Buying Eyeglasses

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Buying Eyeglasses

I just got an eye exam and I found out that I'm nearsighted and will need glasses. I have never bought any before in my life, so I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am not sure what type of frame or lens to go for. Since I will be wearing them all the time, should I get a polycarbonate lens? How scratch resistant are they? Are they absurdly expensive? Also, what bells and whistles (i.e. antireflective coating and high index lens) are actually worthwhile relative to their cost? I want to get a durable, trendy pair of glasses, but I also want to make sure that ridiculously high prices don't take me. Any tips you all could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Save Money by Buying Eyeglasses Online

First of all, if you don't have your prescription, go back to the place where you had your eyes checked and ask for it. You paid for the exam and you are entitled to it.

If I were you, I would go to an optical supply place, preferably at Wal-Mart or other discount store. Go in and tell them that you would like to look at frames. They will help you pick out shapes that look best on you. You can ask any questions you want and even get a price quote from them. Tell the clerk that you will have to think about it or you want to shop around and leave. Then go to the Dollar Store or any place that sells reading glasses cheap and buy a pair that you like. It doesn't matter what prescription they are, as you are just going to use them to measure when you order online.

Go to They have many frames to choose from. Scroll through the choices of frames until you find one similar to the pair you bought. Measure the pair you bought so that you can pick out a frame that is close to the one you bought. You will need a metric ruler. Measure the size of the lens, the bridge (the part between the lenses) and the length of the bows. You will have to have someone help you measure where the center of your pupil is (this is explained on the website). If you have any questions, there is a place on the website to email questions. They will promptly answer.

I ordered two pair for my daughter from and the total price for the two pair, two cases, two cleaning cloths and shipping was $38 total! Pearle Vision was having a 2 for 1 sale and the price for 2 pair was $349! That was besides the exam!

As far as options go, polycarbonate lenses are lighter weight. I have had them for many years because my lenses are very thick. I have never had any problems with scratching. Always clean the glasses with water to prevent scratching. If you are getting your first pair, polycarbonate lenses are probably not necessary. Tinting is your preference. I used to have mine tinted, but I had problems with the tinting wearing off, so I don't do that anymore.

I prefer frames that have spring hinges. That means the bows swing out so they have some give when you get hit with a ball or something. My daughter got one pair that was made of titanium and is bendable. You can actually bend them and they spring right back into shape.

I paid $360 for my last pair (I have bifocals), but I never will again. Zenni Optical will get my business.

50 Years of Experience Buying Eyeglasses

I have been wearing glasses for 50 years. I suggest that you try Costco (you do not need two be a member to use their optical department) even if you have Medicare. They are the most reasonable in this area of the country by far, and they have a one-year warranty on the glasses should something go amiss.

Polycarbonate lenses are worth it. They come with a scratch resistant coating and are very durable and light. I would also suggest the anti-reflective coating so that you don't get a glare and people can see your eyes (especially in photos).

Another thing to consider is a transitional lens. They get dark in seconds in the sun and protect your eyes. It eliminates the need for sunglasses and turns clear once inside. Plastic frames are more durable than metal, but that is a fashion decision.
eyeglass girl

Know Your Situation Before Buying Eyeglasses

I used to work for a vision insurance company, so I am fairly familiar with the different types of frames, lenses and lens options available out there. You need to take into account your particular situation before making any choices about what type of glasses you will get. Things to take into account are how often they'll be worn, if heavy computer work will be done, if you need to wear them while driving, etc. Your responses will help you to determine what type of glasses you need to be shopping for.

Educate yourself regarding the different lens options out there before going to buy them. The more information you have beforehand, the more confident you'll be selecting your glasses. I did a search under "eyeglass lens options" and several websites popped up that gave detailed descriptions regarding the different types of lenses and lens options (polycarbonate, hi-index, anti reflective coating, etc).

Antireflective coatings are most beneficial for night time driving, as it helps those with decreased night vision. Hi-index lenses are thinner. Some prescriptions have thicker lenses than others do. Depending on the strength of your prescription, high index lenses might be recommended. Also certain frame styles are suited for a thinner lens. Therefore, if you have a heavier prescription and you choose a frame with a smaller profile, then hi-index lenses will be required or at least highly recommended (for cosmetic reasons).

Make sure when getting prices that you ask very pointed questions. Sometimes if you pick one type of lens or a lens option, another option is included with them (think of it as two options for the price of one). Most offices will be more than happy to spell out additional charges. They want a happy consumer with a pair of glasses that won't be returned.
Heather in CA

Before Buying Eyeglasses, Shop Around

First of all, shop around. Eyeglasses have an enormous mark-up. You should only need polycarbonate lenses if you are a kid and will be playing in them, you need them for safety at work or you have a very heavy prescription and are looking for lighter options. Polycarbonate can also cause some distortion and scratches very easily. For lenses, just a simple plastic lens is fine. Don't pay extra for "scratch resistance" unless they will guarantee it for free. UV protection generally comes automatically on the lens, depending on the company they use. I would only add it additionally for sunglasses unless you get a polarized lens, which already has it. Anti-reflection is a great coating to keep from getting any reflections. However, it does scratch very easily and is an after-market coating, so it will add additional time to getting your glasses.

For frames, my suggestion is buy a frame you like and avoid frames that you know are discontinued. Almost all frames come with a one year manufacturer's warranty, and if it is discontinued, you may be out of luck. Also, do not buy frames somewhere different than the optical shop you are having the lenses done in. Generally, it is more expensive that way, and if something happens to your frame down the line, the place that you bought your frames from may give you a hard time and blame the place that did the lenses. You may end up chasing your tail to get it resolved.

If you have a simple prescription, almost every reputable place can fit your needs. If you must have a specific curvature of the lens, have prism or other more technically difficult problem, I would buy those directly from your eye doctor. That ensures you will get them exactly right.

Places such as Wal-Mart, Sam's and Costco are fine. I would stay away from the "complete pair for $29" kind of places unless it is for a back up pair of glasses. They tend to use frames that have been discontinued for quite sometime and were often poor quality to begin with. Specific companies do not manufacture licensed frames. They license their name out to big optical manufactures that also make very good quality eyewear in very similar styles without the additional cost for the name. One company makes frames under several names.

Buy Eyeglasses at the Local Veterans' Hospital

I buy my eyeglasses at the optical shop in the local Veterans' Hospital. No, I am not a veteran. The optical shop is just a store inside the hospital, so you don't have to be a veteran to make a purchase there. Simply take your script in, pick your glasses, and place your order. They do not have one-hour service; you're probably looking at a two-week turnaround. For $45 to $60 (basic glasses), I didn't mind the wait.

Vital Add-Ons When Buying Eyeglasses

As a wearer of glasses since the age of twelve, I have some advice. I am assuming that your recent discovery means some mild correction. At first, regular plastic lenses will suit you well. However, if the regular lenses along with anti-scratch coating are more expensive than the polycarbonate lenses, go with polycarbonate.

As a minimum, I would get anti-scratch and UV protection coatings. I would also recommend a 10% tinting (solid or gradient) on your lenses, which is a cheap form of anti-glare. Or I would consider Transition lenses (offers UV protection), which darken in sunlight. They do not work too well in a car because the windows block the UV from darkening the lenses.

Frames are as expensive or cheap as you make them. Shop around and find out who has deals. Some places discount for people who don't have insurance. Some offer 2 for 1 deals (although they will not let you walk out w/ $350 frames for free).

If you are going to splurge, I highly recommend Crizal (or similar) anti-reflective, anti-scratch coating on the lenses as it is wonderful, and with a correction of more than -7.25, I really notice a difference in the glare, etc.

Night Vision Coating Has Downside

I noticed that when my husband and I had the coating that is supposed to help with night vision added, our lenses scratched more easily and quicker. I asked the Wal-Mart vision technician about it, and she said that it was a downside to the coating.

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