This is what $27.85 buys.
I was recently given a practically new recliner, and boy do I appreciate it—it's the most comfortable chair in the house. However, since I wear progressive lenses (I'm near and far sighted), I can't lay back in the chair to watch TV because I'm looking down my nose through the bottom of my lenses, which have a curvature for close vision, such as reading a book, not looking ten feet away at a television. So I mentally filed away a plan to buy some single-vision glasses just for watching TV in my recliner. I then came across a blog entry for buying cheap glasses online and decide to put that plan into action.
There are several sites from which to choose. I looked around and chose Zenni Optical. Since this was an "experiment," and I didn't need anything fancy because I'd be wearing them in the house, I went with the cheapest—just $8.95 for frames and lenses! This includes a scratch-resistant coating, but I also wanted an anti-reflective coating for the light from the TV, which costs an additional $4.95. Upon entering my prescription, the form on their site automatically added $9.00 because my prescription is apparently "extra strength." I don't know why the extra charge. Maybe I need extra-thick lenses to start with. Anyway, add an additional $4.95 for shipping, for a total of $27.85. Here's the breakdown.
$8.95 base price
+4.95 anti-reflective coating
+9.00 extra strength
I needed help measuring my glasses, but Zenni wasn't particularly helpful. You should Google for other stores that describe exactly what the measurements mean, such as frame width and temple-bar length. Some sites let you upload a head shot and "try on" some of their glasses. Some are better than others. I liked SpecsOnTheNet and may buy from them in the future if I attempt to buy designer frames again.
The receipt they emailed me says, "Although your glass [sic] may take a few weeks to arrive, they are made within 48 hours after you place your order"; however, I received them in just ten days. That's a nice surprise. Zenni shipped them in a bubble-wrap mailer, which is kind of flimsy, but the glasses arrived in great shape. I guess since they don't weigh very much, they don't need much protection.
All of their glasses come with a case and a lens-cleaning cloth. The case is different than ones I've had before because it has a magnetic clasp. It opens and closes easily but makes a slightly loud snapping noise when closing—be careful in church and the library. The hinges on the case are just bendable plastic, so I'm not sure if they'll take a lot of opening and closing.
Here's everything laid out. The frames are "4119 Metal Alloy Half-rim Frame" and come in five colors. I chose blue just for fun.
There were no smudges or scratches on the lenses, although they were just a tad dusty. Easy to fix that.
Bottom line: I like them. A lot. They fit perfectly, and the prescription is spot on. My head is a bit on the wide side, so, when ordering, I made sure that the frames would be wide enough. That's one thing I should mention—if you're going to try this out, spend plenty of time measuring your current glasses so that you get a frame that fits. Since you can't just walk around the eye-glass store and try on a bunch of glasses, you have to know ahead of time whether you are buying frames that fit you. I don't know what Zenni's return policy is, but I doubt whether it is real good. Even if it is, I wouldn't want to go to the trouble of returning the glasses. At this price, I'd probably just donate them to charity and buy another pair.
By contrast, I bought a pair of glasses at LensCrafters last summer with progressive, coated lenses for $660.00, including a $100 discount that eye-glass stores always seem to offer. Admittedly, they were designer frames and had a nice "Scotchgard Protector" coating on the lenses that I had to special order, but contrast and compare—$27.85 versus $660.00. Moreover, LensCrafters messed up my prescription several times causing me to drive quite a distance into town each time (I live out in the country). After the third trip, I asked for my money back. The fellow helping me said that the person who originally helped me pick out the frames made a mistake because those frames were too narrow to hold a progressive prescription. Geez. From now on, I'm going to be buying my glasses online.