Why are glasses so expensive?
October 13, 2015 12:17 PM   Subscribe

 
I buy mine online for under $20. Sometimes I get a couple of pairs for that much, because the company keeps offering deals. I have had more eyeglasses in the past decade than anything else I own.

Eyeglasses aren't expensive. Brand name eyeglasses sold at retail outlets are expensive.
posted by maxsparber at 12:23 PM on October 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


where do you get yours, max? I'm sort of satisfied with my current glasses, but given that many parts of them are currently held together with superglue, I probably should look into replacing them real soon now...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:26 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is someone going to post an awesome little known online or IRL resource in this thread for finding quality sunglasses (with lenses that really work and won't fry your retinas) that don't carry one of these stupid names and therefore don't cost easily quadruple what a reasonable retail price should be?

Because inquiring minds want to know...and my pair of Oakleys from the 1990s sadly doesn't have parts available anymore and is finally falling apart.
posted by trackofalljades at 12:27 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Zenni Optical is my glasses dealer of choice. You can get stupidly cheap glasses for like $7. I think I ended up spending $20 or $30 to get fancier lens coatings.
posted by JDHarper at 12:27 PM on October 13, 2015 [58 favorites]


I finally bought glasses from Zenni Optical a few months ago as well. I went ahead and got four distinct fun frames in one go and love them all. A+++, would buy from there again. (Also, their return policy was fantastic.)
posted by Kitteh at 12:29 PM on October 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


where do you get yours, max?

A couple of places. I've bought a bunch at goggles4u.com and Coastal. There have been a couple of MetaFilter threads where people share their faves.
posted by maxsparber at 12:30 PM on October 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Another satisfied Zenni customer checking in over here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:32 PM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is a valuable thread. Favorited.
posted by Sleeper at 12:32 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Even if I buy $20 frames the lenses are still $400 so why even bother caring about anything ever basically, why not just lay here on this nice pile of warm laundry forever
posted by poffin boffin at 12:34 PM on October 13, 2015 [90 favorites]


It's $20 with the lenses! The frames seem like they must cost, like, seven cents and a chicklet.
posted by maxsparber at 12:35 PM on October 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


I just started wearing specs about a month ago, and had to shell out $200. So this is interesting info, thanx
posted by jonmc at 12:36 PM on October 13, 2015


if my lenses cost $20 they would be as thick as the glass on the popemobile and i would need additional structural support added to the bridge of my nose to hold them up
posted by poffin boffin at 12:37 PM on October 13, 2015 [64 favorites]


One thing I find ridiculous is the way that optometrists (at least here in Ontario) make up this bullshit rule about how they're not allowed to give out your PD (pupillary distance). I have been told that it is provincial law and yet I was unable to find any such law or legal ruling. These optometrists are obviously aware that you need your PD to order a pair of glasses online. Thankfully, most of the websites I've used (Zenni, glasses.com, etc) all have handy tools that make it quite easy to measure.

I've personally used Zenni Optical for the past four years and I haven't looked back. Prior to using this service I was spending around $349 for a single pair of glasses + prescription. I just ordered a new pair last week and with shipping, I spent $79.

It should be criminal to charge the amount that they charge for something that many people need in their life in order to live on a day to day basis.
posted by Fizz at 12:37 PM on October 13, 2015 [46 favorites]


if my lenses cost $20 they would be as thick as the glass on the popemobile and i would need additional structural support added to the bridge of my nose to hold them up

I want these glasses.
posted by maxsparber at 12:38 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


what if they come with a papal edict disallowing you from looking at steaks on friday
posted by poffin boffin at 12:39 PM on October 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


My BIL in the UK is an optometrist and will verify that that is why they don't like to tell you your PD.
posted by Kitteh at 12:39 PM on October 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


what if they come with a papal edict disallowing you from looking at steaks on friday

I'm in Omaha. We're required by law to look at steaks on Friday.
posted by maxsparber at 12:40 PM on October 13, 2015 [34 favorites]


The optician suggests that there really are high quality frames out there, so that makes me wonder: what's that look like? My current glasses are five years old, and I've always kind of thought it was worth a little extra to get good glasses if they'd last that long. (They're Oliver Peoples, which is apparently a Luxottica brand via Oakley.) So what's better than that?
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:41 PM on October 13, 2015


Eyeglasses aren't expensive. Brand name eyeglasses sold at retail outlets are expensive.

You must have a freakishly simple single-vision prescription. I've priced my prescription on all the popular websites, and they still end up costing an arm and a leg. I'm a lot like poffin boffin...If my glasses cost $20, I would be wearing the Palomar optics on my head.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:41 PM on October 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Out of curiosity, what happens if you have the wrong PD, off by like 3 or 4mm? I might have fibbed once to get a slightly larger frame than my actual PD would support, so I'm curious if there are any legal repercussions.
posted by logicpunk at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2015


I've only gotten my parents onto the online glasses buying bandwagon this year. (They've ordered from Zenni and are so thrilled that it worked out so well. I got my latest frames from Coastal since I wanted something a bit more stylish.)
posted by sperose at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw this the other night, got about 25%-50% through and think someone thinks they deserve designer glasses for cheap or something. Not that I would mind if there were cheaper glasses, especially for people who don't have a lot of money/insurance, but...

The complaint here is Dolce/Gabana glasses are too expensive? I mean, unless there was more to the story, it seemed like it's mostly complaining about designer high end glasses.

And I say this as someone who pretty much despises such things. But the framing (Ha, no pun intended) of this story makes it sound like all glasses are so overpriced and it's because of one big bad company who designs/makes glasses.
posted by symbioid at 12:42 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Glasses" <> "sunglasses"
"Glasses" <> "frames"

The interviewer was really conflating those terms a lot until she got to the LensCrafters part.

This video was more about why SUNGLASSES and just name-brand FRAMES are so expensive. It doesn't really cover the prescription lenses of the glasses and why they cost what they do.

On preview, everything that symbioid said.
posted by jillithd at 12:44 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I watched the 60 Minutes piece when it aired; wasn't Costco one of the few retailers outside of the monopoly?

Yeah. Good old Costco. (There was one other option in the U.S., but I forget which ...)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:45 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been using 39dollarglasses.com for years now, love them, love their dorky glasses. I would register for an account and wait for them to send you a coupon, which lowers their prices even further.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:45 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I knew that Luxottica owned the retail spaces and most eyeglass brands, but also owning a vision insurance company is just over the top. They are almost completely isolated from market pressure, especially since I've never seen an optometrist who wasn't located in an eyeglass shop and so there is a lot of pressure on the consumer to get the glasses from the person who just examined you. Has there ever been a more clear cut case of anticompetitive practices? Imagine that one drug company owned all the hospitals and insurance companies. Bust this trust!
posted by dis_integration at 12:45 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


My prescription is as follows: right -5.5, left -5.75, pd 65. I spent $20 on frame, $14 on oleophobic (oil and fingerprint resistant) premium anti-reflective coating, and $19.95 on my 1.61 high-index single vision lenses.
posted by Fizz at 12:46 PM on October 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I got some Zenni glasses but they cost me over $100 because my prescription is so strong and then the ear piece broke in like two weeks. They did send a replacement but it took me an hour of fiddling with a tiny screwdriver to repair the damn things and they're still so fragile that I seldom wear them and just keep them for backup.
posted by octothorpe at 12:46 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The complaint here is Dolce/Gabana glasses are too expensive? I mean, unless there was more to the story, it seemed like it's mostly complaining about designer high end glasses.

The real complaint is that the bottom "bargain" glasses, the dirt-cheapest ones you can buy at a regular store, cost as much as D&G SHOULD cost, because they are literally made by the same company. Like I don't mind if someone wants to drop $500 on designer frames with a fancy name on the side, I just want to be able to try on bog-standard plastic frames with out an 800000% markup.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:46 PM on October 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


When I went to get a new pair a few months back, the luxury frames (prada, gucci, etc) were all LESS than the cost of my (high rx progressive) lenses. It was enraging but short of actually just stealing someone's eyes and sticking them in my head what else is there to do. WHere are my cyborg eyes, why has science failed me so badly.

(yes, i know, the implanted contact lenses, but i can't really deal with even thinking about it)
posted by poffin boffin at 12:47 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


(It was Walmart.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:47 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Many years ago, I splurged on a simple Flexon frame and have never replaced it. Whenever I get new lenses, I have them fit to my existing frame. These Flexons are crazy durable.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:48 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Out of curiosity, what happens if you have the wrong PD, off by like 3 or 4mm?


It's not pretty.
posted by maxsparber at 12:48 PM on October 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


I'm not terribly far off from being legally blind and I paid <$50 for frames and lenses from coastal.com. I tried Warby Parker and all of the frames I tried felt plasticky and heavy.
posted by kat518 at 12:49 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a pair of glasses from Zenni and I am NOT impressed. The frames feel cheap and uncomfortable compared to what I've bought from brand-name retailers, and the lenses aren't as clear either. It's nice that they are $20 and I can return them, but I'd rather not bother if I can get a perfect match from a local store on the first try.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:49 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


You must have a freakishly simple single-vision prescription.

My eyesight isn't terrible, but my glasses are specially treated because if I take them off I shoot death rays uncontrollably.
posted by maxsparber at 12:49 PM on October 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


Dunno. Yes, good glasses are expensive. I've never really minded forking out the cash for good glasses as a) they're a necessary Life Tool, and b) they're accessories for my face.

Maybe I could get away with cheap ones, sure. But if there's one thing my old man taught me that has held true, it's not to skimp out on shoes or glasses -- you'll just pay for them another way. But hey -- if you can get away with the cheap online ones, more power to you. If they're good enough for you, great. But when it comes to 'you get what you pay for', I'd rather make a mistake by going too high on glasses than going too low. YMMV.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:50 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Glasses can be expensive even from places like Zenni. I paid around $200 for my last pair, but they are a) ultra thin, b) progressive, and c) photic. Because my eyesight is so bad, if I didn't get a, they'd weigh a ton, if I didn't get b) I'd need separate reading glasses, and without c) I'd need prescription sunglasses (or frequent replacements).

That said, when I had fancy eye insurance and got them from the shop at the eye doctor, the retail prices for similar glasses was about $600 (though the insurance paid most of it.)

The main complaint I have about Zenni is that the frames don't seem quite as durable as the "name brand" ones. But for a 10x difference in frame cost, I can put up with it.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:50 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, everybody: for those of you who do not wish to order your glasses from Zenni, or who have $400 lenses and so you no longer care, these are the frames you should be buying:

You can buy Shuron frames fairly cheaply - under $100 if you look around online. They're made in the US, they're classic, the company is accessible if you have problems (and will sell you the coveted blue browline Ronsirs if you can't find them anywhere else) and they have an amazing array of sizes. Note that they have a mixture of classic wireframes, fifties-y frames and style-challenge late seventies/early eighties frames. I have owned many pairs of Shurons and vouch for all of the above. (See, as long as I have to pay ten million dollars for lenses, I would rather unchain a few dollars more and not get frames made in some nightmare sweatshop in Bangladesh or whatever.)

For around $200, you can get Anglo American frames, which are really lovely and sturdy. They're made in the UK and you'll always have a wait of several weeks, but they are very nice indeed and the size range, especially if you're looking for round or panto frames, is great.

And, for prices that will make you cry, you can get frames from LA Eyeworks (which are made, I believe, somewhat counterintuitively in Italy) and which are super nice. Or at least the deeply discounted clearance pair that I used to have were super nice.

I guarantee that all these are high quality frames which will last well.
posted by Frowner at 12:53 PM on October 13, 2015 [51 favorites]


That Forbes article is marvelously incomprehensible:

-You’ll likely need to fork out over $350 for luxury eyewear - a price that’s framed through one lens of an $8.5 billion public company majestically shielded in the mountains of Italy. Eyewear was invented in Italy around 1284.

?

-If it’s been done before, don’t do it. Like running a monopoly, but knowing and doing are two different things, and this category has clearly not been tough to have a monopoly on.

???

-Allow your rhetoric to step out of alignment with customers’ actual experiences, and you’ll end up in rude financial health.

?!
posted by Iridic at 12:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I heard about the Luxottica scam and the Zenni Optical savior here on metafilter a while back and even though I don't (not really) need glasses I've already put it to use.

One of the little girls in my scout troop found out over the summer that she'd need to start wearing glasses, and while chatting with her parents heard them talking concernedly about how they were going to be able to afford glasses and how she probably wouldn't want to wear them. I told them about Luxottica and sent them a link to Zenni and now my little girl scout has not one but two pairs of glasses, one of them a "serious" pair and another that's bright pink and polka dotted to get her excited about wearing them.

Success.
posted by phunniemee at 12:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [44 favorites]


Nthing the fact that Zenni Optical is a real and functional answer for us to this issue.

I get about a year out of *any* frame I've ever worn due to high wear and tear via lifestyle (outdoors) and physiology (oily face that eats away coatings/lenses even) and the Zenni frames I have, not to mention my wife, have held up just as well as boutique or optometrist purchased frames.

They feel either the same or, in a few cases, a bit less sturdy than frames that cost literally 10x as much. They also don't try to nickel and dime (or more than that in many cases and with many optical shops) you for coatings/lens materials, it really seems like reasonable prices for the upgrades/specifics that you may want.

Oh did I mention I have a heavy prism in my script that they're able to deal with as well, for no extra cost that I can tell.

It's ungodly that my dad paid over 800 or 900 bucks for a pair of lenses and basic glasses frames from a brick and mortar when, and we checked, Zenni could have done it for less than an eighth of that. Sure he has issues but that's just ungodly expensive for something that is a basic necessity of life.

Highway. Robbery.
ZenniOptical 4 life.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


wtf, I've been paying hundreds of dollars each time just to get my lens prescription updated! do you mean to tell me that I could even pick up a second pair with sunglasses lenses, new frames, etc., and still come in under $100??

goddamn i feel like a sucker
posted by indubitable at 12:56 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


You can by Shuron frames fairly cheaply - under $100 if you look around online.

Also this is true and good advice. I'm currently wearing a pair of Shuron Ronsir frames that I've been happy with. Small issues that I contacted the company about were met with really fair and reasonable solutions. If you can get lenses to fit and like their style then it's a really good option as well.

Fyi their warranty for stuff is about a year but when I contacted them with some issues at 14 months or so they were, again, really helpful and fair.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:57 PM on October 13, 2015


my uncorrected vision is 20/400, there are no cheaper options for me

although if anyone here has a similar prescription and glasses they like please let me know where you are so i can rob you

i will leave $20 for irony purposes
posted by poffin boffin at 12:58 PM on October 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


also if you could leave a sandwich out that would be great, I might not have time to stop on the way home.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:02 PM on October 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


The complaint here is Dolce/Gabana glasses are too expensive? I mean, unless there was more to the story, it seemed like it's mostly complaining about designer high end glasses.

The absolute cheapest glasses you can get at Lenscrafters, the ones the other kids will make fun of you for in middle school not that I'm bitter, are still like $150-$200
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:03 PM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


what if they come with a papal edict disallowing you from looking at steaks on friday

Ah, yes, the Papal-Sensitive Glasses 2000 by Joo Janta which turn utterly dark at the first sign of sin.

Good thing I don't have those, as I'd never get up in the morning. Cough.

Who turned the lights out?

posted by Celsius1414 at 1:04 PM on October 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Oakley's are just better. I have three pairs of glasses right now.

Pair 1) cheap LensCrafters polycarbonate AR coated clear lenses; ground and polished in the store. They're fine, and I have no major complaints about them, although they have a little waviness to the lens material that I can see sometimes. Picked up on the same day they were made.

Pair 2) more expensive AR coated polycarbonate clear lenses, ground and polished at an optometrist's location. I actually kinda hate these. There's some blur/abberation to them, and they were just done wrong, in a way I didn't immediately detect. And I had to wait a couple days to pick them up. These live in a drawer in case I break/lose my cheap ones.

Pair 3) Oakley Penny sunglasses; AR coated; polarized; whatever their fancy-pants "Plutonite(tm)" lens material is ; made from the Rx taken by the optometrist that made Pair #2 (same Rx, same day!); ground and polished at Oakley's factory. Took three weeks to get them. These are optically perfect in every way, in every orientation, completely independent of where they sit on the bridge of my nose, and feel like they give me super-human vision. I've had these for years, and they're worth it. I don't even care that they're tragically un-stylish now. ;-)

(oh,and a pair #4, i guess; Rx ski goggles made from the same Rx, because glasses under goggles fogs no matter what you do. they're also fine; and made from some kind of polycarbonate; but I don't wear them every day. Alas.)

Anectdata, for sure, but when Pair 1 becomes insufficient; I'm sending out to the Oakley folks for a clear pair; and I don't care how much they cost.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 1:04 PM on October 13, 2015


I just shopped for glasses at JC Penney Optical. Even with their columbus day "60% off everything", with polycarbonate anti-glare coating (crucial due to my astigmatism) was $220.

I used to buy glasses online but no one wants to sell me glasses anymore since my Cylindrical measurement on my right eye is -4.5. Not that they'll charge me extra like in-person stores. It's just not an option.

If anyone knows online glasses vendors that work for people with high prescriptions, please let me know.
posted by muddgirl at 1:06 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was talking about Zenni with a neighbor once.

"What if you don't like the glasses you order through the mail?"
"For $20? How much do you normally pay for glasses?"
"Probably $400."
"Order five pairs if you want. If you like one of them, you have one good pair, four extras, and $300. What is left to think about?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:09 PM on October 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


You can buy Shuron frames fairly cheaply - under $100 if you look around online.

Well, if I'm ever a wacky retiree in Florida, I know what I'll wear for glasses. Their frames are really not to my taste, but my father-in-law is always complaining about how small frames are these days, so I should email him these.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:10 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have a pair of glasses from Zenni and I am NOT impressed. The frames feel cheap and uncomfortable compared to what I've bought from brand-name retailers, and the lenses aren't as clear either. It's nice that they are $20 and I can return them, but I'd rather not bother if I can get a perfect match from a local store on the first try.

Well sure. But that's not the use case. I have purchased a dozen pairs of $7 zenni glasses and scattered them around the city in case of eyeglass emergencies.

There are two kinds of people in the world. The ones who, on winning the lottery, would buy a $250,000 car and the ones who would buy 250 x $1000 cars. Guess which one I am.
posted by danny the boy at 1:11 PM on October 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


From Lemonfarty's AMA for reference:
The only brand that is $500 that I think is absolutely worth it is Lindberg. Everything else is going to be less, but well worth the price. Here's my faves:
Kio Yamato
O&X
Robert Marc
Orgreen
ProDesign
Modo
Etnia
Undustrial
JF Rey
Legre

posted by a halcyon day at 1:12 PM on October 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I used eyebuydirect as they have an inhouse photic process that's much less than others, slower to become sunglasses than the high end but that's actually a feature.

I think poffin shows up one issue related to economies of scale, same as if you buy the very best wine at a restaurant the incremental markup will be similar to a discount store while a $12 bottle at the store is probably $30 at a restaurant. Edge conditions suck. I spend a good $60+ online for glasses while one guy I knew was very happy with a $7 pair.

Poffin: if you need a basic non-progressive emergency backup for the car or something (I had to drive without one day and it was not fun) it would be worth digging through the various sites for a best deal I've seen a range of weights and 2nd from lightest was a lot cheaper.
posted by sammyo at 1:13 PM on October 13, 2015


Or does anyone in the Western Pennsylvania area have a Costco membership and want to do a Mefi meetup there so I can get some reasonable unemployed person glasses? My last resort is Walmart at this point.
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


In other monopoly-related news, ABInBev is taking over SABMiller. Once formalized, the combined company will control some 31 percent of beer sales around the globe.
posted by tommasz at 1:17 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


And, for prices that will make you cry

If I was gonna spend that kind of money, I'd probably go with Cutler and Gross.

I guess I'll have to bite the bullet soon, but the last time I saw an optician, they told me I didn't actually need to wear glasses.

I wish she'd had a word with the two previous professional thieves who'd tricked me into buying unnecessary eyewear.

"Yeah, you just need them for driving and watching TV late at night."

Turns out I didn't actually need them for anything.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:20 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


These glasses discussions are always interesting to me because it raises so many issues of perceptions of quality and taste on top of the actual vision correction. sammyo is spot on with the wine analogy - if you like zenni and it works for you, awesome. Frames make such an impact on somebody appearance.

I remember how miserable it was glasses shopping with insurance because all the frames seemed the same and it was tiresome. Now I know there's a reason for that!

About 6 years ago I switched to buying vintage frames out of pocket because I prefer the look. (I use insurance for my sports goggles.) Even then, there were that many manufacturers. I appreciate it now. I also get to tell people I buy my glasses at the flea market and say "no, they're vintage" when people ask if my glasses are Warby Parker.
posted by kendrak at 1:21 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, if I'm ever a wacky retiree in Florida, I know what I'll wear for glasses. Their frames are really not to my taste, but my father-in-law is always complaining about how small frames are these days, so I should email him these.

The canonical Shurons are perfectly classic fifties browline frames a la Malcom X. Also these fifties/sixties frames. I had these blue browline frames for a couple of years but they finally gave up the ghost. I tend to feel that a fashion-forward person could makes these round wireframes work pretty well.
posted by Frowner at 1:22 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Perhaps Shuron would like to hire me as a spokesmodel, now that I think about it. I would be absolutely dead on sincere.
posted by Frowner at 1:23 PM on October 13, 2015


oh em gee I think those round wireframes are going to be my next glasses maybe.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:25 PM on October 13, 2015


Yeah, I mean, Zenni currently works for me and I would recommend them to anyone because they're cheap enough to take a chance on, but as in all things, YMMV. (I look cute af in my frames though.)
posted by Kitteh at 1:26 PM on October 13, 2015


"What if you don't like the glasses you order through the mail?"
"For $20? How much do you normally pay for glasses?"
"Probably $400."
"Order five pairs if you want. If you like one of them, you have one good pair, four extras, and $300. What is left to think about?"
posted by DirtyOldTown


But I need these to SEE. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. WITH MY EYES. FOR MY JOB AND MY LIFE. (And your life, too, if I'm driving.)

This is like buying the shitty $7 pair of shoes from Payless - my feet are gonna HURT if I wear them for any length of time or under any kind of actual walking condition. Sure, if those cheapies work for you and your feet (eyes), then go for it. More power to you. But I need to trust in my medically prescribed optical devices.
posted by jillithd at 1:28 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Except if I buy a nice expensive pair of, say, work boots, they'll last me more than a year. My feet don't keep growing. But every year I need a new damn pair of these expensive tools because my eyes keep changing. If I had to shell out $300 for a new pair of work boots every year, I'd def. be complaining about what I'm getting for the price.
posted by muddgirl at 1:31 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is like buying the shitty $7 pair of shoes from Payless - my feet are gonna HURT if I wear them for any length of time or under any kind of actual walking condition. Sure, if those cheapies work for you and your feet (eyes), then go for it. More power to you. But I need to trust in my medically prescribed optical devices.
No, it's like passing up on the $20 pair of shoes from Payless in favor of the $300 ones with the same design, made with the same quality materials in the same country, and then congratulating yourself on getting "the best".

Yeah, you can buy cheap, crappy glasses online. You can also buy glasses that are every bit as good as you'd get at Lenscrafters for a fraction of the price (although more than the price of said cheap, crappy glasses.)
posted by -1 at 1:33 PM on October 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm totally sympathetic to the notion that online purchasing may not work for a variety of reasons, but I do think that the majority of people could save money (and be just as happy) buying online. I've been doing it for 5 years or so, after a lifetime of buying glasses from traditional stores. My vision is something like 20/400, and I bought a pair of glasses this year for $64 (with super thin lenses, various coatings, etc). In contrast, I recall paying easily $500 for glasses prior to that.
posted by tocts at 1:33 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I had those round frames a few years back. They are nice, but you have terrible peripheral vision with them since the lenses are so narrow.

Also, Zenni Optical 4 lyfe. I switched to them about 5 years ago and never looked back with 20/20 hindsight.
posted by Balna Watya at 1:33 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


FOR MY JOB AND MY LIFE. (And your life, too, if I'm driving.)

This. I wouldn't trust $7 brakes, why would I trust $7 glasses?
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:34 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right. But where does monopolistic capitalism fall in the whole 'trust in [your] medically prescribed optical devices' thing?

Not to mention the odd assumption that your eyes are going to 'HURT' if you used these glasses that pretty much everyone here has said work fine, but maybe sorta might feel a bit cheaper, for them.

I guess I just won't ever grok that mindset. If you want the added and/or difference in style, sure that makes complete sense to me. Saying it's just not possible that this could ever be a good idea to try for less than the cost of a movie and popcorn for most folks is beyond me.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:36 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This. I wouldn't trust $7 brakes, why would I trust $7 glasses?
There's a range though.

I wouldn't trust $7 pads for my car either.

But the dealer charges $500 for front pads for my car. I can get better front pads on Amazon for $100 and install them in 2 hours. And I'd trust those just fine.

Just because there's junk at the bottom end of the price range doesn't mean that the inflated top-end prices are reasonable for what you get. It's true for car parts, and it's true for glasses.
posted by -1 at 1:37 PM on October 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


Pair 2) more expensive AR coated polycarbonate clear lenses, ground and polished at an optometrist's location. I actually kinda hate these. There's some blur/abberation to them, and they were just done wrong, in a way I didn't immediately detect.

My optometrist is really good at replacing my lenses if there's anything off about them. I've known her for 30 years, and she knows how important my vision is to me in my line of work. There have been two instances over the years where the first pair of lenses were simply off. Something wasn't right and I couldn't see straight. Both times, she did a complete re-exam and ordered new lenses at no cost to me. She rocks.

Compare that to the one time I had to go to Lens Crafters to be examined because they were the only place in town that was in-network on the crappy insurance I had at the time. The idiot optometrist actually removed all of the astigmatism correction in my prescription and didn't tell me. When I got my glasses, everything was, as you might expect, wayyyy wrong. Lens Crafters kept telling me to "try and live with them for a few days, to get used to them". I insisted there was something way wrong and they needed to fix it.

The head optometrist begrudgingly reexamined me and discovered the missing astigmatism correction. He ordered new lenses (at no cost) but had the fucking gall to tell me that, if the new lenses were off, he would require me to get a goddamn blood workup to test for diabetes!
posted by Thorzdad at 1:39 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I had those round frames a few years back. They are nice, but you have terrible peripheral vision with them since the lenses are so narrow.

See, this is what is so exciting about Shuron, unlike almost every other maker - you can get them in a whole range of sizes. You can get the round ones ranging from 41 to a titanic 55mm lens width.

This is all very helpful to me because I have a GIANT HEAD. Indeed, I generally cannot wear adorable vintage frames because my skull is too large. Only after death will we know whether I have an enormous braaaaaaaaiiiiiin or a tiny brain and a very thick skull protecting it.
posted by Frowner at 1:40 PM on October 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


I wouldn't trust $7 brakes, why would I trust $7 glasses?

With very minor editing, this is basically an ad pitch for Monster Cables.
posted by tocts at 1:41 PM on October 13, 2015 [45 favorites]


My prescription is so weird that I've never been able to get a successful pair of glasses from any online retailer. My go-to is a local shop (Eyes on Fremont) that sources their frames directly from designers, thus keeping them both fashionable and affordable (at least I think $250 for an incredibly chic pair of frames is affordable, YMMV). They work to educate people about the monopolistic practices in the industry, and their slogan is Fight Evil.
posted by matildaben at 1:43 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Zenni is good for some people and less good for others. My mother has been extremely happy with them for her reading glasses -- they are custom-made for her prescription (way better than the off-the-rack ones she used to buy), and at $20 or less per pair, she's fine if they get lost. She loses a LOT of glasses. Zenni is awesome for her.

Me, I have eyesight around 20/400 in one eye and astigmatism and my eyes are weird. I tried three pairs from Zenni and they all gave me headaches. Not worth it.

What DID work for me was Warby Parker -- and if you live near one of their stores, I HIGHLY recommend it, best glasses-shopping experience ever. They measure your PD right there in the store, give you feedback on how the frames look on you, and ship directly to your home. Loved it. It was more expensive than Zenni ($125 with high-index, which is necessary as my eyes are so different), but a zillion times more wearable. Also, the last time I priced my prescription at Pearle Vision they said $495 or something, so Warby Parker is still a lot cheaper for me.

Also, WP don't gender-sort frames, so I don't have to feel awkward about shopping the men's section (as another person-of-giant-head).

Personally, I like the boxy plastic, but I do see where WP is not everyone's aesthetic.
posted by pie ninja at 1:43 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just because there's junk at the bottom end of the price range doesn't mean that the inflated top-end prices are reasonable for what you get.

Absolutely. That's why I said earlier that I would be happy to make the mistake of overpaying than not paying enough.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:43 PM on October 13, 2015


I wouldn't trust $7 brakes, why would I trust $7 glasses?

With very minor editing, this is basically an ad pitch for Monster Cables.

Not to mention that it could basically be a blanket condemnation of generic drugs as well.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:44 PM on October 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


With very minor editing, this is basically an ad pitch for Monster Cables.

I don't need monster cables to successfully function as an independent human being in society.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:44 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


See, this is what is so exciting about Shuron, unlike almost every other maker - you can get them in a whole range of sizes. You can get the round ones ranging from 41 to a titanic 55mm lens width.

Another point in favor of a lot of the cheapo websites. Options like this. Fit is hugely important.

Of course I still keep buying vintage frames (another pair next month!) that mostly fit, but don't always, because I love the thrill of the hunt. I'm also on a first name basis with the guy sells the frames and does the lenses, so we can discuss features. I'm more acutely aware of how glasses sit on my nose, wear behind the ears, or run against my temples than before. I guess rotating 5 pairs does that as well.

Anyhow, whatever works for you and your eyes and life - rock that.
posted by kendrak at 1:48 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really like Zenni, but yeah, the quality is all over the place. Anything not made of plastic seems to be fine. Plastic frames tend to be either fine or...very plastic. And once I got some that were offered as tortoiseshell, but which turned out to be leopard print, so my look went from Librarian Action Figure to Dame Edna as soon as I put them on. They have a great return policy, though. I have no problems with the lenses.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:49 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've got pretty crap vision with moderately bad myopia and astigmatism, but have had good luck with pretty much all the online retailers. I've bought from 39DollarGlasses, EyeBuyDirect, Goggles4U, EyeFly, and Zenni Optical. Experiences have varied quite a bit, depending as much on what choices I make as anything the companies are doing (turns out I really, really do need the higher index lenses, and rimless frames don't work with my prescription at all.)

But hey, I'm able to make these misguided decisions for as little as $12 each (including frames, lenses, and shipping!) so it's not a disaster, and I can be more experimental than I can when buying from a brick and mortar shop. (My current optometrist's office doesn't offer any frames that cost less than $150, much less the lenses on top of that. The hell with that.) The hard part's avoiding trying to min-max glasses for price (that is a weirdly entertaining game.) Some have been better than any I've gotten from local opticians, and all were much cheaper.

I get eye exams with all the fancy trimmings every year, and I pay full freight on them because I don't have vision insurance. If my eye doctor can't keep the doors open when I won't buy eyeglasses, that's a poor way to run a business and it's not my problem. Interestingly, they charge the same for contact lenses that the online sellers do, and offer wholesale prices on fancy contact lens solution, so I get those from the shop. Just not the glasses, because I'd rather have more than one fresh pair at a time for the same price as a pair I'd be trying to jolly along with an old prescription for years.

Just make sure to get the things adjusted properly. I always offer to pay the staff for adjustments, but nearly every shop does those free whether you bought them there or not. Even if it's $5, it's worth getting help with that, and it makes even most of the really crappy glasses I've bought usable.

If this had been available when I was a kid, it would have been a life-changer. I thought having more than one pair of glasses at a time was for seriously wealthy people, and I used to break my glasses on a regular basis and would have to deal with makeshift repairs until I could get them into the shop (and then I'd have to wait for them to be soldered, again.)

I give old prescriptions and ones that just didn't work out to the Lions, in hope they can help someone else make use of them.
posted by asperity at 1:50 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


MORE LIKE VEBLEN BADS AMIRITE
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:52 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Really though I just don't want to deal with ordering something online that I won't be able to try on beforehand. To me it's worth spending more to go to a store 5 blocks away and get a pair of glasses that I like and that fit me and where if there's a problem with the prescription I walk back into the store and say "fix these pls" and they do and it's great.

also i just looked at zenni and all the ones that are available for progressive lenses were ooogly
posted by poffin boffin at 1:53 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ms. madcaptenor swears by Warby Parker.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


An optician known only as "Lemonfarty"

My Gods....what have we done....
posted by stevis23 at 1:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tried a pair from zenni, the lenses scratched (even with the resistant coating) and one of the nose pieces came off. Ordered a pair from coastal and haven't had a single problem.

Getting your PD right is probably the most aggravating and near impossible thing when ordering online. I found that they'll do it at costco (I'm not a member) though the lady made me sign a form saying that she wasn't responsible for it being wrong. The eye doctor I'd gone to charged me $20 and did get my PD wrong, but they were downright hostile once they found out I was going to order online.

Better two cheap pairs than one at eight times the price!
posted by Catblack at 1:57 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is like buying the shitty $7 pair of shoes from Payless - my feet are gonna HURT if I wear them for any length of time or under any kind of actual walking condition. Sure, if those cheapies work for you and your feet (eyes), then go for it. More power to you. But I need to trust in my medically prescribed optical devices.

Nah. This is more like buying the "shitty" $7 cable from Monoprice instead of the hilariously expensive Monster cables.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:58 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Damn, tocts already beat me to that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:59 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just measured my own PD in the mirror with a ruler and didn't have any issues.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:59 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Getting your PD right is probably the most aggravating and near impossible thing when ordering online.

....

The eye doctor I'd gone to charged me $20 and did get my PD wrong, but they were downright hostile once they found out I was going to order online.


I don't have a cite so this may have come from a friend's dad who is an optician, the internet (aka metafilter or elsewhere), or otherwise but I heard that if you're getting an eye exam and want the PD written on it that the doctor is required by law to provide it instead of refusing it because you're going to go elsewhere to purchase the actual hardware.

Worth looking into and/or mentioning if it's actual fact and not woo, which it may well be.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:00 PM on October 13, 2015


Also I had no trouble with my SO measuring my PD. And me hers. Benefits of marriage and all that I suppose. Though I could see it being hairy for some or wanting a pro to do it.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:01 PM on October 13, 2015


my uncorrected vision is 20/400, there are no cheaper options for me

poffin boffin, I got my specs from Warby Parker which is a hipstery-stylish brand, for $125 include the medium-thin lenses and my eyesight is so bad that they don't read it in 20/20 format anymore. I'm -7 diopters in one eye and -8 in the other. And I have enough astigmatism that I get a bit of a prism put in, IIRC. I've had mine for over 2 years now and have been complimented on the the frames more than once. I cheated a bit on the mail-in part - WP has a Boston showroom (the first of many), so I went there to try on frames - but you can get loaner frames mailed to you to try on.

But I need these to SEE. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. WITH MY EYES. FOR MY JOB AND MY LIFE. (And your life, too, if I'm driving.)

Yes, so order glasses before your old pair give out completely. Just like you normally would. Excepting, say, Lens Crafters, most places you get glasses (especially if you need thinner lens, prisms, etc) aren't going to deliver immediately.

TO SUM UP: I too have terrible eyes. My sunglasses have non-thinned lenses and are literally half an inch think. I have nothing but compliments for Warby Parker who sit at the stylish, high-end of the non-Luxottica dealers. Even they are SIGNIFICANTLY CHEAPER than standard retail eyeglasses.
posted by maryr at 2:02 PM on October 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I paid way too much for a pair of gorgeous WOOW frames/lenses (the gradient brown/blue/yellow ones) even *after* the insurance discount/coverage but I do love them a lot.

I like Zenni okay and use them for prescription sunglasses which are just guaranteed to get wrecked given the nature of when I wear sunglasses (biking, etc.). But if I'm willing to wait for sales/pay a little more, I think the quality at Coastal.com is way better than Zenni while still being a reasonable price and less than I've seen at stores.
posted by misskaz at 2:03 PM on October 13, 2015


More expensive doesn't necessarily mean higher quality. And the safety issue is a bit of a canard. My cheap little Hyundai is the best built, lowest maintenance, and by extension the safest car I've ever owned.
Try the cheap glasses...read an eye chart with them. If they work, they work. If they don't, then you're only out a few bucks and don't wear them while driving.
posted by rocket88 at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2015


I have nothing but compliments for Warby Parker who sit at the stylish, high-end of the non-Luxottica dealers.

I feel like I read some article about Warby Parker which claimed they originally planned to price their glasses at $50, as that would still have made them a significant profit, but were advised to double it because otherwise no one would take them seriously.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


People who are having trouble with optometrists being butts:

Go get your eye exams at a teaching hospital. You will be seen by one or probably more likely several (especially if you have anything weird) ophthalmologists and possibly even a neuroophthalmologist (especially if you have anything weird) and get the best damn eye exam of your life and they'll give you all of your information afterwards because nobody cares about selling glasses.
posted by phunniemee at 2:06 PM on October 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yeah, the argument that you can't wait for mail order is bananas. My glasses are so cheap that I buy three to five pairs at a time. When my favorites break, instead of rushing to the glasses store with a credit card and a face streaming tears, I put on my second-favorites and idly browse some online stores for my next several pairs.

I have around a dozen pairs now. At least four of them are great, four are serviceable, four are... for painting or to keep as spares in the car and office drawer. And my total investment is maybe $350. That includes "splurging" on a few pairs at a whopping $45 or 50 each.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:06 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know what Warby Parker needs to do? To make some of the goddamn cute ones in the wide widths, instead of sticking you with a boring selection of 90s-lite horizontal rectangles. (I know! I have a wide head, let's wear some glasses that are horizontal rectangles, that's a great style choice - and it was a great style choice back in 1998, too!) They will never win my custom like this, I've got to say.
posted by Frowner at 2:06 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Found it! The decision to price glasses at $95 comes with a back story. Wharton marketing professor Jagmohan Raju recalls that when the founders broached their idea to him, they originally planned to sell their glasses at half that price. “I really liked the idea overall … but after examining their analysis, I told them it’s not going to fly. [At $45 a pair], there’s no money [left over] for brand building; there will be no money in it for you and no money for investors.”

In addition to squeezing the business, a price tag of $45 was “too low” to be seen as credible to customers, according to Raju. “It would have put [Warby Parker] in a category I believed they did not want to be in. There are many companies selling cheap eyeglasses. Anyone can go on the Internet and buy two pairs for $99. But there is a perception among customers that the quality is not as good.”

The goal was to create a new price point that was still reasonable, but not low-end. David Bell, professor of marketing at Wharton, served as an advisor to the founders in an independent study about pricing models and demand analysis. He recalls conversations around the social-psychological reasons for staying under $100. “There was a bit of discussion about what happens [psychologically to the customer] when you get to three digits,” he says. “[At the same time], $99 gets you a little bit of extra margin — $4 — but it doesn’t feel quite as classy. A price tag of $93 sounds more like a Walmart price: There’s too much exactitude there.”

posted by showbiz_liz at 2:09 PM on October 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'd like WP to do some smaller frames because I have a smaller face, but I'll pay 1/3 the price for frames a like a little less. (Although I love that they're green!)
posted by maryr at 2:10 PM on October 13, 2015


Ugh, my eyes are so bad. I've been wearing glasses since first grade - so that's like 42 years of glasses. Terrible nearsightedness, astigmatism, and now also progerssive lenses.

I don't do multiple pairs anymore because it takes me too long to adjust to the lenses being shaped differently for different frames. I also can't do prescription sunglasses anymore for the same reason. I would put them on to drive, not be able to adjust to the different lens, get a migraine, and yuck.

So now I just have a single pair and my optician knows of a magical service that makes custom clip-ons for any frame which is really great always and especially when you've picked out bright read aluminum frames.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:10 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just want to mention Fetch Eyewear:

https://www.fetcheyewear.com

Portland-based, all profits go to support animal rescue and adoptions, and the glasses are pretty great to boot.

A bit pricier than Warby Parker, but in my experience Fetch's frames have held up much better.
posted by paulcole at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


(I guess I'd better put in a good word for Classic Specs - usually I buy from Costco but last time I needed frames I gave them a try. The whole process was quite fun - I talk about it more here.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:18 PM on October 13, 2015


MY BF in DC swears by Warby Parker but until they mail me the ones I want to try on and return the ones I don't like here in Canada, nope, not gonna.
posted by Kitteh at 2:19 PM on October 13, 2015


Another Zenni believer!

I swear to Glob, last time I bought glasses from a brick and mortar store, after an hour going through all the morphology lessons and endless trying of drawers full of frame options, the kind old lady straight up ORDERED ONLINE TO MY FACE while charging me a 10000% markup. Never. Again.

My prescription is not uncomplicated, deep myopia and astigmatism off the chart, yet I now own a dozen serviceable glasses and sunglasses for the price of one Luxottica-special. Changed my life in a real way.
posted by Freyja at 2:20 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't mess around with that stuff. I have a high script, astigmatism, wide-set eyes, a minimal nose bridge, and, rosacea, which means the weight of the 1.67 index lenses + most of the plastic frames required to fit them is enough to throw a capillary wide open. I would rather pay ~$400-500 every three or so years for glasses that don't break my face than for IPL (~thousands) or decent high-pigment makeup (~about as much as a new pair of glasses, probably, over a year and a bit). And, I'm picky. A teensy difference in the slope of a frame makes all the difference in the world, as far as whether my face is going to make sense or not. (I could mess around with it I guess, but I don't want to.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:21 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I made do with cheapo frames from Zenni Optical for a few years because I didn't like my optometrist and didn't want to buy glasses from her. But I have a complicated prescription and I wasn't saving much money because I felt I had to buy a few just in case one pair fell apart. And I kind of hated the frames, always, which is rough when you wear them on your face every day.

When I moved states I found a new optometrist who carried frames from Ovvo Optics. They cost a king's ransom but they weigh nothing, flex a ton, and if my daughter pulls off one of the earpieces I gather it just snaps back on. Plus they look cool. The guy on the floor told me he falls asleep wearing his Ovvo frames all the time because they're so light he forgets they're on his face, and I do too. I love them. I definitely will just keep putting new lenses into these frames for years. I really winced paying for them, but I'm sooo glad I did.
posted by town of cats at 2:24 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sold. Next pair of glasses will be Warby Parker. (When I got my most recent pairs, I hit a 2 for 1 sale and was able to use an actual decent vision insurance plan. Even with that, I would have payed less to just go to Warby Parker and pay out of pocket.)
posted by Hactar at 2:24 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


One thing I don't get about WP, Fetch, and some from Zenni/Coastal is none of them have spring hinges. My decade-old Ray Bans (now in a dated style, but with a mostly-correct Px still) have spring hinges that still work fine; as do my sub-$50 polarized Kent Wang sunglasses.

Is this something I'd need to have a narrow head to understand?
posted by a halcyon day at 2:26 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Me, I have eyesight around 20/400 in one eye and astigmatism and my eyes are weird. I tried three pairs from Zenni and they all gave me headaches. Not worth it.

What DID work for me was Warby Parker.


This is exactly my experience. I tried several of the ultra-cheap places: Zenni, goggles4u and something else, and I couldn't see through any of them. My prescription is a -8.00. (I don't know what that is on the 20/x scale, but I think it's about 20/5000. I can't see the giant E on the vision test without glasses. The whole world is blurry.) Then I tried Warby Parker and they worked great. Yes, it was like $125 instead of $20, but still tons cheaper than any option in the optical shops. My previous pair of glasses had set me back $600. Now I treat myself to a new pair annually and it's awesome. I have four WP sets of glasses now, and they are all perfect.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:30 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


One thing I don't get about WP, Fetch, and some from Zenni/Coastal is none of them have spring hinges.

Uh... Zenni has lots of spring hinges. At least if something like this, called a 'spring hinge' anyway, is what you're looking for. But yea, I like them too.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:32 PM on October 13, 2015


My Zenni glasses don't have the precision of PD that I can get from LensCrafters' store (.5mm vs. .1 mm), and they have needed repair (with the included screwdriver and misc. screws/washers/other parts) twice in the months since they've arrived. Also, they are annoying to wear - I think that my particular needs aren't quite suited to online ordering.

'm hoping LensCrafters gets some nice round wire frames in soon, or that I get it together enough to obtain said frames myself, so I can get a new prescription from LensCrafters.
posted by amtho at 2:37 PM on October 13, 2015


I have a really straightforward prescription, which might be why I haven't had any disasters, but I've been buying glasses online since my prescription got strong enough to make having spare pairs stashed all over the place really useful. The top UK online store seems to be Glasses Direct, who are great - they will send you blank frames to test at home before you buy, and they called me to check my prescription was correct and not a typo before they made them which was nice. But they aren't the cheapest, for real bargain prices I have used Goggles4U, and more recently Glasses2You and SelectSpecs since Goggles4U started adding a charge for high prescriptions. I like to have rimless glasses and thinned lenses, which would be £200+ at my local opticians, and online they were £60.
posted by penguinliz at 2:37 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I spent $4400 on LASIK about 8 years ago, and haven't spent a penny on corrective lenses/frames since then, but I do buy the occasional $12-20 sunglasses at the drugstore. I strongly recommend the LASIK, and my recommendation for the drugstore sunglasses is lukewarm.

I spend less, though, now that I have a proper case. Like most Seattlites, I lose sunglasses because of the large gaps between direct sunlight exposures.

LASIK won't get you ahead on the money game, but it is a substantial lifestyle improvement in many ways, with the only deficits being the cost, the risk, and the fact that you will jab yourself in the eye with drinking straws, napkins, drink umbrellas, and anything else you bring near your face without realizing how much you relied on the protective barrier of your old glasses.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:39 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been happy enough with the sunglasses I get from Zenni, which are cheap enough I'm okay leaving them in the hot car and stuff. But I've had them show up a little bit "off" on a lot of occasions. Never so bad I won't wear them, but not that I'd want to wear all the time. I suspect it has something to do with them not getting the prism quite right. I'm in love with WP's frames... and while it says so nowhere on their website? They won't do prism correction, period, not for any amount of money. Like that's not something worth saying up front. I can't find anything on the Fetch website about it, and I feel like that's likely to mean they won't do it, either. I have to drive a solid hour to get to CostCo and I seriously buy a membership just for that and it's ridiculous, but still less ridiculous than buying them anywhere else.
posted by Sequence at 2:41 PM on October 13, 2015


Zenni Optical allowed my wife to:
a) own more than one pair of glasses at a time
b) finally get prescription sunglasses
c) save a ton of money
d) all of the above

Since she started using it several years ago she's gone from owning one pair of glasses to owning about 10, of which only one pair has broken, only one pair has lost a screw (easily replaced) and one pair were too small for her face. She usually orders about 2-3 pairs at a time, pays for the extra coatings, usually gets a bill for about $50-70 CAD, and gets to track their shipping online, usually arriving in a bit under two weeks. Most importantly, she can now afford to update her glasses as her prescription gradually changes over time.
posted by furtive at 2:42 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would love to try glasses from Warby Parker or Fetch Eyewear, but I have a very shallow nose bridge so I require nose pads to keep the glasses away from touching my eyelids/lashes (apparently my concerns are similar to a concept called Asian Fit eyewear even though I myself am not Asian), and all of the plastic/acetate frames that they have do not come with nose pads, and I refuse to add aftermarket nose pads because they are so wonky. This also means that in a brick-and-mortar store I'm limited to about 10-15% of the available stock.
posted by matildaben at 2:42 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I looked into LASIK a few years ago. My eyes are just bad enough that the simple solution was impossible, and actually what they'd have needed to do was chemically burn my corneas to fix whatever it was, with three months of downtime and uncertain results for four times the cost. Even they didn't recommend it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:43 PM on October 13, 2015


My understanding is that if I had stable enough vision for Lasik, I wouldn't need to buy new glasses every year in the first place. :(
posted by muddgirl at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Matildaben, I was just about to post the same issue - I am Asian and have a tiny face to boot so even tc charton glasses are too big. Bad astigmatism, -6.5 vision, teeny head, no bridge, and weird pupil issues that make me ineligible for surgery - I guess it's a miracle I can see with glasses at all. Super jealous of all of you.
posted by umwhat at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2015


I've got a healthy supply of vintage frames I've found at estate sales or from dead stock ebay sellers that I end up sending out to get filled with my script. It's worked quite well so far, far cheaper and the quality of the frames is higher than you would get with modern stuff.
posted by Ferreous at 2:53 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've cycled through a few of the online retailers. My prescription is not out of the ordinary so I've never had a problem with the lenses. I've got my frame parameters worked out, frame width, depth, bridge etc. Some sites do not have the complete specs which is annoying. Uploading photos is a crap shoot but I do that too. I wish more companies did the home try on. I find the Warby Parker selection too limiting, I've done that style, now I want something else.

Zenni has the cheapest and the lowest quality. I've had frames where the "tortoiseshell" was a plastic coating that peeled off, transparent plastic that discolored to pink, frames that just cracked so a lens fell out, all within a few months of non-daily wear but, $20. Not surprising.

One of my favorite pastimes while traveling is trying on glasses at shops and I used to buy all my glasses where designer or "designer" frames were much cheaper than in the west. They might have been pirated but the quality was excellent.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:57 PM on October 13, 2015


Go get your eye exams at a teaching hospital. You will be seen by one or probably more likely several (especially if you have anything weird) ophthalmologists and possibly even a neuroophthalmologist (especially if you have anything weird) and get the best damn eye exam of your life and they'll give you all of your information afterwards because nobody cares about selling glasses.
Sadly, that is not my experience. I go to an eye clinic at a teaching hospital, and there is an attached glasses shop. Teaching hospitals like to make money, too. I asked the optometrist if I could get my PD, and he gave me a whole lecture about how I would be getting crappy glasses from some third-world country like India (perish the thought!) and I wouldn't be able to return them when they were wrong and crappy. So nope, sadly teaching hospitals are not immune.

I have pretty terrible vision: -10.25 in my bad eye and -5.25 in my good eye, plus astigmatism in the bad eye. I don't see so well in glasses, period, because the difference in prescriptions causes some distortions, and I really need super-thin lenses. I've been tempted to try Zenni, but I'm scared off both because I like to try on my frames first and because my prescription is complicated. I mostly wear contacts anyway, and my work benefits pay for glasses, so I get them from the local family-owned glasses store.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2015


When Lens Crafters laid off every employee who had topped their pay scale and replaced them with new people as a money saving strategy, I decided to cut all ties.

Coscto does it better anyway and they take care of their people.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:02 PM on October 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


My eye doc sells glasses right there and my insurance pays for a huge chunk. I basically get new glasses every year for about 50.00. Our health insurance sucks but our vision insurance is very good to us.
Also, I know someone who works for Luxottica as a trainer, maybe? She posts a lot on Facebook about her amazing team and last year got to go to Vegas and wear a fancy dress.
posted by Biblio at 3:07 PM on October 13, 2015


The dumbest part about shopping for frames is that when you try them on to see what they look like in a mirror, what they look like is blurry.
posted by aubilenon at 3:08 PM on October 13, 2015 [30 favorites]


Speaking as someone who is well and truly blind without my glasses, you've got two options: try them on while wearing contacts or take a selfie. Cell phone cameras have kind of revolutionized glasses buying, I think.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:11 PM on October 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Indeed! You can then send the photos to a third party to help you choose frames too.
posted by maryr at 3:15 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


another vote for Zenni Optical, been using them for years for my memory wire titanium frames that are $30 delivered!

and the fact that my money doesn't go to those criminals at Luxottica is just the icing on the cake!
posted by Yosemite Sam at 3:16 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have several pairs of glasses because I buy them online so cheap. Yes, I have a very boring prescription. My favorite pair are blue/purple plastic and weigh like 40 grams. And when they finally die I will be so sad because the online places change designs like 3x a week. No joke, people compliment me on these glasses several times a day.
posted by atomicstone at 3:18 PM on October 13, 2015


specialagentwebb:Like I don't mind if someone wants to drop $500 on designer frames with a fancy name on the side, I just want to be able to try on bog-standard plastic frames with out an 800000% markup.

Since you actually gave an example of how you are able to do just that, your complaint is... bizarre. "I have access to cheap glasses, and I think it's unfair I don't have access to cheap glasses!"
posted by IAmBroom at 3:19 PM on October 13, 2015


Warby Parker's online PD tool gave the wrong measurements, and so the sunglasses lenses were the right prescription but not centered correctly. To their credit, I brought the glasses to their pop-up shop in Seattle's Nordstrom store, and they not only measured my PD on the spot with dedicated equipment, they sent a fixed pair via expedited shipping for free, no questions asked, and no grief. I would definitely buy another pair from them again.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:20 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


When my prescription was -12 in each eye with no astigmatism I asked my ophthalmologist what my vision would be in 20/X terms and he said "Oh I don't know . . . 20/5000?"

Years later I asked another ophthalmologist if she thought I could get radial keratotomy (before Lasix was popular, anyway, if not before it was invented), and she said 'your corneas are already flatter than normal; what are they going to do -- make them concave?'
posted by jamjam at 3:20 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe all these places are so eager to replace lenses at no cost because they're marking up the glasses so much? It seems the mark-up for glasses is so high, they could throw in some contacts too. That would be really nice since most insurance covers one or the other but not both.

Also, who buys a pair of glasses without trying on like a million pairs? These are accessories on my face so they need to look right. You grow up getting enough shit for having glasses in the first place, I don't need them to make me look worse too.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:27 PM on October 13, 2015


It's obviously not a cheaper option if you're not already there, but I was in SIngapore for work once while needing a new pair of glasses, and it was one of the best glasses purchase experiences I've had. Being a fashion-conscious country there were a lot of good frame options, and also being a country full of lots of people who need glasses, the government regulates the price of lenses, meaning my high-index lenses for people with severe nearsightedness (woohoo!) were something like S$250, as opposed to the $600+ I'd end up paying in the US because my insurance didn't give a crap about the fact I can't see anything more than two inches in front of my face without corrective lenses of some sort. They're the best pair of glasses I've had in a long time, after a LensCrafter disaster (the lenses kept cracking down the middle despite replacement, then one of the earpieces just plain broke) and US optometrist-sourced glasses. I know government regulation is evil but MORE PLEASE IF I CAN HAVE CHEAPER THIN LENSES
posted by olinerd at 3:42 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Anne: Holy shit, this one company, Luxxotica, controls like 85% of glasses manufacturing and sales in the world!
Bob: Well I buy my glasses online for $20.00 so pfffft!
Charlie: Wait wait wait. Why don't you share where you buy your glasses, then, O savvy shopper?
Bob: I go to Zoople.org
Anne: No, but I mean the point is that there's a massive price gouging scheme and a lot of anti-competitive stuff going on in the market!
Bob: Yes but I'm better than you people who buy glasses from stores, so that doesn't bother me.
Douglas: Eh, I need bifocals and instead of eyes I have 2 fractured light bulbs in my head that require a rare prescription so I'm pretty sure your website won't help me, Bob.
Erin: Nonsense! I, too, shop online and Yarplogga.net sells frames with lenses that are designed for fractured light bulb eyes and they're only $25!
Charlie: Wait so it's Z, O, O, P...
Bob: Zoople.org, dear.
Francis: Eh, I've been to Zoople and I think their frames aren't that great.
Anne: Guys, the monopoly...
George: But, like, just don't buy the luxury brands when you go to Lenscrafters, duh.
Anne: *expires*
posted by shmegegge at 3:44 PM on October 13, 2015 [40 favorites]


True story: my wife's friend was visiting family in Japan and made a day trip out to Kyoto to visit us. During the day's wanderings, we came across a fairly standard glasses shop for Japan (which has meaningful competition in eyeglasses) that had some frames on clearance for ¥6,000 with polycarbonate lenses. When I mentioned that that price included a free eye exam, he dropped everything and bought two pairs of glasses on the spot, and the whole process was finished in under half an hour.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:54 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Olinerd, I've found that government regulation is generally only something to fear if you're trying to get away with something.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:56 PM on October 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Luna: I need glasses that let me see wrackspurts does your online store sell those?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:56 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I spend way too much on frames and lenses, but damn, I look good.
posted by Chuffy at 3:58 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since you actually gave an example of how you are able to do just that, your complaint is... bizarre.

Everyone reading this thread knows exactly the point specialagentwebb is making. Don't be glib.
posted by phunniemee at 4:00 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The dumbest part about shopping for frames is that when you try them on to see what they look like in a mirror, what they look like is blurry.

Take a friend with you and/or take your cell phone. Selfies and/or asking someone nearby to take a few photographs of you while you wear the frame you're interested in, then put your old pair on and there you go.
posted by Fizz at 4:08 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Glasses were relatively cheap in Hong Kong when I visited this summer. High index 1.74 lenses take a WEEK (!) in Canada but were done in 1-2 days there. Helps that everyone wears glasses I guess. I think one of the online ones trace back to HK. I heard Zenni or one of the others are based in...Eastern Europe?
posted by reiichiroh at 4:13 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Forbes article: "The easiest way to bust a monopoly like this is for consumers to recognize that they are being overcharged and patronize competitors." Followed by a sentence about why this isn't happening (few to no competitors). It's a great system.
posted by sneebler at 4:27 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've suggested to my optometrist that there's probably a business to be made in adjusting and fitting glasses that people buy online. I bang mine out of shape on a fairly regular basis and the staff at mine are infinitely patient and I can go in repeatedly to get them adjusted. I would pay for that service.
posted by idb at 4:38 PM on October 13, 2015


Hi. I abuse glasses. Well not really, but I fall asleep with glasses on all the time, I step on them, drop them, and lose them.

I went to a drake/2chainz concert last February. I dropped my glasses from the balcony. I went downstairs and crawled all over. I found my glasses under this woman's purse. It was missing a lens. I found that under this dude's shoe.

I came home, popped in the lens, rebent the frames. And boom, minus the scratches the sole lens sustained, it still works great.

That's the thing. I've had plenty of cheap eyewear my entire life. But the problem is that they all break, and then I have to suffer a few days-a week of squinting, running into walls, and cuts/bruises that come with not being able to see.

I hate cheap glasses.

That being said, I'm still wearin the Oakley titanium glasses I got in 2009.

6 years divided by $600 for frames and specialised lenses are worth it to me.

That said, if someone was willing to sell me $200 glasses that can stand up to abuse and don't look like BCGs, I'd drop Oakley in a second.

Unfortunately, nobody is hocking those frames...

And I don't think that buying $7 glasses made from cheap overseas labor is the answer.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:44 PM on October 13, 2015


My current pair of glasses (keep updating prescription) have lasted five years. My Zennis start wearing out after a year or so and the lens coating flakes off. But they're good for back up glasses, sunglasses, and kids glasses.
posted by tilde at 4:44 PM on October 13, 2015


And I don't think that buying $7 glasses made from cheap overseas labor is the answer.
My Luxottica glasses were made in China. I don't think the reason they're that expensive is because they're handcrafted by Italian artisans who are getting a living wage and benefits.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:47 PM on October 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


I go to a VERY EXPENSIVE independent hospital-affiliated opthamology practice (all MDs; my insurance covers eye doctor visits yearly, they're in network, and my neighbor is a doctor there so it'd be kind-of awkward if I didn't) and even they recommend Zenni for kids. Because kids break and lose glasses and you can get them three adorbs pairs for less than the cost of one serious pair in their in-house optical department.

I got my glasses in-house because my insurance buys me $300 of glasses every 24 months, but I (by which I mean "insurance") paid three times as much as I'd have paid ordering online. I only use mine for night driving and late-night closed captioning, so mine aren't too bad anyway, but my husband who has TERRIBLE eyes, whose number one problem is losing his glasses SO HE CAN'T SEE TO FIND HIS GLASSES, overtops the $300 benefit every time. He has started experimenting with getting his glasses at the opthamologist but getting his sunglasses online; so far he's been pleased and is considering getting his regular glasses online as well. (Last time I think he was $119 over the benefit with his regular glasses, so if he can find online glasses under $120 shipped, it's an economically neutral proposition, as our insurance won't pay for online glasses, just optometrist glasses. Which seems weird, but there it is.)

Or, in the alternative, he could JUST GET LASIK, as I keep advocating, and then not lose his glasses because he wouldn't have any and I would gladly spend a large amount of money to make that stop happening. But he's all against "lasers" in his "eyes" that might make him "blind" and take away his reading-intensive "livelihood" that "supports four people" blah blah blah blah. (I'm not sure I believe him, though, because my dad also said he'd get LASIK when he retired and didn't have to support a family anymore but IT TURNED OUT TO BE LIES he's just afraid of eyeball lasers.)

Me, when I can't pass the driving test without my glasses, I am going to get lased THE VERY NEXT DAY I don't even care if they set the laser up right.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:50 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've suggested to my optometrist that there's probably a business to be made in adjusting and fitting glasses that people buy online. I bang mine out of shape on a fairly regular basis and the staff at mine are infinitely patient and I can go in repeatedly to get them adjusted. I would pay for that service.

I use this service (and so can anyone!) and keep offering to pay for this service but they won't take my money. Optical shop staff usually aren't so busy they can't handle a few adjustments, and it builds goodwill, apparently, so most shops don't bother to charge for it. If they do, it's like $5. (And the one time I encountered that, they couldn't break a twenty so they just took a dollar and some change. Not entirely certain that one was on the books.)
posted by asperity at 4:51 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


If your luxottica glasses were made in China, you have the absolute worst pair of glasses ever.

This might apply to millions of people around the world, but I absolutely believe that.

you get screwed with luxottica and u get screwed with shit quality. My condolences.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:51 PM on October 13, 2015


And I don't think that buying $7 glasses made from cheap overseas labor is the answer.

Pretty sure 39dollarglasses does their work in upstate New York, FWIW.
posted by asperity at 4:53 PM on October 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Nah, they're fine. They're actually great. They just cost more than they should have.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:54 PM on October 13, 2015


My level of strabismus is to the point that I can't even look at LASIK or anything other than my glasses. I'm still a little tweaked at the optometrist that my insurance covered, as they just covered $200 of it, and having a ridiculous prism in one eye, with the astigmatism that goes with it, and everything on the left past about a 30 degree turn off center is visibly warped. They also charged me more because only one eye is this way, the other is almost normal. With that coverage I still paid almost $400 for these glasses. My wife likes how they look on me, but part of me is almost considering going home, getting my prescription (they handed it to me at the medical center leaving the optometrist, and the optician didn't keep it, just made a photocopy*), and plunking it into Zenni to see what comes up.

*if you're in Seattle and they're covered, I highly recommend Virginia Mason - my doctor, my optician, my opthamologist, my endocrinologist, my dermatologist and my urologist are all there..
posted by mephron at 4:56 PM on October 13, 2015


The glasses I am reading this with, were $4.50 each, two to a pack at TJ Max. I recently shelled out $9.00 for a new pair of cheap sunglasses, first time in four years. I have three other pairs of readers from Costco. Poorly paid workers made these, just like poorly paid workers made the luxuriously costly ones. I am lucky.
posted by Oyéah at 5:37 PM on October 13, 2015


SOOOOOOO can anyone recommend a brand of just plain reading glasses that have good glass/plastic? I switch between progressive glasses and RGP contacts and need reading glasses if I have my contacts in.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:39 PM on October 13, 2015


If you have progressives with a heavy correction and a wide difference between the different values, PD isn't enough. The guy in a really good optical shop is going to mark the exact position on the lens, vertical as well as horizontal, while looking at the actual frames on my actual face. Glasses fit differently on different noses. If she or he gets this wrong, I have terrible headaches. I have tried ordering online with just horrible, horrible results.

Shops also know how to adjust the temples to fit properly, which is important if you have an enormous calabaza for a head. And you can take them back and get them adjusted again. I've tried online specs that were inches out of adjustment at the temples.

The savings online for the kind of lenses I need are trivial compared to the amount of service I get (and compared to the price of frames -- free frames would still make expensive glasses for me). These are medical devices, after all, not just jewelry for your face.

Another vote for Eyes on Fremont in Seattle, they're great and worth every penny.
posted by Fnarf at 5:56 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hi I'm fedward and my last pair of glasses cost over $1000, and they didn't involve Luxottica in any way.
posted by fedward at 6:13 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would love to try glasses from Warby Parker or Fetch Eyewear, but I have a very shallow nose bridge so I require nose pads to keep the glasses away from touching my eyelids/lashes

I have this too! And all glasses slide down my nose all the time but nose pads reduce the problem a little! Nose pads are very high on my list of things I am picky about with frames! Looking over all the sites linked in this thread, nose pads do not seem to be in fashion right now. :( Warby Parker puts them only on their meekest frames.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:36 PM on October 13, 2015


I used to work for Safilo, which is the number 2 company after Luxottica. We had Gucci, Dior, Fossil, Ralph Lauren etc, but yes, all made by the same people. I found the glasses to be well made, but the build quality was really the same for house brands and the luxury brands. The only thing different about the luxury brands was the name on the side and the design of the actual frame. I do think that the brands had some distinct style about them that made them have value... my job was to answer the calls from optometrists placing orders for frames, and usually when they were looking for a specific style it was easy to point to a brand that had that style. Dior sunglasses were different than Gucci sunglasses which were different than Fossil etc. The brands also seem to come and go between the different companies, when I was working at Safilo we had Ralph Lauren and Armani, and I see those are now made by Luxottica. Probably shifts around a lot.

Anyways, I got lasik done about 10 years ago and no more glasses since, I don't miss it :)
posted by Hazelsmrf at 6:41 PM on October 13, 2015


Guys! This discussion inspired me to find a different local independent glasses place that appears to be a Luxottica free zone! (My current independent glasses place turns out to stock lots and lots and lots of Luxottica brands.) I'm going to see if I can spend my HSA money there this year.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:48 PM on October 13, 2015


"Really though I just don't want to deal with ordering something online that I won't be able to try on beforehand. To me it's worth spending more to go to a store 5 blocks away and get a pair of glasses that I like and that fit me and where if there's a problem with the prescription I walk back into the store and say "fix these pls" and they do and it's great. "

The ads for Warby Parker are all "try five pairs on for free!" or whatever, and I laugh and think, "Dude, I try on FIFTY pairs at minimum at the eye doctor."
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:56 PM on October 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I wore glasses I tried Zenni, probably after reading a post here. They were great for backup glasses but I had the same issues that other people here with complicated prescriptions report. Still, it was cheap enough (though much more than $20) to be totally worth it for the price.

I guess rotating 5 pairs does that as well.

I always found that it took a few days to get used to a new pair of glasses, probably because my prescription was so extreme that tiny changes in the shape or angle of the glasses produced large results. I could never have rotated between a bunch of different frames.

(yes, i know, the implanted contact lenses, but i can't really deal with even thinking about it)

It doesn't take many pairs of expensive glasses to make vision surgery pay for itself, quality of life improvements totally aside. And the surgery is incredibly routine, they literally line up dozens of old people (for cataracts) and a few younger people (a mix of early-onset cataracts and cyborg eyes) and cycle them through a couple of operating rooms all day long.

I still sometimes look for my glasses in the morning, though. The reflexes of a lifetime die hard.

This is all very helpful to me because I have a GIANT HEAD. Indeed, I generally cannot wear adorable vintage frames because my skull is too large. Only after death will we know whether I have an enormous braaaaaaaaiiiiiin or a tiny brain and a very thick skull protecting it.

I might be a bad person because I immediately began considering at-home options for solving this fascinating puzzle.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:13 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks, mecran01, for validating my experience with purchasing glasses: they are too expensive. and this explained why.
Does anybody know if the price of hearing aids is also so high because of a similar situation?
posted by Mesaverdian at 7:22 PM on October 13, 2015


The way I get my sunglasses is by going in to literally any Lost & Found office on the planet and saying "Hey has anybody handed in a pair of Ray Bans Wayfarers? I left some here the other day." and sure enough I have a "new" pair of Ray Bans Wayfarers. Sometimes I'll be going around with six pairs on my head.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:25 PM on October 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


My eyes are -8.5 and -10, and wearing glasses is physically painful for me. I have a pair that I wear for maybe 5 minutes a day during the week; if I wear them longer on the weekends, I get a headache, even though they have high-index lenses. I got pinkeye from my daughter once and it was a week of torture.
posted by mogget at 7:28 PM on October 13, 2015


I end up with prodesign because I like plastic frames and need fairly wide frames with a narrow bridge or nosepads. Also my fantastic optometrist does a great job fitting them - bending the arms and does check the prescription to make sure they match what he sent out. I've been meaning to check out Jins. They have a store nearby and they're a Japanese company so I'm hoping they'll have more frames that fit.
posted by oneear at 7:36 PM on October 13, 2015


I still sometimes look for my glasses in the morning, though. The reflexes of a lifetime die hard.

OMG do you have the implants, tell me more, was it gross when they slice your eye open. I have chronic dry eye so I think I might not be the best candidate tho.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:07 PM on October 13, 2015


And the surgery is incredibly routine, they literally line up dozens of old people (for cataracts) and a few younger people (a mix of early-onset cataracts and cyborg eyes) and cycle them through a couple of operating rooms all day long.

And, like many industrial processes with weird quality control priorities, we the customers have to live with the results. I had cataract operations with one of those companies 10 years ago, and I'm still unhappy about it.

I wasn't impressed by the sausage machine handling of patients, and their quality control was poor. When someone says, "You've got a good reading eye there!", there's a good chance they can't think of anything more positive to report. Basically, the lenses in my eyes don't match, and glasses don't completely correct the problem.

My ophthalmologist had a framed "Entrepreneur of the Year" award right beside his examining chair. This is Canada, where people may not be comforted to know that said entrepreneur is about to slice your eye open, stick a tiny blender in there and liquefy the lens, and then inject a plastic lens with a hypodermic needle. It's a thing here, ok?

The operation was no worse than a lengthy filling at the dentist, except that there's someone shining a zillion watt light in your eye. The part where they remove the original lens and the world dissolves into weird colours is impressive. I guess it's cool that the technology exists to allow this kind of surgery, and that within a couple of days (hours, really) you're back to normal life.

And hey, now I get to wear outrageously expensive glasses like everyone else.
posted by sneebler at 11:50 PM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Lets see, I have my prescription here:
Sphere Cylinder Axis
-6 -3 018
-7 -1 002

That seems to be a heck of a lot worse then most (but not all) people here are mentioning, so I'm betting the online places won't take it (if I don't get the extra expensive lenses, not just the normal expensive ones, the edges are most of a cm thick.

But what worries me is the coatings. I went to a cheaper place once, iVison or something like that? Some place down the mall from lenscrafters. It was about half the price, but the anti-glare on it was so usless that it was basically a year of headaches until my eyes changed again. Very not worth the risk, plus with eyes as bad as mine, every time I change glasses it is a could of days of headache while my brain adjusts. (Well, last time was extra bad, as it turned out my astigmatism was a lot worse, but I'd not noticed as my other eye was filling in the data, so my brain had to unlearn to do that.)

Re: the pupil distance. I don't think I've ever had it measured. They put the pair of frames I"m getting on me, mark the lenses with sharpie and use that.
posted by Canageek at 11:56 PM on October 13, 2015


When our youngest was a toddler, he had a phase where he ripped the glasses off my face and threw them across the room. Needless to say, that got expensive fast and I started getting glasses from Zenni. My experience is that they are optically up-to-scratch (and I got my optometrist to measure whatever they can measure with their in-shop equipment and she pronounced them within specs). I would say that they have slightly lower fit and finish than high-end glasses, but when you have to change glasses often there is no competition.

I live in Norway where "normal" glasses are also ridiculously expensive.

BTW, said toddler is now four and has started needing glasses of his own. Those are the expensive titanium-alloy wire rims because those suckers can take an enormous amount of punishment. And here in Norway we're covered for I think four sets of glasses a year for small kids. Yay, socialism!
posted by Harald74 at 12:34 AM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have a cousin who is always telling me when there are Groupon specials for LASIK.

If there is anything in the world I'd feel safer paying full retail price from a reputable company for though, I think it's probably someone cutting my eyeballs with lasers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:56 AM on October 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


And, like many industrial processes with weird quality control priorities, we the customers have to live with the results.

I agree, and it is the same with the discussion here of the quality of frames and lenses from different sources (as well as the quality of the eye exams in the first place). I went to a clinic with excellent quality control and standards, and one of the things that was interesting was how a surgery that was for me a Really Big Deal was for them a completely routine moment in the day.

OMG do you have the implants, tell me more, was it gross when they slice your eye open. I have chronic dry eye so I think I might not be the best candidate tho.

There have been good descriptions of the process by people here before (searching for ICL might help you find them) that were helpful when I was researching options. You'd need a full work-up by a specialist to know what is and is not on the table, much more detailed than a regular eye exam (and like anything medical, this is when you want to be talking to someone who is good rather than someone who is simply trying to generate revenue). It was a bit weird having the surgery but it is so much better than wearing glasses that I would unhesitatingly go through it every year if I had to.

Back to the subject of this post, though, now that I am not wearing glasses, I can easily tell the difference in lens quality between gas station sunglasses and expensive sunglasses. I wish there was a good source for cheap but high quality sunglasses, because I destroy them at a far higher rate than I ever damaged prescription glasses.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:19 AM on October 14, 2015


I have a very shallow nose bridge so I require nose pads to keep the glasses away from touching my eyelids/lashes

I have a big ol' Guy Smiley triangle nose, which provides plenty of real estate for a pair of glasses, but one of the pairs I ordered from Zenni a few years ago fits me oddly (the others fit fine) and I can't blink without hitting the lenses with my lashes. It hadn't occurred to me that this would be a common problem, and nose pads as a solution definitely hadn't occurred to me, so thanks for mentioning this. I might get some cheapo stick-on nose pads and see if that helps. (It's a pair I painted with green sparkly nail polish because the original color looked boogery on me, so I'd like to wear them. That's another advantage of cheap glasses: you can risk turning them into craft projects.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:48 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


+100 for Warby Parker. I've bought glasses there for as long as they've been around (so 5 years?) and haven't gone back. (it's been 2 pairs of glasses for me in that period)

I did it initially because I liked the idea of them donating a pair for every pair you buy (which I think they still do) and because I have a tricky prescription- legally blind in one eye! completely fine in the other eye! so my glasses can be a bit annoying to get right. (yes I pay 125 at warby parker because of that one damn lens, but it's still way cheaper than anything else I've found), and wanted to be able to return glasses if it didn't work out. (also conveniently I'm located in NYC so could swing by in person to pick up glasses instead of shipping them).
posted by larthegreat at 5:53 AM on October 14, 2015


he's just afraid of eyeball lasers

cutting my eyeballs with lasers.

C'mon, folks, we're all friends here - we can just admit that we're holding out for the surgery that lets us shoot lasers from our eyeballs.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:39 AM on October 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


My Mother can't FIND her glasses without glasses on.
They used to cost more than $500 a pair, between the strength and astigmatism ($350 US?). Also, bright light makes it worse, so she'd wear sunglasses over the top.

So, first thing is, in New Zealand (and I think everywhere else), when you get your glasses from an optician, they aren't generally going into a back room and grinding your lenses there. Nope, in NZ there are only a couple of places in the country that make the lenses, so opticians are generally ordering them from the same place, tada, the monopoly mentioned above.
One of those cases where if we're going to have a 'free market' (*dubious face*), then this is how it is supposed to work. To my knowledge, I haven't heard of sweatshops for eyeglass lenses, it's still a highly trained field, but people get paid in local dollars for overseas work. In much bigger volume than the places around NZ deal with. If I hear of poor working conditions, I will revise my views, but at the moment, it looks less morally dubious than your average no-name t-shirt.


Anyway, getting those glasses online for my mom (from variously goggles4u, 39dollarglasses, zenni, etc), meant we could get photochromic, and at least two pairs at a time (so she can find them), and it's always been well under $50. She sometimes takes them into an optician to get the frames adjusted, because as I mentioned earlier, they don't make the lenses themselves either.

It's been fantastic, because she struggled to buy the single pair she used to need (with the refrain from my childhood - "Come help Mummy find her glasses!"), and now she needs separate reading and driving glasses, so, rather than living at home for the rest of my life, I get her 4 pairs at a time, a pair and a spare each, although at least the reading ones don't need to be photochromic.

Additionally, she likes really big lenses, at least 35mm high, in silver frames, and full frame (because otherwise the 'rainbow' off the edge of the lense is distracting) so there often aren't many options even at an optometrist (urgh, glasses - why always with the 'stylish' short frames? Yes it looks nice, but being able to see in all directions is kind of a killer feature...).
Only problem with getting them online, is that usually a great frame is out of stock next time we go to order. When we've had a mistake, they just sent us another pair.

One thing we haven't bothered doing, but have considered, is you can send existing frames in to several of the online sites, and they'll put new lenses in and send them back. That'd be worth it for a nice pair of frames.
posted by Elysum at 6:48 AM on October 14, 2015


I also buy glasses in Japan. The place where I usually go (ZOFF) has three different prices: 5,000 yen, 7,400 yen (I think) and around 10,000 yen. All under $100 USD or under £70. I get a prescription before going (even though it's included in the price there) and pick out a few pairs.

The selection is great, the quality is good, and there are many different types/styles (PC glasses, bendy glasses, fishing glasses, etc.). I always recommend buying glasses to anyone who is going to Japan.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 6:50 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a cousin who is always telling me when there are Groupon specials for LASIK.

I have a friend who, when Groupon was still fairly new and exciting, jumped on the first LASIK Groupon to come out. He's a person whose vision is so decent that he only needs glasses sometimes and can read ok without them, just is supposed to wear them to drive. (Dude didn't even own a car.) Just saw a groupon for LASIK and was like "hey, neat! discount eyeball lasers! why not!"

You can probably imagine our reaction.

It's been several years since and he seems totally fine, except that he got really into crossfit and he's lost to us now.
posted by phunniemee at 7:07 AM on October 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I finally bought a pair from zenni optical and have been super happy. We have pretty good vision coverage, but I was never willing to pay what it cost for fancier frames. Now I've got some with the cool magnetic shades. Which I promptly lost. It took about 2 minutes with their online help to order 3 more for $20, shipped.

Costco measured my PD and I asked the optician there about making adjustments to my zenni frames. She told me they don't care, it's just a part of my membership that they will provide.
posted by ericales at 7:28 AM on October 14, 2015


For those of you saying your prescriptions are too complex: After my mom had two pairs of $600 glasses break in 2 years, she had me get her some Zenni glasses. She got no-line bifocals and photochromic lenses and her glasses from Zenni came in at around $150. Far better than $600.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:41 AM on October 14, 2015


Without wishing to turn into one of the people in shmegegge's post, I've found that the ideal solution for me is to buy old frames on Ebay and get new lenses added. If I don't like them when they arrive a lot of sellers seem to do no-quibble returns. I do this largely because I want to look like middle-aged men did when I was ten years old and modern opticians don't cater to that kink, apart from Opera Opera and they're a bit costly.

A lot of the ones I've got recently are Italian (so Luxottica) RayBans. I did get one pair of American RayBan frames, but sent them back because not only were they the wrong size but made of dreadful cheap plastic. The Italian ones I've got are much nicer.

But yes the whole industry is a racket.
posted by Grangousier at 7:58 AM on October 14, 2015


Yep, same as ericales-- I got my prescription updated at Costco last month, including PD, and got the glasses from Zenni. Before that I had been wearing the same pair for so long the anti-glare coating had mostly worn off, because I didn't want to drop hundreds on a new pair. I got these in green with $20 lenses, and a different pair with the free lenses so I could see if they were notably heavier. They weren't, so now I have a backup pair. Been wearing them for a month with no problems. And my prescription's pretty strong: -4.75, -1, 055 / -5.25, -1, 120.

I will say that trying on glasses at Costco beforehand was helpful for figuring out which shapes look good and which frames sit too low/close. Being able to upload a photo and 'try on' virtually helps too, but not quite as much.
posted by nonasuch at 8:26 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fizz: My prescription is as follows: right -5.5, left -5.75…

Wow, that's strong! Did you pick the dog or the cane?

Just kidding, mine is now -4.5 in both eyes, so I can't throw any stones or else I won't be able to find them later… Where did you get them?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:38 AM on October 14, 2015


I've not heard anyone talk about coating quality. I'm tempted by the cheap glasses, but am worried that if I take them into my lab I'll find it has substandard UV and anti glare
posted by Canageek at 8:51 AM on October 14, 2015


C'mon, folks, we're all friends here - we can just admit that we're holding out for the surgery that lets us shoot lasers from our eyeballs.

It's not all it's cracked up to be.
posted by maxsparber at 8:58 AM on October 14, 2015


Sez you. I'm willing to give it a shot.

(scorch marks everywhere)
posted by soundguy99 at 9:28 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good time for this thread, for me. I just spent a couple of months going back and forth with the local Lenscrafters on a new pair of glasses. They were fine and competent in '13, but this time they just couldn't get me glasses that I could see out of properly. 2 exams, had the lenses cut 3 times, and eventually just took my money back. I've been wondering what to do now. I *might* go back to the TSO that did well for me in 2011, or I might give one of the suggestions in the comments a shot. Thanks everyone :)
posted by Ambient Echo at 9:39 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


C'mon, folks, we're all friends here - we can just admit that we're holding out for the surgery that lets us shoot lasers from our eyeballs.

It's not all it's cracked up to be.


I don't think that I like you better.
posted by phearlez at 10:02 AM on October 14, 2015


I'm reading through this thread being mystified at SO MANY THINGS. Like the idea of owning more than one pair of glasses. My vision is wacky because I swear to god I inherited one parent's far-sightedness and the other's near-sightedness, with bonus astigmatism on top. (I was a 10 year old with bifocals. Progressive lenses saved my childhood.) The idea of buying online, without an optometrist marking the lenses just seems foreign and makes me nervous. Even if they are $20.

Then again, I'm the person whose previous set of frames cost $200 after insurance and I had them for 10 years. When I finally got them changed, the optometrist thought I'd had them for 3 based on wear (note I pretty much wore them every day). So yeah, I've gotten good returns on shelling out $200-300 and having them last. I guess my issue is if paying for cheaper pairs works out in the long run like that.
posted by ultranos at 10:15 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've been wearing the same $25ish dollar pair of zennioptical glasses for 4 years now. The lenses are starting to get a bit scratched but the frames are holding up fine.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 AM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


> If there is anything in the world I'd feel safer paying full retail price from a reputable company for though, I think it's probably someone cutting my eyeballs with lasers.

Since LASIK is elective surgery, and never emergency surgery, the prices drop all the time since competition and price transparency works, not to mention the patient is the one paying.

But there's always new features, fancier and more expensive and more comfortable techniques and innovations that they can upsell you on. When you get the cheapo LASIK, you're getting the bog-standard microtome when they cut the corneal flap. That was, to be honest, the scary part-- they slap a metal jig, like a cookie cutter, onto your anesthetized eye, and then there was buzzing sound, and then I couldn't see because they'd folded around half my cornea away so they could lase into the center.

I had the option of paying almost $1000 more per eye, at the time, to get the laser-cut corneal flap, which made shallower cuts, which offered some advantages for future touch-up surgeries and such. So, more lasers, but most people I talk to find the very tiny razor blade more conceptually scary than the lasers.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:38 AM on October 14, 2015


Yes, paying for cheaper pairs works out in the long run like that, at least with single-vision ones. In 2008 I paid $39 for the pair I have on my face right now. I bought a bunch more for eight or 13 a pop from Zenni and some other place. They were all hideous, but I have multiple spares so I can do things like glue candy jimmies all over them for a halloween costume if I want. I dunno if it'll work with progressive lenses, my Next Big Optical Adventure. I think I'm going to Warby Parker for those.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:31 PM on October 14, 2015


ultranos: My vision is wacky because I swear to god I inherited one parent's far-sightedness and the other's near-sightedness, with bonus astigmatism on top. (I was a 10 year old with bifocals. Progressive lenses saved my childhood.)

That's me, too, except add an inherited lazy eye as well, and I didn't have to start wearing reading glasses/progressives until I was 24. My prescription is -8.00/DS (no axis) on the right and -1.75/-1.50 with an axis of 150 on the left, plus a reading correction of 3.75. Most online places don't even have a form that can handle my prescription, and the one that did sent me a bunch of emails asking "is that really a real prescription, that doesn't make any sense" and when I finally gave them enough proof that they made the glasses, they were made wrong and didn't work. Not to mention the issue I mentioned above about the shallow nose bridge and the lack of nose-pad-having glasses options on the online sites.

So I don't even try to buy glasses online anymore. Fortunately I have a lucrative enough career that I can afford to buy the glasses I need on an approximately yearly/every two years' basis - between the regular vision glasses, the computer glasses, and the sunglasses for driving, it comes to about $1500-$2000 a pop. And I've found a local store that does an incredible job with my prescription and also sources frames from independent designers who work outside of the Big Specs monopoly listed above. However, I do mildly envy those of you who can buy from Zenni Optical and the like.
posted by matildaben at 4:02 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm glad for those of you who are able to buy stuff from Zenni.

I have bought about 12 pairs of glasses from Zenni, Goggles4U, and 39dollarglasses over the years and I've had horrendous luck with almost all of them.... Maybe if I had a simple prescription, it would be better, but none of them have been able to get the astigmatism correction down. The whole time I tried my Zennis/Goggles4U glasses, I'd get horrendous headaches.

The pair from 39dollarglasses was honestly really good in terms of optical quality - but they don't have anything that fits my face.... That same problem severely restricts my choices with Zenni and others.

I also found that the AR coating on the majority of them was really substandard... Certainly better than no coating at all, but definitely not great.

I still think they are worth the gamble for anyone interested in spending less for glasses, though... they are good emergency pairs to leave around. But for the most part, I stick with the glasses I've been buying from a local optometrist who seems to deal with mostly non-luxottica brands. They are more expensive than Zenni but nowhere near as bad as the stories I've heard - especially if you are buying direct and bypassing any sort of vision insurance... and they have been worth every penny more I've paid. YMMV, of course - but I will say that 12 pairs is a pretty reasonable sample size to make a good judgement on.

Can't beat 'em for backup pairs, though.
posted by MysticMCJ at 4:27 PM on October 14, 2015


For my fellow nose pad fanatics - the glasses I have right now are Emilio Giani and they've held up for almost three years.

I don't see the particular style I have (853 in red) on any websites right now but look at all the nose pad options! And colors!
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:29 PM on October 14, 2015


So, more lasers, but most people I talk to find the very tiny razor blade more conceptually scary than the lasers.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:38 PM on October 14
Yes. Lasers please. No blades like an alien abduction.
posted by sio42 at 6:45 PM on October 14, 2015


If any of you are lucky enough to live near a S.E.E. store check them out. I bought a pair of titanium frames from them in Michigan 10+ years ago and I was getting compliments on the frames 7 years after the purchase. They are still in better condition than the crap Luxottica pair I picked up after my prescription changed.

...and then my prescription changed BACK, and they opened a S.E.E. in my current location (Minneapolis), and now I'm sporting a NEW pair. But I wear the OLD pair once in a while anyway. 10 years old, hinges are still tight, no scratches, and they look good. Italian frames, not a Luxottica company, fun designs, except for the fact that they're $2-300 what's not to like? At least they actually hold up like you'd expect a $300 pair of glasses to do. The Luxottica? Not so much. They just feel cheap, even though they were the same price.

I definitely want to check out Zenni for some prescription sunglasses though! That's the ONLY thing I don't like about my glasses - squinting when I wear them on a sunny day. Cheap (prescription) sunglasses would fix that!
posted by caution live frogs at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2015


OMG, this is why I love metafilter so much. In June I spent > $200 on glasses + frames, which was the lowest price possible offered by my vision insurance. I just typed my info into Zenni and they were only $20. That's nuts! Guess who I'm always going to buy glasses from in the future...
posted by honey badger at 5:13 AM on October 27, 2015


I am so seasick from my Zennis right now. I'm wearing my 'backup pair' from them as my bulletproof pair are being flown to the far reaches of the country to have wizend gnomes of remarkable stature hand-whittle a fresh pair of lenses (my prescription changed two years ago and I didn't update, apparently, and changed just now again so I'm updating fer shur).

My sunglasses from Zenni aren't so bad, but my everyday glasses backup pair kind of suck.

My kids like their transitions so my next backup pair from them are going to be Transitions (auto darkening) once I've got my precious Super Fancy Brand name glasses back from their two weeks at the spa.

Spa trip/lens replacement is going to cost me $300 for the lenses (super high index -- I am so damn nearsighted) but they gave me 10% off since they don't take my insurance any more and further reduced the cost by saying it wasn't necessary to bevel the edges on my Fancy Brand frames. But by golly they work so well.

Send Dramamine ...
posted by tilde at 1:37 PM on October 27, 2015


I went to Warby Parker and I am so glad! I like it because you can pronounce it Waaaaaaaahrby Paaaaaaaahrker (as opposed to the comparatively unfun default "worby parker") and you can try on a bunch of frames in the store and then that one song comes on about the guy who can't feel his face when he's w/ you but he loves it and everybody in there is so nice and it doesn't matter that you are a hundred years old because some others there are also a hundred plus my dear friend who broke my heart by moving to New England and whom I haven't hung out with in like ten years came with me and helped me pick and I got two frames that I really like for like $185. I was all, "Yes, it'll cost me, but I still think I'm going to have these lensed at home because I've heard horror stories about progressive lenses and I'm scared I'll have to send them back twenty times for adjustments and it'll be easier if I just go with a local oufit," and the guy was like, "Yepyepyep, good call." I strongly recommend the Waaaaaaaahrby walk-in experience. A tiny, bright, gem of a store that manages to gather all that is great about shopping and cram it into a blazing bright crowded but efficient beautiful space, which intensifies the joy of commerce to a blissy level.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:16 AM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do any of them have a good cheap knockoff of these? I don't think Prada even makes them any more and mine are starting to wear out. (I used up the last of my FSA one December on them, but I don't think I could bring myself to pay that much again.)

I figure my next exam I'll ask for my contacts and lens prescriptions and say that I only want them to get cheap props for cosplay and am not cutting them out of all future profits.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:04 AM on November 4, 2015


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