EyeBuyDirect is the discount supermarket of the online eyewear world, and it makes our list of some of the best eyeglasses online. There isn’t the touchy-feely appeal of the newer start-ups, or the premium appeal of the high-end stores. As we cover in detail in our EyeBuyDirect review, its own-brand frames look good and the prices are keenly placed. The cost of your frames doesn’t include basics, so watch your total amount carefully as you begin checkout.
EyeBuyDirect also has a few clunks as you use it. You have to enter your prescription details manually, and ahead of time. The virtual try on service is cumbersome, time consuming and doesn’t look great. But if you’re shopping with the bottom line in mind and you don’t need the latest labels this might be your best port of call. As it focuses on frames, lenses and sunglasses, it doesn't sell any of the best contact lenses online, so you'll do read our GlassesUSA review for a good alternative that sells both.
If you don't yet have coverage, we'd also recommend looking at our guide to the best vision insurance to learn how it could benefit you. We'd also produced a guide to how to clean your glasses to help them last longer.
EyeBuyDirect review: Prices
- From $16
- Extras add up
Year founded: 2005
Pricing starts: $6
Delivery time: 7-14 business days
When you first click on EyeBuyDirect’s site it’s a very similar experience to walking into a cut-price supermarket. The signage is plain and a little dated, the range isn’t exactly what you came in for, but the prices. Oh boy, the prices. In a few strokes of our mouse we found a pair of frames that made us think “You know what, they’d do.” They cost $16.
When I added top-of-the-range progressive lenses (very much this year’s en vogue lens and way beyond our meagre requirements) it took the total up to $85. There’s no doubt this is good value. If you’re at all frugal there’s a lot here to enjoy.
Online glasses sellers love their charitable donations. Buy A Pair Give A Pair is the gold standard and by far the most common scheme. EyeBuyDirect have a mission to send 2.5 billion (yes billion) pairs, which is one for everyone in the world who needs it. So far, it’s managed 650,000.
EyeBuyDirect review: Simple site
- Money saved on basic site
- Free shipping on over $99 spend
One of the ways that EyeBuyDirect is undoubtedly saving you money is by not spending unnecessary piles of cash on their website. It’s tidy and it works, but getting from point A to point Buy is a rocky road.
Firstly some of the quality of life amenities you might be getting used to are just plain missing. Shipping is only free if you spend $99, which puts a dent in our $35 bargain. The returns policy definitely has some quibbles attached. There’s no handy ‘try at home’ box. Nothing terminal but a host of little cuts you begin to notice more and more as you shop.
EyeBuyDirect review: Smart features
- Virtual try on
- Could work better
In the absence of a home sample box, there’s the ubiquitous virtual try-on gadget that uses your webcam to scan your face and see what your frames look like in situ. This sounds great, but in use the app is clunky and hard to configure.
EyeBuyDirect’s widget had me crouching halfway across the room, angling my head to and fro and then asking us to click a button on the screen with our tiny arms. A giant squid would struggle with this many sub-tasks.
When we finally had a recording, it was half of what we wanted and stuttered like an MTV video from the 80s. Other versions of the app are far easier and far better in action.
EyeBuyDirect review: Prescription details
- Know prescription
Entering your prescription can be daunting and complex and other sites have gone to great pains to take the sting out of the tail. EyeBuyDirect doesn’t feel the need to mollycoddle you at all. You need to know your prescription up front, and you need to enter it in full before you buy.
No friendly call to your doc, no scanning, no “hey, do it later, it’s your day after all” attitude. Do it now, and do it right or you’ll incur the wrath of the error message box. We really don’t need our hands holding, but this felt a little cold and spiky even for us.
Should you buy from EyeBuyDirect?
EyeBuyDirect is a big, budget box-shifter, and isn’t afraid to show it. Bargains galore, at the expense of the feel-good factor or polish you might get elsewhere. Their pricing isn’t as transparent and simple as some other sites, but frame and lens prices or low, so as long as you check your total you shouldn’t be in for a nasty surprise.
The donated pairs of glasses to charity feels somewhat tacked on. The stated aim of donating 2.5 billion pairs hasn’t reached 0.1 percent of its target yet. The website is starting to creak a little when up against more modern competitors and the ‘try at home’ alternative is a peculiar and hard-to-use piece of tech. An excellent, stripped down value alternative that’s missing some mod cons.