.
That takes the pressure off your decision-making, for sure!
The stores then pass along the extra savings they get when they buy the frames wholesale, which takes the pressure off your wallet, too.
And with benefits like guarantees and easy returns, buying glasses from the comfort of your own home doesn't have to be a spectacle (see what we did there?).
Have you ever bought prescription glasses online?
What tips worked for you, and what didn't?
Any interesting stories (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below!