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Best Online Glasses
Why Buy Eyeglasses Online?
We delved into researching online eyeglass services, going through the process of virtually trying on frames, entering in prescription information and searching for each company’s policy about accepting vision insurance to help you find a good fit for your needs. Based on our research, we feel Eyeglasses.com is the all-around best online glasses company because it has an extensive selection, including hundreds of designer brands. It also has a virtual try on tool to help you decide which frames work best with your facial features. Below you’ll find more information about Eyeglasses.com, as well as suggestions for places to shop if you’re looking for something specific, such as children’s glasses or sports glasses, or if you need contact lenses.
Best Eyeglass Selection
GlassesUSA.com has over 2,000 frames in stock, including those made by brands such as Ray-Ban, DKNY, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. The store has a five-step process for buying eyeglasses that includes virtual try-on using your own picture. This online eyeglass store helps you make sense of your prescription so you order the correct lenses. Many single-vision and reading lenses are included with your frames at no additional cost.
The store backs each pair of glasses with a 365-day warranty, which means if there are any defects, you can return your eyeglasses for a refund or replacement pair. You also get free shipping and returns on orders delivered within the United States.
Best Eyeglasses Online
Our top pick for buying eyeglasses online is Eyeglasses.com. It has an impressive selection of frames, including a variety of styles for adults and children. The store also has easy returns, speedy shipping times and virtual try-on, which allows you to see how specific frames look on you before you buy them.
When an online glasses store carries a wide variety of frames, it makes it easier to find the best ones for you. Reading glasses, sunglasses and sport glasses are some of the most popular types of frames, and each has a distinct purpose. Most online eyeglasses stores sell designer frames, but Eyeglasses.com carries more than 450 different name brands. The glasses come in a variety of fashionable styles, including retro, classic, vintage and aviator, and they are made from a variety of materials. Prices depend on the brand, style and lens options you choose, but Eyeglasses.com has reading glasses that start at less than $30 per pair.
Best Prescription Glasses Online
Glasses.com is the best choice for purchasing prescription glasses online because it is contracted as a primary provider for many top vision insurance plans. It also accepts many other insurance plans as an out-of-network vision provider. You have nearly 500 frames to choose from, including those for both adults and kids, safety glasses and sunglasses. After you decide on frames, Glasses.com asks you a few questions, helps you access your insurance benefits and automatically applies them to you order. In many cases, you may have very little to pay out of pocket.
The store carries name-brand frames, including those made by Ray-Ban, Oakley, Burberry and Armani, so even though you are saving by purchasing online, you don’t have to sacrifice style. Glasses.com also carries prescription sunglasses and safety glasses for those who need added protection while working.
If you need to purchase vision insurance, consider using our comparison of the best vision care providers to help you. Glasses.com accepts plans from all of the providers we evaluated. They also cover many local optometrists, which makes it easy to get an eye examine so you have a correct prescription before buying eyeglasses online.
Best Glasses for Women
Frame Boutique as over 500 women’s eyeglasses to choose from, including prescription glasses, reading glasses and sunglasses. Frame Boutique lets you search based on color, frame material, shape and style, and you can choose from vintage, designer and classic frames. You can also add high-index lenses and special lens coatings or choose photochromic lenses that darken when you are in bright light so your eyeglasses double as sunglasses.
When you select a frame, Frame Boutique displays all the details you need to make a smart buying decision. It clearly illustrates both the frame and lens measurements, and you can interact with the images to see a full, 360-degree view of the glasses. Even with lenses, Frame Boutique offers a great selection of women’s eyeglasses at a fraction of the cost of purchasing them through a local glasses store.
Best Glasses for Men
Coastal is an online eyeglasses store that has over 400 men’s frames to choose from made by over 250 name-brand designers. It includes free standard lenses with all frame purchases, though you can also purchase progressive, high-index and photochromic lenses at reasonable prices if you need them.
This online store offers free shipping on all U.S. eyeglass orders and has a fast turnaround time. You typically get your prescription glasses in about a week. Coastal also ships internationally, though you need to cover the shipping cost yourself. If there is an issue with your eyeglasses, you have up to a full year to return them for either a replacement pair or a refund, depending on the problem.
Best Kids Glasses
FramesDirect has more than 100,000 frames to choose from, including thousands designed specifically for children. It sells high-quality frames and a variety of lenses including scratch-resistant ones, which is important when you purchase eyeglasses for kids. FramesDirect’s children’s glasses selection includes those with prescription lenses, sunglasses and those specifically made to wear while participating in sports such as prescription snow goggles.
The company has several shipping options both within the United States and internationally, and prescription eyeglasses typically arrive at your door within 10 days of ordering them.
Best Discount Eyeglasses
If you want to buy cheap glasses online that are still high quality, you should check out Zenni Optical. Although this company doesn’t offer many designer brands, you can choose from a healthy selection of frames and lenses. To help with your budget, it has several frames that are priced under $7 per pair, and not just for single-vision prescriptions – they also work for bifocal and progressive lenses. Zenni Optical provides free anti-scratch and UV coatings with each pair of eyeglasses it sells.
You can use the site’s virtual try-on feature to see what each pair looks like, using one of the Zenni Optical models or by uploading your own photo, before you buy.
Best Sports Glasses
SmartBuyGlasses has a truly massive selection of frames, including frames from over 150 designer brands. Styles include prescription glasses, sunglasses and sports glasses designed specifically for skiing, cycling, running and water sports. Prescription lenses start at $39, and many glasses have a 24-month warranty. In addition, the store has a 100-day return policy. SmartBuyGlasses also sells contact lenses.
This company offers a nice selection of lens coatings, including scratch-resistant and anti-smudge options, at no extra charge. SmartBuyGlasses is one of the best online eyeglass stores.
Buying Glasses Online
Buying eyeglasses online has gained popularity in recent years and some business experts predicts that this trend will grow. Richard Kestenbaum, writing for Forbes, is one of the individuals who contends that buying glasses online will become even more popular in the future.
“You may be inclined to say that prescription eyeglasses can’t go online for lots of good reasons. Consider this: If you’d have said to a consumer in 2000 that they should buy shirts and pants online they’d have thought you were a fool. “You can’t try it on,” was the familiar refrain. That’s all changed now. It’s only a matter of time before eyeglasses online reach the same kind of critical mass as shirts and pants have now.”
Some complications exist now, but that may change in the future, Kestenbaum writes. For example, you need a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist, which requires an on-site eye exam. More difficult is the fact that glasses need something more along with the prescription for the lenses – an indicator of the pupillary distance (PD), which is the space between your eyes so that the lenses can be ground properly. Not every optometrist provides that easily. However, Kestenbaum indicates some online eyeglasses firms are working on online tools that will measure PD with a smartphone or computer camera, which could dramatically change the market for online eyeglasses.
Andrea Browne Taylor, the online editor for Kiplinger.com, also has some useful tips to help you save money and to ensure you get the right lenses when you buy glasses online. She recommends you find out if your vision insurance covers eyeglasses purchased online, as online stores are sometimes considered out of network. If your insurance doesn’t provide out of network coverage, you might be able to use a flexible spending account or health savings account to offset some of the cost. Further, she encourages consumers to look for discounts and deals.
In addition to getting your prescription, Taylor recommends talking to your doctor about such things as your pupillary distance, the right size frame for your face, and any special coatings or lenses you need. If something is not quite right with the eyeglasses you receive, you can take them to your eye doctor, and they can determine if the lenses are correct and provide a written explanation of anything that might be wrong. You can send that description to the online store if you need them to replace the lenses. Taylor also suggests you familiarize yourself with site’s return and exchange policies before you buy.
Are Computer Glasses Really Necessary?
Glasses designed especially for use with digital screens are gaining popularity, and many online eyeglasses retailers have added them to their product lines. But do you really need them? Some proponents claim these glasses shield your eyes from blue light rays that can cause eyestrain as well as that they might even prevent permanent eye damage stemming from such ailments as macular degeneration.
However, the American Academy of Opthamology's website says some claims have been overstated. In an article by Celia Vimont on the AAO website, she states that ". . . there is no evidence that the kind or amount of light coming from computer screens is damaging to the eyes." The article also says, "The Academy does not recommend any special eye wear for computer use."
Nonetheless, staring at any screen for hours at a time can cause eyestrain and even dry eyes, since some people blink less than usual when they look at screens. However, this is a result of how we use our screens rather than any kind of light emanating from them, according to the AAO. The organization says you can ease discomfort by looking away from the screen using the 20-20-20 approach: Look 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. You can also prevent eyestrain by changing the room lighting and screen contrast, using a matte filter on your screen, trying artificial tears for dry eyes, and sitting at least 25 inches from your screen.
Can I Return Prescription Glasses?
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. The length of time you get to decide whether to keep a particular pair varies substantially from one company to another, so you need to check that before buying. For example, Zenni Optical gives you 30 days to call for a “return authorization” and offers a 30-day warranty, while Coastal.com 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 glasses must be returned in unused condition, and some companies, in rare cases, will deny returns.
If you are 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. It could be that your prescription needs adjusting or that the lenses were not ground correctly.
How Often Should I Get an Eye Exam?
There’s no set rule, and it’s not uncommon for people to keep wearing their glasses for years as long as they can see well and the glasses are comfortable. On the other hand, some people choose to change frames often for fashion purposes. Others want to make the use of a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account before the calendar year runs out.
The Mayo Clinic recommends eye exams for children once before age three, then another eye exam between ages three and five, and an exam every year or two after that. Adults over 30, in good health and without vision problems, should get an eye exam every two to four years.
However, if you wear glasses or contact lenses, the Mayo Clinic recommends more frequent eye exams – even if you don’t think you need to get new glasses. It also urges individuals to get frequent exams if they are at risk for vision problems from a chronic disease like diabetes or if they have a family history of eye problems.
Best Contact Lenses
Most of the online eyeglasses services we reviewed also sell contact lenses. However, as part of our best contact lenses review, we awarded top marks to Discount Contact Lenses. This online service has a wide selection of contact lenses and accessories for a good value compared to other stores. It also has free shipping and good, responsive customer service.
Buying eyeglasses online can be intimidating at first. However, as you explore the many available options and consider the above criteria, finding the perfect pair can be an enjoyable experience. Best of all, you will save money, look stylish, and have clear and correct vision. While our top picks for the best online glasses stores are Eyeglasses.com, SmartBuyGlasses and FramesDirect, each site we highlight in our comparison offers discounts and a healthy selection of frames and lenses.