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Best eyeglasses online 2021: Where to buy glasses online

Best eyeglasses online 2021: Where to buy glasses online
(Image credit: Getty)

The best eyeglasses online are available in a surprising number of forms, ranging from custom prescription glasses to designer frames with bespoke lenses, such as anti-glare or blue light filtering. There has also been an upswing in the number of online glasses retailers in the past several years, giving you more choice than ever (not to mention much cheaper prices) when buying eyeglasses online. The big brands like GlassesUSA, FramesDirect and Lensabl still dominate, but there are other stylish boutique brands worth considering too.

In our guide to the best eyeglasses online, we talk you through all the top-rated online glasses retailers, focusing on those with good user reviews from existing customers, and that offer free shipping in the States. Many of these run regular discounts and offers too, so you can enjoy higher savings when buying eyeglasses online compared to in store. This also applies to prescription lenses, so no-one will miss out. A lot of these places also stock the best contact lenses online, so you could net a bigger discount when ordering both types of corrective eyewear.

Editor's Choice: GlassesUSA.com

GlassesUSA.com carries a large selection of non-designer frames and makes all the lenses it uses in its own laboratory to ensure they are of the highest quality. Both these reasons make it a good choice for purchasing glasses online.VIEW DEAL ON GlassesUSA.com

We’ve been writing about the best eyeglasses online for many years, and in our experience a good online glasses brand carries a range of affordable and designer frames, with a decent mix of basic and specialist lenses and coatings. While try-at-home services used to be a novelty, most companies selling eyeglasses online now have a try-on at home feature of some kind. Some will send you frames (without lenses) in the post, while others offer virtual try-ons where you upload a photo of your face to see what color and style of frames suit you best.

If you’re shopping for prescription glasses online, and you have signed up to one of the best vision insurance plans for vision correction coverage, speak to your provider to see what it will and won’t cover. Some insurers also cover specific brands or types of glasses, so ask before spending a dime. Sticking with prescription eyeglasses for a second, if you are thinking of ordering these online, we’d strongly recommend choosing one of the best eyeglasses online brands for prescription eyewear. These companies are well-versed in handling prescription needs and many are able to deal directly with your insurer. 

The best eyeglasses online brands and retailers

1. GlassesUSA: The best eyeglasses online overall

Best eyeglasses online: GlassesUSA.com

(Image credit: GlassesUSA.com)

GlassesUSA

The best online glasses retailer for sheer choice

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes | Returns policy: 30-day full refund on first pair

Reasons to Buy

Virtual try-on tool
Excellent range of designer frames
No-risk returns

Reasons to Avoid

Overwhelming amount of choice

GlassesUSA stocks more than 7,000 frames from nearly 100 eyeglasses designers, and it’s super-easy to browse by brand, frame or lens to help narrow down your search for the best eyeglasses online. To make it easier to find your perfect glasses, you can even search by brand, sales and even trends like lightweight glasses, tortoise shell frames or clip-on sunglasses.

The range includes prescription glasses, as well as sunglasses available in a huge range of colors and styles. GlassesUSA frequently offers discount codes and deals, so there’s plenty of opportunity to grab a juicy saving on a stylish pair of eyeglasses. Every pair you buy is backed with a 365-day warranty, and you get free shipping and returns in the United States. 

With so much on offer, you’ll want to try your potential new eyeglasses on for size, right? Luckily, GlassesUSA has a virtual try-on feature that can help you choose the right eyeglasses for you, using a photo of a model or you can upload an image of yourself. If you go ahead with your purchase but later decide the frames aren’t right for you when you receive them, you can take advantage of the brand’s risk-free 14-day refund or exchange.

With excellent customer service and an easy-to-use website, great shipping and return options, GlassesUSA is hands-down one of the best online glasses retailers in America right now, so your prescription order will be in good hands.

GlassesUSA user reviews and ratings

There’s plenty of love for GlassesUSA on Trust Pilot, with 78% of the 25,000-plus reviews rated as 5 out of 5 stars. Comments include, “I came, I saw, I bought. I purchased glasses here before and I am very pleased. It was very easy browsing for what I needed, the variety is great.”

The customers on Bizrate Surveys  are also happy, with comments such as, “I needed to purchase a replacement pair when my dog literally ate my glasses. So I looked to see what was on sale and purchased another pair. I love being able to try them online and find glasses that are a similar size and fit to my favorite pair. Thanks for the easy shopping experience.”

Less favorable reviews mentioned some confusion with the order status and delay in delivery, as well as complaints that the prices of some frames were too expensive, but the GlassesUSA customer service team were quick to respond and help.


2. EyeBuyDirect: Best eyeglasses online for value

Best eyeglasses online: EyeBuyDirect online glasses

(Image credit: EyeBuyDirect)

EyeBuyDirect

Head here for a good range of online glasses at affordable prices

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: On orders over $99, otherwise $5.95/from $19 depending on carrier | Returns policy: 14-day full refund on first pair

Reasons to Buy

Wide range and affordable too
No-quibble returns (14 days)

Reasons to Avoid

Hardly any designer options
Have to spend $99 for free delivery

EyeBuyDirect is the place to go if you want a great pair of cheap eyeglasses online and not much else. While there’s not a lot of designer choice on offer, everything you need for a good pair of affordable glasses is right here. 

There’s a virtual try-on to help you select the best eyeglasses for your face, plus there are a decent amount of sunglasses on offer too. Simply use the filters to narrow down the search by glasses type, brand, rim and color for example, to find the style you want.

Ordering is easy and there are always further discounts on offer of up to 50%, making EyeBuyDirect one of the best eyeglasses online retailers if you need to buy a few pairs of eyeglasses to always ensure you have backups, yet you don’t have a big budget to cover them all.

EyeBuyDirect user reviews and ratings

EyeBuyDirect has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Trust Pilot, with 72% of the 17,000-plus reviews coming in at 5 out of 5 stars. Top comments include: “EyeBuyDirect.com has been my go-to method of getting new glasses since 2018. They have the latest styles of frames… and a wonderful selection of prices that really can't be beat.”

SiteJabber contains nearly 180,000 reviews for EyeBuyDirect with more than 131,000 ratings at 5 out 5 stars. And there are plenty of comments to back up that impressive number, including: “Very happy with the convenience of this. It took me a while to know which types of frames were the best fit without trying them on first, but they do a great job with advertising the right sizes in the right categories.”

Negative reviews mention some glitches with the ordering, while there were also several complaints about the delivery and returns process.


3. Warby Parker: Best online glasses for trying at home

Best eyeglasses online: Warby Parker

(Image credit: Warby Parker)

Warby Parker Online Glasses

The best eyeglasses online store if you want to try before you buy

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes | Returns policy: 14-day full refund on first pair

Reasons to Buy

Option to try five frames at home
Good quality eyeglasses
Helpful customer service

Reasons to Avoid

No designer frames

Warby Parker is a trusted brand when it comes to the best eyeglasses online, with a stylish selection of frames that are easy to try on at home. When buying glasses online at Warby Parker, you can select up to five frames to try at home for five days. 

If none of them are right for you, simply send them back free of charge and try another batch until you find the frames you love. There is also the option to use the virtual try-on service too. That alone is a huge confidence booster, as you can rest assured that you’re choosing frames that actually suit your face shape and skin tone. 

With free shipping, free returns, and frames (with prescription lenses) starting from only $95, Warby Parker is a good choice if you want a no-fuss, straightforward way to buy eyeglasses online. Even better, for every pair of eyeglasses you buy, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need. To date, the company has donated more than five million pairs of glasses. 

While the range is quite small compared to the bigger online glasses retailers, we found more than enough choice on offer. You filter your search results according to frame width, shape, color, material, and nose bridge fit. Prices start from $95, and for $50 extra you can add blue-light filtering lenses to any pair of eyeglasses without needing a prescription.

Warby Parker user reviews and ratings

There are plenty of happy customers leaving positive feedback on Warby Parker’s online glasses site. Comments include: “Great price, great quality, great styles, great customer service. Keep up the great work!” and “[I’m a ] first-time shopper and couldn't be more pleased with the selection, quality, speed of delivery and level of customer care!”

Consumer Affairs also features plenty of good feedback, including: “Highly recommended. All communications back and forth with WP were friendly, timely, and helpful. Love the cost too! Very affordable! I like to have several pairs of glasses to change my look and I'm able to buy several pairs given their low cost.” 

Meanwhile, some negative comments mentioned the quality of the lenses, as well as a delay in delivery times.


4. Eyeglasses.com: Best eyeglasses online with a virtual try-on feature

Best eyeglasses online: The Eyeglasses.com logo in deep blue on a white background

(Image credit: Eyeglasses.com)

Eyeglasses.com

A top-rated online glasses brand with a fun virtual try-on function

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes | Returns policy: You cover the cost of returns

Reasons to Buy

20 years’ experience with online glasses
Great range of designer frames
Online frames try-on function

Reasons to Avoid

Returns aren’t free

With 20 years’ experience selling the best eyeglasses online, Eyeglasses.com is a safe pair of hands for designer frames, reading glasses and bespoke prescription glasses. The company has attracted high user reviews, with plenty of existing customers praising the expanded range of affordable and designer eyeglasses, and free US and international shipping. We also love its Give Back Vision charity scheme. 

There’s a large selection of online glasses to choose from here, and you won’t be disappointed by the stock on offer, and the prices are generally very reasonable too. The site also has lots of discounts with plenty of bargains to be snapped up. The virtual try-on feature is fun and can give you an idea of how a particular frame shape or color would suit your face. 

This online glasses retailer takes around one to two days (on average) to process non-prescription lenses, while prescription eyeglasses can take three to five days on average. We’d recommend reading the Eyeglasses.com returns policy before purchasing anything, as the brand states that frames must be returned in perfect condition within 30 days for a full refund. 

However, you have to cover the cost of return postage on the majority of frames (there are some partial exceptions). Other companies in our roundup of the best eyeglasses online offer free returns.

Eyeglasses.com user reviews and ratings

The company has attracted high user reviews, with plenty of existing customers praising the expanded range of affordable and designer eyeglasses, and free US and international shipping. 

SiteJabber has more than 12,000 reviews scored 5 out of 5 stars or Eyeglasses.com, while the Trust Pilot score (at the time of writing) sits at 4 out of 5 stars, with comments such as “Great-quality frames priced very reasonably. The site provides all the frame measurements, and includes the total width measurement of the frames – very important for better sizing!”

Although the lack of free returns definitely irked some people, some have nothing but good things to say about the swift and thoughtful customer service, and only a minority experienced the opposite. 


5. Zenni: The best eyeglasses online by face shape

Best eyeglasses online: the Zenni glasses logo in light blue on a white background

(Image credit: Zenni)

Zenni

The best online glasses store if you need to keep costs down

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: No (from $4.95) | Returns policy: 30 days (store credit only if you made a mistake during the order)

Reasons to Buy

Cool contemporary frames
Excellent buying advice
Lots of glasses accessories and add-ons

Reasons to Avoid

No free shipping

Zenni’s fun, bright website is a clear indication of how this company rolls, offering an enormous range of stylish customizable frames and lenses in plenty of colors and materials.  While the designer options are limited, Zenni does collaborate with noted creative brands and celebrities, producing some of the best eyeglasses online with a unique feel and style.

The costs of Zenni frames are kept low by manufacturing and shipping from China, missing out the middleman. The downsides therefore include a longer shipping time and zero free shipping options. Also, if you make a mistake during your order, you’ll get online store credit instead of a full refund. Plus, there’s no “try before you buy” with which you can receive frames at home, although you can use the digital try-on feature. 

Zenni is also one of the best online glasses retailers for buying advice, with a wealth of written guides and videos walking you through how to order glasses online. There’s also plenty of information to help you get the right fit, plus eyewear tips for video calls and how to match frames to your zodiac sign (quirky but fun).

Zenni user reviews and ratings

Consumer Affairs has plenty of praise for Zenni with a rating that averages over 4 out of 5 stars based on nearly 900 reviews. Comments include, “For the quality and the price of Zenni, they can't be beaten. The website is great too. It's very easy to use,” and, “Very accommodating. I ordered two glasses I felt were incorrect for me and I was given various options about replacing them. I was also given great suggestions and information on how to better purchase glasses in the future. Wonderful experience.”

It’s the same story on Trust Pilot, with an average score of 4.6 out of 5 stars across the 127,000 reviews, 83% of which are 5 out of 5 stars. Feedback includes: “I was hesitant to try Zenni but decided I couldn't lose because of their pricing. I will NEVER get glasses from anyone but Zenni Optical. Two pair of glasses cost 50% less than one pair with insurance. More importantly, I can see perfectly!”

However, there were a handful of less favorable reviews, some of which were complaining about the prescription not being right, while others were not happy about the returns and refund policy. The complaints were professionally dealt with by Zenni who offered lengthy replies to the dissatisfied customers.


6. FramesDirect: Best eyeglasses online for custom frames

Best eyeglasses online: FramesDirect

(Image credit: FramesDirect)

FramesDirect

Ideal for those who need more custom eyeglasses

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes | Returns policy: One-time free exchange per item

Reasons to Buy

Great range of designer frames
Regular discounts on frames and lenses

Reasons to Avoid

No virtual try-on
Limited buying advice

When it comes to choice, Frames Direct claims to have the largest online selection of the best eyeglasses online no matter what style you’re looking for. As well as prescription glasses, you’ll find sunglasses (including with prescription lenses), as well as contacts here. You can search by categories such as 'hipster' or 'unique', or by frame shape, bridge size, color and frame materials.

Top eyeglasses brands stocked by FramesDirect include Ray-Ban, Prada and Michael Kors, and the choice on offer can be filtered down by size, shape, frame material and color. At the moment, FramesDirect is still working on its virtual try-on service, but if your frames aren’t suitable, there is a one-time free exchange per frame, although only 50% of the lens price will be credited if the prescription needs to be altered.

Where FramesDirect makes up for the lack of flexibility returning or trying on glasses, is with the huge discounts it offers. There’s up to 60% off to be snapped up regularly, with frequent offers and sales on designer brands, making it worth the gamble. You can even use funds from your insurance’s flexible spending or health savings account. 

FramesDirect user reviews and ratings

There are mixed reviews for FramesDirect online, with most of the glowing reports found at Trust Pilot. User review comments include, “My Oakley Airdrop prescription glasses came in sooner than expected and at a great price. So much cheaper than my local eyecare place. I bought my last two sets of glasses through FramesDirect and will continue buying them from here going forward.” The support team at FramesDirect is quick to respond to positive feedback. 

Over at SiteJabber there are complaints about slow delivery times and the refund policy. However, SiteJabber only features 40 reviews, while TrustPilot holds nearly 25,000 FramesDirect user reviews, with 80% of those being 5 out of 5 stars.


7. DiscountGlasses: A good option for cheap eyeglasses

Best eyeglasses online: The DiscountGlasses logo in blue and yellow lettering on a white background

(Image credit: DiscountGlasses)

DiscountGlasses

One of the best eyeglasses online stores for low income households

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes | Returns policy: 365 days

Reasons to Buy

Online vision exam
Mammoth trial period

Reasons to Avoid

Limited designer options
No live chat (help) function

If you don't have the budget for designer eyeglasses or are just looking for a cheap pair of glasses to use as a back-up, then DiscountGlasses could be your go-to site. The online glasses brand focuses mainly on cheap frames, so you won’t have any surprises at checkout, knowing from the start that you’re shopping within your budget. 

Even though we’re mainly looking at cheap frames here, during our review process we were still able to find some very stylish eyeglasses for less, which goes to show that expensive doesn’t always equal the best. That said, if you do want designer glasses without the luxury price tag, there isn’t a big selection at DiscountGlasses, so check out some of the others on our list such as GlassesUSA and FramesDirect. 

Like many others in our guide to the best eyeglasses online, DiscountGlasses has a virtual try-on service, as well as a fantastic 365-day trial period, which is plenty of time to try out your new glasses. Yep, you have an entire year within which you can return your eyeglasses if you aren’t happy with them - again, read the terms and conditions to understand exactly what will and won’t fly here. 

There is also the option to see the frames on a model’s face so you get a good idea of what they look like when worn – you can even choose a model who has the closest match to your face shape or skin tone.

We’d prefer it if DiscountGlasses had an instant online chat function, as email and phone can put a roadblock in the way of placing an order when you have an urgent need for some new eyeglasses. However, compared to the cheap prices, wide selection of frames and the virtual try-on feature on offer here, this is a minor complaint. 

DiscountGlasses Online: User reviews and ratings

Finding reviews – good or bad – is tricky for this online glasses retailer, but on the DiscountGlasses.com blog you will find some positive reports from satisfied customers. 

Review website OGR gives DiscountGlasses.com an overall rating of 8.9 out of 10 stars, finding little to complain about when it comes to price, choice and quality. The brand also scores 8 stars out of 10 on US Reviews for its service and pricing.


8. Coastal: Best eyeglasses online for buying advice

Best eyeglasses online: The Coastal glasses logo in all black

(Image credit: Coastal)

Coastal Eyewear

The ideal online glasses store if you want plenty of advice and tips

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Only on orders over $50 | Returns policy: Free up to 14 days after your order arrives

Reasons to Buy

Anti-fog lenses available
24/7 customer service
Talks you through PD and lens types

Reasons to Avoid

No try at home option (only virtual)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with information when buying eyeglasses online, which can put many people off if they think they might buy the wrong type. But Coastal has plenty of information laid out in a very clear and concise way – ideal if this is your first time buying online glasses. 

And on the Coastal blog there’s even more great info including how frame shape affects prescription, and how to protect your eyes while working at a screen. There are also dozens of posts on the latest eyeglasses trends and styles.

As well as all this essential information, there are plenty of bargains to be snapped up on everyday styles as well as on designer brands. Plus, Coastal Eyewear also sells contacts, making this a one-stop shop if you like to mix and match your vision wear. 

Frame prices start from as little as $9 (Zenni is cheaper), and there are always big discounts, as well as an evergreen clearance sale. Plus there’s free shipping over $50, free returns, and a 60-day return policy.

Coastal user reviews and ratings

Compared to some of the others on our list, there aren’t as many reviews for Coastal on TrustPilot, but what it has is excellent with 81% of the 2,773 reviews coming in at 5 out of 5 stars

Comments highlighted the website’s ease of use, as well as the great customer service, with feedback such as, “Best customer service! I accidentally submitted the incorrect numbers and Coastal fixed the issue for me super promptly and the service person helped me even use more discounts! Super helpful!”


9. Lensabl: Best eyeglasses online for lenses only

Best eyeglasses online: The Lensabl logo in black, with a pair of glasses drawn into the logo's lettering

(Image credit: Lensabl)

Lensabl Glasses

The best online glasses store if you have old frames you can't part with

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes (standard) | Returns policy: All sales are final, but if you think Lensabl has made your lenses incorrectly based on the prescription specifications provided, you can ask them to remake them under the brand's Remake Policy

Reasons to Buy

Suitable if you just need lenses
Save up to 70% compared to in-store

Reasons to Avoid

No telephone contact
Mixed user reviews

Lensabl takes your trusty old frames and fits new lenses into them, even sending you a box to ship your old frames to them. The whole process takes as little as two weeks. If you really want to buy some eyeglasses you can, but the range is quite limited so it’s just as easy to buy some budget frames of your choice and get some lenses popped in. 

In nutshell, you send your existing eyeglasses to Lensabl and let them know your prescription, the lens type you need, and any extras you’re looking for (special coatings and so on). Lensabl will either send you a box with a prepaid shipping label, or it will email you to label so that you can use your own packaging to get your glasses to the Lensabl lab.

While getting some new lenses might not be as exciting as a whole new pair of frames, your new purchases will arrive in a nice, smart package so it still feels like a bit of a treat. This is a great to buy eyeglasses online, and an easy way to hang on to beloved frames that truly suit your face without going to the hassle of finding a worthy replacement. New prescription lenses at Lensabl start from $77.

Lensabl user reviews and ratings

A bit like Lenscrafter below, Lensabl seems to be a tale of two cities. On SiteJabber, the brand has over 2,500 reviews, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. 72.3% of those are positive, with customers praising Lensabl’s value for money, shipping and quality control. 

One reviewer explained how, “They ran into a snag while making my lenses and chose to start over to make me an entirely new set and let me know promptly what happened and why my order was delayed for a short time. Highly recommend and I'm going to order another pair!”

Critical, one star reviews focus on the quality of the lenses and the quality of premium coatings. On TrustPilot, the company scores 2.3 out of 5 stars and people are commenting about the customer service, and how you can’t speak to them via telephone (there is no phone number listed on the Lensabl site - we checked). There is one 5 out of 5 star review on TrustPilot for Lensabl, which focuses on quality and reasonable price.


10. Ambr Eyewear: Best eyeglasses online for eye health

Best eyeglasses online: The Ambr Eyewear logo featuring white text on a deep gray background

(Image credit: Ambr Eyewear)

Ambr Eyewear

The best eyeglasses online if you want blue light filtering options

Reasons to Buy

Blue light filtering to suit you
Free worldwide delivery

Reasons to Avoid

Very limited range
Limited prescription options

At night our phones and tablets are stimulating our brains and keeping us awake and Ambr sells blue light filtering glasses, albeit in a restricted range. The lenses are glare and UV resistant as standard, and their blue light filter comes in a variety of strengths and flavours, including sunglasses and transitions. 

The company can fulfill your prescription needs, as long as they’re on the modest side and its webcam ‘try on’ is a lots of fun. It’s an option worth considering if you’re someone who spends a lot of time with their nose pressed against a screen (guilty as charged).  

Ambr’s range of frames is about the smallest we’ve tested and the range of lens options is very similar. While this has its disadvantages if you’ve set your heart on some window shopping, it does make the checkout process much easier and reduces your screen time (winner on all fronts). 


11. Lenscrafters: Best eyeglasses online for a store feel

Best eyeglasses online: The LensCrafters logo featuring grey lettering with a red heart and blue eye symbol

(Image credit: LensCrafters)

Lenscrafters

An online glasses retailer with physical stores to visit too

SPECIFICATIONS

Free delivery: Yes | Returns policy: Within 30 days of dispense date

Reasons to Buy

Large designer range
Insurance options

Reasons to Avoid

No home or online try on
Pricey 

You may like the ease of online shopping, but feel reluctant to use it for something as important as your eyeglasses or sunglasses. If that sounds familiar, the best eyeglasses online for you will likely come from Lenscrafters. With more than 1,000 physical locations across the US, there’s almost certainly a Lenscrafters near you, ready to provide any in-person customer service you may need.

Lenscrafters offers plenty of big brand names and the latest eyeglasses styles, but at higher prices than other online shops. However, Lenscrafters site makes it easy for you to determine how much of your total cost will be covered by your insurance provider, taking some of the sting out of it. 

You can browse different styles of online glasses, calculate how much co-pay is needed, then head to the store when you’re ready to buy. So this is a nice balance of shopping comfortably at home, with the added reassurance of professional in-store help so that you get the best fit for your face. However, this hasn’t been every customer’s experience, and some concerns have been flagged in user reviews across various review websites.

Lenscrafters user reviews and ratings

When it comes to customer reviews, Lenscrafters has a very mixed bag. At Consumer Affairs the brand scores an average rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars, generated from 285 ratings. The majority of those are 4 and 5 star reviews, with the most positive recent review stating: “I bought prescription sunglasses this time from LensCrafters for the 1st time. The time it took to check the eyesight and get the prescription was in a timely manner.”

Less favorable reviews comment on lens quality, the prices, and with issues over appointments. At TrustPilot the company scores worse, with just 2 out of 5 stars. 15% of the reviews rate LensCrafters as excellent, with 67% rated as bad. 

Tips for buying glasses online

Who is this online eyeglasses guide for?

Our guide to the best eyeglasses online is aimed at any person who wants to buy glasses via an online store as opposed to heading into an actual store. There are several benefits to buying glasses this way, plus a few drawbacks, which we cover below, but it can feel a little daunting to begin with. This is especially true if you wear prescription lenses, as you need maximum reassurance that your prescription is in good hands. 

Our roundup of online glasses is also relevant to people who are looking for good quality sunglasses, reading glasses, a cheap pair of back-up prescription glasses, or even replacement lenses for old yet beloved frames. The brands we focus on also carry a large range of eyeglasses accessories, such as hard carry cases, proper lens cleaning kits, and anti-fog spray. During the pandemic, anti-fog spray became a real hot commodity for bespectacled mask-wearers.

How we picked the best eyeglasses online for this guide

As mentioned earlier in our online glasses guide, we have focused on companies that have a good reputation among existing customers, first and foremost. We have gleaned this information from verified user reviews, as well as from ratings on websites such as the Better Business Bureau and Trust Pilot. 

Interpreting user reviews can be tricky, as some disgruntled customers can dish out harsh ratings for minor issues, so we have included them in our guide as a flavor of what you might expect as a customer. They are not to be read as gospel.

Other criteria includes pricing – are the glasses, lenses and accessories well-priced, and are there regular discounts on offer? – as well as the range. For us, the best eyeglasses online brands offer both budget and premium frames, making them accessible to people on lower incomes as well as those who have the budget for designer eyeglasses. 

We also highlight the companies that accept vision coverage and that are capable of liaising directly with your insurer, saving you the hassle. Beyond that, we considered factors such as shipping costs – most online glasses brands now offer free shipping, but some charge for returns, which isn’t ideal – and the quality and accessibility of customer service. After all, there’s no point in buying cheap prescription glasses online if the only way you can reach the team to resolve order issues is by email. 

Best eyeglasses online: A woman in a yellow top buys glass online using her smartphone

(Image credit: Getty)

What you need to buy eyeglasses online

According to advice published by the American Optometric Association, all adults aged 65 and under should have an in-person eye exam at least every two years. It also points out that eye examinations aren’t just about figuring out whether you need vision correction, such as prescription glasses, but to look at all aspects of your eye health. 

The Association also argues that online vision tests can be misleading or inaccurate, and that a proper eye exam with a qualified optometrist is the only way to be sure of your current eye health. Many Americans will have an in-store eye test, then seek out the best eyeglasses online that can accommodate their new prescription, simply because prices are cheaper. 

In order to buy glasses online, you will need to know your pupillary distance, also known as your PD number, and this isn’t also stated on your prescription. Pupillary distance is the length in millimeters between your pupils (a single PD number) or from your pupils to the center of the bridge of your nose (dual PD). The stronger your eyeglasses prescription, the more vital it is that the lenses are lined up accurately in front of your eye. 

Online glasses retailers should always ask for your PD when you place an order. 

What to look for in a good eyeglasses online retailer

  • Verified customer reviews
  • Clear and concise pricing
  • Free delivery and returns
  • Order tracking function
  • A range of cheap and designer eyeglasses
  • Various easy ways to contact customer service

How to buy the best eyeglasses online for you

Like anything you buy online, price is a deciding factor when it comes to the best eyeglasses online for you. The amount you’re prepared to pay depends on your own personal circumstances, how often you wear your glasses, how many pairs you need (if you’re anything like us, a second pair always comes in handy, especially if you’re prone to leaving them in classrooms/shops/the garden). 

What you end up paying for glasses also depends on discounts and hidden extras, as well as how fond you are of a designer name. So looking closely at the terms and conditions and deciding whether you really do need those Dolce and Gabbanas or whether you can put up with your trusty old frames, some fresh lenses and a new way of seeing things, can be important.

Website performance is an increasingly crucial part of the online retail process. How often have you abandoned a shopping spree because the page failed to load or added something to your basket only to find it’s disappeared? Ease of use and speed of transaction is important, along with speed of customer service response. And, importantly for any retail purchase, a try before you buy option is worth taking very seriously. 

We’ve done our best to seek the best ones out in our online glasses reviews. Start with our buyer’s guide to buying glasses online below and then follow the links to our full reviews.  

Best eyeglasses online FAQ

What eyeglasses are in style right now?

When it comes to eyeglasses anything goes, and there are plenty of styles out there no matter what your taste. Some frames, such as tortoiseshell or metal will always be in fashion, but some trends come and go. 

If you need inspiration, there’s plenty to be found online on dedicated blogs such as Eyestylist, as well as retailers such as Vint & York, who give great advice on what’s hot when it comes to the latest frames. 

Meanwhile the best eyeglasses online brands such as GlassesUSA.com and Eyeglasses.com always offer plenty of deals on designer frames to keep your look on-trend.

Do you have to pay for shipping when buying glasses online?

Most online eyeglasses retailers will ship your glasses for free, whether you’re buying prescription lenses or not. The few websites that do have a free shipping minimum usually set it at purchases of around $50 upwards, and as most glasses cost that much (or more), it's most likely not going to be a problem for you.

Best eyeglasses online: A woman wearing black frame glasses laughs in the sunlight

(Image credit: Getty)

Do you need a valid prescription before buying the best eyeglasses online?

You can buy fashion statement frames and regular sunglasses without a prescription. You’ll have to input your prescription information in order to buy anything that corrects your vision. Often, you can email or fax your prescription information if you prefer. If you don’t have a copy of your prescription or are confused about which numbers mean what, many online glasses companies can contact your eye doctor’s office to get the necessary information.

Reputable online glasses stores strongly encourage customers to get regular eye exams. Some, like Eyeglasses, even have locator features on their websites to help you find a local eye doctor.

If you have excellent vision naturally or wear contact lenses but like glasses for their stylish flair, you can buy non-prescription glasses from many providers. You’ll typically still have to pay for the lenses, but non-prescription lenses cost much less than the corrective kind. Some online stores include very basic non-prescription lenses in the price of the frames. In addition, some companies let you enhance non-prescription lenses with extras like anti-reflective coating, anti-scratch coating or even UV protection. However, you need to pay for those features as well.

What is the returns process with prescription glasses online?

If you follow all the steps correctly to get your online prescription glasses and they just don’t work for you, reputable companies will exchange the glasses, provide a full or partial refund or sometimes give store credit. That said, not every company offers the same amount of time for you to decide, so check before you buy. 

For example, Zenni Optical gives you 30 days to call for a “return authorization” and offers a 30-day warranty, while Coastal gives you 14 days for an exchange or refund, and has a year-long warranty covering manufacturing defects. Some firms give you a full year, but they often require that the prescription glasses must be returned in unused condition, and some companies, in rare cases, will deny returns.

If you’re having trouble seeing with the glasses you ordered, you can take them to the optometrist who initially examined your eyes and wrote the prescription to inspect the glasses for accuracy. However, you’ll likely need to pay for this service. In rare cases, you’ll discover that your prescription needs adjusting or your lenses were ground incorrectly.

Best eyeglasses online: An image of two pairs of rose colored glasses suspended on wire

(Image credit: Getty)

Can new prescription lenses be added to old frames?

As long as the frames are good quality, you shouldn’t have much trouble popping new lenses into them. Attempting to put prescription lenses into cheap drugstore sunglasses isn’t likely to work. In fact, on Quora several people weighed in on the question of whether you can put new lenses into frames for sunglasses or eyeglasses, and the consensus was yes, as long as the frames were high quality.

In that Q&A, Neda Gaikwad, who is working toward a master’s degree in optometry and vision sciences at the University of Hyderabad in India, addressed the question. She suggested instead considering light-sensitive glasses that darken when you go outdoors. “It'll be amazing when you're out in the sun and you don't have to decide between sun glasses or your own spectacles,” she says. However, she cautions that these kinds of glasses cause a bit of trouble inside where the lighting is low due to lower contrast.

Are prescription sunglasses necessary?

Not only are sunglasses chic, they serve a vital purpose in protecting your vision. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says, “The sun can be harmful to your eyes and skipping protection for them altogether can be dangerous.” This applies whether you need glasses for vision correction or if you have 20/20 vision.

“The most important part of any pair of sunglasses – prescription or not – is the UV-blocking lens. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays contribute to a number of eye problems, including cataracts, cancer and growths on the eye,” according to the AAO.

Buying prescription sunglasses online is similar to buying regular glasses, and virtually all the companies we reviewed offer a variety of sunglasses. If your prescription hasn’t changed all that much, you can often tint your old lenses and pop them into sunglass frames.

Best eyeglasses online: A women white short black hair and dressed in a white shirt tries on some black frame glasses

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How to buy the best eyeglasses online to suit your face

Buying eyeglasses online is tricky enough just with getting the lenses right, but finding frames that look good adds yet another complication. There are four factors to consider, according to an article on international vision insurance company VSP’s website.

The first consideration is your face shape. If you have a round face, VSP recommends square or rectangular frames. For an oval face, choose frames that are wider than the broadest part of your face and look geometric in shape. Oval and round eyeglass frames look good on square faces. If you have a diamond face, try frames that are wider than your cheekbones and perhaps slant upward. For a heart-shape face, check out frames that draw attention to the lower part of your face and draw an onlooker's eye away from the forehead.

VSP also recommends you considering your skin tone. Gold, bronze, honey or tortoise best suit warm skin tones, while cool skin tones are better served by black, dark tortoise, silver or even colors such as pink or purple. In addition, the company suggests you consider your personality and lifestyle when choosing frames.

Many online glasses retailers help you pick frames with virtual try-on features. To use this tool, you either upload an image of yourself or use a webcam, then try different frames on the picture to see how they look on you without even leaving home. Five of the online glass companies we reviewed offer this useful service: GlassesUSA.com, Eyeglasses.com, SmartBuyGlasses, FramesDirect and Zenni Optical. Even more helpful are sites that ship you the actual frames for in-home review.

Best eyeglasses online for children

So long as you have a copy of your child’s prescription and information about their pupillary distance (PD) from their eye doctor, you can buy their glasses on many of the same sites you can use for yourself.  However, there are some special considerations to keep in mind.

Since your child’s nose is small and still growing, it can be difficult to get a proper fit on the bridge to keep their glasses from sliding down. Nose pads affixed to the inside of the glasses can help. A saddle bridge, which loops entirely over the nose but does not use nose pads, can also help if it fits tightly enough.

To further aid in keeping glasses positioned right on your child’s face, you can purchase frames with a cable temple – a C-shape extension of the frame that extends down from the top of the ear and around it. It should fit snugly but not tight enough to be uncomfortable.

Parents with energetic children will appreciate flexible eyeglass frames that can withstand twisting and still not break, not to mention anti-scratch and anti-glare coatings. The latter helps reduce eyestrain and strain-induced headaches, especially when your child is under fluorescent lights at school, watches TV and uses mobile screens.

When you buy glasses for kids online, it’s good to shop on a site that has a generous return policy since it may take some trial and error to get frames that fit right.

Best eyeglasses online: A man in a grey suit jacket and mustard scarf wears black frame glasses

(Image credit: Getty)

Are special eyeglasses lens coatings really necessary?

As you order glasses online, you’ll notice the sites always offer a number of lens coatings. Certain coatings can make your lenses more durable and prolong the life of your glasses. Scratches, glare from strong sunlight and glare from computer screens can hamper your vision, and cause eyestrain and headaches.

Anti-scratch coatings are worthwhile. “Today, most eyeglass lenses, including high-index lenses and lenses made of polycarbonate and Trivex, have a built-in scratch-resistant coating,” according to a 2017 article in AllAboutVision.

However, blog author Dr. Gary Heiting, an optometrist, says lenses with scratch-resistant coating on the front and back have a harder surface that resists scratches caused by being dropped or being cleaned with something rough like a paper towel.

AR coating is highly recommended for all eyeglass lenses, but particularly for polycarbonate and high-index lenses, which reflect more light than regular glass or plastic lenses if anti-reflective coating is not applied

Dr. Gary Heiting

Anti-reflective coating cut down on glare from light reflecting off your lenses. This coating is especially useful for night driving, reading and using a computer. “AR coating is highly recommended for all eyeglass lenses, but particularly for polycarbonate and high-index lenses, which reflect more light than regular glass or plastic lenses if anti-reflective coating is not applied,” Heiting says.

If you live in an area that gets very cold, an anti-fog coating is helpful, since fogged up glasses hamper your ability to see once you come inside a warm place. “Fog Free can be applied to plastic, polycarbonate and other eyeglass lenses, including high-index lenses and Transitions photochromic lenses. The anti-fog coating is applied to the lenses before they are cut to fit into your frame at the optical lab. Ask your optical retailer about pricing and availability,” Heiting says.

In addition, you may want a coating that blocks ultraviolet (UV) light. The sun’s rays can contribute to cataracts, retinal damage and other problems, according to Heiting. This coating helps protect your sight. Most plastic prescription lenses already have some UV light protection, but you can opt to pay for a UV-blocking dye that gives you complete protection. You don’t need this coating if you get photochromatic, polycarbonate or high-index plastic lenses.

A guide to lens types for the best eyeglasses online

Not everyone needs specialty coatings or lenses, but they may help your vision, improve comfort or make wearing glasses more convenient. Even though they add to the cost of lenses, most people find things like standard coatings to be necessary. 

For example, anti-scratch coatings are essential for both children and adults, and anti-glare coatings can prevent eyestrain and its accompanying symptoms such as headaches. However, some online retailers offer other extras you might like. Here are some to consider:

Polycarbonate lenses: These plastic lenses are lightweight and can take plenty of knocks. They’re often used for children’s glasses but are also an excellent choice for active adults who risk having their glasses knocked off in sports, gymnastics, dance and other activities.

Progressive lenses: These glasses don’t have the obvious lines found on regular bifocal and trifocal lenses. Progressive lenses look better and are less aging. In addition, they can make it easier to see since there aren’t dividing lines in the middle of the lenses.

Photochromic lenses: These dual-purpose lenses correct vision in indoor lighting and darken when exposed to sunlight. However, they don’t get quite as dark as most sunglasses.

Is it normal to experience headaches with new glasses?

If your new glasses are giving you a headache, there are several things that could be causing the problem. The most common cause of headaches with new glasses is a prescription change. It’s not unusual for your head to hurt a bit and your eyes to feel tired as they adjust to your new prescription. If you’re still uncomfortable after several days, visit a doctor's office and make sure your lenses are the right prescription. There's always a chance the online company made a mistake, and even a slight deviation can make a difference. 

Your glasses can also cause headaches if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen. If you have this problem, invest in an anti-glare filter and make sure your prescription isn't too strong for close-up reading. If you get headaches during certain times of the day or during certain activities, the lighting may be to blame. Bright lights combined with an incorrect prescription is a recipe for disaster and usually means it's time to get new lenses with an updated prescription.

If you're experiencing headaches, blurred vision or have difficulty concentrating visually, there's a possibility you're experiencing overprescription. If you've already consulted with your eye doctor more than once about these problems, we'd suggest getting a second opinion. Wearing lenses with a prescription that is too strong can cause a multitude of side effects that can be avoided simply by wearing a different lens.