Buying Cheap Glasses Online (Prescription)

Everytime I see a friend with glasses, I always pass on this little bit of advice. Buy your glasses online. Why? Simply because they start at about $6.95 a pair with prescription lenses and all.

One day I broke my $400.00 pair that I bought from the place in our local mall and I was fed up. I did what any logical person would do and went to Google for answers. I typed “cheap prescription glasses” and came across a ton of websites that actually sell glasses online. I wondered how they could do this and how you would know if they fit correctly.

How can the frames be so cheap?

Actual retail shops like the ones in the mall have a ton of overhead. They have to pay their rent, their employees, doctors, construction costs, and everything else a business owner has to worry about. It’s not cheap. Which is why they sell $10 frames for a couple hundred dollars. Online retailers like merely have to pay website costs, maybe a warehouse cost, someone to cut the lenses, and someone to ship them.

If you order them online, how do you know if they’ll fit your face?

Easily. Each pair has measurement specifications in millimeters. Take a current pair of glasses that fits you well, measure them in inches like so:

Then use Google to convert inches in to millimeters. For example, just type in Google:

5 inches in mm

That’s it. Try to find a pair that matches those dimensions as closely as possible and you’ll be in good shape. The only parts that really matter are the Lens Width, Frame/Lens Height, and the Length to Bend also known as the Temple Arm Length.

Your Prescription

This is the part that will always cost you some money. It is definitely worth visiting a professional optometrist to get a really good prescription. Go to a local Doctor if possible, and not places like Lens Crafters unless you have no other choice. The more time the Doctor spends with you, the better. With your prescription digits, you’ll notice that during the checkout process you will be asked for those numbers. They will ask for the digits on your left eye and right eye, spherical and cylindrical. Very simple procedure. Just type in everything that’s on your prescription. Also, it doesn’t hurt to go back to the eye Doctor and get another prescription every 2-3 years.

Is there anything to be concerned about?

Not really. The glasses are so cheap, who cares if you don’t like them? I usually buy 2-4 pairs at a time and it still only costs me a fraction of the cost of buying them at an actual retail shop. If I don’t like a certain pair, then I just keep them as a backup for painting or doing dirty work.

I love the amount of choices that places like Zenni Optical gives you. You can buy $6.95 frames and you can buy $50.00 designer frames. There’s something for everyone.

Optional Choices

Do you need Bifocals, UV protection, lens tint, progressive or transition lenses? They have you covered too. These items can be added on for a very reasonable price. I even buy prescription sunglasses from these guys just by picking out a cool frame, then adding 60-80% tint on them. They work beautifully.

Overall it doesn’t hurt to try an online retailer like Zenni Optical. It’s so cheap, what do you have to lose? If you don’t like them, oh well. You’re only out a few bucks and not a few hundred. Give it a shot!

7 thoughts on “Buying Cheap Glasses Online (Prescription)

  1. Hello Mark,

    I’m very excited about the zennioptical website you told me about. I have checked it out and found several pairs of glasses that i’m interested in. The information on your site helped me out alot especially how to translate the measurements from inches to mm oline. That made things much easier and once i got all my measurements figured out the rest is all fun picking out what style of glasses to buy lol.
    Their is one thing i don’t completely understand and it’s when you order where they ask for the lens number on the lines before the actual eye numbers they only have one choice, bifocal 1.50 so if you can find time to help me with this i would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank You so much

  2. Hey there Terri! I know exactly what you’re talking about.

    Depending on your prescription type, it will determine what option needs to be chosen here. For me, I use just a regular single vision prescription. So under the “Lens” type selection, I pick the regular “Standard Single Vision” lenses which there is no extra charge for. However you can pick other “stregnths” if you feel it might be necessary, such as “Mid-Index”.

    Here’s what Zenni says about the Lens Index choices:

    The Index value refers to the refractive quality of the lens, or the degree to which the lens bends light passing through it. Generally, the higher the index, the thinner the lens.

    For normal, single vision prescription values Zenni Optical recommends a lens with a mid-index of 1.57. It is thin and light, and is included for no extra cost with your glasses. For prescriptions less than -4/+3 a higher index lens will not produce a noticeably thinner lens.

    You can also choose things like “Transition” lenses in case you wanted your glasses to turn in to sunglasses when you’re out in the sun 😉 If you use bi-focals or progressive lenses, you may want to contact Zenni about the different types of lens indexes to make sure you pick what is right.

    I hope this information is helpful! Good luck!

  3. Hello mark,

    Yes, it helped alot that’s what i thought they meant but wasn’t sure so i appreciate you expaining it for me and making it very clear to understand.

    I don’t mind paying for the extra lens quality now that i know what it’s for. They are still very cheap compaired to going to a special eye glass store.

    Thank you for your help and speedy response back. I can’t wait to order a pair of glasses now. I will let you know how it turns out!

    Sincerely Terri

  4. Hello Mark,

    I am now wearing my new glasses. My order from Zenni came in yesterday so the shipping time was only a couple of weeks. They came with a nice case, cleaning towel and a metric measuring tool for easy reordering. I am very happy with the quality and will be proud to wear them anywhere! Thank you so much Mark for sharing this website with everyone.

    Sincerely Terri

  5. Hey there! That is super cool! I’m so glad they worked out for you. Yea the only bummer is the amount of time it takes to get to ya. But once they arrive everything is good to go. I personally will continue ordering from them. Thanks for sharing your experience!!

  6. I’m currently on my 7th pair from ZenniOptical. Each one has fit perfectly. And when I go for a refraction appointment I always have the Dr check the spectacles in the lab equipment for correct fabrication. Each time the response is “they are spot-on”. Now I have a revised RX and when I went to the website they had a 3 for 2 price offer for the July 4th holiday. Since I always get two anyway, it resulted in each pair costing $58.92 which included 3 frames, progressive photochromic lenses with anti-scratch, anti-glare, 400 UV protection, including S/H plus a hard case, cleaning cloth and metric rule. The only caveat is take your time on the website, read all the ? items pertaining to your order choices, make sure the measurements are suitable for your face and you should have great glasses at the lowest cost on the internet; even lower than getting a re-lens job from most any online retailer.

  7. Thanks for your comment, Warren. Oddly enough I bought a new pair of glasses just a couple weeks ago due to my new prescription. This time, I decided to go with

    What a terrible mistake. They have a bunch of nice looking glasses on their website, but again, I feel ripped off. My prescription is off, the lenses scratch with the cloth they give you to keep them clean, and I called them up to talk to them about it and they seemed bewildered that anyone would call them up complaining about such things despite the countless amounts of other people complaining about the same exact thing on the net.

    I got frustrated and ended up buying a decent pair of glasses from Zenni and added in 80% Amber Tint to make them sunglasses. I spent about $30 with shipping which is dirt cheap in comparison. I just got them in the mail and was blown away that my $30 glasses are actually much better in quality than these $100 Warby Parkers. Just goes to show you there’s not much in a brand name sometimes other than a polished turd.

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