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Finances & Money

Look Smart: How to Save Hundreds by Buying Glasses Online

By Jocelyn Gibbons

Buying glasses online is quick, painless, and nice on your wallet. Just get this: what eye doctors won’t tell you (because it would basically take away business) is that buying online will save you up to 90% on a pair of frames that are often manufactured in the exact same lab as the eye doctor’s frames. That’s right: the same product, without the marked up price. Definitely worth a serious look.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how to buy glasses online, I have a few words to the wise. If you wear single-vision lenses, you are the best candidate for buying glasses online. Bifocal, trifocal, and progressive lenses wearers may not be able to buy online, depending on the severity of their prescription (although many progressive lens wearers buy online successfully). Online glasses retailers will let you know what they can and cannot do.

Also, be aware that even online you can be caught between the higher-cost brand name frames and generic frames. If you want a label, you can pay extra, but know that every brand name frame has its generic available in spades, for a lot less money.

So let’s break down how to buy glasses online. It all boils down to five basic steps:

  1. Get your prescription and PD from the eye doctor.
  2. Figure out what style of frame you want.
    • Remember: not every frame will look good on every face. Make sure you research the basics of finding a flattering frame. Then figure out which of the flattering styles draw you personally. A quick rule of thumb is that the shape of the frame should be in contrast to the shape of your face: square frames for round faces, oval frames for rectangle faces, etc.
  3. Look at an old pair of glasses that fit well and use similar measurements.
    • Look inside the temple (the long, slender part of the glasses that goes from your lenses to your ears) and you’ll see three numbers—measurements in millimeters of the lens width, bridge size, and temple length, respectively. This is your ideal frame size. Since these numbers are in millimeters know that you can give or take a few millimeters and still find frames that fit well (within 3-4mm for the lens width, 1-2 mm for the bridge size, and 5mm for the temple length).
  4. Search for frames that fit your criteria.
    • This step is pretty self-explanatory. Search for the style and frame size you’ve determined you want and need. Have fun looking through the seemingly numberless inventory. And choose the glasses that “speak” to you.
  5. Fill out your info and purchase your glasses.
    • Have your prescription and your PD handy and order the glasses you want. Be sure to include any wanted customizations for your glasses. Most online retailers include scratch resistant coating and UV protection, but thin lenses, anti-reflective coating, and other upgrades will be extra.

The best part about buying glasses online? If you don’t like your glasses, most online sellers offer a hassle-free 100% guarantee. But take these five steps into consideration, and you’ll most likely love your glasses the first time around. Just try it. Let me know what you think about the money-saving results.

And… let us all know what you did with the cash you pocketed—was it a spend or a save?

Jocelyn Gibbons has a background in both creative and technical writing. She is currently the creative marketing director for Just Eyewear, an online prescription eyeglasses retailer.

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Clever Dude


  • I bought a pair online once and they weren’t too bad. But an optometrist assistant I spoke with said that not all the online stores have the impact requirements required by some states since they aren’t actually in the state. Does any one else know this for sure?

  • Impact requirements are set by the FDA. Lenses that are imported, either as finished goods (so glasses made in labs overseas and shipped here) or as lens blanks (to be processed by labs here in the U.S.), are required to meet those requirements (ANSI Z80.1 Standards). Since every pair that is imported isn’t inspected, it’s possible that finished pairs that are shipped here don’t meet the standards, but any lab operating in the U.S. will have to meet these standards to stay in business.

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